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Within the last months I had the chance to talk to many Retail people about track and trace in their supply chains. As Solution Manager for Retail Supply Chain and SAP Leonardo, I am happy to join these discussions and show how SAP can provide significant benefit for Retailers in this area.

But first, let’s go back a step and see how and why supply chain risks have increased tremendously for Retailers. It’s essential for retailers to deliver their products on-time, in best condition and at the right location. Retailers who have unfortunately experienced a breakdown in their supply chain know that a lack of full real-time situation awareness frequently prevented them from finding quick and simple solutions. A slow reaction on disruptions leads to sub-optimal inventory levels, loss of sales and finally to a negative impact on shareholder value and brand trust.

To make this much more challenging, today a retailer is acting within multi-tier logistics, within increasingly complex supply networks. Active in brick and mortar stores and e-commerce business a retailer must handle a huge assortment. Shipping these products along the supply chain is a multi-tier process with lots of different players and unfortunately lots of possibilities for disruptions. Track and trace is key to gain situational awareness into all goods in transit. No retailer can afford a lack of full real-time situation awareness as it prevents from promptly identifying disruptions and take corrective actions immediately.

What we know is that retailers that run an efficient and flexible supply chain from suppliers to homes and offer convenient and reliable shopping experience do outperform their competition. Their key to success is

  • An efficient collaboration with all stakeholder cross-companywide in a huge logistics network
  • Possibility of real-time monitoring and quick adjustments
  • Document compliance with specific requirements and conditions all along the supply chain
  • Connected IoT to provide information for real-time situational awareness: devices, cargo, likes pallets or containers, transportation resources like trucks, onboard units and services like weather or traffic forecast

Let’s now have a closer look an SAP Global Track and Trace, SAP’s cloud service solution that offers cross-company tracing of objects (e.g. palettes and/or trucks), processes (e.g. shipment and/or delivery), and events (e.g. exceed temperature limits). It captures, processes and stores tracking information about tracked objects and business processes in a central repository of information for all involved stakeholders.

What are the components of track & trace? How can a retailer benefit?

Easy business partner onboarding

With an easy business partner onboarding and management retailers can provide real-time insights to all relevant stakeholders in their supply chain as per their specific business needs. It’s an easy concept of invitations and registrations:

  • Administrator of solution owner invites other solution participants
  • Administrator of solution owner registers his business users
  • Administrator of other solution participants registers their business users

Provide the right information to the right users at the right time

Every business user in SAP Global Track and Trace has access via personalized launchpad, with functionality to manage business partners and business users, manage master data and track business processes. Tracking details are available on a different screen that shows event header data, related events and the real-time status like shock levels, temperatures and pictures. Corrective actions can be taken immediately.

SAP Global Track and Trace is also embedded in the SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge that provides information on real-time data and gives contextual business information sourced from multiple systems including applications such as SAP Global Track & Trace, ERP, Connected Goods, and SAP Vehicle Insights, …

SAP Global Track and Trace is developing rapidly and continues to provide further functionality a retailer can benefit from e.g. in product genealogy or serial item handling.

Finally, there are some ideas where retailers can highly benefit from a tracking solution for logistical distribution, traceability of picking, shipping, distribution and stock movement.

  • Enable store managers to communicate with central order department via app
  • Enable store managers to trace inbound deliveries
  • Track transports regarding sensor data – temperature, shock rates, sealing sensors, ..
  • Monitor event chains and propose alternatives, including Machine Learning functionality
  • RFID tags to replace time consuming and possibly incorrect counting in the distribution center but also in the store

So, stay tuned on SAP Global Track and Trace, think about your retail scenario and remember “The brand owner is always to blame if something goes wrong in the supply chain. SAP Global Track and Trace is a means of ensuring brand security.

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