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Ashley Klepach FourKites headshotAshley KlepachProduct Marketing Manager, FourKites

FourKites recently released a two-part series around international shipping. Most supply chain professionals are familiar with track and trace, and are frequently asked to answer the age-old question, “Where is my container?”

But this question alone is not enough for global organizations. Read on to understand why container tracking alone has become insufficient, what true end-to-end visibility really means, and the key drivers for achieving ROI.


What is end-to-end visibility for international shipping?

Most supply chain professionals are aware of the intricacies of tracking and tracing their shipments, especially domestically. This can include back and forth emails and phone calls and constant communication with carriers. But when it comes to international shipping, more layers of complexity are added to the process, especially when it comes to traversing countries, borders and bodies of water. And many times, these are multimodal shipments, including ocean, dray and rail.

In a recent FourKites survey of the top leaders in supply chain, 35% of respondents indicated that their top challenge in managing global freight were delays due to use of manual processes. 30% of respondents said that rate quotes took too long, while 20% of respondents said the booking process was too cumbersome. 

Understandably, organizations want to know where their containers are during different stages of the journey, but what is missing is the complete process flow prior to departure. This is where true end-to-end visibility comes into play. There are complexities around rates and bookings, the estimated time of departure (ETD) and estimated time of arrival (ETA) of vessels, and document management that organizations want deep insight into. With true end-to-end visibility, you can analyze the best rates, receive booking support, manage your documents for the vessel’s journey and track your containers throughout the ocean journey.

What is the value of end-to-end visibility?

A primary driver for organizations implementing end-to-end visibility is that they want to see true ROI. Key challenges for organizations include booking properly, lowering transportation costs, exception management, and capturing accurate documentation. End-to-end visibility can solve for all of these pain points. By knowing exactly where your container is — from booking through arrival — organizations can achieve operational efficiencies and proactively avoid problems when they arise.

One particular solution is exception management. True end-to-end visibility providers give you visibility across the entire journey of your goods, and notify you when issues occur — whether it is weather, port congestion, delays or dwell times. Organizations can then proactively change their bookings, routes and more, saving time, transportation cost and demurrage and detention fees in the process.

The top-3 drivers of end-to-end visibility

There are three key drivers for visibility. These include:

  • The most obvious value drivers for end-to-end visibility are the operational efficiencies. When supply chain professionals are spending countless hours tracking down a container via emails, phone calls and communication with carriers, having real-time tracking for that container provides immediate value for the organization in operational efficiencies and time savings.
  • Another key value driver is revenue and profit. With end-to-end insights, organizations will have more control over inventory planning, resulting in less safety stock and, consequently, more profit. Additionally, this visibility can result in higher OTIF rates and a higher customer satisfaction. According to a McKinsey study, the US food retail industry loses an estimated 2-3% of sales every year due to stockouts and unavailable inventory.
  • A final value driver that organizations can see with true end-to-end visibility is cost reductions. These can come in the form of reduced freight spend with better ETAs and exception management, reduction in demurrage and detention fees, and operational efficiencies. These improved margins ultimately provide competitive differentiation for those organizations with complete visibility from booking through delivery.

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With true end-to-end visibility for international shipping, organizations can realize great value from booking through arrival in the form of operational efficiencies, profit and cost reductions. Organizations who invest in end-to-end visibility will realize competitive advantages for their international shipping processes, especially during these times of heightened supply chain disruption.

To learn more about achieving the end-to-end visibility throughout your multimodal international journey, contact us!

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