Traceability gets more and more important. Being informed is trendy for many customers.
Traceability stands for the ability to verify the history, location or application of an item or product along the logistics chain. A product can be backtracked and identified from the separate unit until the whole finished product. So a product can be located at any time and any place via an unique identification number. You can see where is the product, who is handling the product at the moment and when is the product accepted to arrive during the whole process from the production till the disposal. (Compare: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traceability)
You can distinguish two different kinds of traceability: downstream and upstream tracing. By downstream tracing you see the way of the product from the producer to the customer. So the customer who ordered shoes online for example can go on the internet, type in the identification number of the shoes and see the actual status of the product. Moreover he can see exactly where they are at the moment and when they will arrive at his location.
Upstream tracing goes the other direction and is performed from the consumer back to the producer. So the customer can identify the producer and can exactly discover where the product comes from. Upstream tracing is very important concerning grocery and helps to guarantee food safety. Moreover upstream tracing is useful for product recalls, you can see who is responsible for any damage or problems. (Compare: http://www.gs1.org/traceability)
Traceability supports better communication within the whole supply chain and can be a competitive advantage by building loyalty. The customer can exactly follow the way of the product and his confidence is strengthened. As mentioned earlier being informed about what is going on gets more and more important for the customer.