The third quarter of 2022 was characterised by record-level load shedding, conflict-induced supply chain disruptions, mounting global inflation and a weakening Rand.
More recently, wage strikes crippled South Africa’s imports and exports. Whether these headwinds will cause the GDP to further contract for a consecutive quarter and tip the country into a recession remains to be seen. But it has created a rollercoaster B2B sales environment for small- to medium-sized manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.
This is according to Zane van Rooyen, senior product marketing manager at Skynamo who, referring to the Skynamo Industry Thermometer which benchmarks industry sales activity across 27 sectors, points out that the upheaval has been evidenced by a number of industries experiencing lower, if not the lowest, order values for the year in this last quarter. “The biggest declines occurred during July and August when load shedding spiked to Stage 4 and then to Stage 6.”
He adds that several industries also saw significant reductions in order values compared to the same period last year. “The building material and hardware sector, for instance, underwent an almost 80% drop. This was echoed by a 12-point plunge in building sector confidence among building material manufacturers in the Q3 FNB/BER Building Confidence Index, due largely to a sharp fall in production and increased production costs.”
“While there is seemingly no end to the rollercoaster ride in sight, especially with fuel prices set to start climbing again in November, tech tools that enable businesses to automate processes, as well as those which produce data insights such as recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) analysis, can help buffer its impacts,” shares van Rooyen.
He explains that time is no longer a luxury in this fast-changing and unpredictable economic climate, so automation of processes is now a must. “Not only can automation help businesses make better use of their team’s time, such as by freeing up sales teams to build relationships up and down the chain, but it is also vital for timeous and accurate ordering. Given the high risk of cancelled orders and poor customer experience that can result from delayed order placement or from not having up-to-date inventory data on hand, the days of paper-based ordering and manual stock entries must come to an end.”
“As the challenges of the past quarter – and year – have impacted customers too, RFM analysis can provide valuable, real-time insights into purchasing fluctuations and buying behaviour to predict how customers will act in the future. This data also enables businesses to take proactive action rather than just respond reactively when it might be too late to retain the relationship,” he says.
“With liquidations increasing by 2.1% in the last quarter, businesses need to be tapping into tech advances going forward to help them make data-driven decisions that are critical to their continued survival,” concludes van Rooyen.
Skynamo has recently launched a new product, Skynamo RADAR, which performs RFM analysis on existing customer data to deliver actionable insights and is a first for field sales automation.