Understanding the Digital Supply Chain


The term digital supply chain is very prevalent in current logistics and supply chain news. Therefore, it is essential to understand what a digital supply chain consists of and how it could save your company money and time, and even shrink your environmental footprint. To decide if it could suit your company, we will break down what it means to have digital supply chain management.

What is a digital supply chain?

A digital supply chain is similar to a typical one, but the foundation is built on web-enabled abilities. Many supply chains use a combination of paper-based and IT-enabled processes. However, a truly digital supply chain goes further than this hybrid model to entirely capitalize on system integration, connectivity, and the information-producing capabilities of “smart” components.

Ultimately, the goal of a digital supply chain is to create insights for greater efficiencies, eliminate waste, and provide an overall better experience to end consumers. Companies that have adopted a high-tech supply chain can successfully move resources, assets, people, and inventory from point A to B at any time with efficiency and ease. They can also reduce costs by responding early to transportation and manufacturing risks before they even happen. The potential payoffs of a digital supply chain include savings in many areas, including resources, time, money, and even a smaller environmental footprint.

How can your company benefit from using EDI?

What is EDI?

According to EDI Basics, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the computer-to-computer exchange of business documents in a standard electronic format, typically between businesses and trading partners. EDI allows the ability to create an automated document process which will save time and money.

EDI eliminates the process of manual orders, which as a result, will also improve processing speed, reduce errors, aid the relationship between partners, and yield the highest marks by generating and receiving digital transactions between trading partners.

At PLS Logistics Services, we make managing EDI transactions easy by working directly with your trading partner, providing that extra support. We send an EDI from our Transportation Management System (TMS), PLS Pro, to your trading partner through our EDI Transformation Servers. For example, we can send invoices or tracking information to your trading partners.

What if your trading partner uses traditional methods?

Now, not all business partners have the means to utilize EDI. So how does a large, digital business connect with a smaller company using traditional methods? Well, it is easier than you think! Below are a few options you can use to make your digital transactions work effectively:

Web Apps

Web apps are widespread in today’s solutions; they allow easy access from any computer your partner may use while providing a simple solution to digitization. These applications can provide standard data entry and review transaction history. The data entry becomes a digital transaction that can be processed automatically and converted to EDI like other digital transactions. In addition, web apps can reduce errors and provide feedback based on executed business rules.


Web forms help create data entry when filling out specific documents. They are simple to set up and help by automating the processing. Like a web app, a web form can be converted into EDI and processed. However, there are some drawbacks: the form provides no feedback (which a web app can provide).

Fax & PDF to EDI

A PDF file and fax can be converted into an EDI, which would allow those small partners to continue their typical transaction methods. First, you need to scan the received documents and convert them into EDI data for processing. An individual should review this method to ensure the data is correct; we recommend indicating the required field.

Spreadsheet to EDI

Using Microsoft Excel or similar software is similar to a web form; it can check for user error and check the data field contents making sure they are filled out and complete. It’s a simple method as many businesses have access to Excel.

Once you have finalized your best data transaction form with your trading partner, you can start enjoying the results. You will see:

  • Faster invoice time
  • More responsiveness to unforeseen events
  • Faster inventory turns
  • Reduction in cash-to-cash cycle time
  • Improvement in successful product launches
  • Improvement in perfect orders

How to Provide Excellent Digital Supply Chain Management

A successful digital supply chain management has processes that continuously analyze customer interactions with products, carrier locations, and equipment inventory levels. A digital supply chain then uses this information to help plan and execute with precision and speed. Technologies such as GPS tracking, radio frequency identification (RFID), barcodes, smart labels, location-based data, and wireless sensor networks are part of a digital supply chain.

Building a modernized supply chain requires a complete and extensive strategy that is a fundamental part of the business plan and weaves in organizational structure, operations, systems, physical assets, and processes such as procurement and payment. Therefore, a digital supply chain is optimal for businesses seeking a game-changing benefit.

Simplify Your Digital Supply Chain by Partnering With a 3PL

The best way to optimize your supply chain is by partnering with an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) provider who can simplify your business. By partnering with PLS Logistics Services, we give businesses propriety access to our TMS, PLS Pro. Let PLS Logistics Services help your company reach its full potential today!

Contact us to learn more about our TMS, PLS PRO, and how we can help you with your digital supply chain needs!

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