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4 Steps to Build a More Transparent Supply Chain

Michael Wilson | Jun 23, 2015

Consumer trends indicate that end users want a clear view into the supply chain to appreciate the origins and transportation history of the products they purchase. Therefore, ...

supply chain strategyConsumer trends indicate that end users want a clear view into the supply chain to appreciate the origins and transportation history of the products they purchase. Therefore, transparency is critical and your supply chain strategy must deliver according to demand. According to the Financial Times, a transparent supply chain “captures the extent to which information about the companies, suppliers, and sourcing locations is readily available to end-users and other companies in the supply chain.” 

Once you understand the concepts behind transparency in logistics, you can implement a supply chain strategy that maximizes visibility into all of its components. Here are 4 ways to incorporate these initiatives:

1. Establish Your Goals

The first step in moving toward transparency is to figure out the current landscape of your supply chain. Assess how well you know the different tiers within your network of suppliers and the information you have about each subcontractor. Have a look at your purchasing history to determine the scope and direction for a systematic, phased strategy toward transparency. Your first-year goal should be to reveal the list of strategic partners, and subsequently meet different benchmarks until you’re able to automatically gather data from a transparent supply chain.

2. Gain Buy-In

Attaining transparency in your supply chain requires a close relationship with suppliers, as these partnerships will be beneficial in gaining the trust of customers and establishing premium brands. For this reason, you’ll need to get them on board early, just as soon as you’ve determined your goals. Your suppliers are a valuable resource in terms of forecasting issues that may arise in meeting your phased approach to transparency.

3. Send a Powerful Message

Choose your audience wisely, as many companies make the mistake of directing supply chain transparency disclosures at the wrong targets. Stakeholders are where you can obtain the most value from transparency, including your employees, executives, shareholders, and the media. Of course, the primary objective is to ensure that your potential customers become informed about your supply chain operations. Your efforts pay off when prospects learn that you deliver the highest quality products by paying special attention to their trip through the supply chain.

4. Fine Tune Your Efforts

The key to building a transparent supply chain is focusing on each phase and releasing details to the public when the timing is most appropriate, not when you’ve completed the entire project. Phasing in your strategy ensures that you make disclosures to the right people when you can gain the most benefit from the message, so you’re not waiting years before communicating your accomplishments. This way, you’re able to obtain feedback regarding your efforts and can adjust your approach as necessary.

Considering the benefits of transparency in your logistics operations, it’s wise to build your supply chain strategy around delivering it. Ultimately, it leads to better relationships between buyers, sellers, shippers and other components of the supply chain. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality, safety and environmental impact of the products they buy. Implement a transparent supply chain to provide this information before they discover it for themselves.

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