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Importance of Track and Trace

Customer service is the new battleground for manufacturers and retailers wanting seamless fulfilment. The added complexity of omnichannels requires greater visibility and agility in track and trace.

Consumers now buy goods using multiple touch-points, from shops to social media. And their expectation is immediacy; same day or next day delivery. They also expect delivery/collection options; in-store, home, work, somewhere else.

To fulfil this demand, there needs to be visibility of stock across all channels and locations for both staff and customers, and to have the logistics in place to physically deliver on orders. Indeed 87%* of retailers said a single view of inventory was good for driving competitive advantage while 71%* claimed it supported customer satisfaction.

Track and trace technology like label barcoding is vital to this process. Empowering staff with handheld scanners and printers gives them visibility of stock, better communication and connectivity and the means to be more operationally efficient.

The next generation of mobile printers like the ZQ500 series from Zebra Technologies is designed to withstand the most demanding of environments. They’re used for numerous applications like proof of delivery for couriers, shipping labels and till receipts. They’re easy to use and the media (e.g. receipts and labels) is easily changed even when the user’s wearing gloves.

Such technology undoubtedly increases fulfillment speed, but maintaining connectivity is critical. When mobile devices fail, users want quick repairs or fully configured pool stock on standby, otherwise the supply chain link is broken and costs start accruing. Downtime can be minimized and costs reduced through managed print service (MPS) contracts. They typically save logistics operators around 30% of costs and ensure their fleet of devices is properly maintained and serviced on an all-inclusive basis (parts, labour and consumables).

Perishable foods suppliers increasingly require fast fixes - as short as 4 hours. A combination of fewer engineers on the road and ‘return-to-base’ solutions often mean interruptions in connectivity. MPS contracts largely pre-empt such scenarios and industrial MPS providers like Datatrade often remotely fix devices thereby maximising warehouse uptime. Maintaining connectivity is therefore very much part of keeping customers satisfied.

Datatrade has worked with logistics operators for over 30 years, and its MPS and remote services play valuable roles in making operations more efficient through better stock visibility and communication.

* Source: The Connected Shopper survey and Flawless Fulfilment in the retail supply chain survey conducted by IDG on behalf of Zebra Technologies

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