Tackling supply chain tracking message overwhelm

3 Minutes Read

Supply chains and the people who run them are in a constant fight for better visibility. But when so much is still done in emails and spreadsheets, the sheer amount of manual effort gets in the way. This is especially true when it comes to contending with tracking messages for your products. Often, you just have to rely on the carriers to update you on their performance. So you can’t even course correct when things do go wrong. 

How do you sort through all of those messages without missing any of those important ones that need action? Is it even possible?

Using anonymised data from the 7bridges platform, we found out that it is, in fact, possible. But not easily and not by one person. Or at least, that’s the case if you’re determined to do it manually.


Managing tracking messages manually

Taking the time to tackle every single tracking message that comes in would be absolutely overwhelming. If you think about how long it takes just to open a short email and see what it says, without actioning anything in it, it’s probably only about five seconds. Which, on its own, sounds perfectly manageable. However, tracking messages are never on their own. 

Instead, average-sized retail businesses receive close to 5,400,000 tracking messages a year (or 20,000 a day). At five seconds per email, that’s nearly 28 hours of work coming in each day.  When you look at it that way, it’s completely unmanageable. Every day you get thousands of tracking messages that need to be monitored to make sure your products are being delivered to the right person, at the right time. But, with manual tracking, there’s no way to keep up with the volume of tracking messages.

Read more: Bad supply chain data isn’t your problem - here’s why

To stay on top of these messages, the average business would need to hire a team of four, full-time to cope with the 1000 working days’ worth of messages that come through. And, again, that’s without anything needing to be actioned. 

As soon as one of these new teammates of yours spots something wrong, even letting someone know would put them massively behind. But you do need to be able to take action on the messages for shipments that go awry. (This figure is based on the average of messages that read “Failure” or “Return-to-Sender”.) After all, providing a great customer experience is a key driver for most retail supply chains.

So what are you supposed to do?


Tracking messages sorted and prioritised

What you do to tackle tracking message overwhelm is to stop trying to do it all manually. It’s not working and isn’t worth the cost. Those four new hires will likely cost you £100,000 just in salaries alone. That cost eats into profit margins and can be the difference in hitting revenue projections.

Even if your sales are going through the roof, it won't mean much if that revenue is consumed by hiring more people to handle the data. Instead, consider using a platform that keeps all of your data in one place, makes it easy to see the messages that are important and doesn’t bother you with the things that aren’t. 

Platforms like 7bridges can help with your tracking issues. Not only do you actually get more visibility with the platform, but you also get the visibility you actually need. Because the platform gathers all of your data in one place, you’ll never need to worry about something getting missed. On the other hand, it also doesn’t shove every message in your face. Instead, you only get alerted to the messages you need to act on. Saving you time and hassle.

Read more: End-to-End visibility– 7bridges vs. control towers

Having a good, comprehensive tool in place for visibility is the only way to manage these effectively. And managing them is hugely important. If you decide to forgo hiring a whole team to manage your messages and you decide not to invest in a data management tool, you are, instead, choosing to eat the cost of that 1.2% of deliveries where the product didn’t end up with the customer. Which doesn’t sound too massive. But our research showed that 1.2% of messages accounts for much bigger financial numbers.

Those messages represent about £1.4 million in transportation costs annually. That’s not including any other costs of the sale itself. From our calculations, the total cost to your business from not being able to action those messages is closer to £28 million a year. That’s an immense impact on your revenue.

When you add the impact that lower customer experience and, therefore, customer loyalty has. The need to handle these messages efficiently is clear. According to our recent 2023 Consumer Data Report, nearly 40% of customers would be less likely to shop again with a brand that has frequent supply chain issues. And McKinsey reports that repeat buyers spend twice as much as new shoppers do. So getting deliveries right is a majorly important strategic goal. Even that 1.2%.

Learn more: Are supply chain disruptions send your customers into the hand of competitors?


So save yourself time, hassle and revenue by investing in your data and rolling out a platform that can help you make the most of it. Don’t waste your valuable time and energy and don’t miss a beat. It’s the best of both worlds.

Ready to find out how 7bridges can do this for you and your supply chain? Get a demo and talk to one of our experts today.

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