Companies place much emphasis on improving their supply chain performance, yet relatively few have unlocked the full potential of digital supply chain technologies. By combining online inventory management with operational performance, businesses can generate significant supply chain improvements that endure.
Supply chains have evolved from being a purely operational logistics function into one that ensures operations, from suppliers through to customers, are well-integrated. Decisions on cost, inventory control and customer service are now made from a holistic perspective rather than by each function in isolation.
Digital supply chain
Digitisation has disrupted traditional supply chain operations and companies need to rethink the way they now design and manage supply channels to take advantage of digital technologies.
Online inventory management and eCommerce platforms enable easy access to numerous choices about where to shop and what to buy. With customer service expectations now driving competition in supply chains, customer orders are more detailed and customised.
The digital supply chain will enable companies to address these new expectations while confronting some of the supply-side challenges to improve efficiency. Inventory control technology provides a transparent, real-time view of where inventory stock is within the supply chain and where it needs to go.
Technology gaps are occurring, causing a disparity between the potential and the actual gains of a digital supply chain. This is largely due to management choices and a failure to keep up with newer, improved digital solutions as they become available.
Earlier technologies enabled companies to streamline routine activities, expand the capabilities of some systems and enhance analytical practices. They didn’t, however, perform the more sophisticated functions that transform supply chain management.
The best approach to an optimising your digital supply chain is successfully integrating suitable leading-edge technologies with overhauled operations.
Operations and technology must be sufficiently integrated to reap the full benefits of technological advances. Overlooking operational changes to take full advantage of digital technologies, or not having the right technology in place to support new operations can be equally counteractive.
Integrating digital systems, data solutions and online inventory management offer significant potential for improvements to supply chain management. Networking technology with supply chain partners, suppliers and customers offer vast improvements.
However, many businesses are cautious about integrating digital systems with suppliers and customers due to a lack of trust with SCM partners, restricting them from engaging in more intensive data sharing.
Advances in online inventory management systems such as blockchain technology allows supply chain partners to more securely and transparently track all types of transactions. Each time a product changes hands, the transaction is documented, creating a permanent history of the item from manufacture to sale.
Not only does this dramatically reduce costs, time delays and human error, but it helps to mitigate trust issues and presents endless possibilities across the supply chain
A collaborative approach
Supply chain software and online inventory management platforms work for customers, the company and suppliers equally. Providing a shared logistics infrastructure that can transform the entire company, its inventory control and the way customers and supply partners interact with each other.
Online inventory management facilitates next level collaboration throughout the supply chain. It is especially conducive to non-competitive relationships where supply partners can work cooperatively to confront supply chain challenges, share knowledge and save on administrative costs.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.