Role of Real-Time Shipment Visibility in Optimized Logistics Operations


Role of Real-Time Shipment Visibility in Optimized Logistics Operations

By 2027, on a global scale, the supply chain market and the logistics market are set to reach USD 45.2 billion and USD 12,975 billion, respectively. Burgeoning demands in eCommerce and retail industry are one of the key causes for this rise.

However, the legacy operational structures are no longer relevant. With greater demand for transparency along the entire delivery process, companies are increasingly looking for intelligent and up-to-date mechanisms. And real-time shipment visibility is one of them. 

The real-time shipment visibility provides multi-pronged benefits apart from smart tracking of shipments in transit and automated updates on key milestone events. Customers can easily track their orders right from order pick up to final delivery with accurate ETAs. Similarly, companies can have a live view of the functioning of various elements along the supply chain. This allows for greater optimization of the process, along with transparency and a higher safety quotient.

In this blog, we will explore the various benefits of having real-time shipment visibility, the challenges brands and businesses face for doing so and how AI/ML-based delivery automation and orchestration can overcome those challenges. 

What is Real-Time Shipment Visibility?

Real-time shipment visibility is the ability to track multiple shipments, including their location and status, in real-time. Being able to track the movements of shipments in real-time enables businesses to have a greater understanding of their logistical transportation, better visibility over ETAs and ensure a highly transparent CX.

Solutions that are used to provide real-time visibility analyze multiple variables, such as delivery location, GPS data, and delays. These solutions might also work with other business software to provide accurate delivery timelines and to offer a deeper analytical insight to businesses.

It allows retail and shipping companies to calculate precise ETAs and understand their live logistics operations better. With this, businesses can optimize their supply chains to be more efficient by improving overall performance while decreasing operational costs.

7 Challenges You May Face Due to Lack of Shipment Visibility

Real-time shipment visibility and tracking abilities are crucial for operations ranging from traditional shipping methods to newer same-day or one-hour delivery options. The lack of such abilities can severely endanger these fast delivery operations, negatively impacting the overall customer experience.

Poor shipment visibility can also adversely affect the company’s supply chain and logistics operations. As a result, the business may experience decreasing revenue, customer dissatisfaction, inefficient delivery processes, and even severe transportation risks. 

Here is a list of seven challenges retail and shipping companies may face due to a lack of shipment visibility.

Prolonged Delays

To optimize delivery operations, delivery managers need crucial information, such as the location of the shipment, updates about vehicle health, unnecessary delays, and the live distance between the shipment and the end customer. 

Without real-time visibility into shipments, achieving these objectives is almost impossible. This leads to prolonged delays, magnifies transportation risks, and prevents the companies from getting a perfect order index.

Poor Customer Experience

It has become second nature for customers to check the delivery updates at frequent intervals. Customers want the delivery companies to provide live updates of their shipments, so they can be available at home or office to receive their packages. 

So, not providing live updates about their shipments’ locations is no longer an option. While functionalities like providing real-time tracking abilities may seem small and inconsequential, this can set a company apart from its competitors. 

Smart companies are always looking for new ways to keep their customers in the loop and provide live updates about shipment locations, possible delays, and estimated delivery time.

Lost Revenue Opportunities

Real-time shipment visibility can avoid prolonged delays, improve customer satisfaction, and help with real-time logistics management. It makes it easier for delivery companies to ship the orders faster and provide same-day delivery while saving fuel and delivery vehicle maintenance costs.

The lack of it directly translates to increased operational costs and frequent shipment delays. It leads to unhappy customers and a decrease in online orders, decreasing the overall revenue of a company.

High Shipping Costs

The absence of a proper shipment tracking system may result in excess fuel consumption, increased shipment route diversion, and delivery vehicle idling. These seemingly unrelated factors quickly add up and increase the overall shipping costs by thousands or even millions of dollars, depending on the size of a company.

Operational Inefficiencies 

Last-mile deliveries often end up being the most inefficient leg of logistics transportation. It involves following the shortest route to delivery by calculating several factors like driver’s skills, service time difference, the urgency of delivery, etc. 

