A Retailer's Guide to supply chain software and terminology

  • Written by Laura Houghton
  • Published on 14 February 2023
  • Blogs

Why a guide to software terminology?

There are many types of supply chain software, which perform different functions, and plenty of corresponding acronyms (dare I say jargon?) to comprehend.

The market size of supply chain transparency and traceability software is also expanding at pace, as businesses leverage the advantages of digital and cloud technology. 

We are particularly interested in the retail sector, which has a specific set of challenges, and this article attempts to give an introduction to the most common terms used in our industry and to explain where Segura’s software fits in.

Skip to the terminology guide

Types of supply chain software

If you happen to search for “supply chain software” on Google you’ll be inundated with ads and options for different solutions. The difficulty is that all this software solves different types of problems and pretty much none of them does everything a retailer is likely to need.

Supply chain solutions

Before we go into the nitty-gritty and the jargon, it’s worth exploring what tasks supply chain software may help with. From supply chain transparency and traceability to management, PLM, and ERP.

Here is a guide to which solution solves which area, and where Segura fits in.

ERP solution - global resource planning - globe with network lights


What is supply chain transparency?

Supply chain transparency requires companies to know what is happening upstream in the supply chain and to communicate this knowledge both internally and externally. One reason the process has become increasingly important is that more consumers are demanding it and legislation is requiring evidence of any claims made.

How is supply chain transparency commonly used in the Retail Sector?

Supply chain transparency is when a retailer knows where and how their goods are produced, based on reliable data, and then communicates that knowledge both to internal and external stakeholders, including customers.

Is Segura a supply chain transparency solution?

Yes, transparency sits at the heart of what Segura does, capturing and mapping all tiers of the supply chain in a central database, ensuring suppliers are ethical, sustainable and compliant. In turn allowing retailers to manage and mitigate risk, and, increase efficiencies and opportunities within their supply chain.

Many retailers select Segura as their preferred solution for transparency, traceability and mapping, why not review our customers page.

"The Segura platform gives us a deeper insight into our suppliers, the products and components they are providing us. This enables us to minimise risk and ensure products continue to comply with ever-tightening legal requirements. Segura allows us to better manage supplier relationships, quickly understand who is compliant, and perform the checks to ensure ongoing compliance. Segura’s ability to centralise all of our data and evidence onto a single platform allows the various teams to use the same robust data to underpin their decision-making and provides the business and consumers with the confidence that we are working towards the same goals.”



What is supply chain traceability?

Traceability is the ability to identify, track and trace elements of a product as it moves along the supply chain from raw materials to finished products.

How is supply chain traceability commonly used in the retail sector?

The retail sector is subject to ever-growing consumer demand and legislation. Gone are the days of sourcing products without understanding the source of the components required to make up the final product. Retailers must now capture their global, multi-tier, usually complex supply chains in order to ensure that suppliers are ethical and sustainable. If a retailer fails to do so they could easily fall foul of legislation and be subject to fines and suffer brand or reputational damage which will affect the bottom line.

Is Segura a supply chain traceability solution?

Yes, Segura believes that transparency and traceability are crucial for retailers in order to adhere to growing legislation, ensuring their suppliers are compliant and building consumer confidence. Retailers today are required to understand their supply chain in greater detail than ever before, and they have to capture the data in order to prove and evidence their sustainability claims. Segura captures the data required.

Supply Chain Traceability infographic (square)


What is a supply chain management solution?

Supply chain management (SCM) is the management of the flow of goods, data, and finances related to a product or service. SCM has evolved to capture more data than before, from the procurement of raw materials to the delivery of the product at its final destination.

How is supply chain management commonly used in the Retail Sector?

Although many people equate the supply chain with logistics, logistics is actually just one component of the supply chain. Today’s digitally based SCM systems include material handling and software for all parties involved in product or service creation, order fulfilment, and information tracking―such as suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, transportation and logistics providers, and retailers.

Is Segura a supply chain management solution?

Yes, Segura does cross into this category, as SCM has progressed from simply managing logistics and finances, and has evolved to now capture more data within the supply chain as detailed above. Where Segura stands out as a traceability solution provider is due to our unique order-based capture; tracking and validating the orders through the supply chain, delivering transparency, traceability and validation of supply across multiple tiers.

"Segura provides us with a complete solution, incorporating all of our supply chain management and transparency requirements, with the ability for us to expand the remit as our business needs develop. Through the platform we can extract detailed reports, requesting information from suppliers directly and validating it. It will allow us to identify opportunities to improve performance and drive cost and time efficiencies across the business. Our customers expect products that are safe, sustainable, and responsibly sourced and we are committed to ensuring that is exactly what we can offer.”



What is an ERP solution?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP software enables board-level management to visualize and manage core business processes and resources.

How is ERP software commonly used in the Retail Sector?

