How Real-Time Visibility Is Transforming Traditional Logistics Practices

Real time visibility map of U.S. deliveries

Having trouble getting a handle on where — exactly — your deliveries are at any moment? You’re not alone: According to a recent industry survey, 61% of retailers cited lack of real-time visibility as a major challenge.

Without real-time visibility into your deliveries, you’ll have a harder time keeping customers informed and happy. It’s also harder (or impossible) to head off exceptions before they affect your customers. And that struggle is critical — many customers will abandon a brand after just one bad experience.

Solving this problem means gathering information from across your network of carriers — a daunting task if you’ve got a complex last mile delivery network. Data is often trapped in various siloes, making it harder to nail down. But there’s good news, too: many retailers are using retail delivery solutions and automation to help get a handle on their delivery visibility.

What’s Real-Time Visibility?

Put simply, real-time visibility is the ability to get up-to-the-minute details of a delivery from order placement to the moment it reaches its destination. A tracking number can tell a customer when their order has left the warehouse or a carrier hub, but real-time tracking goes further.

Using GPS, along with details like peak traffic times and weather patterns, a live tracking platform can not only pinpoint a delivery at any point of its journey — we love getting those “Your package is 10 stops away” notifications! — a real-time visibility platform can also spot potential exceptions so you can reroute as necessary. With this clearer picture, you’re better able to plan, schedule and route deliveries, and keep customers informed at every step.

Thanks to technology developing at an ever-faster pace, retail logistics transportation solutions can pull data from your entire network, resulting in several transformative changes in logistics companies.

Real-Time Visibility Benefit 1: Better Customer Experience

The worst thing a retailer can do, in a customer’s eyes, is keep them in the dark about where their order is. Today’s consumers want their online order to arrive yesterday (but same- or next-day shipping will do in a pinch!). While they aren’t exactly happy when an exception pops up, they’ll be far more understanding if you can tell them where that order is and what you’re doing to solve the issue.

Using a real-time visibility platform, you can spot exceptions as (or before) they occur and have the problem sorted before your customer even knows there’s an issue. In the occasional times a delivery delay can’t be avoided, showing you’re proactive about rerouting or otherwise solving the problem will keep you in your customer’s good graces.

Real-Time Visibility Benefit 2: Reduced Costs

A 2020 survey found that the average cost of a failed delivery in the U.S. was $17. That can really add up over the course of a year if you’re relying on inaccurate, old or hard-to-access data. And if you’re shipping large items, like appliances or furniture, the cost of a delivery problem can shoot even higher.

A good real-time visibility platform can save you a lot of money and headaches. It not only provides information you need to handle exceptions for current deliveries, but also collects historical data so you can better predict future demand and carrier service coverage. With information about past delivery exceptions at your fingertips, you can use supply visibility tools to make better supply chain decisions.

Real-Time Visibility Benefit 3: Better KPI Tracking

If you have a subcontracted carrier network – especially a complex one with multiple retail delivery services – it can be difficult to measure delivery service levels if you don’t have real-time visibility into those carriers’ performance. This is especially true if you’re using a tool that requires carriers to manually enter data on each delivery.

If you want to meet SLAs every time, you have to have an efficient way to gather information from carriers and see how each carrier is performing in your network. A real-time visibility platform gives you the granular information you need to make important decisions about carrier selection based on performance, price and capacity.

Real-Time Visibility Benefit 4: More Flexibility

Supply chain disruptions can be a nightmare at the best of times. A lack of visibility makes the problem much more severe. Without it, you’re less able to think on your feet and adjust to changes in customer demand, carrier capacity and a hundred other fluctuating conditions.

Even (or maybe especially) in times of disruption, customers want fast delivery and a menu of delivery options. Real-time visibility is crucial here, so you can check carrier capacity, choose the right courier based on mode and rates and get products into customers’ hands quickly, even during times of high demand.

Take the First Step Toward Complete Last Mile Visibility

Managing your last mile delivery network via spreadsheets and phone calls is a CHORE. OneRail provides supply chain visibility tools to manage your fleet for you and provide the real-time visibility you need to make solid, data-based decisions. Schedule a demo today to see how we can transform your logistics practices.

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