Recently, Paul Oudenhooven was interviewed by the Dutch online magazine, Installatie 360. The topic: Successful manufacturers are able to rapidly respond to trends (even during a crisis). Here is an English outline of the interview.
Successful manufacturers manage to keep up with changing customer demand. The coronavirus crisis has made it painfully clear which packaged goods manufacturers are able to respond rapidly to trends and which aren’t. It has also illustrated the added value of a platform such as the SyncForce Product Success Platform, which helps manufacturers to improve both their product development activities and their product introductions.
To remain successful during a crisis, manufacturing companies must have their product development and product modification processes under control, giving them access to reliable data, and they must also manage their own product information across all channels. Only then can they be agile enough to anticipate and rapidly respond to trends. Paul Oudenhooven: “During the first few weeks of the coronavirus crisis, manufacturers saw a three-way shift in terms of channel, customer type, and sales market.”
The closure of national borders forced consumers to buy locally. “That created a shift in the sales market for manufacturers,” explains Oudenhooven. “Additionally, at the start of the crisis, we saw a shift away from professional users towards panic-buying DIY enthusiasts.” People didn’t only stockpile toilet paper, but also power tools for use in their homes and gardens. That shift was caused by stagnation in the construction industry in countries that were in full lockdown, in combination with consumers having more time on their hands to make home improvements. Lastly, the well-documented shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping has been mirrored by a shift from industry data pools to manufacturers’ own webshops as a way for them to establish more direct contact with their users.”
Input at the source
To respond to the above-mentioned trends, organizations require tooling with which they can migrate from channel/system responsibility to information responsibility, according to Oudenhooven: “That gives product information the same status as the actual product; the manufacturer takes ownership of this information, irrespective of the channel. That places considerable demands on a company and it might even require changes to the internal organization. Rather than managing product information per channel, each department becomes responsible for its ‘own’ part of the information. This creates a complete picture, with centrally managed, input-at-the-source information that can then be disseminated through any channel. As a result, every product modification leads to automatic updates in every channel.”
“To respond to trends, organizations require tooling with which they can migrate from channel/system responsibility to information responsibility.“
Although it is crucial for manufacturers to work with multiple channels, channel-based information management has inherent risks. “That approach is extremely prone to error. In an ideal world, product information should be distributed to all channels without having to be managed in the channels themselves,” states Oudenhooven. “As a manufacturer, your channels could include a website in Norway, InstallData in Belgium, EZ-base and 2ba in the Netherlands, GS1 in Germany, a printed catalogue for Italy – you name it. And if the demand changes, such as due to a crisis, then you simply add a new channel. Our Product Success Platform is a total solution that provides an overview of the entire product and packaging life cycle. It digitally supports all stages of product development – from concept to end product – and makes the information available across each and every channel. We help growing companies to keep on growing.”