Since so much of the world’s products comes from far away in a long supply chain, it became difficult to know where most items originated. This caused consumers to swing the other way and now look for more transparency in their products, which highly affects the supply chain. When it comes to visibility now, it is not just that partner companies want to know exactly where their shipments are, but they also need to keep track of everything that goes into that product, down to the material sourcing. This level of visibility is noticeable in online product pages, says Angela Fernandez, vice president of community engagement at GS1 US.
“Within the span of 20 years, there have been two drivers of e-commerce evolution: increased investments in digital technology and consumer-centric strategies,” she says. “Core to both of these drivers is data accuracy and completeness, which is critical to delivering on the promise to the consumer and is starting to be seen as a strategic asset to enhance customer experiences. “For example, think about what an online product listing used to look like in 2000 vs. what it looks like now. You are likely to see images of a product from every angle now, as well as access extensive information about a specific product–is it washable? Is it hypoallergenic? What are its specific weights and dimensions? Supply chain as an industry has grown and changed in a positive way to reorient itself to make product details that were typically exchange between trading partners visible and accessible for conscientious consumers who can’t see or feel the product directly,” Fernandez adds.
Technologies such as blockchain, barcoding and radio frequency identification (RFID) can help this.