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Megan UithovenMegan UithovenSenior Director, Community & Product Operations, FourKites

We recently hosted our second annual Demo Day, an exclusive event for customers where we share how FourKites’ newest innovations address some of the biggest problems in supply chain. In addition to new product features, attendees learned practical tips for things like improving the customer experience, reducing fees and lowering their carbon footprint — all of these solutions built on the foundation of real-time supply chain visibility.

FourKites has a long history of co-innovating with our customers. In fact, in 2021, we released 185 new products and features — 68 of which were ideas posted in the FourKites Community. The majority of the other features and products were influenced by customer feedback received during our bi-weekly FourKites Feedback calls.

But soliciting ideas and feedback is only part of the process. In addition, we must keep the pulse on the trends and undercurrents of our customers’ industries. That’s why this year we also hosted industry-specific fireside chats with our team of experts and have created industry-focused groups in the FourKites Community, so that these conversations can happen daily.

Demo Day and online discussions across retail, CPG, food and beverage and manufacturing revealed recurring issues that supply chain leaders face, regardless of their industry. Here’s what we’ve gleaned.

Customer Expectations and Loyalty

As we’ve said before, customer loyalty is up for grabs. A tech-enabled, timely and transparent purchasing and pick-up or delivery experience is expected. In the past few years, consumers have flocked to whoever can provide such an experience, breaking from their tried-and-true retailers.

And these expectations are seeping into the business-to-business (B2B) world, particularly expectations for detailed tracking information. Thankfully, self-service tools close the gap between question and answer for customers while reducing their cost-to-serve up to 33%. You can give customers the same view you have to your mutual network by granting access to freight details, keeping everybody in the know without needing an extra phone call or email.

What’s more, having visibility of your entire supply chain network — seeing all your inventory, including inventory in transit — to make strategic decisions that best fulfill orders is game-changing, especially when disruptions continue to hit supply chains.

A smooth-operating supply chain and the ability to provide self-service isn’t an expense; it’s the key to retaining customers.

Balancing Efficiency and Resilience

Before COVID, supply chains had really optimized around being hyper-efficient. But this way of operating also leaves little room for error, and disruptions have had an inordinately large impact.

Now companies are more willing to take on more costs – whether it’s more expensive services or higher inventory carrying costs – to gain more resilience. However, as BCG points out, companies must “pinpoint where redundancies and buffers are most likely to yield benefits that justify the costs. Companies that succeed in establishing real-world resilience will be rewarded with smoother supply operations in the face of both normal volatility and severe disruptions.”

With that in mind, real-time supply chain visibility becomes the underpinning for multiple use cases, whether it’s analytics for potential network redesign or intelligent data that gives better insight into operations, linking transportation to facilities and beyond.

However, not all efforts to create a resilient supply chain require sacrificing cost-efficiency. Take, for example, SKU rationalization. By gaining insights from data and collaborating, retailers, CPGs and manufacturers can determine which SKUs sell, which don’t and the associated costs and/or supply chain challenges.

Labor Optimization

While labor shortages have made headlines, many supply chain leaders have shifted their focus to making the most of the labor they do have by augmenting their existing workforce with technology to be more productive. And there are other benefits as well — automation and technology can create a better environment for employees and, ultimately, a better customer experience.

For many, real-time supply chain visibility is an easy place to start. While automating track-and-trace is an obvious example, having real-time visibility can maximize your team’s productivity substantially in other areas by:

  • Giving up-to-the-minute insights into PO & SKU-level location data, helping dock workers understand which inventory is a priority
  • Streamlining yard processes with faster turn times, making drivers and gate staff more effective while reducing dwell time and human capital needed to perform functions.
  • Pushing load-level data to all members of support, purchasing, et al., to drive time-to-value for every deal.

The other great benefit of labor optimization is that it allows your workforce to be more engaged and strategic in their roles, which, in turn, improves retention. When your employees aren’t trapped in the endless cycle of spreadsheets and phone calls, they can focus on meaningful problems and drive significant customer value.

Set up a personal demo and see how real-time visibility will transform your supply chain.

Request a demo.

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