Visibility’s role in logistics is undeniably a hot topic, yet a significant portion of the industry has been slow to actually adopt visibility technology. Not too long ago, enhanced visibility options were viewed as a “nice-to-have” perk, prompting some companies to put adoption on the backburner in favor of seemingly more urgent tasks. More recently, however, these solutions have started to be viewed as necessities.

The call for greater visibility throughout the supply chain started well before the coronavirus pandemic took over the globe in early 2020. Still, the pandemic — and the resulting e-commerce surge — certainly drew more attention to the need for tracking and transparency. Companies in the industry have come to expect better visibility from their partners. Just as importantly, end consumers have started expecting real-time visibility on online orders. 

“If there is anything we learned through COVID, it is that e-commerce and all that comes with it is not going away. In fact, it has grown quite a bit throughout the pandemic. I don’t see people going back,” FreightPOP CRO Justin Dickson said. “Consumers place demands on businesses. It is part of daily life, and it will continue to increase, emphasizing the need to solve the friction even more so.”

Shippers have come to expect more visibility and higher degrees of transparency from both carrier partners and manufacturing partners in response to consumer expectations. Not only is partner cooperation necessary to provide the updates customers crave, but it is also a useful tool to spot trouble early and help protect against recurring bad reviews.

“Poor reviews are often caused by issues that happen in transit. Visibility into which carriers a company works with, and a way to track how often a carrier damages packages, can help negate these bad reviews that affect new business,” Dickson said. “Companies need to be able to see who the heavy offenders are down to the lane level. Bad reviews affect sales and web presence.”

On the manufacturing side, a lack of visibility into when parts and supplies will arrive compromises a shipper’s ability to get orders out the door. This inhibits business growth, and the constant guesswork leads to friction and frustration. By having better visibility into these timelines, shippers can plan their workflows to accommodate changes and delays before they become a problem.

“People resist because people think visibility will be an out-of-the-box experience. That is not always the case; it depends on the mode and the technology involved,” Henrriquez said. “People have seen that and become disappointed. It is going to get better because the carriers are improving their technology.”

Many of the companies that have decided not to adopt visibility solutions after a disappointing first impression may not have considered new tools in the past year or two. Since technology is changing rapidly — and general technological adoption is surging — the visibility tools available today are significantly more advanced than those hitting the market as recently as 2018. Dickson encourages companies that have not assessed their options in some time to keep an open mind and take another look.

“The tracking of yesterday is not the tracking of today, and it will not be the tracking of the future,” Dickson said. “Technology systems have become smarter and more intuitive than just a couple years ago, making it easier to provide a seamless tracking experience on the front end.”