What is ETA and Why is it Crucial for Supply Chains?

The role played by ETA in supply chain management

People tend to ignore the importance of ETAs after they adopt hyper-advanced Fleet Management Software like TrackoBit. But that is a mistake you don’t want to be making!

How good do you feel seeing the little delivery scooter moving over a map when you order food online? Or, how important is it for you to know when your package will arrive – since it is a birthday gift for a friend? 

It’s safe to assume that you answered both the questions with – A LOT!

It is nice to know when your stuff will reach you so that you can plan things in advance. Be it B2B, B2C, D2C, or any supply chain, everyone wants to know when they’ll be receiving their order. Not knowing only causes chaos, confusion, and dissatisfaction; and we don’t want customers’ operations to lag because of us, right?

In this blog, we’ll talk about ETA, its effect on supply chains, and the role it plays in making businesses successful!

The Concept of ETA in Supply Chains

Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) is a pretty self-explanatory term. It signifies the time when a consignment should be able to reach its destination. 

Since the world of supply chains has turned into a battleground, just being able to fulfil delivery is not going to cut it for your business. You need to be able to provide a better user experience to gain brand loyalty and goodwill – two things without which retaining customers will be impossible. 

The biggest problem with maintaining ETA accuracy is that there are expectations and chances of messing up at every touchpoint of the supply chain. Therefore, maintaining the sanctity of ETAs from first to last mile becomes a tough call. 

  • First-mile: First-mile logistics is generally supplying the manufacturer to a wholesaler. If this step itself is not well-managed, all the other touchpoints are bound to get delayed. Moreover, while managing multiple dispatches, the wholesaler might make mistakes in further shipping because of the confusion created by delayed deliveries to him. 
  • Middle-mile: If the manufacturer has dispatched the consignment to the retailer and is not able to receive it on time, further expectation for the customer gets haphazard. 
  • Last-mile: Once the consignment reaches the last-mile leg, it becomes very important for the consumer to know at exactly what time the package will reach them. They can receive a live-tracking link to have the most accurate information, but delays in the former legs can make the deliveries go from one-day to two-day and so on.

Importance of the Right ETA Management in Supply Chains

Many businesses tend to neglect the importance of ETA accuracy, making them not fit seamlessly into efficient supply chains. This further leads to issues such as bad resource use, low visibility, and even tarnished brand name. And that is not something we want, right? 

Maintaining good ETA planning and management is important in many ways. Let’s look into some of them here.

Importance of the Right ETA Management in Supply Chains

Good Customer Relations

A lot of times, customers place orders online with time constraints. 53% of orders will not even be placed if the ETA is longer than average in the industry. Therefore, if the Actual Time of Arrival (ATA) is longer than ETA, these very orders become useless for consumers, costing future business. 

Right ETA management allows customers to be in the know of when it might be possible for them to receive the order. If the ATA is shorter or equal to ETA, customers will be much more likely to place orders with your business again.

Organised Deliveries

Unorganised deliveries lead to a lot of administrative load which costs manpower, time, and efforts from your business’ end. Once a supply chain plan is finalised, sticking to the ETAs negates the need to replan, reschedule, and change several aspects of the supply chain. 

Sending delivery updates, maintaining the right workflow, and handling customer grievances becomes much simpler when things are happening on the right timeline.

Improved Transparency

With ETA accuracy, supply chain transparency becomes much clearer. Therefore, the wholesalers will be aware of when they should be expecting a consignment, so that they can plan a dispatch accordingly, and so on. 

With clear carrier operations, calculating accurate freight costs and workflows becomes convenient.

Time-sensitive Deliveries

ETA accuracy is paramount in industries such as FMCG that deal in perishable products. Sticking to the right timeline allows the products to have a decent shelf life by the time they reach the end consumer – something that itself can take a couple of days. 

Further sales are massively affected through disturbance in such deliveries. For example, if a retailer knows that the batch he is going to receive will only have a shelf life of 2 days, he will maintain his sales accordingly.

Challenges to ETA Management – Can Static ETAs Suffice?

Of course not! There is no way static ETAs can be efficient. As we discussed in the first section, there can be disturbances in the ETA at every touchpoint of the supply chain. Therefore, giving the end consumer a static (fixed/rigid) ETA will never be fruitful. 

Here are a couple of challenges that businesses are bound to face in fulfilling static ETAs. 

  • Unpredictable Traffic: The longer the supply chain, the bigger a disparity traffic will cause between the ETA and ATA. Especially when the consignment has to go through urban areas, delays are inevitable and uncontrollable. 
  • Weather Conditions: The weather changes without notice, and with it, so will your ATA. Static ETAs can not make space for such unpredictabilities.
  • Breakdowns: Road accidents or vehicle breakdowns, which are reduced by fleet management software, are inevitable. Each such unfortunate event is bound to create issues in maintaining status ETAs. 
  • Unclear Customer Addresses: Many-a-times customers might enter their addresses in an unclear or wrong manner. This is especially the case in last-mile deliveries, and can be a major cause of inability to stick to the ETA.

Challenges to ETA Management - Can Static ETAs Suffice?

How Fleet Management Software Improves ETA Management?

The only way to ensure that the ATAs and ETAs match for the end-consumer, you will need some systems in place. Most of these systems can be easily adopted with a fleet management software like TrackoBit, and are discussed below. 

  • Dynamic Route Planning: TrackoBit offers dynamic route planning. Therefore, even if fleet managers have carved out the ideal routes keeping all factors in mind, the software can suggest and update routes according to the situation on the road and the trip. 
  • Dynamic ETAs: Instead of providing the end-consumer, and even the receivers at various touch points a static ETA, the software keeps updating a more doable ETA as and when the vehicle progresses through the supply chain. This allows everyone to be aware of any changes dn hence, can plan accordingly.
    Geocoded Addresses: To avoid delays because of fuzzy or unclear addresses, TrackoBit offers the option to add geocoded locations instead. Therefore, the possibility of losing progress while looking for drop locations falls significantly. 
  • Maintenance Management: To avoid possible breakdowns, features such as alarms whenever any part of the vehicle starts to fall short, maintenance schedules, and SOS alarms play a huge role. Not only do they help keep the vehicle on track but also helps reduce breakdowns and hence, maintain assets well. 
  • Video Telematics: Video telematics, specifically road-facing dash cams can constantly collect data and build reports about road conditions. Therefore, if a vehicle is stuck due to bad weather and road conditions, the following vehicles can be rerouted to save time and stick to the ETAs. 

Your ETA to Effective Fleet Management is 0 Minutes!

As we have established in this blog, it is crucial to understand how big a role ETA management and prediction plays in maintaining efficient supply chain operations. If you want to gain brand goodwill and loyalty, you need to look no further – because TrackoBit is the right way to track your fleet in the right manner. 

TrackoBit offers real-time tracking system, dynamic route and ETA management, automatic PODs and many other features to make delivery estimates accurate. So, you and your customers can rest assured that the deliveries will happen at the right time.

What is ETA and Why is it Crucial for Supply Chains?

Ayushi Nagalia

Ayushi Nagalia is a Senior Content Specialist at TrackoBit. She is passionate about music, writing, and reading. When not abusing her keyboard, you will find her lost in her playlists or organizing things.

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