Challenges to business is caught in the Made in Britain Twitter net: 5 November 2020

EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.

This week we look at challenges of ‘Lockdown 2.0’.

Question one: How will Lockdown 2.0 affect British manufacturers and what opportunities and threats are there related to this?

Response: In terms of the physical manufacturing, my hope is that the effects are less than Lockdown 1.0 as the new processes and procedures are already in place. The unknown element is what will happen to demand for the products over the short term.

Made in Britain: Do you think the demand for products will be impacted? Certain industries are continuing this lockdown that didn't last time around, e.g. construction.

Response: It is a different lockdown, and many are still operating.

Response: Completely different lockdown. The rest of the globe is still going, we still need to trade with them.

Response: It is also a much shorter lockdown, although I suspect we may have more time-limited, short term lockdowns in 2021

Response: Yes - I am a lot more positive about demand holding up better this time around but it does very much depend on the product/sector. If it's not direct need, it could be availability, or it could simply be affordability - there are a lot of factors at play

Made in Britain: How close to business-as-usual is it? Is the lockdown going to make any difference at all to demand?

Response: This time we have an order book through to next year. Last time, it wasn’t so full. The global recession was stronger in Jan-March?

Response: The challenge is that the UK is now in recession and we may plunge in a double-dip recession

Response: We have a global client base. The UK recession had a limited effect on us, more a case of how the EU/Aus/SA are doing for us.

Response: Hopefully many have re-evaluated value chains and supply chains to survive the next few weeks. There are still a lot of unknowns - whatever you do, please stay engaged with your customers.

Made in Britain: How long do you think they have actually planned for? Just the four weeks?

Response from Made in Britain member Hardy: Hard to tell this early but it looks like they're putting a lot more consideration into Manufacturing, such as omitting them from the lockdown closures. They could U-turn on this but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!

Made in Britain: Manufacturers have invested quite a considerable amount of money since Lockdown 1 to make the factories COVID secure. Is this why the government has a different view this time around?

Response from Hardy: It's a possibility! We certainly have. In my opinion, I think the government has realised the importance of the manufacturing industry. The risk to reward is worth keeping us all open!

Response: My #UKMfg clients have seen many rapid changes over the last 7 months. After the first lockdown they have been working towards digital engagement with their markets and will benefit from this in LD2.

Response: As we discussed in a recent webinar, digitalisation is one of the key tools to see us through this period, as is a strategy review and a re-evaluation of your value chains and supply chain. Think segmentation, customer journeys, and customer experiences.

Response from Made in Britain member Addison Precision: Yes, I'd agree. We're an innovative engineering company and flexibility/creativity is in the DNA. This whole situation is brutal if you can't change what you do, thank god we're not in non-essential retail.

Addison Precision: We haven't changed our direction at all. Our whole group made all the necessary adjustments the first time round and it's just a case of following the plan now. All the H&S measures are in place, everyone is well trained & our markets shouldn't suffer much more than a short blip. I'll caveat that slightly, the markets already took the hit last time and we've been adjusting ever since!

Made in Britain: One good thing that has come out of Lockdown 1 is the ability to adapt and adapt quickly?

Response: Lockdown 2.0 will hopefully not have as much of an impact as the first did, with many having plans and processes put in place because of the uncertainty they faced in the first! It also helps that the construction industry are remaining open & operating

Response: I don’t anticipate the same impact as LD1 due to covid safe measures already having been implemented. I personally feel safer coming to work than I do in my house in the evening with 3 high school age kids (note: I am not suggesting schools should be closed!)

Response: I don't think the issue is the impact on demand in the lockdown period directly, as that will hopefully be shorter and less restrictive. The question is what impact it has on future demand as the economic impacts start to ripple through. Today's furlough extension should help.

Response: We have had an increase in orders but we’re keeping going with a smaller team.

Response: As others have said they implemented changes to deal with production in LD1 which will carry through bin LD2. There are some issues with supply chains and customer engagement. Lack of exhibitions and industry events has hit sales.

Response: We in the mining and recycling industry are directly linked to the economics of the recession/boom cycle.

Response: Lockdown1.0 was good for us business-wise and also helped us improve our workflow within the warehouse as we implemented SD. Lockdown2.0 we've been busy & looks like it will continue to be so.

Question two: Will the continued lack of physical trade shows and exhibitions impact British manufacturers over the coming months and what has your experience of virtual events been?

Response: Many have already set up as online expos. It is vital that British Manufacturers are there and participating. Though not perfect, and many still leaving much to be desired, the connections are still being done

Response: I think it will have an impact on manufacturers as, like us, many had planned and budgeted this year and are left unsure whether they will go ahead next year even. I'm intrigued to see others experiences to virtual exhibitions and whether they worked?

Response from Made in Britain member Hardy: International trade shows are key for us to reach out to new customers that we can't get online. There are some decent steps to online expos in developed countries but unfortunately, that isn't our entire market!

Response: Have you looked at networks that you can join remotely in those markets?

Hardy: We've looked into it but they're lacking in numbers. We're mainly focusing on adverts in international magazines and word of mouth from customers in that particular country

Response: May I also suggest making sure you are well represented online with testimonials, quality validation, google words, etc?

Response: Yes, that is my particular focus at the moment! Our website is well made but not regularly updated. We're currently looking into translating into 9 more languages to improve our accessibility

Made in Britain: On a slightly different note but picking up on your point - do you think a lot of businesses have websites that aren't regularly updated? And possibly updated when they really need to get more work?

