January 15, 2020    4 min read

If you own or work in a product business, you need to keep up to date with the latest trends in technology, manufacturing and other areas that will affect your business.

Here’s a round-up of the trends we’re predicting will bring you a significant competitive advantage if you seize the opportunity in 2020.

1. Small businesses will finally have access to big data

Big data has been an industry buzzword for a number of years. However, few small product businesses have embraced it or had the internal capability to benefit from the enormous potential of their business data.

This year, things are different. New tools, improving software and widespread education will make big data more accessible to everyone in your business. Answers to you most important growth questions like, ‘who’s my best sales rep’ and ‘what’s my best performing product’ will be easy to find and will become a critical part of your company decision-making.

So how can you use your data more effectively?

If you’re an existing Unleashed customer, we’ll have something for you very soon. Our Business Intelligence module will replace your current dashboard with relevant KPIs and beautiful visualisations. You’ll have immediate access to your customer, sales and inventory data.

For others, it’s important to establish a data-centric mindset in your organisation and provide your team with the tools to extract, analyse and visualise your data. You can do this by making data collection a priority, using KPIs to measure performance and automating the reporting process.

Tableau and Google Data Studio are great tools to help you capture data from different parts of the business and generate dashboards and reports. However, you’ll still need the internal know-how to use the tools, bring the reports together and explain them to the team.

2. B2B eCommerce will rival B2C eCommerce

eCommerce is arguably not a new trend. B2B eCommerce, however, is still a relatively new phenomenon, driven by the changing face of wholesale buyers and the demand for a similar B2C buying experience. B2B sales have increased dramatically over recent years and is predicted to top $1.1 trillion by 2020, doubly outpacing B2C growth.

B2B eCommerce is great for manufacturers who haven’t considered online sales before, distributors who want to save time on manual order processing and wholesalers with custom pricing and product catalogues.

A dedicated platform like Unleashed’s B2B eCommerce Store will allow your customers to place their own orders on a portal featuring personalised products and prices — all while reflecting up-to-date stock on hand information.

No more tedious back and forth calls or emails to place orders. Your B2B eCommerce Store and the new ordering process mimics the B2C buying experience your customers are used to, so there’s no need to worry about ease of use.

3. Doing good will be good for business

Customers are increasingly prioritising companies who have a good purpose. Whether that means a social enterprise that contributes positively to the community, a carbon-neutral company that focuses on sustainable business practices or a craft product maker competing with global conglomerates from their backyard — there’s no doubt about a growing movement towards conscious consumerism.

Use this trend to your advantage by highlighting the good you do in your brand story, proving the authenticity and origin of your supply chain and delighting your customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey with seamless order fulfilment.

Our favourite recent examples include the Fairtrade cola company that prioritises the planet over profits, the kombucha company that created a great tasting alternative to booze, and the manufacturing company supporting renewable energy.

4. Automation will become too important to ignore

Tedious, repetitive tasks are the enemy of efficiency. Not only that, but they also destroy your employees’ motivation and job satisfaction. This year will see more and more product businesses seek automated solutions to their most menial tasks.

For product businesses, examples include automating customers, sales and inventory reports, seamless integration between apps such as Unleashed and Xero, or increasing order fulfilment efficiency with automatic label printing.

We recommend speaking to all of your teams to identify their most frustrating tasks and put measures in place to automate them. Check the automation functionality of your existing apps or investigate new tools which will simplify your entire team’s work life.

You hire your staff for their minds, so free up their time and let them shine. Automation helps your team do their job faster and better. They’ll thank you with their engagement and loyalty, and you’ll fit more productivity into each and every day.

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