The growing prevalence of digital technology means your customers are more demanding than ever before. This is true in both a business to consumer (B2C) context, as well as for business to business (B2B). With end consumers, you face increased expectations regarding the availability of product information. They also want to be able to order directly from you, from any device, and are increasingly accustomed to rapid delivery timeframes. For your business customers, such as end-retailers, distributors or even suppliers, you also need to provide ready access to a raft of detailed information, such as exactly where a product is – and what its completion status is – at every point of the supply chain.
According to Forbes insights report, clients are fortunately maintaining—not cancelling—meetings by moving to video. As clients work from home, some are granting more access (virtually) to the sales force and even accelerating projects. One leader said about a large client: “They have problems to solve that they can’t solve with existing resources, so they’re moving on it.” In addition, the situation is obviously different for some B2B organizations and in the B2C sector, which are experiencing immediate challenges, including a decline or stoppage in cash flow.1
To secure market share, more and more manufacturing businesses are investing in reliable technology solutions in an attempt to gather and provide this information, as well as to generate efficiencies, streamline logistics, improve output, and more effectively respond to evolving needs.
In addition, while Australia’s manufacturing sector is thriving, the growth of the global marketplace puts local manufacturers under considerable pressure.
As more and more products flood Australia from international markets, Australian manufactures must evolve their businesses and identify efficiencies in order to retain a competitive advantage.
At Brennan IT, we have extensive experience in helping manufacturing businesses successfully transition their technology infrastructure in order to achieve a range of business objectives. When it comes to refining the customer experience, we see technology helping in a few key areas:
1. Driving the direct customer relationship
Historically, manufacturers and end customers haven’t had a great deal of interaction. In the past, products were made available via retailers and distributors, who would answer questions, provide customer service, and offer any relevant detail that the customer needed.
Now, however, thanks to the internet and the proliferation of digital devices, the retail “middle man” is often being left out of the sales cycle – with customers engaging directly, and online, with manufacturers.
Accustomed to this new way of shopping, customers today also now want to know a great deal of information about what they are buying. They want to know exactly where a product was made, when it was made, how sustainable or ethical the production process was, and all kinds of other (potentially detailed) product information.
To capitalise on this demand, manufacturers need to provide customers with cloud-based tools through which they can review information on a product, make a purchase decision and even place a product order from anywhere, on any device, at any time. Increasingly, we also see manufacturers adopting cloud-based CRM solutions, to help them manage their customer relationships more effectively over time.
2. More efficient supply chain tracking
For manufacturers, cloud-based technology can deliver enormous time and cost savings when it comes to supply chain management, and this has considerable flow-on benefits in terms of the overarching customer experience. This is particularly the case when it comes to meeting demands from suppliers, retailers and distributors.
With the right supply chain management technology in place, a manufacturer can access, process and respond to an order in real time. This means there’s no need to reply on manual input or product specifications from sales people.
The Internet of Things is also dramatically changing the way that manufactures are able to control and monitor their production lines. With wirelessly connected cameras in warehouses, for instance, manufacturers can instantly track when items arrive, and when they are dispatched – without any fiddly or error-prone data entry. This information can also be made readily and automatically available to supply chain partners.
3. Faster and more reliable transport
Here in Australia, logistics and transport is a huge cost for many manufactures. The cost of moving items along the supply chain can be significant, and wastage is common.
Fortunately, cloud-based technology innovations are helping manufacturers reduce their logistics and transport costs. This includes GPS fleet tracking solutions, which ensure delivery trucks are always taking the most efficient route to a destination, and fuel management solutions, which help eradicate wasted fuel across a fleet. In addition, with the Internet of Things, workers in factories and along the supply chain can check the progress of orders – and of production – simply by logging on to any connected device at any time.
This means products can be delivered faster, and more reliably, than ever before. It also means that customers, suppliers, distributors and retailers can get the information they need about their products automatically, and around the clock.