It means that the delivery operation will always be underutilized compared to the last mile operation’s theoretical capacity. Covering for these inefficiencies and underutilization becomes very difficult if a company lacks real-time shipment visibility. 

Difficulties With KPI Benchmarking

If a company doesn’t have real-time visibility of its delivery operations, the delivery managers will find it exceedingly difficult to control the vehicles and 3PL providers’ performance.

It leads to inaccurate KPI benchmarking, which leaves many questions related to delivery time, cause of delay, unnecessary diversions, 3PL productivity, adherence to estimated delivery time, and more unanswered.

Theft, Damage to Goods, and Pilferage

The lack of visibility into real-time shipments often causes delays in delivery which may potentially lead to bigger risks like theft, pilferage, and damage to goods. According to a CBS News article published in November 2021, US companies reported $45 million in cargo theft throughout September 2021 alone. 

And the numbers have increased exponentially since. The lack of real-time tracking of the delivery fleet makes it easier to divert the delivery vehicles and trucks. This exponentially increases the ease of theft as well as pilferage.

The Significance of Real-Time Shipment Visibility

For any manufacturer, shipper, retailer, or wholesaler, shipment-related issues like unreported delays, delayed shipments, demurrage, detention, and more have considerable costs and consequences. 

Having real-time shipment visibility can solve these problems while providing live information on the current status of the shipments to all stakeholders. Real-time transportation visibility is important for the following reasons:

Accurate Delivery ETAs

For a customer, accurate ETAs mean a streamlined delivery experience. On the other hand, for delivery managers, precise ETAs help with more efficient delivery and faster turnaround time. 

Real-time visibility of shipments allows them to rapidly include variable factors in their decision-making process. This includes variables like unexpected delays, end customers’ locations, possible traffic congestion, driver breaks, and more.

Precise Decision-Making 

The access to live shipment tracking data, delivery locations, and traffic conditions from GPS allows delivery managers to make precise decisions. These timely decisions minimize logistics errors, reduce delivery time, and save money.

Businesses can convey the exact ETAs to all the parties involved in the logistics ecosystem and ensure that empty miles are minimized, or the pickup vehicle is available on time to collect the shipment for the next step. As businesses have a firm grasp over shipment and asset movements, they can orchestrate highly efficient deliveries and logistics transportation by clubbing deliveries, pickups and returns, and much more.

Minimize Manual Intervention 

Automated real-time transportation visibility significantly reduces the need for manual interventions. It eliminates the requirement to contact and connect with all the relevant stakeholders for delivery and operational management.

This helps with reducing personnel engagement in many repetitive, manual, and low-value tasks. Thus, the staff and other stakeholders are free to engage in high-value work. 

Reduce Detention and Demurrage Costs 

Many shippers often charge a demurrage cost if the contractor exceeds the free time to load the containers or packages. Real-time shipment visibility will allow the companies to track their activities accurately, avoiding any kind of delay in loading the containers and shipment. This way, retail businesses can avoid or significantly reduce demurrage costs and detentions.

Achieve Supply Chain Resilience

Irrespective of national or international domains, supply chains are equally susceptible to shocks of multiple types. Real-time tracking gives a company’s logistics and delivery department more capacity to anticipate potential trouble spots and rapidly rectify any missteps. 

For businesses, this presents a perfect opportunity to greatly mitigate supply chain disruptions and reduce operational risks. As a result, companies ranging from shipping to logistics can easily achieve a resilient supply chain.

Enhance Customer Experience 

As customers are becoming more and more demanding, providing them with proper transparency to track their orders is the key to enhancing customer experience. Live shipment visibility can help companies provide their customers with accurate ETAs, dedicated notifications, and the ability to locate their shipments. 

These actions build the necessary trust between the company and its customers, which is the key to providing excellent customer service.

Shipment Safety

Sensitech’s SCIC Q2-2022 report says that the US shippers experienced a total of 214 cargo thefts between April and June (second quarter) of 2022. In the majority of these incidents, the criminal closely followed the cargo during transit. 

Along with this, compromise of integrity, damage, loss of active quality (applicable for temperature-sensitive shipments), efficacy (applicable for vaccines & pharmaceuticals), etc., are a few key issues. 

