Written by
David Koke
Senior Marketing Manager

Beacon’s supply chain visibility and collaboration platform empowers organizations to achieve more efficient, reliable and sustainable supply chains.

In this article

June 3, 2024

Drowning in emails? It’s time for supply chain collaboration software

In supply chains, communication is king. 

Still, we all know what it’s like to feel an impossibly long email thread slip through our fingers, or to come to a chat late only to find more messages than you could possibly  attempt to read. 

Plus, any information received over email is at risk of being out of date the moment it is sent, and the time it takes to mine anything that’s relevant from the endless back and forths could be better spent actually solving problems. 

And with over 50 million tonnes of goods moving every day across the US alone, how can we stop logistics managers getting themselves buried under tonnes of email baggage? 

In broad strokes, all this communications baggage means inefficiency. And inefficiency leads to trouble in the form of higher costs, delays and missed revenue. 

In fact, a recent survey by Deloitte found that C-Suite executives cited “lack of acceptable cross-functional collaboration” as one of their major challenges in the supply chain. 

But there is a simple solution for those who find themselves drowning in emails. Supply chain collaboration software can put an end to the chaos of email threads with dozens of people in CCs.

The problem with communication in the supply chain

Supply chains are, by their very nature, connected entities. While the majority of work is done by individuals taking on specialized roles, their actions will have implications further down the chain. Thanks to siloed methods and time pressures, communication can be an afterthought: inconsistent, rushed, and prone to simple mistakes. 

The complexity of modern supply chains doesn’t help this. The time zones, stakeholders, partners, tools and platforms are varied and vast, and often working at speed. Not to mention customers that expect to be serviced 24/7, to ever-tightening deadlines. 

Outdated communication methods like email are just not cut out for it anymore. 

supply chain collaboration wheel
supply chain collaboration wheel

Death to emails

The first email was sent in 1971, and by the 1990s had started to take over the workplace. It’s technology that is over 50 years old. No wonder it’s slowing you down. The world has moved on a lot since the heyday of email in the nineties, so it’s high time we did too.

Slow and unsteady

Workflows based around email communication are designed for the slower world of the nineties and early 2000s. It simply can’t keep up with the demands placed on a modern, 24/7 global supply chain.

The minute you take information from a tool or portal and put it into an email, it’s at risk of being out of date. To run an efficient supply chain in 2024 you need access to the most accurate, up-to-the-second global data - you’re not running at 1997 speeds, neither should the way your team communicates. 

Lost in your inbox

We’ve all had information get ‘lost in email’. That’s because email is a communications silo. It can’t be connected to your other tools, so relies on accurate hand-overs, or for team members to be on top of every CC, which can quickly run into the hundreds. 

This can cause the shipping version of the butterfly effect - one small mistake here, a lost message there, a mistyped email or a forgotten CC, which further down the chain can cause confusion, delays and even incorrect shipments or compliance failures. 

Email chains can’t give you the full picture of what’s happening in your supply chain and can also impede visibility, affect your ability to prioritize, and make it difficult to hold partners accountable. 

Supply chain collaboration software can do all these things, and more.

What is supply chain collaboration software?

By keeping all of your shipping data, communication and stakeholders in a single connected hub, Beacon’s supply chain collaboration software allows you to access the key information you need, exactly when you need it.

So you and your stakeholders can work together to quickly and efficiently respond to risk, disruptions and unexpected changes, knowing that the information you hold is timely and accurate. 

How does supply chain collaboration software work?

The way platforms like Google Drive and Figma have enabled real-time collaboration in the workplace, Beacon Live Boards enable effective collaboration across your supply chain - making all information visible, shareable, accurate, and in one place. Allowing you to:

  • Share real-time updates with the team members that need to know 
  • Create custom views for different stakeholders so everyone is only seeing the shipments that matter to them 
  • Coordinate responses to delays and disruptions using embedded comment and chat capabilities 
beacon live boards
Beacon Live Boards

Among other things, Beacon Live Boards are being used to: 

  • Schedule port pickups with road haul partners 
  • Provide warehouse teams an accurate view of incoming shipments 
  • Create a triage list of at-risk shipments 
  • Keep merchandising teams and buyers in the loop
  • Share live tracking updates with customers

Next generation supply chain collaboration awaits… 

Emails have had their time, and still have their place, but the fast-paced and interconnected nature of modern supply chains warrant a better collaboration solution.

You don’t deserve to be slowed down by outdated tech. Instead you can minimize the impact and costs from delays and disruptions, streamline your workflow, provide a great experience for partners, and move closer to full supply chain visibility.

"Having clean data makes us look good to our clients, and shows that we are on top of everything. As a communication pipeline, Beacon is far superior to the other tools we have tried". - Known

You might be drowning in emails now, but Beacon’s supply chain collaboration software might just be the life saver you didn’t know you were looking for.