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The Importance of Supply Chain Visibility for Jewelry Industry Suppliers

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues have been one of the most persistent and unpredictable problems facing businesses at all points on the supply chain. Production shortages, shipping delays, and swings in consumer demand have caused headaches for manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers alike.

These issues may begin to ease in the coming months, but returning to business as usual is not the smartest course of action. We’ve seen just how bad things can get, and with better supply chain visibility, we can analyze the causes of supply chain disruptions in order to better prevent them from happening again. If it seems we can’t prevent them altogether, we can at least give ourselves the opportunity to see them coming and adjust business strategies accordingly.

Supply chain visibility refers to the ability to track the location of materials and merchandise as they move through the supply chain, and it is of particular importance to suppliers, who are the link between manufacturers on one side and retailers on the other. It is different from, but related to, supply chain transparency and traceability, which answer ethical questions about labor conditions and the sources of metals and gemstones.

Supply Chain Visibility for Jewelry Suppliers

Having the capability to see into the operations of partners at all points on the supply chain is especially important in the jewelry industry, with its long, global supply chain. Suppliers are right in the middle of that supply chain, between miners, manufacturers, and lapidaries on one hand and retailers and consumers on the other. An American supplier might buy gems that were mined in Botswana, cut and polished in India, and shipped to the US by an Israeli company. Having a clear picture of what’s going on at every link in the supply chain will help suppliers make more informed buying and selling decisions, reacting to problems before they become problems. Shortages will no longer take you by surprise, and shipping disruptions won’t force you to leave retailers with empty display cases.

In a truly global industry like the jewelry industry, a change in the political or economic (or even climactic) conditions in one country can have dramatic effects on business in another. While we can follow the news to keep abreast of these events, it is only by keeping in close contact with businesses upstream, understanding exactly how these events affect them, that suppliers can keep the supply chain working smoothly.

Improving Supply Chain Visibility

Suppliers should have a clear idea about the workings of their entire supply chain. Traceability is one part of the equation: retailers and consumers want to know where their metals and gemstones are coming from. Supply chain visibility has another purpose, one important to the operation of your business: avoiding delays and disruptions.

With a comprehensive view of the supply chain, you’ll also be in a good position to identify and root out costly inefficiencies. Greater supply chain visibility might reveal problems you didn’t even know existed.  Looking downstream, improving supply chain visibility will give you a clearer picture of which products are selling and which aren’t, and where your highest-value customers are.

To improve supply chain visibility, meet regularly with businesses both upstream and downstream. Share regular status reports and information about production, sourcing, and certification. Staying informed and collaborating with other supply chain businesses are your best bets for mitigating the pain of disruptions.

Sometimes, disruptions and shortages are unavoidable, and changes in retailers’ plans throw a wrench (or spanner, depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re reading this from) into your own. When supply chain disruptions are unavoidable, making your inventory available to the widest range of retailers possible, accessible online, is the best way to avoid situations where you can’t get sufficient inventory to particular locations. Jewelry industry technology puts this kind of access into the hands of every supplier.