Discover why lack of data is a top supplier challenge in 2024

by | May 21, 2024 | Data Management, Inventory Management, Order Fulfillment, Suppliers

In early 2024, SPS Commerce partnered with Supply Chain Dive to survey 150 suppliers about the challenges they faced in the past year, and how prepared they feel for future disruptions. The survey also asked them what steps they have taken or plan to take in order to meet these challenges.

The results revealed just how critical good, actionable data is to supply chain success—and how far some organizations still have to go to feel comfortable with their ability to make use of that data. Challenges like siloed data, difficulty gathering information from retail partners and across channels and being able to get insights from the data they collected were near the top of the list of worries our respondents cited.

Here are a few of the challenges our survey uncovered:

1. Trouble accessing retailer sales and inventory data

More than 40% of survey respondents expressed difficulty getting ahold of sales and inventory data from their retail partners. With more suppliers adding direct-to-consumer sales to their strategy, retailers are more hesitant to share information with organizations who might use that data to compete more effectively with them.

Without good insight into retailer data, suppliers will struggle to get inventory to the right place at the right time—which can significantly slow their fulfillment. That’s why building better, more trusting relationships with retail partners is crucial to supplier fulfillment success.

2. Lack of agility and disruption preparedness

Fewer than half of survey respondents (43%) said they’re very prepared for the next disruption, and more than half said they’re only somewhat prepared. Even more troubling, fewer than half said their organizations handled disruption well over the past year.

With the next big disruption always just around the bend, building agility into your organization is critical for long-term success. Data is the major differentiator here: Organizations with real-time, end-to-end visibility and advanced data analytics and visualization capabilities are much better equipped to handle supply chain fluctuations—even dramatic ones.

3. Cost of returns

Returns management presents another sticking point for many suppliers. Shipping costs keep rising, and all organizations keep looking for ways to minimize the problem. For retailers, this often means trying to pass return shipping costs on to their suppliers, creating friction and making direct-to-consumer sales even more attractive to suppliers.

Keeping returns costs down is another area heavily impacted by your ability to collect and analyze data. Everything from sourcing high-quality raw materials (which lessens the potential for products being returned in the first place) to employing automation to handle returns more efficiently can help minimize costs.

Want to learn more about the challenges suppliers identified in the survey, and how better data can help solve them? Read the full report here.

Christina Borglund