COVID-19 stunned the entire world as billions of people were forced to stay at home, manufacturing facilities and retail stores shut down, supply chains were disrupted, and consumers flocked to online buying. The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on the global economy, and the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector is no exception.
But COVID-19 will not be the last major crisis that CPG companies face. Market uncertainties will continue, whether arising from trade wars, Brexit, and events like the recent Suez Canal obstruction, not to mention the uncertain pandemic recovery.
Like every industry, CPG needs to be ready at any time with sufficient agility, speed, and flexibility to anticipate and respond quickly when the next global disruption occurs. CPG leaders are preparing now for long-term success by investing in intelligent technologies powering resilient operations across the entire enterprise. When the next disruptive crisis occurs, they will be better prepared to shift smoothly to new processes, operating models, and revenue streams for greater business opportunities
Increased customer personalisation through agile innovation
Even before the pandemic, consumer goods businesses struggled to keep pace with constant innovation and increasing competition. The “next normal” will put even more pressure on CPG companies by pushing them to offer greater personalisation, faster prototyping, decreased time-to-market of new products, and a steady release of innovative offerings. Competitive advantage will come from being able to anticipate customer needs and offer highly relevant choices at the right time and place. In other words, companies have to eliminate silos across the customer experience (CX).
With modern innovation services and solutions, such as intelligent ERP, CX, intelligent insights, and intelligent technologies, companies can understand and apply real-time data whenever and wherever needed. This revolutionises how brands communicate and gather customer insights, dramatically improving the innovation process throughout the product life cycle, and accelerating launches of new products and services.
Intelligent tech for supply chain resilience
The last year made it clear that fast-moving consumer goods companies need predictive, resilient, and intelligent supply chains. It’s the only way to manage and mitigate disruptions that can happen at any time, while maximising business opportunities and return on investment during good times.
According to research from GroupM, CPG manufacturers experienced a significant transition in how their products were bought, leading to a 277 percent increase in retail sales via e-commerce channels in the second quarter of 2020 alone. These forecasters expected the global retail e-commerce to reach $10 trillion by 2027.
At the same time, consumer expectations, like same- or next-day delivery, along with personalised shopping experiences, continue increasing. To meet these and other rising customer demands, managers need far more visibility into a supply chain, logistics, and warehousing so they can make informed decisions with speed and accuracy, and better predict and respond to global supply chain dynamics.
CPG companies are building resilient supply chains by investing in intelligent control systems, which understand and leverage data, implement capacity and inventory buffers, and help organisations build a diversified network of suppliers and manufacturing partners. According to Bain and Company, these organisations average 15 percent to 25 percent improvements in plant output and a 20 percent to 30 percent rise in customer satisfaction.
State-of-the-art connected manufacturing
Fast-moving consumer goods organisations will also have to transform manufacturing on more than just an operational level. This goes well beyond automation. The latest era of digitalisation connects manufacturing production with end-to-end process execution across the supply chain, reaching new levels of connectivity and adaptability.
As the costs of IoT technologies decrease and ecosystems become more connected, companies will have more business opportunities. They can develop intelligent products, wrap services around those offerings, and sell business outcomes for greater value, increasing customer wins and loyalty.
Concurrently, as consumers become more health and environmentally conscious, leading CPG firms are investing in sustainable packaging, making products safer and increasing customer gratification. With evolving smart technologies, organisations can reimagine the future of digital operations for faster agility. They can enhance operational efficiency through robotics and automation, increase customer satisfaction through additive manufacturing and 3D printing for mass customisation, and achieve universal connectivity through Industry 4.Now. Investing in digital manufacturing will help CPG companies not only realise financial outcomes, but also differentiate themselves from increasing competition.
Competitive advantage from agility
After a period of turbulence exaggerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumer goods industry is entering a new era. The most successful brands will embrace a culture and business model of continuous transformation. They’ll use intelligent technologies to adapt to fast-evolving consumer buying behaviours. They will prioritise agility and open-mindedness to gain a competitive advantage in the new reality. Only one thing is certain, change will continue to impact the way we do business. How well you adapt is up to you.