Shipping and Supply Chain

5 Essential Steps for Digitizing Your Shipping and Supply Chain

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With Industry 4.0 in the full swing, digitizing businesses has almost become the norm. Employing digital tech can help improve and accelerate the workflow. The world of trade also benefits from digitization, as it can make the tasks regarding the supply chain and shipping process much easier to handle. In this article, you can read about the five essential steps you should take when aiming to digitize the processes regarding the supply chain and shipping.   

1. Consider different technologies that you could use

The first step to digitizing your shipping and supply chain should be to identify the areas of your business that could benefit from digitization. Then, you can get to brainstorming ideas regarding the tech that you could use. Digital technologies to consider include:

Picking out the piece of tech to incorporate also pertains to different tools that would facilitate digitization. For example, you could employ the transportation management system (TMS). TMS is a digital platform whose purpose is to aid in handling the logistics of the transportation of goods and the shipping process. It’s best to research different tech solutions that are useful for the supply chain and shipping digitization and take notes before you proceed to the next step. You can write pros and cons for each piece of tech and order them by priority.

2. Create a digitization strategy and set your goals

Once you have written down all the possible digitization solutions, it’s time to make the final decision. In this step, you should devise a digitization strategy. What this means is that you ought to make a comprehensive plan regarding how you’re going to implement the tech solutions you opted for. Since introducing the intelligent supply chain and other forms of digitization would change the way your business runs in some areas, you would probably need to make some modifications, such as assigning different tasks to some of the employees. Crucial factors to consider when creating your strategy include:

digital screen
Businessman pointing at his presentation on the futuristic digital screen
  • your budget,
  • what areas of the business are a priority,
  • what the pros and cons are of digitizing each area,
  • what the risks are.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you don’t overspend in the beginning by choosing to digitize areas of business that would benefit from digitization the most. You should also assess the potential risks in order to be able to come up with the best solutions possible. Finally, along with your digitization strategy, it can be helpful to also set the goals related to the digitization of your business and when you wish to achieve them. This will allow you to stay on track and implement the changes faster.

3. Choose software solutions

Having decided on the exact digital technologies and the kinds of tools you would use, as well as what areas of business you wish to digitize, you can proceed to choosing adequate software solutions. For example, if you made a decision to incorporate IoT sensors that would alert you when you are low on supplies, you could take it a step further and automate the supply process. The way this works is, you can opt for a piece of software that can be connected to the sensors and automatically orders the supplies when it gets a signal from the sensor to do so. 

Furthermore, you could implement a trade finance solution. Trade finance enables you to pay your supplier up-front, while you pay the trade finance company back with an affordable interest rate. Companies that offer trade finance not only supply the money to be paid to the vendor, but they also handle the payment for you. You can also oversee the supply chain process through their platform.   

Logistics Freight Management Storage Supply Concept
Logistics Freight Management Storage Supply Concept

4. Test out your digitization strategy

Before you embark on implementing your digitization strategy, it’s highly advisable that you test it out first. During your testing phase, you can detect any flaws in your plan and make the necessary changes. For example, you may find that the transportation logistics software that you opted for doesn’t suit the needs of your business and only disrupts the workflow. Then, you can choose a different piece of software that enhances the process. Making sure that everything works properly would help you avoid any major errors caused by software that could lead to the company suffering a financial loss.

5. Implement the digital solutions

Finally, after completing all the previous steps, it’s time to implement the digital solutions. It’s best to start small, and invest in technologies that you listed as a priority during the first stage. That way, you will be able to prepare your employees for the changes, as well as avoid making too large of an investment before you see how these digital solutions work for your company. After that, you’ll be able to gradually introduce more tech.

Final comments

Ultimately, digitization can do wonders for a company if incorporated correctly. That’s why you need to take your time and go through all the necessary steps to ensure that the digital tech works in your favor. 

Mike Johnston

Mike Johnston is an experienced writer, blogger, and editor with a background in marketing and creative writing. He’s produced thousands of pages of original, engaging content for numerous online publications throughout his career. Mike’s specialties are business and technology, but he also often covers careers, lifestyle and work-life balance.

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