In today’s competitive business world, timing counts, and getting the right products to the right place at the right time, fast, is essential. To achieve this, optimising your business’ speed to market is important.

Speed to market (or time to market) is how quickly a business can go from conceiving a product to getting it to end customers. Every product has an optimal release time and being the first to meet it requires a flexible, agile, and resilient supply chain backed by the right logistics. When a business focuses on enhancing its speed to market, it taps into new potential to get products to market quickly when and where they are needed.

Why speed to market matters

Optimising speed to market can benefit a business in the following ways:

  • Competitive advantageCapgemini describes speed to market as ‘the first profit driver’. By optimising speed to market and becoming a ‘first mover’ you can present and deliver your product to end-customers before competitors, gaining an important market advantage. The faster it gets that product to market, the less likely it is to face competition early on.
  • Greater adaptability – if your business has optimised its speed to market, you can quickly respond to changes in customer preferences and demand. Your business can gain flexibility and agility. You maximise your ability to make decisions quickly and effectively to match current and anticipated market conditions. Your business is better equipped to speed up or slow down its supply chain as needed, supporting greater flexibility and agility.
  • Meeting customer demand – when businesses can quickly deliver end-customers the products they want when they want them, they boost customer demand and increase their chances of cementing their loyalty. According to Gartner, only 55% of products are launched on schedule. Getting a quality product to end customers as planned puts you ahead of many in the game and enhances your customers’ experience.
  • Brand credibility and loyalty – your business’ speed to market can help build a reputation for innovation. Getting good products to market fast increases your business’ chances of differentiation and enhances your value proposition. You can be seen as a brand that understands consumers and satisfies their needs quicker than other businesses. This is an opportunity to foster brand loyalty at a time when consumer loyalty is waning. McKinsey notes that, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, three-quarters of consumers have changed buying habits and are increasingly willing to switch brands. If a business finds itself with a slower speed to market than its competitors, it must work harder to get attention for its brand and its products, regardless of how impressive they are.
  • Waste reduction – minimising waste across the supply chain is a priority for many businesses. Having the ability to quickly get a product to market when it is needed, reduces the need for excess inventory. It also protects against products becoming obsolete before they reach market. Instead, your business can tailor its production and inventory to current demand and meet that demand. Optimising speed to market also requires streamlining processes and operations, ensuring resources are used more effectively and efficiently.

When a business improves it speed to market it capitalises on these benefits and gives itself a greater chance of revenue growth. A Deloitte survey found that 79% of companies with high-performing supply chains recorded revenue growth that was above their industry’s average.

A woman unloads a delivery from a van showing how integrated logistics can help optimise speed to market.

How to optimise speed to market

So, you understand the benefits of speed to market for your business. Here is how you can improve yours.

To optimise its speed to market, a business must streamline its supply chain to ensure it is as agile, efficient, and resilient as possible. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Leveraging data – when it comes to evaluating and enhancing a supply chain, data is key. Data supports end to end visibility, offering valuable insights from all stages of the supply chain, highlighting areas for improvement. It also improves transparency allowing businesses to better understand inventory levels, delivery times and to anticipate and resolve potential issues before they escalate. When businesses achieve greater visibility, they can pass on the benefits to their customers, offering accurate order tracking that leads to greater customer satisfaction. According to McKinsey, only half of businesses currently have access to data that is of sufficient or high quality, highlighting room for improvement. Data on customer preferences and market trends is also important and vital to understand what products are needed where and when.
  • Investing in automation – supply chain automation can help enhance efficiency and improve accuracy by reducing errors associated with manual processes. Automated systems can also complete tasks faster so employees can focus on more complex task. All of this contributes to increasing supply chain velocity and speed to market. Automation requires an initial investment, but the right third-party logistics partner can help provide access to the benefits.
  • Optimising transportation – having the right combination of transport options in place is important for resilience and speed. A business’ logistics partners can provide access to a range of transport options and routes, with the flexibility and agility to adjust transit times as needed. This can be particularly important with high value inventory that a business would want to keep moving.
  • Considering integration – a supply chain supported by integrated logistics – where all stages are connected – has the potential for faster, more reliable delivery, as well as improving flexibility, mobility and agility. A Deloitte survey found only 6% of businesses have full transparency of their supply chain. Integrated logistics opens the door to end-to-end visibility and enhanced ability to develop rapid responses.
Integration pictogram

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The need for speed in the consumer electronics market

Speed to market matters to businesses across industries. For consumer electronics businesses it is indispensable. Ranging from wearables and smartphones to televisions and laptops, Statista calculates that revenue in the global consumer electronics market will amount to USD 1,028 billion for 2023. In 2022, the market recorded a minor contraction because of smartphone saturation and decreased consumer spending due to economic slowdown, high inflation, and high energy prices. Statista notes that the consumer electronics market is recovering, but that competition is intensifying, and businesses are under pressure to secure market share, attract consumer attention and deliver an exceptional customer experience.

As well as tight competition, the age of ‘on-demand’ means consumers are seeking instant gratification and want their needs met immediately. In this environment, optimising speed to market can make a real difference. It can give consumer electronics businesses a competitive advantage over competitors, as well as securing the all-important reputation for innovation and meeting customer demand. For certain segments of the market, seasonality is a factor. For example, demand for televisions spikes around major sporting events. An optimised supply chain offers the agility and flexibility business need to meet seasonal demands at exactly the right time, maintaining their market share.

To stand out from the crowd, consumer electronics businesses must – today, more than ever - deliver an outstanding customer experience. End customers expect a seamless buyer’s journey that includes a product being delivered as planned and order tracking visibility. This is supported by a streamlined supply chain that leverages data and capitalises on end-to-end visibility.

The future of speed to market: balancing velocity and sustainability

Technological advancements and changing customer demands will continue to continue to shape speed to market in the years to come. Already, end customers expect a wide variety of products – both online and in-store. Research, including from IBM’s Institute for Business Value, repeatedly shows that in-store shoppers want shopping to be fast and efficient. Online, consumers expect to find the right product and to get it quickly. According to Statista, 41% of global shoppers want to receive an online purchase within 24 hours.

Increasingly, however, speed needs to be balanced against sustainability. A 2022 CGS survey found 79% of consumers now believe sustainability matters, while 42% prefer sustainability over expedited shipping. According to a 2022 First Insight study, many businesses are yet to catch up to consumers’ increasing interest in sustainable shopping. Supply chain agility, flexibility and sustainability need to go hand in hand to allow businesses to customise supply chain velocity to align with customers’ preferences, as well as to meet their own sustainability targets. This will be a critical consideration for businesses in the years to come.

New challenges and opportunities will continue to emerge for businesses. However, a business that has optimised its speed to market by streamlining its supply chain will be well positioned to adapt and navigate future trends and scenarios successfully.

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