Manufacturers have some key strengths that make them ideally suited for the digital era. No matter how big or small your business is, from a multi-employee empire to a start-up biotechnology firm, every business needs a brand—a mark of character.
In fact, small to medium size manufacturer brands, free of the rules and restrictions that govern large corporations, have more freedom in crafting and developing a character that stands out from the crowd. Let's take a closer look at some of those key characteristics of a SMB.
One of the greatest strengths of a SMB is its size. SMBs can be highly agile, nimble, and keep a low profile as they grow and challenge market leaders. By creating aggressive targeted product launches and campaigns, to be unveiled one right after another, these companies will take advantage of vulnerable spots in the market.
Without the long approval processes and multiple layers of decision-makers associated with larger firms, SMB manufacturers can release new products and offerings quickly. SMBs can take the leap, with speed and confidence, into new markets and dive into a new product direction while responding to customer opinions and emerging trends more quickly. In addition, SMBs need to be attentive and avoid reacting without taking the time for research. Changing priorities can be a distraction and veer them off path of the strategic focus of the company. However, smart and quick decision-making is important to a SMB. Investing in an advanced ERP system can help keep everyone on board and on the same track, innovating new products while responding to customer demands.
Customers look for focused and attentive care from SMB manufacturers. Customer needs are not always met by account managers or salespeople. Rather, in a SMB environment, top level executives can often make high-level decisions for customer support. SMBs know the intimate details of their customers’ issues and have great influence on the decisions those clients make.
Having a close relationship with their customers results in a partnership that will continue long-term. This creates stability, solid cashflow, and credibility with other potential customers for the SMB. However, becoming too dependent on one customer is not healthy, especially if the customer begins to make unrealistic demands that threaten the profitability of the business.
Implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution will help manage the SMB/customer relationship. Providing guidance into profitability, next purchases and long-term growth, CRM software, integrated with your ERP solution, will help managers focus on building lasting relationships.
Often digitally native, SMBs are typically comfortable with transformative technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). eCommerce and online tools are often embraced to communicate with customers, in order to collaborate, share data-driven facts, tell their stories, and support social causes pertinent to their customer base. Customers of a SMB manufacturer expects the same level of attention as they would of a much larger firm.
SMBs need to be digitally savvy to meet customer expectations. Being one step ahead is crucial, and this includes having an ecommerce system to suggest the next likely purchases and personalized products. These functions, along with supply chain management, can all be managed by an ERP solution. Staying relevant in today’s shifting economy means knowing the stock of products, product location, pricing and an overall knowledge of warehouse management tools - and having it all at your fingertips.
Taking advantage of advanced ERP solutions, SMB manufactures today can more quickly respond to customer demands and bring to market innovative solutions. These firms have a closer relationship with their clients and can leverage emerging online technologies to stay competitive in their markets. In our next blog, we will look at the other key characteristics of today’s midsize manufacturer in today’s digital economy.