Companies concerned about supply chain visibility


supply chain visibilityOne of the key components of a supply chain management strategy is the ability to track objects as they move through warehouses, store shelves and to and from corporate partners. Tracing individual items can be important to simply speed up processes or in the case of a product recall. According to a recent Commerce In Motion study, however, companies are far from confident in their ability to keep track of objects.

Improvement needed

Supply chain managers, according to the Commerce In Motion poll, are very concerned about their ability to track objects through the supply chain process. More than half stated they have been at least somewhat concerned about their ability to find individual items in the entirety of the supply chain and 86 percent worried about the financial consequences of problems in the system.

Uncertainty was the defining characteristic of survey respondents when asked if they can trace objects throughout the supply process. While only 5.5 percent of companies reported themselves not confident in their ability to track inventory, 65.6 percent were only somewhat confident.

Recalls are a particular area of worry. These situations could, however, lead to a great opportunity for companies able to overcome their tracking issues. The Commerce In Motion report took consumer survey data from Princeton University that demonstrates customers place a high amount of value on companies handling recalls effectively. This demonstrates that the process of improving visibility and recall handling could be rewarded directly and immediately with customer trust and loyalty. Rather than simply preventing a bad outcome , tracking recalled items could create a good outcome.

Real consequences

The visibility and agility to respond to product problems are important components of supply chain, ones that could determine a company's fate in the face of a major recall. A recent Food Safety News report found that companies need to vigilantly watch for the first sign of any problem with  a product, not simply the issues associated with that item in the past.

The source stated that the Listeria outbreak of 2011, carried by cantaloupes, was a shock to the fruit's growing company as that fruit and disease had not been linked in the past. The firm filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the incident, which led to more than 30 deaths. While recalls can be straightforward and simple, they can also have extremely serious consequences.