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Innovation

How can your business continue to innovate during an economic crisis?

In recent months businesses have been subjected to rising costs and various economic challenges. A key concern may be the cost of R&D or costs associated with trialling a new product or service, causing businesses to put any plans for change on hold due to financial uncertainty.

Although ground-breaking and market-disrupting, innovation usually requires considerable financial investment. Innovation can also result from small incremental changes. Businesses can utilise or adapt existing skills, resources, and expertise to improve what they do or how they do it to create value for customers and increase their competitiveness.

Salma Chaudhry our Innovation Eco System Network Manager shares a few ideas to help inspire innovation.

 

Introduce added value products: Product-based businesses such as clothing brands usually sell accessories to complement their core product. Increasingly, service-based businesses are also selling added-value products.  I recently found a cleaning company selling some of their best eco-friendly cleaning products to existing customers via their social media platform.

Added-value products and services can significantly increase a company’s sales.

 

Provide a range of options and price points: Face-to-face service delivery providers could offer pre-recorded, online modules offering customers increased choice and flexibility. A range of payment options to spread costs or a subscription service can all be valid options to consider.

 

Eco-Innovation: If your company aims at the eco or price-conscious consumer, providing a repair and rental service, or an option to buy back products and start a vintage line or sell via a re-sale platform, can attract a new demographic of customers. Recently there has also been a rise in coffee shops and food retailers selling products left over at the end of each day through apps such as Too Good to Go. These products would otherwise most likely have gone to waste; therefore, utilising these platforms is not only reducing waste but another revenue-generating opportunity.

Collaboration: You can join forces with companies with a shared synergy, such as a similar target market. This is sometimes also known as co-branding and can effectively reach a new customer base and expand into new markets. For example, a Well-Being coach could write guest blogs for a product-based business selling to the same demographic, such as a company selling vitamins or nutritional products.

Copycat Innovation: Looking outside the box at companies from different sectors can sometimes be very insightful and help inspire ideas you can replicate to innovate. Before copying, the key thing to be sure of is understanding why the idea is working and the value it adds.

An example of this is a computer retailer finding its after-sales warranties becoming increasingly more challenging to sell, as customers purchasing an already expensive product were reluctant to pay an extra £200-£300 pounds on top of what they were already paying for a computer. An employee working at the retailer was looking to purchase a washing machine from a well know company and was offered a cash-back warranty. By providing this type of extended warranty, although the employee would be paying in advance, if the service ended up not being used, they would receive a full refund at the end of the warranty period. The employee could see the value in the extra expense due to the peace of mind it provided, i.e., if the washing machine unexpectedly broke down after the standard 12-month warranty period, the item would be covered. However, if it were okay, they would see the total return of the money paid.

The computer retailer applied the same technique and found that this new amended way of framing and selling the warranty helped customers appreciate this service's value, subsequently increasing sales.

To re-cap, innovation is key to ensuring a business’s future sustainability. Even small changes can result in many positive outcomes, from increased competitiveness and brand value to increasing productivity and generating new revenue streams.

At GC Business Growth Hub, we understand that it’s difficult to get innovative ideas moving because of problems with developing and commercialising them. A lack of finance, human resource, specialist know-how, time, technology, strategy or appropriate facilities can all be barriers.

The Hub’s innovation specialists will help you shape and strengthen your business to overcome these issues, accelerating the time it takes to bring new products or services to market. Find out more about our comprehensive Innovation Discovery service.

 

The GC Business Growth Hub is #HereForBusiness, supporting Greater Manchester businesses to navigate the increasing cost of doing business and provide specialist support.

Explore our #HereForBusiness digital hub for the latest news, events and resources to help businesses understand the current crisis and to access practical support that is available at the link below.

 

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Salma Chaudhry

Salma Chaudhry, Innovation Eco System Network Manager

Salma Chaudhry is an Innovation Advisor at GC Business Growth Hub.

In the 15 years she has been a business advisor, Salma has helped start-up businesses and supported established companies to identify scale-up and growth opportunities.

As well as her role as a business advisor, Salma has launched several businesses. Including an independent magazine and a fashion brand offering bespoke tailoring. Her most recent venture is an award-winning skincare and cosmetics company, which exports to several countries within the Middle East and Europe.

Salma works with her clients to achieve their aspirations, whether helping transform an idea into reality or serving as a sounding board. She offers practical advice and solutions to support businesses by utilising the business experience, knowledge, skills and networks built up throughout her working life.