Despite challenging times, business growth for merchant and construction supply chain manufacturers is on the rise, and technology can play its part, explains Nick Hull, BisTrack Customer Account Manager ‎at Epicor Software.

Epicor recently launched its Global Growth Index to monitor business growth performance. The Global Growth Index research is updated by Epicor on a yearly basis and gives an indication of how businesses are preparing and coping with growth.

The good news is that global business growth is on the rise. Globally, manufacturing business growth has increased by 3.7% despite the fact that half of them admit they have grown under challenging circumstances.

Released at almost the same time, the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) Quarter 4 report reflected the continued strength of the sector’s primary markets—private housebuilding and domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI). Overall, merchant sales in 2017 finished 4.8% ahead of 2016 by value.

However, comparing the figures from Epicor on a global scale, the Global Growth Index shows a poor performance from the UK—with manufacturers in this country underperforming against global average figures in terms of expanding their product ranges (63%), profits (63%) and workforces (42%), but also geographic expansion (44%), exports (44%) and sales/ turnover (62%). Despite the worldwide increase in business growth performance, almost half (45%) of businesses also admitted that the growth they had experienced in the last 12 months had been challenging and one-in-four (23%) said it had been stressful.

However, half (46%) of businesses globally also agree that investing in new/better technology is a strategy that will help them overcome their growing pains. For merchants in particular, industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, such as the Epicor BisTrack solution, collects data from sales, purchasing, finance, and supply chain (amongst others) into a common database allowing a company to share the information, coordinate activities, and collaborate. This brings improvements to customer service, leading to improved customer loyalty and spend.

Growth is sometimes stressful but both merchants and manufacturers agree—technology can be the answer to many growing pains.