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Mary HeiserDirector, Industry & Product Marketing, FourKites

Experts were shocked when the demand for in-home consumer packaged goods (CPG) continued to surge after the successful 2021 vaccine rollout, increasing 8.7% year-over-year. As consumers continued to favor goods over services, costs also increased rapidly, adding pressure to already-strained CPG supply chains.

With limited ways to influence underlying costs, CPGs need creative solutions within their realm of control. Could increasing the adoption of digital supply chain technologies be the answer? Here are four ways CPG companies are leveraging real-time visibility to maximize their opportunity.

1. Provide self-service options for customers

Repetitive manual tasks, including individual conversations about the status of discrete loads, can quickly siphon away productivity from your organization. Rather than focusing on strategic initiatives, are your teams locked in a cycle of questions and answers?

Self-service tools close the gap between question and answer for customers while reducing their cost-to-serve up to 33%. By granting access to freight details, you can give customers the same view you have to your mutual network. This keeps everybody in-the-know at the same time without needing the extra phone call or email.

The quicker that a customer can get an answer about where a load is, the better for everyone. We realized we could let our partners self-service those questions with FourKites, and now they know as soon as we do what the status of the load is.

– Rob Haddock, Group Director Planning & Logistics, Coca-Cola North America

2. Increase inbound precision to minimize production downtime

With higher-than-ever expectations for speed-to-market, production line managers need confidence in their inbound supply chain. Fast-moving consumer goods & CPG manufacturers lose 25 hours a month to unplanned downtime at an average cost of $23,600 an hour. This downtime not only eats away an average of 4% of their total revenue for the year, it has the potential to negatively impact foundational customer relationships.

The yard poses a significant opportunity for CPG manufacturers to control their supply chain directly. Production lines are tied to regimented sailing schedules, allowing little room for uncertainty or error. Tools designed to proactively monitor estimated times of arrival (ETAs), deploy dock associates to their most time-optimal duties and track in-yard inventory minimize the risk of downstream supply chain volatility.

Knowing what’s in the yard and what’s happening in the yard with the Dynamic Yard solution, that’s the next level. Our manufacturing teams may be looking for raw materials inbound — the cartons for example, we need a specific size. Not only do you know that you’ve got 20 loads of cartons in your yard, but you need the size #7 to run production on second shift. That’s the next level of really having that visibility. Enabling all the way from the raw materials all the way through the supply chain, and out into the yard.

– Mari Roberts VP Transportation, Frito Lay

3. Enable warehouse automation

Supply chains are enthusiastically adopting automation across the network and into the warehouse, meaning that the exchange of information and ETAs needs to be hyper-accurate. As warehouses continue to automate, keeping accurate track  of inbound freight and capacity is an integral part of optimizing autonomous labor productivity. If schedules change, systems can intelligently reprioritize autonomous forklifts, pallet movers or other capacity within the warehouse to other areas of productivity.

Not all ETAs are created equal. As shippers remove the human element from supply chain execution, the increasing importance of data quality inputs could not be understated. If you’re planning any autonomy in the warehouse, having a real-time end-to-end supply chain visibility platform that integrates with your systems and provides accurate ETAs is a requirement to get the most from your  investments.

We have a very complicated network. We invested a lot in logistics and automated warehouses, and we cannot leave our warehouses waiting for a truck. We need to synchronize to create a full collaboration between our internal services and real-time visibility from FourKites is a part of that.

– Davide Busato, Logistics Competence Center Project Manager, Barilla

4. Centralize data to increase responsiveness

Successful supply chain management relies on cooperation from across an enterprise. While having a more diverse carrier network incentivizes price competition, a lengthy provider list can also make communication, visibility and data accuracy more challenging as shippers are left to handle disparate systems.

Integrating with an intermediary visibility platform can make sense of signals throughout a shipper’s supply chain, standardize data feeds and provide a single connection back to a  shipper’s ERP or TMS. This gives CPG shippers greater flexibility when formulating their carrier mix, while reducing technology projects and data accuracy headaches.

We have a very large export volume and one of our greatest struggles was visibility. We relied heavily on our forwarders and steamship lines for updates. With FourKites, we’ve been able to get live visibility to interruptions, monitor hand off points, and be proactive to save shipments.

– Bryan Kennedy, Transportation Manager, Exports

Digitization is a Continuous Effort

Supply chain technology projects are astounding accomplishments for your organization, but they should always be looked at as milestones – not finish lines. Even if you feel like your organization is behind in the race, know that established software vendors know exactly how to get your organization back on track, modernized and ready to contend with the next wave of disruptions.

It’s also important to align your business with providers who are willing to understand your business objectives and to work with you to develop a personalized configuration that not only delivers value for you today, but helps chart the course for your continued supply chain success.


Want more real-life examples of how to leverage visibility to accelerate digital transformation, and increase efficiency and automation throughout operations? Check out our webinar for lessons in supply chain digitization from PepsiCo and Conagra.

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