Consumer buying trends used to be rooted in trust, but events such as the horsemeat scandal have caused lasting damage, according to a new white paper commissioned by leading software provider, Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced). To restore consumer confidence the industry needs to work harder to tighten controls, and provide better visibility of a product’s journey, the paper advises.
To limit situations like mass product recalls, retailers are starting to insist on operating a more cohesive supply chain, which tracks back to the initial point of product entry. The demand for this type of ‘end-to-end’ visibility is becoming increasingly common and is driven by a combination of consumer demand and impending legislation.
Simon Fowler, Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions, presents his top five tips for the logistics industry when it comes to addressing supply chain traceability:
1. Don’t let cost be a barrier – Businesses need to stop thinking of traceability as an expensive cost that adds no value. It is a misconception that achieving traceability automatically requires big budgets and new systems. Often, the data required for product traceability already exists, but is frequently fragmented, and organisations simply require the right software to consolidate this information.
2. Improve communication – Gaps in supply chain traceability often appear when organisations stop communicating, and the bigger the supply chain, the bigger the potential for problems. Investing in software which enables supply chain data exchange and integration between multiple systems and users won’t just provide better visibility, it will also enhance communication through automation.
3. Don’t wait for legislation – Companies shouldn’t wait to be forced down the traceability route by mandate. They should seize the opportunity now and do it willingly. If businesses wait until they are forced to undergo transformation, there are real risks of losing customers to rivals who have already made the change.
4. Engage with your peers – Employees should play an active role in relevant industry organisations. Groups, such as the FSDF engage with like-minded individuals to better understand how the wider logistics industry is responding to challenges and how to benefit from peer experiences.
5. Use the right people – Managers should involve specialists and should not assume in- house IT staff will be able to deliver the same results. Experts will be able to apply known industry best practice, and recognise if it is possible to piece together fragmented systems, rather than spending on new software needlessly. If the end system does not perform well, and fails to aid traceability, the exercise becomes pointless.
Simon Fowler says: “Implementing a robust end-to-end traceability supply chain doesn’t happen overnight but it’s not the huge or costly task that some perceive it to be.
“Rather than seeing traceability as a barrier, logistics firms should see the benefits it can bring, including stronger supply chain relationships, more access to larger customer bases, support for negotiating better contract terms and improved operational visibility.
“Until companies are better able to see and measure activity, their scope for improvements will be limited. Once information is rich, reliable, and connected, the potential to improve quality sales will quickly grow. There’s also a good case for logistics businesses to act sooner rather than later. Waiting for legislation to force change could be a risky strategy.”