Nowadays ERP is predominantly sold as a cloud-based SaaS solution, that enables managers to plan their business processes and resources. For example, in retail, to plan and visualize the most efficient way to bring a product to market, including the teams, resources, processes, timelines and costs involved.

Is Segura an ERP?

No. Segura is not an ERP, but it can support bi-directional data exchange with ERP software, as it aids in producing a visualisation of the supply chain process.

For example, Segura captures a bill of materials, order data, and optionally can lock down the supply chain to agreed suppliers. In other words, Segura can highlight whenever any orders are placed outside of a designated supplier list, as approved by the retailer. In this way, it can aid business efficiencies and risk mitigation.


What is a PLM solution?

PLM is short for Product Lifecycle Management and is the process of managing and visualising a product’s life cycle; from its inception, design, production, sale, use and disposal.

PLM software enables business managers to view and manage each step of their product’s life cycle, which naturally includes a view of the supply chain.

How is PLM software commonly used in the Retail Sector?

In the product development process, PLM software helps retail business teams bring to market new products in a timely, organised way. The software should enable better collaboration between teams, give more visibility of the steps to market, and reveal opportunities to drive business efficiencies, switch to sustainable production, and reduce unexpected costs.

For example, in the fashion and textiles industry, there will be teams of planners and designers, sourcing and buyers, suppliers and sub-contractors, quality assurance, merchandisers and marketers, who all have a role to play in product development and sales. By enabling a single view of the workflow, PLM software assists in streamlining product development, by sharing data between teams and ensuring the right teams are engaged at the right times. It can also help manage change requests, manage bills of materials and help track costs against budgets.

Is Segura a PLM?

No. Segura is not a PLM however, it does help with product life cycle management and can synchronise data with PLM software. Segura makes managing supply chain relationships much simpler. Segura aims to capture data to n-tier which goes far beyond what PLM typically delivers.

Supply chain software terminology

common terminology and what it all means

-- Table of contents --


THE CLOUD...................................






What is API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. An application programming interface is a way for two or more computer programs or software solutions to communicate with each other directly. It is a type of software interface, offering a service to other pieces of software. An API is usually created by a software provider and can be used by other software solutions to push and pull data between them.

What is the purpose of API in the context of supply chain traceability?

All traceability software will require data from multiple sources, internal and external, in order to get a clear view of orders being processed, supplier activity, compliance audits etc. Secondly, businesses may have multiple systems and software solutions for managing different business processes, where the same data is valuable in each of them to answer different questions. An API enables data to be easily transferred between those systems eliminating the need for duplicate data entry or manual data migration with all the cleaning and processing which that may entail.

How is API typically used within supply chain software?

An API enables businesses to have a fully automated process so that they can use different software solutions to manage business operations, supply chain management, compliance and risk activities and reporting. They may also use auditing software to help measure business and supplier performance against external benchmarks. Segura has an API available and is able to ingest other Systems API’s to help businesses easily integrate our solution into their existing systems. For example, Segura’s data can be ingested by auditing software, or other PLM or ERP software saving you data migration pain. See our Partners page for more information on which organisation we are working with.

cloud based suppply chain management software can work from anywhere - global satellite picTHE CLOUD

What is the Cloud?

Cloud computing is the practice of using remote services, to store, manage and process data on the internet, in other words, not hosted on a local server within the business but outsourced to a third-party data hosting provider, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). This is common with B2B software provided as a service (SaaS). It means that all your business would need is a secure internet connection to be able to use, update and synchronise data within the software.

What are the advantages of cloud-based software?

There are many advantages, not least that your business does not have to support SCM with an in-house IT team and equipment, and that you can view and edit your supply chain data in real-time, from anywhere around the world (with internet access). Read more about the benefits of Cloud SCM in our article, “Cloud supply chain software – the difference it makes” here.

Is Segura in the cloud?

Yes. Segura is a cloud-based supply chain management solution that focuses particularly on helping retail businesses gain visibility, and traceability, mitigate risks and meet compliance requirements, within what are usually very complex, multi-tier supply chains all around the world.


What is CSR?

CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility, which is used to describe the business’ mission of reaching and maintaining high standards of ethics and reciprocity in all interactions with stakeholders. Retail businesses usually employ a CSR representative or team who are charged with meeting the CSR pledges and projects that the business is committed to. Therefore, CSR teams have a vested interest in attaining high ethical standards within the whole supply chain.

Why is CSR related to supply chains?

Corporate Social Responsibility is tied to every area of business, including how a retailer sources, creates and supplies their products. CSR is important when reviewing the supply chain as it usually forms part of a business’s code of practice or Terms and Conditions to which suppliers must adhere in order to source and produce products.

CSR activities have a positive effect on strengthening the brand and creating synergy in brand enhancement with a company's marketing. Therefore, retailers need to promote their brands so as to obtain unique and positive responses compared to their competitors through CSR activities. Similarly to ESG (see below), CSR will require insight into all activities throughout the whole supply chain, in order to gauge its overall impact. This is where transparency and traceability are crucial to help teams appraise whether its operations or its suppliers’ operations meet their adopted CSR standards.

