Will the transparency in the digital marketplace be a major disruptor to your business?

Will the transparency in the digital marketplace be a major disruptor to your business?

The digital marketplace has taken one giant leap forward in recent months, and this is going to have severe implications for supply chains and sales channels. A new level of transparency and touchpoints will be required by the customer here and overseas, which has the potential to be a significant disruptor to your business.

One of the key objectives being discussed today for companies in the new normal is their ability to redesign supply chains and sale channels that will enable them to ‘rapidly reconfigure’ these in times of significant disruption. This is required right now for your business online, and here is why.

Firstly, the pricing model has just become a whole lot more complicated, and it’s not just about the move from bricks and mortar. Consumers shopping online have a certain expectation about price, and if you are a legacy business that has not redesigned your business platform here or in your export markets, your cost base and messaging will not work online.

Secondly, traceability of the product is and will become even more essential post-COVID-19 for health and authenticity reasons. Furthermore, concerns about the environment, as well as product sustainability, will continue to be of importance to end-users.
These three touch points – price, traceability and sustainability – will see an even more significant trend towards wanting to buy or sell closer to the source, or at the very least be able to obtain the information at source on your required product or service purchase.
Enabling this in the digital marketplace will require platforms that can facilitate the buying and selling process in many new ways. Not everyone is going to like this transparency – I know a wholesaler in Asia who will not share with the manufacturer who their core customers are.
The wholesaler needs that transparency to understand who their customers are to be able to truly redefine their marketing mix and product offering in this new normal. Wholesalers also want to make sure they can tell their supplier story and provide the transparency the customer is looking for in what they are buying. For the customers, they are and will go around the wholesaler to the manufacture to create the transparency they need to make an informed purchasing decision. A cohesive digital marketplace gives them both the ability to do that. So the wholesaler can either facilitate this process and try and stay of value, or quickly become irrelevant in the purchasing transaction.
Omni Channel Marketing, a term thrown around for some time, simply means a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience. Whether they are shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick-and-mortar store in Sydney or Hong Kong – this will now become mainstream. Clients will expect the ability to see and touch the product at a place of their choosing, whether online or offline or through showrooms – virtual or traditional.
And don’t think this is just a retail offering. We are hearing about many industries looking to go virtual in demonstrating their product’s capabilities, and how it meets their essential requirements. Some are genuinely thinking way outside the square to do this. Picture your potential supplier being 500 metres underground in a mine demonstrating live their new lighting system as you watch from your home in Los Angeles and can ask critical questions live. Think about engineers wearing virtual reality glasses to see your equipment in service, pinpointing subtle differences in how the equipment is operating to advise adjustments, rather than flying across the world to the site as they always have.
Those who truly start blending their marketing strategies or even their service strategies into the digital marketplace and facing up to a world that will demand greater transparency on price, traceability and sustainability and then adjust their business platform accordingly will lead the disruption, not be a victim of it.
Shane Styles

National Skills Development Manager, Export Council of Australia

CHINA – Dot Your “I’s” and Cross Your “T’s”

CHINA - Dot Your "I's" and Cross Your "T's"

China has recently imposed an import suspension on four Australian abattoirs.

Key points:

  • Three abattoirs in Queensland and one in NSW have had an import suspension imposed on them re importing into China
  • The four locations provide an estimated 35 percent of beef exports to China
  • The Australian Government was notified several weeks ago about the suspensions, which Chinese authorities linked to labelling and health certificate requirements. Taking aside the possible political implications arising from this situation Minister Birmingham has told Australian agricultural exporters to make sure all their paperwork and labelling is in order for exporting products to China: “Everyone always should be dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s and leaving no scope for any dispute”.
Export documentation is essential to ensure products can move correctly through the import/export supply chain globally, not just into China. Therefore, in order to protect the respective interests of the exporter and the importer involved in export business, certain documentary formalities become essential.
Such documentation facilitates the smooth flow of goods and payments across national frontiers. It may seem confusing at first, but importers and exporters must understand who creates each document and how and why they are used.
Building on the experience gained over 60 years of supporting international business, the Export Council of Australia (ECA) has developed a suite of comprehensive skills development programs, aimed at building the international capability and capacity of Australian businesses.
Speak to the Export Council of Australia if you would like to know more.
Shane Styles

National Skills Development Manager, Export Council of Australia

Post COVID-19: Are you assuming a new normal for your industry?

Post COVID-19: Are you assuming a new normal for your industry?

Let us put some perspective around our position. Whilst the interconnectedness of the world of trade is here to stay, a shock to the system of this magnitude is creating a shift in the preferences and expectations of society as people, employees, and consumers. How you interpret these shifts and then position your business to chart a course forward will determine your position success – not just now, but in two years’ time?

