Automation Can Kick-start Growth for Floundering FMCG Brands

Automation, digitisation and advanced analytics are changing the business landscape in India. 

While most business sectors are already on the maturity curve in the adoption of digitisation and automation tech, CPG and FMCG in India are the Johnny-come-lately sectors. Part of the reason has been the disbelief that technology can work in highly fragmented and traditional trade-dominated markets like India.

Unsurprisingly, change has already come to India’s retail ecosystem. FMCG startups are using innovative business processes and newfangled retail intelligence platforms to make a dent in the market share of FMCG leaders. For instance, young companies like iD Fresh, are organised like technology companies and are leveraging analytics to ensure the freshness of their products and reduce returns. 

More and more FMCG brands realise that the only way around the new competition is to bring more visibility to their channels and product performance. They increasingly depend on retail intelligence platforms to aggregate and analyse data on consumer trends, behaviour, insights, preferences, and market trends. 

Bizom, a leading retail intelligence platform and flagship product of Mobisy Technologies, quotes the example of one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world. The brand has been gaining market share through smart product strategy coupled with retail execution and technology. Lalit Bhise, CEO and founder of Mobisy Technologies said, “The chocolate confectionery brand wanted to increase the depth of distribution in India by selling more in each store rather than be present everywhere. They wanted to identify the right channels and outlets for their products. With Bizom’s retail intelligence platform, the brand was able to gain access to data on their current outlets – where they were selling, what they were selling, and how much they were selling.”

Indian companies like Parle Agro are using technology to drive high levels of efficiency in their sales team to drive greater reach and availability. Similarly, companies like Jyothy Laboratories use advanced analytics to expedite the movement of stocks from the warehouse to the consumer. By doing so, the company has reduced stock in trade and improved profitability. 

The use of tech in these consumer companies has moved beyond digitisation into areas of creating a significant competitive advantage. Take the example of Bausch & Lomb, a leading global eye health products brand, which has over 20,000 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs). They have used tech to reduce the delivery time for lenses by almost 80%, thereby gaining a significant advantage and retailer preference for their brand.

Also, a leading global ice cream brand has reduced stock-outs by using fixed cameras and image recognition technology to understand stock levels. The brand is also using prediction models to determine refill periods for their ice cream fridges.

The key to all such successes is not to be overawed by the complexity of technology. Organisations should be able to define clearly end outcomes and then make technology work for them.

Many CPG and FMCG organisations are striving to ensure that they gain market share through technology in these days of lower consumption. It becomes the ammunition to win big when consumption picks up. It’s what separates professionals from amateurs.

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