The importance of real-time visibility in the supply chain

Managing supply chains can be overwhelming. Fortunately, real-time visibility helps you to stay in control of each stage. Learn how it works...
July 24, 2023
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5-min read

The supply chain is a complex network that covers everything from production to distribution and sales. For wholesalers and distributors, it's incredibly important to have a clear view of the supply chain, including their suppliers and warehouses.

Without that awareness, managing the supply chain can feel like juggling plates in the dark. Fortunately, there's a solution. Real-time visibility gives you full access to your supply chain, so you can stay in control of every product and sale. Here's how it works:

What is real-time visibility?

Before we examine the benefits of real-time visibility for the supply chain, it's important to consider what the term really means. Real-time visibility involves using ERP software to track where your products are at each stage of the supply chain, from purchasing to the final sale. If you have real-time visibility over your supply chain, you know exactly where your stock is all the time.

Thanks to the advanced software, when a warehouse employee sends out a product for shipping, this information is synchronised across the system in real time. That means your purchasing team and sales team have access to the information as it happens.

In practice, however, very few companies appear to have control over their supply chain. Research from EY suggests that only 6% of companies are very confident in their capabilities for end-to-end supply chain visibility. That's particularly concerning when we consider the issues that can arise due to a lack of visibility:

Common supply chain issues

So, what's the point of real-time visibility? Well, it can potentially keep your business in action when problems arise with your supply chain - or it may just prevent them altogether. The most common issues include:

Lost stock

Do you know where every piece of your inventory is right now? Without the right software, it's incredibly easy to lose track of your stock. This can cause a number of problems down the line. For example, when it comes to shipping, your packing team might be confused about a product's bin location, which can lead to delays.


Stockouts cost businesses - big time! If your stock is too depleted and products go out of stock, your customers will get fed up and look elsewhere. Poor visibility can affect this issue, as sales staff may not be aware of inventory levels.


This brings us to the next issue - miscommunication. Without real-time visibility, your teams will be working on limited information. If the warehouse team fails to report a stockout, the purchasing team won't be aware of the limited stock. In turn, your sales team may take orders your business won't be able to fulfill on time.

Shipment delays

And, of course, this leads to delays in shipping products to customers. If a product is out of stock, it will take time for the product to be reordered and then shipped out to the client. The longer customers have to wait, the more likely they are to become frustrated with delays. That can potentially mean bad reviews and lost customers.

Human error

Many supply chain issues are caused by human error. A warehouse team member might record a product location incorrectly, or the purchasing team might order too much stock. If you don't have real-time visibility, these issues could risk going under the radar altogether.


Sometimes supply chain issues are completely out of your hands. Potential issues might include extreme weather conditions preventing delivery, for example. Without real-time visibility, you won't have the opportunity to prepare for these kinds of problems.

Benefits of real-time visibility for the supply chain

Keeping a close eye on your business has obvious benefits, but how can real-time visibility benefit the supply chain

Make informed decisions

With visibility comes informed decision making. Once you have access to up-to-date information, you can see what's selling quickly - and what's stuck on your shelves. That means a reduced likelihood of stockouts and delays. Sell multiple products in kit form? With OGL's Profit4 software, all components' stock levels will be updated in real-time with every sale. An all-round win-win!

Simplify warehouse management

Real-time visibility makes it easy to locate the warehouse bin your product is stored in. With inventory management software, your staff will also receive a note to guide them on an optimised route for picking. That saves time and staff resources - and your customers will be sure to have their orders on time.

Full integration

One of the best benefits of real-time visibility is that it brings different departments together. Your sales manager needs to know what stock is left in your warehouses. Your warehouse team needs to know what orders have been taken. The purchasing department will also need to know what product orders to raise.

Utilising software that synchronises your data means that all your departments have instant access to the information they need.

Automated purchasing

Now you're keeping an eye on your stock, you can also automate processes that you'd normally complete manually. Automating purchasing can make a huge impact on your supply chain. For example, you can arrange for orders to be sent directly to customers, and for products to be reordered once stock falls below a specified threshold. This all serves to prevent delays and stockouts.

Track stock and orders

Never lose sight of an order again. With Profit4, you'll have full traceability of stock, including as inventory moves between warehouses and trade stores. It's also easy to track orders, with full details, status updates and delivery estimates.

Take control of your supply chain with Profit4

Real-time visibility takes the question mark out of your supply chain. You and your team will know exactly what stock is incoming and what orders are outgoing. That's along with detailed information on stock locations.

If you'd like to avoid shipping delays and stockouts, then OGL's Profit4 software is a great solution. With automated purchasing and detailed reporting, you'll have access to a host of useful features to get to grips with your supply chain. Plus, the software is completely cloud-based, so your teams can access the information they need whether at home, in the office or on a customer's site.

Want to learn more about Profit4 inventory management software? Get in touch with our friendly team today - or watch our 3-minute demo to discover the benefits for your business.

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