How does Segura support CSR?

Segura enables businesses to map their whole supply chain from start to finish, including all levels of supplier engagements around the world. Through Segura, a retailer can ensure that its standards are met. Suppliers can be prompted to review, accept and evidence any documents relating to this area. Businesses can report against their CSR standards, measure exposure to risks, and create remedial action plans for suppliers that don’t meet standards yet. Retail businesses with complete transparency and traceability, can effectively and confidently report on their CSR and work to improve brand reputation and consumer advocacy.

"We understand it’s the nature of supply chains to be continuously evolving, but it’s crucial to us to ensure we partner with suppliers who share our values. Our aim is to focus on continuing to map our supply chain accross mutlple tiers and the Segura platform will allow us to do this.”



What is EDI?

EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange, which is the electronic communication of information between two parties in a standardised format so that data can be shared between systems automatically and processed easily.

What is the purpose of EDI in the context of supply chain traceability?

As mentioned above businesses usually may have multiple systems and software solutions for managing different business processes, where the same data is valuable in each of them to answer different questions. EDI works similarly to an API by enabling that data to be easily exported and imported between systems.

How is EDI typically used within supply chain management software?

EDI also enables businesses to have an automated process so that they can use different software solutions to manage business operations, supply chain management, compliance and risk activities and reporting. Segura’s software uses EDI to help businesses easily integrate our solution into their existing systems. Delivering the same results as it does where API is the preferred way of sharing data.

Supply chain traceability to support ESG environmental social governance goals ESG

What is ESG?

ESG is a prominent concept in current times and stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. It is an umbrella term used by businesses to obtain a non-financial, holistic view of its activities: how it impacts society, and the environment and how it is accountable towards its stakeholders. ESG is increasingly important to businesses both commercially and from a reputational point of view. A proactive approach to ESG will lead to reduced risks, greater business efficiencies and improved brand reputation.

Why is ESG related to supply chains?

A business that understands the importance of ESG will logically demand sight of all its activities throughout the whole supply chain, in order to gauge its impact on the societies and environments in which it operates. This is where transparency and traceability are crucial to help company directors and other business teams appraise whether its operations and its suppliers’ operations meet their adopted ESG standards.

How does Segura support ESG?

Segura enables businesses to map their whole supply chain from start to finish, including all levels of supplier contracting around the world. Once the supply chain is mapped, then businesses can achieve complete visibility of every order and supplier in real-time. Next Segura enables businesses to report against its ESG standards, for example, to measure adherence to compliance regulations, to measure exposure to risks, and to create remedial action plans for suppliers that don’t meet standards yet. Finally, Segura enables its data to be ingested by other systems, for example, auditing software or retail industry reporting bodies. The ultimate aim is to be a retail business with complete transparency and traceability within its supply chain, in confidence that this will improve brand reputation and consumer advocacy.

"Segura provides us with the transparency and traceability we need to ensure our supply chain is ethical, sustainable and efficient - essentially fit for the future. Segura allows us to measure our supply chain performance and ESG credentials, identify risk, and underpin our buying decisions with robust data. Segura's built-in BI reporting tool means we can quickly and easily meet our reporting requirements without the overhead of managing multiple spreadsheets. Having the Segura platform is a big win for both our Sustainability efforts and our Buying teams and demonstrates our commitment made through River Island's The Kind Society initiative."



What is SaaS?

SaaS stands for Software as a Service. Rather than purchasing a piece of software and licence(s) to install locally on your business servers and machines, SaaS means you pay for a company to provide ongoing access and support to run software for you. SaaS is generally becoming more common in every aspect of business life. You probably use SaaS without thought. Examples are: - accounting software to manage invoices, purchase orders, bills and receipts - communication and project management tools like Slack or Monday.com - sales and marketing software like CRMs or social media management tools.

How does SaaS benefit Retail Businesses?

There are plenty of advantages, mainly because SaaS outsources the management of the software to the proprietors. Rather than employing either in-house IT support teams, or outsourced IT support teams, your SaaS provider will configure and help administer your software. For example, you don’t have to run upgrades, fix bugs, or manage a development pipeline. There should be agreed service levels for support and you can also expect security measures to be applied to protect your data.

Is Segura a SaaS?

Yes, Segura is Software as a Service. Segura is cloud-based to ensure that it can be easily accessed by global users. Segura is securely hosted via AWS. Typically the main two benefits of SaaS are scalability and the fact that you pay for what you use.


About Segura

Segura Systems is a UK-based SaaS company enabling ethical, sustainable and efficient multi-tier supply chains.

Segura provides n-tier transparency, traceability, mapping, and reporting. Segura sits in the centre of your supply chain management structure and creates a compliant system, working with downstream providers wherever helpful.


SCDDA - what you need to know

Find out all you need to know about the SCDDA in our blog

Read it now