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Why digitisation is vital to ensure resilient supply chains

Home Transport & Logistics Why digitisation is vital to ensure resilient supply chains

OPINION | FOR any business involved in local or global trade, a robust supply chain is key to sustainable success, says Bobby Madhav, FNB head of trade and structured trade and commodity finance. The simple reality is that trade disruptions come in many forms, from natural disasters and geopolitical crises to trade conflicts and even pandemics; and in all these scenarios, a strong supply chain is required to keep a business running, avoid losses, and retain its edge over the competition.

Reliable supply chains are also key to a company’s ability to build trust with its customers, by showing that it can deliver no matter the circumstance. At the same time, the world of trade is always changing, and so are the rules. Companies need to keep up with new regulations, show that they can manage risks well, and demonstrate an ability to move quickly when required to do so.

In short, a strong supply chain isn’t just about getting through tough times; it’s about being prepared for the future and staying competitive in a fast-moving world. And there are few investments that a business can make that can deliver all these supply chain efficiencies and resilience than digitisation. Here’s why:

  1. Enhanced supply chain visibility – Digital tools like the Internet of Things (IoT), GPS, and RFID give you a clear view of where your business goods are at all times. This level of insight allows you to stay ahead of potential disruptions, manage your inventory smarter, and forecast demand and supply with greater precision.
  2. Smarter, data-enabled operations – Vast data collection and analysis across the supply chain can reveal important patterns and trends, and even help you to predict possible snags. Using advanced analytics and machine learning, your company can make well-informed decisions, optimise routes, and refine operations.
  3. Streamlining operations and costs through automation – Robotics and artificial intelligence are revolutionising trade by reducing manual tasks, cutting down on errors, and slashing operational costs. This automation extends to warehouses, inventory management, and order fulfilment, freeing up your human resources for more strategic initiatives.
  4. Better communication and collaboration – Digitisation effectively connects all the dots in your supply chain. Suppliers, manufacturers, logistics providers, and customers can all interact more effectively on digital platforms, and if you extend this digitisation to include the cloud and blockchain, it’s easy to ensure that everyone is on the same page, knows what they need to know, and avoids miscommunication and misunderstandings.
  5. Integration and accountability – A digitised supply chain is an integrated one, ensuring accountability and enabling all parties – from procurement to distribution and beyond – to be more proactive or responsive, as required.
  6. A personalised customer experience – Digital tools enable your business to tailor not just its offerings, but the way they are offered, to individual customer needs, at scale. This level of customisation means customers have access to real-time information on product availability, shipping, and delivery via e-commerce platforms and customer portals – all of which go a long way towards improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  7. Improved risk management and compliance – Digitisation helps companies stay compliant with international regulations and standards. Digital platforms offer businesses the tools to monitor changes and adhere to compliance needs, reducing the risk of penalties and fines.
  8. Cost savings – By optimising your supply chain, digitisation can result in substantial cost reductions. In addition to saving on labour costs associated with manual processes, effective analytics can help to reduce inventory overheads, and digitally-driven predictive maintenance can help to decrease the cost of equipment repairs.
  9. Enabling global sourcing – Digitisation can open up a world of suppliers, providing you with the opportunity to ‘shop around,’ for the most competitive pricing and best quality. Virtual tools and cloud-based systems also make it easier to manage projects across borders and time zones, giving your business an additional edge through effective global sourcing.

While all of these benefits make a compelling case for investing in supply chain digitisation, the process can be intimidating and, if not approached correctly, costly too. This is why FNB has made the entire process of digitisation simple, accessible and cost-effective through its award-winning First Trade 360 solution. Designed to simplify the complexities of trade and logistics, First Trade 360 provides businesses with a comprehensive platform for real-time management, live tracking, and insurance of shipments. It’s a fully integrated system that seamlessly delivers all the benefits of digitisation, from improved efficiency to increased resilience, via a single user-friendly dashboard.

By embracing digitisation, whether facilitated by FNB’s First Trade 360 or not, businesses involved in local and global trade can future-proof their operations and set a new standard for efficiency and competitiveness, delivering not just an improvement in day-to-day operations, but a vital transformation in the resilience of their supply chains.

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