Now is not the time to think it will all go back to normal. We need to start to drill down and ask, how will these global businesses and consumer shifts in your industry affect your supply chain, sales channels and simply how you transact? What will be the political implications across regions? And how sensitive to these should you be in your planning?

People across the globe still need to eat, advance technology, stay healthy, mine, manufacture and build, and Australia has so much to offer. There is no one answer, no one quick fix. Discerning a path forward in life or work in a time of change is never easy, but how you go to market – both in a physical sense and a sales sense – will require more planning than ever before for many industries and businesses. It is this planning that will give you the platform to go forward.

Scenario planning in supply

There is a global rethink of our critical component supply, inventory management, and the just-in-time production and supply schedules. This has and will result globally in some manufacturing returning home. We are also seeing companies move to have 2 to 3 key component manufacturers across regions, not just in one country – and it is only just beginning.

Inventory holdings are increasing, and businesses will need to rethink cost structures because of this, as well as cashflow mechanisms to be able to fund an increase in inventory. This is a time to grow in your knowledge of your own unique supply chain and sales channels and determine the best mix of technology and data monitoring to help you report on your needs.

One thing being discussed is we will see companies redesign supply chains that enable them to ‘rapidly reconfigure’ in a time of crisis. To do so, contingency and scenario planning methodology will be important to practice. This mapping and optimisation around the new demand and supply mechanisms are, for many companies, becoming a daily task to stay on top of.

Learn and grow

I think for many businesses, one of the challenges of the new normal is the real-time nature of change. We can go to bed at night, wake up the next morning, and restrictions in one country or another has been either tightened or loosened. Again, we must stay informed. Now is not a time to be stuck in your business, but a time to grow, train and learn.

ECA stands ready to support businesses in this new normal and soon will release a new series of online training programs targeted at helping businesses review their position, and gain further skills to grow in their understanding of what it will take to thrive in the new normal.

Shane Styles

National Skills Development Manager, Export Council of Australia

Managing the impact of COVID-19 on our businesses

Managing the impact of COVID-19 on our businesses

Businesses need to understand upfront that dealing with COVID-19 is not a sprint; it’s going to be a marathon. But most managers and owners are running around in the businesses like it’s a sprint, and the business is going to struggle to chart the right course.

In the craziness of responding, trying to stay afloat, meeting new demand, or just trying to get the business to work; everyone needs to just take time to breathe, think clearly and find time to plan better than they have ever planned before. A good marker point for this plan is to start reflecting on where the business will be in spring. It’s the decisions businesses make now, that will best determine where they are placed come September.

The “New Normal”

One of the new phrases being banded around at present is about a new normal, and what that will look like for businesses post COVID-19. A shock of this scale will create a shift in the preferences and expectations of consumers and businesses.

For the businesses, the supply chain will have a great impact going forward on how it goes to market, both in a physical sense, and a sales sense. This is important – a business can get hung up, and rightly so, on the physical supply chain, and see this purely in a sourcing and supply sense. But just as important in a time of crisis, is understanding well the other supply chain, the businesses sales channels, and ensuring its product gets sold.

Stay informed – Think “Local and Global”

The other point to make is where do businesses go looking for answers. The situation changes almost daily, and therefore everyone must take personal responsibility to stay informed by ‘thinking Local and Global.’

No one government, the industry body, supplier or customer can give the business all the answers, they have to seek them from multiple sources. There are some really great websites including ECA’s trying to keep you informed.

Everyone’s business, and therefore how that plays out in the market, is unique, and each business needs to make informed decisions that are best for that business.

Contingency plans that are targeted, modest and scalable

In looking at the contingency plans for the business, it must ensure three things:

  • Firstly, they are targeted, with a clear understanding of the current real needs of the business.
  • Secondly, they are modest. They must be affordable and sustainable.
  • And Thirdly, they must be scalable when needed.

Crisis – The Word in Chinese translates to “dangerous opportunity”

For many its hard amongst so much suffering to think about opportunity, and that is understandable, but the business is no good to anyone if it is out of business in 3 to 6 months’ time, and it’s how the business positions now that will determine how it is placed in spring.

Many studies have been done on the Global Financial Crisis, and it was the businesses that sort and seized the opportunities that survived and then went on to thrive post the GFC.

In Summary

Firstly, know the lay of the land is going to change and continue to change. Stay informed.

Secondly, the businesses local and global competitors are all going to have their own issue to overcome, and due to the nature of this virus and the different times and stages in each country, supply chains and sales channels are not all affected evenly.

So how does the business stay on top of the opportunities as they present themselves will then determine the best path forward to not only survive but thrive post-COVID-19.

Shane Styles

National Skills Development Manager, Export Council of Australia