Unless you’ve been doing your order fulfillment from a cave in the middle of the ocean for the last decade, you’ve heard the term “Big Data.”
You’ve probably even been told once or twice how it can save your company a lot of money by eliminating waste and helping you to better understand your customers.
All of this is true. But there’s a lot more that data is up to when it comes to the supply chain.
Data is the Backbone of Modern Logistics
There was a time, long ago, when vendors and retailers all wished they could read their customers’ minds. If only they could access that information, they’d be able to perform so much better and grow without any impediment. Then that day came.
Data has been a game-changer for everyone. Sectors like eCommerce, traditional retail, wholesale and even manufacturing and warehousing have been made or remade by the many thousands of measurements they can now perform. In the past, if you needed information on a process or procedure, you’d turn to an analyst and wait weeks for an answer.
Today, the right software, the right measurements and the push of a button will give you the answer in minutes. Not only is that data fast, it’s no longer simply analytical. Data gives you actionable information that can quickly turn the tide on problems your business is experiencing. You can see what products are being consistently returned, for example, or deliveries that are delayed due to dangerous weather.
In both cases, you can immediately respond. In the first, you can use common customer return reasons to fix your website or manufacturing problem; in the second, you’ll simply reroute that package through a much safer area.
All of This Data Comes at a Cost
At least, that’s what anyone who is still resisting the use of data for warehousing, fulfillment or order distribution keeps telling themselves.
The truth is that data also saves companies huge amounts of money every year. It’s especially useful for maintaining just the right amount of inventory in warehouses, ensuring that you won’t run out of product, nor will a whole lot of something go bad or out of fashion before its sold.
Order distribution is smarter and faster because of data. Trucks on different routes can communicate just how much space they have left to fill and if they are anticipating any problems accomplishing on-time last mile delivery. GPS tracks them across country or through a metro area, allowing the distribution company to better route deliveries down the road.
The future is bright and it’s in large part because of data. The more you know about your operations and the operations of your supply chain partners, the better you can work together to solve problems and accomplish even greater feats of logistic splendor.