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3 Reasons Why Today’s Shippers Demand End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility

December 8, 2023

A survey of 341 logistics managers revealed a grim outlook for the global supply chain. Of these logistics managers, 32% said that the supply chain is functioning normally, while 61% said the opposite.

This survey reveals that those on the front lines of the global supply chain, logistics managers representing major shippers and freight forwarders, are keenly aware of the difficulties facing the supply chain as it continues to navigate an unpredictable global transportation environment. As a result, these supply chain leaders are increasingly turning to technology to mitigate risk, build resilience and efficiency, and invest in customer experience.

In a survey of 200 supply chain leaders, three-fifths of respondents predicted that they expect to be more engaged with supply chain visibility data as time goes on. A picture becomes clear alongside the earlier data: today’s supply chain leaders understand that the global supply chain is riddled with threats and disruptions and increasingly demand supply chain visibility data to bolster performance. With shippers and freight forwarders in mind, we’re looking into three key reasons behind the increased demand for end-to-end supply chain visibility. 

What is End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility?

In short, end-to-end supply chain visibility is a tech-enabled strategy that allows shippers to track a shipment or container from one end of the supply chain to the other. In the containerized freight sector, in particular, end-to-end supply chain visibility provides vital advantages as a container navigates the highly complicated intermodal logistics process, moving from rail to ocean vessel. With end-to-end supply chain visibility, shippers can maintain visibility over all containerized shipments, eliminating blind spots and ensuring accuracy throughout transportation. Ultimately, end-to-end supply chain visibility software relies on three key components:

  • Data Aggregation from various sources ensures that all visibility metrics are as complete and standardized as possible, maximizing actionability. 
  • API Integration provides streamlined integration through an application programming interface into an existing TMS, allowing shippers to access high-quality tracking data through internal systems.
  • Automation ensures that tracking continues 24/7, enabling shippers to access container locations on demand instantly.

Increasingly, both shippers and third-party logistics providers are turning to end-to-end supply chain visibility to bolster operations in an increasingly high-stakes transportation environment. Today, we’re digging into the top three reasons smart businesses prioritize end-to-end supply chain visibility to stay afloat in a turbulent industry.

Reason 1: Mitigating Disruptions and Delays

While many shippers and logistics providers may have breathed a sigh of relief following the COVID-19 pandemic, the global supply chain remains significantly vulnerable to the threat of disruption. In fact, the first half of 2023 saw a marked increase in disruptions, as reported by SupplyChainBrain

“Labor disruptions were one of the biggest disturbances during the first half of 2023, up 136% compared to the first half of 2022, including strikes, layoffs, labor protests and more.”

While the nature of disruptions may have changed since the pandemic, shippers are still facing the consequences of a highly volatile supply chain. The ILWU strike in Canada’s Western provinces cost shippers as much as $500M per day, according to reporting from The Maritime Executive. Across the Atlantic, the strike at Felixstowe, the busiest container port in the U.K., affected $4.7B in containers, per reporting from CNBC.

Despite feelings of helplessness in the face of disruptions and delays, logistics professionals increasingly leverage end-to-end supply chain visibility to bolster resilience in their containerized freight operations. With end-to-end visibility over all containerized freight, including intermodal and rail, shippers and logistics providers can quickly ascertain precise container location and metrics when inevitable disruptions occur, decreasing the time between disruption and recovery. By partnering with an end-to-end supply chain visibility software provider that offers automated notifications, shippers can maximize awareness of high-stakes disruptions such as labor strikes, ensuring that all supply chain stakeholders are aware of disruptions as soon as they occur. Similarly, logistics service providers can use visibility features, such as milestone tracking, real-time alerts, or custom reports, to proactively manage exceptions and maintain high levels of customer trust.

Reason 2: Enhancing Customer Experience

Today’s logistics experts understand that accessibility is critical to an effective supply chain management strategy. If end-to-end visibility software resources are siloed behind ineffective user interfaces, poorly integrated data aggregation systems, or complex third-party sites, they are useless. As a commodities shipper interviewed by the Journal of Commerce recently said, “Supply chain visibility is only effective if the data is complete, accurate, and timely.”

