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Key to Successful Supply Chain Collaboration & End-to-End Visibility

April 15, 2022


A successful Supply Chain depends upon how each element works together, be it a supplier, shipper, or logistics provider. If one element fails to perform well, the entire process will fall apart. It doesn’t take much time for customers to notice that and spread the word, costing companies billions of dollars in poor PR.

Experts believe data and trust are critical factors keeping the whole fragile relationship intact. Also, having diverse suppliers who understand their local situation and provide the correct information on transportation networks can save businesses from disruptions.

Previously, Supply Chain Professionals followed a lean approach, focusing solely on the cost element. Immediately after the grueling reality of the pandemic hit hard, the vulnerabilities of the legacy supply chain models were exposed to the world. It demonstrated how unstable the demand-supply chain could be in the face of adverse and uncontrollable situations.

The Cost of Constrained Global Supply Chain Collaboration

The age-old practice of sharing just what is needed, when it is needed, has created a significant rift between customers and suppliers. As per experts, poor collaboration between customers, suppliers, vendors, and others in the demand-supply chain translates into decreased service levels to the customers and a massive loss of credibility. And the loss of credibility results in lesser revenues and lost opportunities.

A Fundamental Shift in Relationships

Companies need to reassess their relationship with different elements in the supply chain and focus more on multi-shoring to de-risk supply chains, not necessarily multi-sourcing. This will safeguard businesses from facing any disruptions in their procurement-supply channels if significant disruption hits specific geographies.

The importance of supply chain collaboration has been recognized only recently when businesses faced major roadblocks during the global crisis. To build a resilient supply chain network, longer-term relationships with every element are crucial alongside collaborative mechanisms to leverage joint resources and expertise. That’s the only way out to survive in the emerging new reality.

Increasing Supply Chain Visibility through Collaboration

So long, relationships between end-customers and tier-1 suppliers have been shallow and primarily transactional, pervading the visibility gap in the network. Supply chains for organizations don’t end with tier-1 suppliers; the suppliers’ suppliers are just as crucial. The absence of a proper understanding of what is happening at every stage can leave planners and organizations vulnerable to disruptions.

Gain a deeper understanding of upstream elements

To end the vulnerability of key players, an increased supply chain visibility through collaboration with both upstream and downstream suppliers is crucial. Hence, deepening the direct data links upstream in supply chains and enabling information-sharing capabilities tier one, two, three suppliers, or beyond can print the apt picture of what is happening in their supply chains.

Trust is the key to successful supply chain collaboration

Today, environment-conscious customers like to have complete knowledge and control over the products they purchase; hence, information regarding traceability back to the origin is essential for them, especially from a sustainability perspective.

Sadly, most retailers are reticent about sharing inventory and sell-specific data with others for fear of losing negotiating power capabilities and data to cybercriminals. Companies should either move closer to suppliers and build a relationship of trust or incentivize partners to collaborate – whichever works for your business.

Supporting suppliers lead to success

Besides ensuring supply chain collaboration through relationship-building, direct financial or IT support can help with the successful functioning of modern supply chains.

There can be technological disparity existing among two or three-tier suppliers. Providing them with the necessary technology and solution will improve your supply chain network visibility.


Finding a win-win solution based on mutual trust, understanding, and collaboration within the supply chain can reduce vulnerabilities for companies to the shortages that have plagued so many industries during the pandemic.

But, waking up to the new reality will not happen overnight. Companies should start their homework from a granular level by bridging the gaps with different tier suppliers and fostering a mutually benefiting environment of shared technology, knowledge, data, and trust. And throwing Automation into the mix can address problematic scenarios and usher in new opportunities to manage more extensive supply chain networks.

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