Business Lessons 07 Jun 22 Divir Tiwari, Cofounder & Business Head

Does it take you 3 whole days to respond to market feedback about a new product, or to respond to aggressive competitor activity? Does it take 2 days for the retailer grievance to reach you?  Are your salesmen covering only 15 outlets in a day as compared to the industry average of 30? Do your retailers face regular stockouts on key SKUs? Because if any of these situations ring true, then you might be heavily bleeding revenue and not even know it.

Imagine your retailers getting a stockout on one of your fastest selling items every month. The product is a 20-piece pack of chewing gum that costs Rs 10 per piece. That’s Rs 200 a pack. Based on past patterns, you know that on an average, a retailer sells 5 such packs every month. If you have a stockout early in the month, you potentially lose Rs 1000 worth of sales on a single SKU from a single outlet! With a universe of 12,000 outlets, (and assuming an average of 5 packs per retailer per month) the potential sales loss from a stockout is Rupees 1.2 crores in a single month, all because the retailers ran out of your chewing gum!!

A perfectly avoidable situation like this can snowball into a gigantic headache and become a very expensive loss to deal with. But you can avoid being in such situations yourself by cleansing your sales workflows and fueling your retail sales in these 3 ways.

Make your outlet universe squeaky clean

We can’t tell you how common it is in FMCG companies to have their outlet master data peppered with fake, duplicate or dead outlets. Basing your sales strategy on an overestimated outlet universe can put undue pressure on your team due to unreasonably high targets.

With FieldAssist’s 3-step outlet verification process, all outlets are sanitized using an OTP-based authentication system. Once you have a squeaky clean master list, that's when you start to make your outlet universe work for you. 

The traditional approach of lumping all outlets in a particular area into one category doesn’t work anymore, because the customers frequenting those 40-50 outlets aren’t the same.  If you want to build on your market share, you need to understand your retailers at a granular level. 

FieldAssist’s Beat-o-meter can help identify and segregate Kirana outlets into different categories so you can offer more personalised attention to them all.  Based on the last 3 months’ history on placing orders, you can easily tag outlets under Active, Dormant, to-be dormant, never visited etc. Once you know which outlets have become dormant or to-be-dormant, you can create special schemes to reactivate these outlets or increase your visit frequency. 

Another cutting-edge feature is the Near Peer module which can help extract greater value from your existing outlet universe. This functionality is specially designed for large FMCG companies with multiple sales teams where each handles a different product line. It quite often happens that with tall sales structures, every sales team has their own set of outlets, which may or may not overlap with other product lines. 

Via the FieldAssist GT app,  your sales teams can get access to ‘opportunity stores’ or ‘Near Peer’ stores that are not mapped against their particular business but exist within the company’s system. This creates an opportunity for your SOs to sell their own products in stores that are selling other categories but not theirs.

Healthify your sales relationships 

Strong relationships at all touchpoints within the sales supply chain are the first requirement for the long term success of any sales strategy. Weak relationships? Leads to poor execution. Poor Execution? Leads to sub-optimal sales. And it will only go south from here. An essential element of doing well in the retail environment is having a set of bankable salespeople. But is every salesperson equally competent or aggressive? Nope.  So CPG companies need to train their frontline salespeople well and give them regular on-the-job training to ensure consistent performance. 

With the FieldAssist Joint Working feature, mid-managers can do Joint Working calls in the field and discover their team’s inherent strengths and learning needs on which they can take commensurate action. This will also help forge stronger relationships with your retailers as they get serviced better. Another way of ensuring uninterrupted service to the retailers is using Teleconnect. In the event that an SO is missing from the field, retailers can place orders directly with your company by calling a dedicated number. Even new retailer orders can be captured via Teleconnect, thus capturing demand that would have otherwise not been tapped in the existing outlet universe. 

Another critical touchpoint in the sales supply chain is Modern Trade. Therefore the Beauty Advisors or Promoters or Merchandisers who represent your brand in the store become an important factor in customer conversions. With the FieldAssist Promoter app, you can validate their presence in the store,  and make sure they are properly groomed when they arrive at the store. A properly trained promoter can manage stock and punch in-store sales. S/he can share product information with customers, conduct product sampling, show them brochures etc and give them a great experience with your products to prompt a purchase. 

Make the most of your retail space

Shelf space is prime real estate in the FMCG world, so when you get even a square foot of space in a store, you want to squeeze the most value out of it. Suppose there is a new candies brand that’s launched a crackling candy. A paanwala might give you one jar worth of space for your products, a Kirana store may offer you half a shelf space, and in a modern trade outlet, you might have an entire shelf, or even better, an end cap to showcase your products. You will need channel-specific initiatives to maximise the promotion of the new product.

Read More: Is Your Share of Shelf Firing on All Cylinders?

At the paanwala, an attractive retailer scheme might be enough for him to offer your crackling candies to customers instead of loose change, but at the Kirana store, you might need bright POS material to attract the kids, maybe cash discounts for the retailer, or a BOGO (buy one get one free) offer to increase sales. 

At a modern trade outlet, however, if you’re selling your entire range of candies, marshmallows, lollies and chocolates, you might need to use automation solutions like the FieldAssist Promoter app to ensure high planogram compliance, calculate image-recognition based Share of Shelf,  run special schemes or product sampling promotions along with a customer survey, or even specially designed packaging to create noise around your new product.  

Retail Sales is like the cryptex in the movie ‘The Da Vinci Code. Once you crack it, it opens up its secrets to untold success - and a massive gain in market share. No wonder even D2C companies continue to woo the dukaandaars with fat margins and tempting schemes. If you too would like to fuel up your retail sales and bring your brand closer to your customers, let’s talk!

Divir Tiwari, Cofounder & Business Head

A technology enthusiast at heart, Divir loves a good challenge. What he enjoys, even more, is finding out if it can possibly be solved with technology. He is the heart of the Sales Team at FieldAssist and is a business development magician. Divir is a firm believer of collective organisational growth, product-based solutions and adding value to customers' business.

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