Real-time shipment visibility allows the driver and the company’s delivery team to actively monitor any suspicious activity, decreasing the chances of cargo theft significantly.

Effective Regulatory Compliance

Complying with the government and other business regulations is necessary to run business operations without any legal trouble. As there are multiple safety, environmental, and transportation regulations, businesses must stay up-to-date with the latest regulatory updates and adjust their operations accordingly.

In the context of international shipping, live shipment visibility allows businesses to stay compliant with the latest regulatory updates. This way, the companies can fine-tune their operations according to the requirements of Customs and avoid unnecessary fines and sanctions.

Insights on KPIs

Real-time shipment visibility allows businesses to track and manage their deliveries as shipments are underway to reach the end customers. 

Live shipment tracking allows the delivery managers to monitor delivery time, causes of delay, shipment route diversions, possible traffic congestion, vehicle malfunction, and many other KPIs from one dashboard. This ensures timely and accurate data for stakeholders to facilitate their future decisions.

Streamlined Communication

E-commerce and shipping companies work with many professionals like drivers, delivery managers, logistics staff, supply chain workers, and other personnel to deliver the packages to the end customers without a hitch. 

A real-time transportation visibility platform is one of the best solutions to establish streamlined communication between different delivery stakeholders. This increases the productivity of different departments, reduces shipping time, and increases overall profit.

Real-Time Shipment Visibility – Multiple Stages

Real-time shipment visibility can be obtained by leveraging a smart shipment tracking platform. The use of technology can give you a better and more detailed view of information through all stages of the supply chain. 

All a company has to do is implement an automated shipment tracking system and enter container numbers, BL numbers, and shipment numbers to start tracking multiple container shipments.

Here’s how the shipment tracking system works to ensure real-time transportation visibility:

Barcode Generation

The first step of every shipment tracking process is barcode generation. These barcodes are unique ID signatures that are attached to the shipments. It looks like a series of vertical bars containing each shipment’s important details, including product information, delivery destination, buyer and seller details, contact info, etc. 

Once generated, these barcodes are attached to the relevant packages, reducing the chances of being misplaced. 

Package Scanning

Once the package gets its barcode, it goes through a scanning process. The packages are scanned so the logistics service can track them easily. Once the scan is complete, the delivery department receives the information related to the scanned packages. After that, the delivery team adds the package data to its database and starts the shipping process.

Package Tracking

Once the logistics team scans the package and hands it over to the delivery department, both the company and the end customer can track it. At this point, the customer can see where the package is being shipped from and the estimated delivery time. Meanwhile, both the company and the customer can check the package’s live location all the time.

Package Delivery

Finally, after the product reaches its delivery location, the shipment is handed over to the customer by the delivery agent. Now, the tracking system marks the shipment as “delivered” and notifies all the relevant parties.

Smart shipment tracking software ensures a constant flow of real-time information to optimize timelines and on-time delivery potential for customer satisfaction. For the solution to provide accurate and reliable data, on-time and every time, it is advisable to work with trusted tech partners. 

Achieve Real-Time and Unified View of All Shipments with Shipsy 

Shipsy empowers businesses to track their shipments in real-time via its intelligent shipment tracking software. The AI-powered logistics platform helps gain a unified and live view of international and domestic shipments across multiple shipping lines and 3PLs.

Shipsy’s real-time shipment visibility software simplifies carrier connections by helping companies establish seamless collaboration between their internal teams and freight forwarders. Plus, its advanced data analytics can track any kind of container detention, demurrage fees, and other KPIs to help businesses make smart decisions.

For customers and delivery personnel benefits, the software allows sharing live updates of container movements and delay notifications with just one click. Further, Shipsy offers real-time tracking functionalities across multiple industries and logistics use cases, such as on-demand, retail, manufacturing, and courier. 

Using Shipsy’s smart shipment tracking solution, businesses have experienced the following:

  • 37% decrease in ETA SLA breach
  • 64% increase in customer satisfaction
  • 26% increase in delivery NPS

Learn more about Shipsy’s smart shipment tracking solution and understand how it can improve your logistics and delivery operations, sign up and request a demo from the experts today!


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