How B2B companies can use visibility to navigate the tumultuous global supply chain

Tim Beyer is global COO of technology scale-up Sana Commerce

Global supply chain shortages. Who is not affected by it? Honestly, in today’s connected world, there’s no escaping what can go wrong with your supply chain.

What once seemed like science fiction has turned into an unthinkable reality. A disease evolved into a pandemic within weeks; governments forced millions of workers to stay at home; a single container ship blocked a critical international shipping route. Some products disappeared the moment the stock hit the shelves, while others went unsold because of their brand name. None of these events waited for others to finish; your company was probably influenced by more than one – maybe all of them.

It has become clear to B2B companies everywhere that waiting for uncertainty to pass is no longer a valid strategy. You are probably mitigating the risks of global supply chain challenges by changing processes, prioritizing product lines, stockpiling, or sourcing new suppliers. You adapt to changing circumstances.

But I want to show you why just adapting to uncertainty isn’t enough and why the flexibility you build into your processes isn’t the only tool available to your business. You can even take advantage of new opportunities as they come your way – while getting closer to your customers – even as the global supply chain remains under attack. Here’s how to manage your B2B ecommerce experience to meet customer expectations and stay competitive in the face of global supply chain challenges.

Gaining a competitive advantage amid the global supply chain crisis

Let’s get back to basics: your customers. Supply chain issues make buyers anxious. Your customers expect reliability – no one wants to place an order and get an email a week later that they can’t get the products they need for their business. You don’t want to disappoint your customers with incorrect or outdated information. Sixty percent of procurement leaders agree that this lack of transparency in the supply chain is a risk. You cannot solve the global supply chain challenges alone. How can you turn the situation around to gain a competitive advantage?

As a B2B leader and seller, you may not be able to solve the supply chain crisis, but you can mitigate the impact by providing a better buying experience and setting the right customer expectations. Give customers the confidence they need by providing a high level of visibility and delivering orders when they expect them. After all, you’re in it together: your customers don’t expect miracles, but they want to know if they can get the ordered products when they expect them. In short, to meet customer expectations, you need complete visibility into the supply chain, from your enterprise resource planning software (ERP) to your online storefront.

How to make this transparency possible?

The good news is that the information needed for full visibility is right under your nose. Your own ERP system has incredibly valuable data, going beyond inventory levels to account for all the factors that affect an order’s delivery date. It can already calculate how quickly the supply chain can respond to unexpected demand to make accurate predictions.

You can use this incredible tool to create a transparent ecommerce experience by integrating your ERP with your digital storefront. Keep in mind I said integrate, not sync. When things change as quickly as they do today, you need your data in real-time, meaning what your customers see on your ecommerce platform matches what’s happening in the supply chain. This way you can let customers know in real time what is available, when a product is back in stock and when they can expect delivery.

This level of visibility and transparency will help you build trust with buyers, while the convenience of a seamless ecommerce experience keeps your customers coming back.

Shape, don’t adjust

Supply chain challenges are now a reality for all organizations. The future requires us to do more than just adapt to these issues and instead seize the opportunity to shape the way our industry works. By taking the lead in managing supply chain risk with your customer — by providing them with complete transparency — your business may be less affected by uncertainty than in the past.

Having the ability to remain competitive in the face of global supply chain turmoil has become a mandate for any business. Fortunately, we have more digital tools than ever to help us leverage data and gain real-time visibility, while delivering a better customer experience. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?