With a renewed focus on accessibility, it’s vital that shippers and logistics providers partner with an end-to-end supply chain visibility provider that helps, rather than hinders, customer experience. But with more options than ever, what does a customer-oriented end-to-end visibility experience look like? Here are three key traits:

  • Seamless: By partnering with an end-to-end supply chain visibility provider that offers a fully integrated, white-label experience, customers can access a full suite of tracking metrics without the hassle of navigating to another site. White-label integration allows businesses to seamlessly integrate end-to-end visibility into existing customer interfaces.
  • Streamlined: Through a partnership with an API (Application Programming Interface) enabled end-to-end supply chain visibility provider, businesses can easily access all key container visibility data through an API integrated into a pre-existing transportation management system (TMS). With streamlined API integration, companies can fully utilize end-to-end supply chain visibility without sacrificing pre-existing software infrastructure. 
  • Accurate: Above all, today’s customers value accuracy. Inaccurate supply chain visibility data can quickly lead to botched ETAs, steep port fees, and inefficient drayage practices. Partnering with an ocean freight visibility provider that leverages supply chain innovations to provide wide-ranging, highly accurate transportation data over containerized freight ensures that customers can get the most out of their end-to-end supply chain visibility software. 

Today’s customers aren’t easy to please. But by partnering with the right end-to-end supply chain visibility software provider, smart shippers and logistics providers can leverage seamless, streamlined, and accurate data to meet even the highest customer expectations. 

Reason 3: Resilient Efficiency

Today’s supply chain prioritizes efficiency. The ‘Just-in-Time’ model that has allowed supply chain giants to meet the growing demand for unprecedented delivery speed relies on a vast, interconnected web of supply chain decisions, each dependent on the previous and following link. While this strategy has allowed for unparalleled delivery speeds, it can also render supply chains vulnerable to even the slightest disruption, as was seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and more recent labor disputes.

Following these historic slowdowns, smart shippers understand the need for new priorities within the supply chain. 

By balancing efficiency and resilience, shippers can build operations that provide customers with the lightning-fast delivery they’ve come to expect without falling prey to the pitfalls of a ‘Just-in-Time’ supply chain strategy.

Leading businesses are increasingly turning to technology to build the resilient efficiency they need to stay ahead in a dynamic transportation environment. With end-to-end supply chain visibility, shippers can access precise container metrics at any point in the intermodal transportation process, allowing them to embrace a slim, ‘Just-in-Time’ strategy while still maintaining visibility and control over all containerized operations. With end-to-end supply chain visibility, shippers can embrace ‘Just-in-Time’ efficiency without sacrificing supply chain security. 

The Role of Technology: OpenTrack's Solution

With OpenTrack, logistics service providers can mitigate disruptions and build resilient efficiency while providing their customers with the level of service and expertise they’ve come to expect. Through OpenTrack’s application programming interface (API), shippers and logistics companies can turn complex data streams from carriers, terminals, and rail carriers into actionable analytics. Once transformed into analytics, these data-driven insights can be used to inform their core supply chain management systems, including TMS, ERP, or customer portals. OpenTrack’s end-to-end supply chain visibility solution provides shippers with a powerful suite of end-to-end visibility tools, including:

  • End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility Portal: Through OpenTrack’s proprietary API, shippers can easily access vital supply chain visibility information, including all intermodal rail and ocean shipments.
  • Exception Alerts: Even the most vigilant logistician can’t maintain 24/7 control over all shipments. With fully customizable exception alerts, shippers can receive alerts across all devices for rolled cargo, vessel delays, demurrage and detention, blank sailings, and last free day. 
  • Customer Portal (White Label): Today’s customers expect a streamlined, single-platform experience when tracking a shipping container. With OpenTrack’s white-label customer portal, shippers can provide customers with a fully integrated end-to-end supply chain visibility experience. 

By leveraging OpenTrack’s robust suite of tools, shippers can build end-to-end supply chain visibility for improved mitigation, resilience, and customer experience. 

Ready to Improve Mitigation, Resilience, and Customer Experience? Build End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility with OpenTrack Today. 

Today's shippers and third-party logistics providers need every advantage in a complex, highly competitive transportation environment. OpenTrack allows the right parties to access the latest end-to-end supply chain visibility, casting light on overall containerized operations. Through OpenTrack’s proprietary API, shippers can gain visibility over 97% of global shipments. If you’re ready to see the power of freight visibility made simple, book a demo with OpenTrack today

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