Only the Paranoid Thrive, in Indian FMCG!

I remember wading through the legendary Andy Grove’s book “Only the Paranoid Survive” where he talks about strategic inflexion points for organizations. Having seen a little bit of the real world, I see how tech plays an absolutely important role in creating these moments that can present businesses with strategic inflexion points.

Do you remember the now infamous incident of the CEO of Nokia (yes, it was a market leader then) throwing away the new iPhone to the ground? Let’s call it his ‘touchy’ moment (after all iPhone was the first touch phone that really worked :), debatably).

Similarly, in retail, we have seen many such ‘touchy’ moments pass by seasoned business leaders. Every single time though it causes their organizations to move further away from their ‘strategic inflexion point’.

Failing to leverage tech is what prevents many large organizations today from achieving greatness.

Without more blabber, here are some touchy sales and distribution moments knocking on the doors of today’s business leaders.

1. Retail visibility:

For ages, brands in India have been comfortable paying for kirana shelf space to ensure availability. Yet audit mechanisms have been rudimentary (that’s me being generous) to ensure compliance by the retailer and effective utilization of those budgets.

What if the retailer were empowered to take his shelf image and upload it, geo-tagged and time-stamped, back to you over mobile Internet to let you how you look there? You will be able to make sure your products are visible just as you’d planned it and will consequently increase offtake and aid brand recall.

Well, some would say “Why to fix it if it ain’t broken?? Huh, huh???”

2. Front-line sales stock-taking from retailers:

Let’s say there are over 50 stock-keeping units (SKUs) and there is little time to take this stock input at say a rural wholesaler and/or retailer.

Do your products run the risk of not being ordered? Probably, right?

What if I told you there’s a tech that has inputs based on past trends, local market stocking, festivities, what other stores in your vicinity are stocking, the best schemes available at a retailer and many more such factors? The output of this tech is called suggested orders and the algorithm driving the tool can produce near-perfect predictions.

Well, again some would say “why fix it if it ain’t broken?? Huh, huh, huh???”

So why am I going on about “why fix it if it ain’t broken.” Well, the line is especially true of the attitude of FMCG & retail businesses in India. It’s what prevents them from venturing in deep-tech waters.

Here I’d like to say that, people, this is the shallow end of the pool where you don’t drown. You cannot compete and win if you don’t jump in though. Also, last I checked, inaction and passivity were still not in the list of best practices suggested by global consulting firms.

Nevertheless, the point is, you need to act to go digital! The time is now!

Change the friggin’ game!

PS: To understand what the deeper end involves, check out my next post where we will tell you how to eat up your competitors’ share at key retailers. It does need steel ba*** though. 🙂

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