Thriving in the new consumer goods marketplace

While the immediate threat from COVID-19 appears to be receding, the retail and consumer goods market may feel its effects for some time. For example, online shopping is likely to both drive the recovery and remain a channel of choice for the long haul. This could be a surprise to Australians who haven’t yet fully embraced online shopping. In 2019 online retail sales in Australia were just nine per cent of total retail spend compared with 22 per cent in the UK. However, there is enormous potential for acceleration across most online shopping categories post COVID-19.1

Even before the pandemic changed the consumer and business environment, the outlook for the consumer products industry was uncertain. Brexit, the US-China trade tensions, and faltering global trade were all contributing to this uncertainty. Even so, companies were either engaging in or planning for investments in Industry 4.0 technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced materials, and digital reality.2 The aim for these technologies is to create value for consumers, especially as commerce continues to become digitalised.

Being aware of these kinds of trends is essential for consumer goods manufacturers and retailers looking to not just survive but thrive in the wake of the pandemic and beyond.

To remain resilient and adaptable in an uncertain and shifting marketplace, consumer goods providers need to keep a close eye on costs. Digitalising the processes involved in procurement and expense management can deliver significant benefits for these businesses.

Expense management is often overlooked when organisations examine areas ripe for digital transformation. It’s seen as a low-tech process without much prestige attached. However, adopting high-tech innovations to transform business processes like expense and invoice management can deliver a significant return on investment.

Here are three ways an automated, integrated, cloud-based invoice and expense management solution can help retail and consumer goods businesses manage costs more effectively:

1. Redirect employees from administrative work to value-adding tasks

With an automated system, your employees take a picture of their receipts and the system automatically translates the details on the receipts into data and submits the expense report. This frees up time for workers to focus on more valuable tasks that generate money for the business, while expenses are still managed in a timely way to maintain compliant and effective business processes.

2. Increase compliance with spending policies

An automated system can prevent employees from claiming items that don’t meet your spending policies, reducing business costs associated with mistakes or employee fraud. This includes ensuring the business isn’t spending time and resources on sorting out employee claims that don’t meet your company policies.

3. Streamlined invoice management controls costs and cashflow

Managing accounts payable with an automated system can help you take advantage of on-time payment discounts, avoid late-payment fees, and determine which vendors give you the best value for money. Instead of staff members spending hours each week or month managing invoices, they can turn their attention to growth-oriented tasks and let the invoices manage themselves. Human intervention is only needed for exceptions.

Powered by machine learning and AI, an integrated expense, travel and invoice management solution can pick up the things that humans miss, avoiding mistakes and keeping your spending on track. In an uncertain economic environment, the tighter you can control spending and the more visibility you can gain, the more successful your consumer products business will be.

To find out more, contact SAP Concur today.