Response: I do think that happens a lot. When a business has a website that largely serves as a brochure, it's easy to leave it alone if your products don't change. The challenge is that it gets tired and ineffective very quickly.

Response: I'd say so. Regular updates are proven to boost Google rankings, as does a higher 'relevant' word count. Along with a few bits like user-friendliness, quick loading times, etc.

Response: Yes I do. This is the time to refresh your comms, especially those online. If sites are left to serve as brochure sites, in time they feel tired. This is where social media helps to maintain that vital 'live' communication. Make sure you are including links to your social media

Response: We suggest you review on a regular basis. Websites are your digital shopfront. you would refresh your shop window regularly. Same with your site. You don't need to build a new one every few months, just keep it updated with fresh content, use case studies, relevant videos, etc

Response: Your website is the shop window for the world. You have control. Reliance on third-party platforms, whilst full of opportunity, can change and leave you isolated. Look after your website and it will look after you. Learn the skills to develop and promote

Made in Britain: Do businesses neglect their website and instead post everything to social media, which is transient?

Response: If they do not have someone focussed on the site, yes, that is what typically happens. One way of ensuring your content is a) yours, and b)not getting lost in the noise on social media, is to make sure you are also keeping a relevant blog

Made in Britain: How have you found online expos?

Response from made in Britain member Hardy: Almost pointless in our industry I'm afraid. With leather, it's a lot of touching and feeling. We can't do that over the internet. Therefore measuring quality and truly admiring a product just doesn't work.

Response: Even with the internet, there are some things that have to be done in person when selling.

Response: Finding customers at trade events. The lack of events has damaged sales. Digital events have not yet caught up with physical events where you can demonstrate the product and discuss with suppliers.

Mand in Britain: Do you think that the lack of exhibitions and industry events for a period has actually demonstrated the importance of them even more? 

Response: Yes, the digital exhibition has not caught up with the experience of the physical events

Made in Britain: Do you think businesses will attend more events when they return to being physical to attempt to make up for lost time/opportunities?

Response: I think they will. Online events are a poor substitution for the real thing!

Response: I do think trade shows and exhibitions will get an influx of attendees once they are physically allowed to reopen. Virtual is good and great for a time like this but it doesn't allow for the flow of natural conversation you get from physical expos!

Response from Made in Britain member Addmaster: We supported  @hillbrush @CleanInteract. The feedback was the webinar presentations and discussions had relatively good attendance and the audience could give immediate feedback and ask live questions. Hopefully it was worth the ROI

Response: I have attended events online to see how they are developing. It depends on the organisers and the technology being used. Poor customer experience, slow technology and frustration. WFH or an office there is no atmosphere

Response from Made in Britain member Addision Precision: We can answer that next week as our Project business is doing their first one. We do a lot of online networking and presentations and they seem to work well. We've just done a full AS9100 audit remotely using video links and even shop floor tours.

Response: 2020's been a good sales year without Exhibitions for many Companies: a factor for future planning? Business travel will be permanently reduced making international exhibitions a risky investment for 2021/22. Visitors less likely to return than exhibitors

Response: As Nigel said digital events haven't really caught up and it is not the same as pressing the flesh. I'm sure they will get better with time, but can't beat that post-exhibition beer when the deals are done! 

Response: That's a good insight. Sometimes at events is it the discussions over the beer in the evening that are worth more than any other interactions in a day?

Response: Many companies do not get a good ROI for their exhibition investments; many don't measure it. Browsing at exhibitions is not a feature of one where Social Distancing is in place; appts are needed. Online Events have not generated good attendance

Response: What is a company's online presence and activity ... if not a 'virtual event'? By participating in a virtual event, does it help promote itself, or the event more?

Response: There is so much more to a physical handshake than one realises. You can tell many things about a person from this simple action

Response: Business is conducted between people and that personal touch is very important. Digital events simply provide an opportunity to transfer information, but do not provide a platform to develop relationships. The lack of physical shows has had a negative effect on business

Question three: Have you seen any evidence of businesses shortening and localising their supply chain as a result of the pandemic or to mitigate risks due to Brexit?

Response: I haven't seen major supply chain changes as yet, but I have seen significant changes to planned inventory levels. Both for raw material stock and also building inventory of finished goods in mainland Europe to try to mitigate any export delays.

Made in Britain: We've heard lots of stories about "local supply chains" recently. The interesting point is whether these are long-standing and are only now been seen to be something to "shout about"?

Response: I think that is a very interesting question. My hunch would be that it is a mix of the two. It's not a trivial thing to change a supply chain, so the early stories are likely to be existing arrangements that are now a PR asset, would be my guess.

Response: I have with one of my clients that have localised value and supply chains. It was started as a risk mitigation for Brexit but has helped them in the pandemic too

Made in Britain: Was this from international to local? Were there any issues regarding cost/price?

Response: In another life we used Consignment stocking to overcome deliveries and cash flow issues for clients. This worked for all parties as components were available on demand for the client and we had somewhere to store them

Question four: Are businesses properly preparing for the end of the Brexit transition period or has the pandemic distracted them from doing this?

Response: We have been preparing for such a long time but I'm guessing no one knows until negotiations are concluded but the immediacy of the pandemic has taken priority

Join Made in Britain on Twitter at 1pm every Thursday for #madeinbritainhour. We engage with everybody, members and non-members alike (some of whom become members as a result). Hopefully, see you there.

By Made in Britain 8 months ago | Made in Britain news

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