Business Insights 15 May 17

The distribution structure is one of the essential elements of a complex value chain in businesses today. It is an important determinant of the future of brands. Distribution challenges such as operational inefficiencies, dismal channel performance, gaps in secondary sale insights and negative impact on shareholder value are undesirable situations. These are reasons that prompts most organizations to connect the dots in the supply chain and optimize their distribution structure.

In order to overcome these challenges, organizations are increasingly emphasizing on digitizing their distribution operations. Research reports from MarketsAndMarkets’ points out how organizations are steadily working towards modernizing their distribution arm.

Technology tools to streamline distribution

At global and national level, organizations are adopting emerging technology tools to streamline distribution operations. Some of these tools are:

Sales Force Automation

The Indian retail industry has identified the massive potential of field force automation that has truly emerged as a differentiator in the global market. There’s a steady boost in the demand for integrating SFA into the existing systems by businesses. One of the key determinant is that it enhances the operational efficiency and streamline sales processes. Research studies predict that the global field force automation is set to grow at a CAGR of nearly 13%.

SaaS based automation systems are capable of effectively handling order booking, territory management, scheduling and Business intelligence. Owing to its simplified usage and mobility platforms, there is a steady increase in their demand by small and large organizations.

Partner Network

Organizations are relying on partner network to significantly reduce their financial overheads and operational hassles associated with maintaining a direct sales organization. These networks comprise integrators, distributors, resellers and dealers who play a pivotal role in enhancing the sales performance. Advanced partner management systems offers easy-to-use, web and mobility based service tools and useful information to assist partners. In fact, the tool is used for on-boarding new clients, share product updates, impart training lessons and manage accounting transparency.

Predictive Analysis and BI

This is a critical step towards enabling a tech-driven distribution structure. Leveraging on Big data and analytics is considered to be the game changer that is all set to convert information into actionable to grow revenues. This tool shares critical business information about distribution network, secondary sales and customer buying behavior. It analyses enormous amount of data hence augmenting sales. An effective business intelligence tool accounts factors of seasonality, demography, market growth, brand performance and demand factors. (eg. Power BI, Alteryx Designer)

Forecasting

Forecasting applications aids in predicting sales trends and customer demands of products and services. Direct sales organizations heavily rely on them since it helps improve inventory management, production scheduling and financial planning. It can either get integrated in the ERP system or installed as a standalone technology tool. An effective forecasting tool minimizes wastage costs and aims at realizing the sales potential for a brand by building focus on sell-outs.

Conclusion

The deployment of these key tools aim at enhancing operational efficiency levels, minimize outage costs and provide real time data insights to streamline sales processes and grow bottom line revenues. Organizations immensely benefit from digitizing their distribution structure since it arrests gaps in the supply value chain and eliminate resource wastage. Thus, technology is key since automating at various stages of supply chain leads to several benefits. These include effective pricing strategies, incentive and scheme management and sale forecasting in addition to real time data analysis.

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