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Cliff Holste

Supply Chain Digest
Material Handling Editor

Logistics News - Sorting It Out

Cliff Holste is Supply Chain Digest's Material Handling Editor. With more than 30 years experience in designing and implementing material handling and order picking systems in distribution, Holste has worked with dozens of large and smaller companies to improve distribution performance.

August 9, 2017

Sorting It Out: Best-in-Class Shippers Provide Real-Time Order Tracking Status

Expanding the Scope of Value Added Services


One way shippers can differentiate themselves from companies offering similar services is to expand the range and scope of Value Added Services (VAS) they offer. These services can range from simple repackaging and relabeling to more complex kitting, monogramming, and light manufacturing/assembly operations. Anytime a company can offer more expanded services it can attract more customers and increase margin. The problem is that if the company does not have adaptable supply chain technology systems to support and manage these services efficiently, they will not be profitable.

Holste Says...

...Shippers must have the architecture in place to provide the ability to limit access to data and avoid the liability of network security issues.

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For many shippers having access to up-to-the minute information about on-hand inventory and customers’ order shipping status is critical to managing their business. For example: did the cartons of snow shovels destined for Minnesota already ship, or can they be redirected to New York. In order to answer this type of inquiry the shipper must have real-time visibility into inventory, order fulfillment, shipping, and even billing.

According to industry experts, the best way to do that is through a Web-portal solution. A secure Web portal provides the basis for real-time information sharing and improved inventory visibility. This IT solution enables collaboration throughout the supply chain, giving customers the most accurate and timely view into the status of their orders. Customer can make knowledgeable decisions based on changing demand. So when the radar shows that the snowstorm has shifted to the northeast, they can access up-to-the-minute information to know whether they can re-direct those snow shovels to where the highest demand will be. 

Data security issues (of which horror stories are frequently in the news) are of course a major concern. Therefore, shippers must have the architecture in place to provide the ability to limit access to data and avoid the liability of network security issues. IT experts agree that a true, multi-customer architecture will allow for data dependent security controls, so that the logistics service provider can limit access to only pre-authorized employees and/or customer representatives. Authorized personal can also be limited in their ability to make inquiries and changes through role-based security features. 

If you what better Supply Chain visibility and Planning and have not done so already, a good place to start is by joining the Logistics Portal Forum – it’s free at where you will be able to connect with IT experts and technology providers. Of course you will need an up-to-date WMS. Therefore, you might find it interesting that the new Elastic WMS from WhereWerks is being featured in Supply Chain Digest’s Cool New Product of the Month for July, 2017 – view Dan Gilmore’s short video clip here:

Final Thoughts 

Logistics dynamics are always changing and shippers are constantly being challenged to develop new business models that are more nimble and responsive to their customer’s service requirements. Providing better more up-to-date IT solutions is one of the most important factors pertaining to new growth opportunities.

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