Supply Chain Mapping: Definition, Entities, and Importance

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In today’s complex e-commerce landscape, it’s surprising that only 6% of companies have full visibility into their supply chain network. A significant 69% struggle with poor insight, leading to supply chain inefficiencies and rising costs. The solution? Supply chain mapping.

Supply chain mapping is not just a process. It serves as your strategic compass, providing in-depth guidance to help enhance supply chain and inventory management. This methodology involves creating a visual representation of the entire supply chain network, from sourcing raw materials to delivering the final product to customers.

Let’s find out more about the benefits and importance of e-commerce supply chain mapping and how it helps businesses overcome potential bottlenecks in their supply chain networks.

supply chain mapping definition entities and importance simple global

What is Supply Chain Mapping in eCommerce?

Supply chain mapping in e-commerce is like creating a detailed map that guides businesses through the journey of their product from creation to the doorstep of the customer. Imagine having a visual blueprint that outlines every step, from sourcing raw materials to the final delivery – that’s what supply chain mapping achieves.

Supply chain mapping is, therefore, a strategic approach to enhance visibility. It involves creating a clear and comprehensive visual representation of the entire supply chain network. This map showcases the various components, relationships, and touchpoints involved in getting a product from the manufacturer to the final customer.

The process typically starts with identifying and understanding each stage and component of the supply chain. This includes suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. These components are further interconnected to form a holistic view of the entire customer journey.

8 Entities of Supply Chain Mapping

In the context of supply chain mapping, several key entities play a vital role in creating a comprehensive and insightful visual representation of the entire supply chain network. Let’s look into the essential entities that make up this strategic approach:

1. Suppliers – These are the entities providing the raw materials or components necessary for the manufacturing process. Understanding and mapping the network of suppliers helps identify potential vulnerabilities and dependencies in the overall supply chain network.

2. Manufacturers – Manufacturers transform raw materials into finished goods, enabling businesses to optimize production efficiency and identify areas for improvement, thus, forming a vital link in your supply chain’s upstream operations.

3. Distributors and Warehouses – These downstream entities manage the storage and distribution of products. Mapping distribution channels aids in optimizing inventory levels, reducing lead times, and ensuring timely deliveries.

4. Transportation and Logistics – Entities that are responsible for moving products between different points in the supply chain. Mapping transportation routes and logistics helps optimize shipping costs and delivery timelines.

5. Retailers – Retailers represent the final point of contact where products reach customers. Mapping the retail network provides insights into customer demand, sales channels, and market reach.

6. Customers – The ultimate endpoint in the supply chain, representing individuals or businesses purchasing the end products. Understanding customer demand patterns is crucial for optimizing production and distribution.

7. Information Flow – The flow of information is a critical entity in supply chain mapping. Understanding how data moves between different entities and components in the network helps in decision-making and improving overall coordination.

8. Financial Flow – Financial flow refers to the movement of money or funds throughout the supply chain, involving transactions between entities. Mapping the financial flow aids in cost optimization and financial planning.

What are the Importance of Supply Chain Mapping?

According to the 2021 Supply Chain Resilience Report, a significant shift is seen to be taking place in supply chain management. Over half of today’s organizations (55.6%) now use technology to analyze supply chain and distribution disruptions, with a major 40.5% using it for supply chain mapping; a substantial increase from 22.6% in 2019. This surge indicates a growing realization among e-commerce businesses about the potential benefits of incorporating supply chain mapping in their day-to-day operations. Let’s explore these advantages of mapping the e-commerce supply chain.

1. Enhanced Visibility

Supply Chain Mapping acts as a powerful lens, offering businesses a strategic overview of their entire supply chain network. Picture it as a detailed map that unfolds the journey of a product from its inception to its final destination, that is, the end consumer. This visual representation is a game-changer, providing a bird’s-eye view that extends beyond traditional charts and graphs. With every step of the supply chain meticulously laid out, businesses gain unparalleled visibility into the intricate workings of their operations.

The transparency derived from supply chain mapping is not just about seeing the various components, it’s about gaining deep and meaningful insights for informed decision-making. Stakeholders can, hence, pinpoint bottlenecks and inefficiencies that might otherwise remain hidden in a complex supply chain. This level of transparency allows businesses to make proactive decisions, whether it’s optimizing a particular stage of production or strategically selecting suppliers.

2. Cost Optimization

Managing costs effectively is a key pillar of e-commerce success and supply chain mapping offers a practical roadmap for businesses to achieve just that. It breaks down the financial journey from raw materials to distribution, providing a clear view of where the money is spent throughout the network.

Armed with this clarity, businesses can make informed decisions to cut costs strategically. Whether it’s renegotiating contracts with suppliers, optimizing delivery routes, or fine-tuning production processes, supply chain mapping provides practical insights that directly impact the bottom line. The ultimate goal is improved profitability. By understanding and managing costs smartly, businesses not only enhance their immediate financial health but also lay the foundation for sustained success in the ever-evolving landscape of e-commerce.

3. Risk Mitigation

Mapping the supply chain provides a proactive approach to risk management. It’s like having a radar for your supply chain, spotting vulnerabilities related to suppliers, transportation, or external factors.

It takes foresight to anticipate issues rather than just recognizing them when they arise. Supply chain mapping allows businesses to develop smart backup plans, ensuring they can stay resilient even when faced with disruptions. Whether it’s a hiccup with suppliers, delays in getting products where they need to be, or unexpected external events, having a strategy in place guarantees that your online business can withstand all kinds of setbacks.

4. Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction keeps businesses thriving. Satisfied customers are not only likely to return but become vocal advocates, shaping the reputation of a brand. It’s the linchpin of success, and here’s where supply chain mapping steps in to make a significant impact.

Picture supply chain mapping as the behind-the-scenes coordinator that ensures customers receive more than just products – they get an experience. By understanding the entire supply chain, businesses can strategically align operations to meet customer demands effectively.

Optimizing inventory levels ensures that desired products are consistently available. Streamlining processes, guided by supply chain mapping, reduces the time it takes for products to reach customers. This means faster deliveries, and in the world of e-commerce, time matters. So what’s the outcome? A positive customer experience that goes beyond expectations. Customers receive what they want when they want it, which contributes to overall satisfaction and loyalty.

5. Strategic Decision-Making

Drawing insights from supply chain mapping, businesses gain data-driven advantages that influence key choices, whether it’s entering new markets, selecting suppliers, or optimizing distribution channels.

The insights provided by supply chain mapping offer a comprehensive understanding of operational intricacies that become a compass for decision-makers. This clarity significantly enhances the decision-making process, ensuring that choices align with the overarching goal of operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

When contemplating market entry, the visual representation of the supply chain becomes a valuable tool. It enhances decision-making by offering a clear understanding of the complexities involved, increasing the chances of successful market entry.


According to a Deloitte survey, 79% of businesses with highly efficient supply chains experienced remarkable revenue growth, outshining their peers. On the flip side, a mere 8% of those struggling with supply chain issues saw only average revenue growth. This crystal-clear distinction highlights the pivotal role of effective supply chain management in steering the course of your e-commerce business’s success.

It’s evident that supply chain mapping emerges as a game-changer in the pursuit of growth. Serving as a visual guide to the entire supply chain, it equips businesses with the insights needed to streamline operations, make smarter decisions, and, ultimately, keep customers delighted.

Are you ready to redefine your business narrative? Simple Global stands as your gateway to unlocking unparalleled e-commerce business growth. Seamlessly integrate innovative supply chain solutions, make strategic decisions, and elevate customer experiences.

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