How to improve customer trust through supply chain visibility

Jonas Mehrhoff

What is trust in supply chain?

Trust is defined as the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something”. Trust is the life source of business relationships and an element of business relationships that should never be underestimated. Creating and maintaining trust is important to enable successful business partnerships. For companies dependent on supply chains, customer trust in supply chain is not just an essential factor, but one that could be crucial for the success of a company.

Traditionally, companies have been focussing on building trust internally and with their customers. With globalization however, this trust-building extended to external stakeholders, suppliers and partners involved in the supply chain. Trust has become a key metric in customers choosing their service providers, making this critical in light of the current disruptions and uncertainty in the supply chain world.

Many customers may be at a loss to understand whom to believe when it comes to the status of their shipments, as they don’t have the required visibility. The uncertainty is further fuelled by various media items relating to port congestions, shipment delays, cargo rollovers, driver shortages and many issues that are plaguing the industry currently.

73% percent of pharmaceutical company CEOs believe it is harder today for companies to gain and keep trust than in the past.


Trust in supply chain is especially difficult to build as there are several promises made by service providers on activities that may be beyond their control. Building trust takes time and can only be achieved through visibility and proof that the company is capable of doing what it promised the customer.

Trust in supply chain comes with the right mix of accountability, transparency, communication, understanding and collaboration, real-time supply chain visibility platforms allow customers to achieve this mix.   

How does real-time visibility influence trust?

Supply chain involves collaboration with stakeholders on various tiers to function efficiently, making the smooth collaboration between stakeholders essential. Having visibility allows supply chain managers to monitor this collaboration to ensure that all stakeholders along the chain have performed as per the SLAs and achieved their KPIs. Any issues that may impact performance, pricing and quality of service can immediately be identified and customers can be forewarned.

Real-time visibility creates reliability and dependability on the data shared and information provided. Receivers can monitor the competency of their service providers using this visibility to ensure that they are capable of doing what they are supposed to do – meeting promised delivery schedules.

End-to-end supply chain visibility platforms can help the various stakeholders to provide a seamless service across the ecosystem from order placements to execution. Beginning with the track and trace of raw materials for production to the delivery of the final product, the customer can track the progress and movement across the chain while giving them the ability to track the CO2 offsets and environmental impact. The transparency created by visibility assists in strengthening the trust between the service providers and customers.

Investing in supply chain visibility is a sure-fire way for companies to gain consumer trust and can even lead to increased sales from certain customers.

MIT Sloan School of Management  

The study by MIT Sloan School of Management done in conjunction with North Carolina State University and the University of Pittsburgh showed that 75% of respondents considered transparency helpful in strengthening trust between companies and customers but that only a few companies invest in learning more about supply chain visibility. Another study cited by researchers showed that 81% of 1,700 companies surveyed did not have full visibility into their supply chains, and 54% had no visibility at all. 

End-to-end visibility, allows companies to capitalize on opportunities for demand sensing, improved operational efficiencies, risk identification and management and stronger collaborations with vendors and suppliers.

The starting point for a company’s ability to provide real-time supply chain visibility starts with the usage of the right technology platform. Customers also need to have the confidence and trust that the correct product that they have ordered will reach them within the time that they ordered it, in the right quantity and at the right price.

The ability to track cargo movement across various modes of transport and various handling points in warehouses and cross docks allows companies to provide customers, the status updates on their orders, creating trust in the capability of the service provider which results in repeat business. Knowing where their products are at all stages is important for customers in case they need to expedite or slow down the movement or if there is a case of a recall which is important in medical and food logistics.

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Key take-away

As the demand grows, customers demand high-quality service along with accurate and proactive communication on the status of their shipments. This communication is especially important in the current situation where customers are concerned about delays to shipments caused by port congestion and cargo rollovers. Through effective implementation of technology, service providers can communicate timelessly to the customers providing them with the required information supplemented by supply chain visibility. This gives the customer the satisfaction that their goods are incapable and trustworthy hands.

By combining trust with technology customers can build and develop stronger, longstanding, and profitable relationships with the various stakeholders. Real-time supply chain visibility platforms are the future as the industry moves towards predictive and proactive communication and companies that adopt this technology will not only have a competitive advantage, but mitigate uncertainty and enhance the customer’s trust.

If you work with global supply chains, here are ways we can help you gain full control and visibility over your shipments.
If you’re operating with spreadsheets and disparate sources of data, learn more about how a digital platform can provide you with supply chain visibility in this free guide.
If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage your ERP with a supply chain platform, check out our free guide.
For more supply chain best practices, visit our resources page.
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