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Shorter product lifecycles and falling prices drive consumer electronics sector to overhaul B2B operations

With the complete lifecycle of consumer electronics products now as short as a few months, companies in the industry need to ensure there is full visibility of their products throughout the extended supply chain. This means visibility from component and assembly levels to final product if they want to be in control of their business and avoid the potentially catastrophic financial strain of warehouses full of obsolete stock, or consumer disappointment in their brand if they are unable to meet the consumer demand for their product, according to B2B integration expert GXS.

The consumer appetite for new technologies is unabated meaning that consumer expectations are outpacing product lifecycles, leaving companies with increasingly costly development for lower returns. At the same time, the rise of ecommerce has led to more price transparency, enabling consumers to seek the lowest prices combined with faster and more convenient delivery options. Even companies achieving double digit growth can end up with razor thin profit margins if they don’t get it right.

GXS argues that supply chain visibility is crucial to surviving this unforgiving environment. Agility and responsiveness are essential elements and firms must look to digitise and integrate their end-to-end business processes wherever possible. Expanding their use of EDI (electronic data interchange) across operations is one way to improve visibility, as well as increasing overall business efficiency. All of which can help to meet the demands of this highly competitive market. EDI contributes to cost reduction by enabling a more efficient, automated order-to-cash process that reduces manual interventions, and the errors inherent in manual processes.

Rashmian Audio, a small UK-based consumer electronics distributor moved from entirely manual processes by adopting EDI. The company quickly discovered that this enabled them to introduce more advanced B2B integration, helping them to expand the business without any loss in their exceptionally high levels of customer service.

Rashmian introduced GXS Freeway Professional a B2B ecommerce solution for small- and medium-sized businesses to manage their on-going B2B environment efficiently, without adding complex, expensive new technology. The ability to integrate EDI with their back-end accounting software, removed any need to manually re-enter data.

Kunal Patel, business development manager at Rashmian, explains: "As order volumes grew, we knew that we needed to become more efficient. With GXS Freeway, we’ve been able to reduce the amount of errors that are always going to occur through manual order entry."

Introducing (or replacing legacy B2B software) the latest supply chain technology can seem prohibitively complex and expensive for smaller operations, so solutions like GXS Freeway can help companies to do B2B ecommerce without swamping employees with complicated and unfamiliar systems.

Freeway also enabled Roth Audio, a small UK company that designs and manufactures audio products for the home market, to meet its ambitious targets for international growth. The company utilised EDI from its launch in 2007, but required the extra edge provided by a more integrated B2B solution to get more supply chain visibility and operational agility as it continued to grow.

Wayne Crawley, key accounts manager for Roth Audio, explains: "We are a relatively young company and we have been expanding rapidly. The retail market for audio products is huge, so there’s no cap on growth. Our success depends on how we manage that growth."

Denise Oakley, international marketing director at GXS, comments: "The efficiency and reliability provided by a fully integrated supply chain has become a necessity in most business sectors today. This is especially true for consumer audio and electronics."

"By using comprehensive B2B solutions like GXS Freeway, smaller companies can connect with their entire trading communities and gain full visibility of their end-to-end supply chains. With the consumer electronics sector moving so fast, companies simply cannot afford anything less than full visibility and control of their stock."

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