After over 1.5 years of disrupted supply chains, intermittent lockdowns, and changing consumer behaviour, traditional supply chains have started showing the impact.
In an emerging market such as India, the FMCG market shrank by almost 16%, in April.
While the intermittent lockdowns brought about changes in consumption patterns, quite different from those of last year – a few things remained constant:
- Mom and PoP retailers (Kiranas) continued to hold fort and cater to changing consumer needs while E-Commerce and Modern Trade struggled.
- Data is still the oil, and the brands who leveraged insights and intelligence, continued to convert market potential and opportunities into growth.
- Brands that remained nimble and quickly adopted RTM innovations, thrived amidst disruptions.
Market trends for the last 4-6 quarters, and success stories from early adopters have convinced us, that every FMCG brand distributing in emerging markets needs to equip their distributors with the below stack, to be prepared for the subsequent waves of cases and the resulting supply chain impact.
1. Van Sales Automation
While changing consumption patterns and quicker turnover of products across categories have reiterated the importance of van sales/ready-stock model, the pandemic has taught us that time and data accuracy is paramount in today’s supply chains. Increased market demand and the need to service more outlets in a shorter window of time adds additional pressure. This coupled with the fact that margin of error needs to be close to 0, in order to maintain supply chain efficiency, demands a van sales solution that not only provides 100% visibility, but also simplifies the sales process.
2. Retailer Automation
Retailer automation should be the frontrunner among your RTM tech stack. While the business landscape and execution models evolved last year it became all the more evident that online ordering for retailers and d2c powered by B2B commerce is no more for the future. It is already here and thriving. Ask the early adopters and they will tell you about the volume of orders they receive after midnight, increase in repeat orders and much more. In a time when your distributor salesmen struggle to go to market, enable their retailers to order online and retain consistent demand.
3. Route Optimization
Sales reps who were earlier measured by “time spent in market”, do not have the luxury of spending hours in the market anymore. Delivery teams too have a shorter window of operations today. It is important to implement an intelligent route optimisation solution that creates smart routes based on location, outlet density, distance, order volume etc. Manual beat creation is not only laborious, it is error-prone. With the added complexity of lockdowns, your distributors need to be able to automatically create journey plans for each geographic location.
4. Accounting Integration
Visibility into secondary sales and distributor inventory is crucial in distribution planning. While driving complete downstream automation may seem challenging, simple integrations are the right first step to the path of digitisation. A robust integration tool like Bizom Connect lets you tap into your distributors’ systems effortlessly with minimal disruption while bringing critical analytics to the business by getting visibility into distributors’ sales, fill-rate and inventory data. What’s better? You can Identify leakages in promotional spends, improve utilisation of distributor claims, and improve fill-rates with low inventory alerts.
The above tools not only improves your RTM efficiency, but lets you stand out from competition and win at the point of sale. While it’s no more just a joke that covid is one of the biggest drivers of digital transformation, it is important that brands invest in tech that can be launched quickly and adopted easily. The nimble brands with quick decision-making thrived last year; however, it is also important to remember that investing in the wrong technology can negatively impact even category-leading businesses.
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