With consumer expectations rising, it has become more prevalent than ever for retailers to make sure they’re avoiding unnecessary delays and customer dissatisfaction. A key way to do this is to ensure their transport methods are agile and continuously controlled.

But, in a world of real time supply chain management, the lack of proactive approaches to timely decision making when it comes to transporting goods is startling, particularly when dealing with sea freight cargo. While GPS cargo vessel tracking has long provided a retailer with visibility of stock in transit, retailers need to transform the way they embed this information within operations, both reactively and proactively, to improve efficiency, effectiveness and customer engagement.

Retailers should use cargo vessel GPS tracking to support intelligent decision making

From hurricanes in the Atlantic to political unrest in the Far East, the impact of products being stuck on a vessel for even a few additional days can be very significant. The problem is not simply the risk of reneging on customer promises; it is the sheer lack of visibility which fundamentally constrains effective decision making.

While there are a myriad of options to choose from when it comes to mitigating the potential problems created by vessel delays, retailers need to know just how the big the problem is. But the majority are unable to answer this question, because planning teams simply do not have access to the information required to make well-informed decisions.

This is changing. Not only can real time cargo vessel GPS tracking provide constant, accurate visual progress of goods in transit, this information can be combined with additional data feeds – such as weather and news – to gain essential insight into potential delays. Add in the intelligence delivered by machine learning and retailers can use this real-time GPS tracking to understand the supply chain fall out of a potential delay, insight that can support intelligent decision making regarding the most effective response. This will also enable retailers to rapidly understand the options should a delay be predicted – from diverting products to different hubs, to opting for rapid replenishment via air to avoid an expensive shortfall.

The knock-on effect of unexpected delays

For retailers, an unexpected delay can have a massive – and expensive – knock on effect on the rest of the supply chain. Every decision made is reactive, because companies have no trusted insight into the vessel’s position or the potential implication on the next stage of the product’s journey. But, if they were to be presented with an 80% certainty of a five day delay, plus a range of viable alternatives based on previous decisions, retailers can be both confident and proactive in their response.

Having a transparent and agile supply chain is vital. From allocating the right resources to the warehouse at the right time, to offering customers alternative products, to understanding the implications of delays, embedding GPS cargo vessel tracking into both day to day decisions and strategic planning can transform retailer confidence in an increasingly uncertain marketplace.