Brakes on the wheels of the world, shutters on the shops of malls, emptiness in the manufacturing plants, and decline in sales of businesses, COVID-19 has hampered business operations in all possible ways. Sales have declined drastically during this global pandemic and the FMCG sector has been affected a lot.
According to a report from Market Insights firm, Neilson, the FMCG industry witnessed a sharp 34 percent drop in sales in April. This is due to mobility restrictions and supply-side challenges during the lockdown after registering single-digit growth in the first quarter.
While in the pre-COVID world, FMCG sales were carried out traditionally; but due to lockdown restrictions, travel constraints, social distancing norms, and rising health concerns, the traditional ways of FMCG sales have failed miserably. As traditional sales methods have been completely halted, FMCG companies are facing numerous challenges due to these situations.
Out of many challenges faced by FMCG companies, one of the most prominent challenges is booking orders for the retailers. Although travel restrictions have been lifted in many countries, booking orders is still a big issue in this pandemic. The frequency of sales visits has been reduced and hence there has been a considerable decrease in sales orders.
While the engagement between the companies and the retailers has been struck, the visibility has also been impacted owing to limited opportunities to engage with the retailers. Distribution channels have also been halted due to the unavailability of logistics and travel constraints.
Business leaders have been forced to accept “The New Normal” of business in these COVID times. While numerous steps have been thought of by the business leaders to increase their sales, here is a complete step by step guide for increasing the FMCG sales during COVID.
Steps To Increase FMCG Sales During COVID
• Make an Updated sales plan
While the existing sales plan might have done wonders for an FMCG business leader in the pre-COVID era, a business leader should change the sales plan to be a step ahead of the pandemic. A business needs to modify its existing sales plan according to the situations which give optimum results during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Setting the right KPIs is the starting point of updating the sales plan. The KPIs have to be reconstructed and realistic targets and deadlines must be set.
BeatRoute is a perfect tool for sales leaders to monitor and set the right KPIs and hence update their existing sales plan with a complete set of databases and facts. It ensures that the sales reps are assigned with the right KPIs for their territories based on current business goals and hence the sales objectives are fully achieved.
• Optimize The Communication With Retailers
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, communication has become an important aspect as the frequency of sales visits has reduced. Understanding the retailer mindset and tracking their orders and behaviors have become difficult due to COVID-19.
A communication gap essentially means less engagement between the business and the retailers and hence it affects the sales of a company.
The use of digital mediums to keep the communication going with the retailers has now become “The New Normal”. Not just it 0is easy and convenient for establishing communication but also it helps in increasing business loyalty and sending exciting offers to the existing customers.
BeatRoute’s digital bridge serves the purpose of optimal communication. With the use of some most popular digital media platforms like WhatsApp and Android App, communication is simplified between businesses and retailers. BeatRoute’s Retailer app with WhatsApp ordering system not only helps in building an effective communication channel but also helps in increasing the relationship with the retailers through schemes, promotional offers, and loyalty programs which leads to the creation of a healthy sales funnel.
• Manage the Inventory Efficiently
A challenge for all the FMCG companies is to ensure that their products are available at the retail stores.
A decrease in the frequency of field visits due to COVID-19 restrictions has further made it difficult for the business leaders to ensure that a threshold inventory is maintained at the retail stores.
BeatRoute’s Inventory Management system ensures that the threshold of inventory is managed at the retail stores. Particularly at Modern Trade stores, companies can use minimum stock norms to send alert to the distributor/fulfillment center to replenish the inventory in case the available inventory drops below optimum levels.
• Initiate advance Visual Merchandising audits
To help the businesses in these challenging COVID times, visual merchandising can be an effective tool. It ensures effective implementation of the Visual merchandising techniques and also ensures a proper sales funnel even during these tough times.
It is hence essential to incorporate an advanced Visual Merchandising Auditing mechanism to ensure that proper sales of the product maintained.
BeatRoute’s Advanced AI-assisted Visual Merchandising functionality helps in auditing relevant campaigns by collecting a feedback form and through photo auditing with the help of AI.
BeatRoute also enables you to link display campaign payments to the quality of VM execution at a store. Payments can be released only if the display quality is maintained well by the store. BeatRoute’s Visual Merchandising Auditor App gives sales managers an opportunity for real-time monitoring of Visual Merchandising which takes place at the store and lets them correct it, which in turn improves the sales of the company through a proper visual merchandising campaign.
• Automate the Field Force Process
Due to COVID restrictions, it has become difficult for the company to ensure that frontline workers are following the same standards of compliance and operational execution regardless of their location. At the same time, entering and analyzing this data manually at the HO and ensuring that the standards are improved by ensuring different policies have become a headache for the companies.
Automating the field force is the method of capturing field sales or service information in real-time using communications technology, typically handheld PDAs, wireless devices, or mobile phones.
BeatRoute’s Field force automation software helps in order processing, route optimization, stock monitoring, sales forecast, and other analytic tasks. BeatRoute’s Field force automation for FMCG helps in reducing tedious and time-consuming but imperative tasks connected with sales. This not only allows sales reps to work on the activity they are best at – Field Sales, but also increases the productivity of the company.
BeatRoute’s New Age Tech Platform ensures that the sales of FMCG companies can be increased by a single integrated platform. As a business leader, you can stay assured of the challenges put forward by this deadly pandemic on the sales of your business.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the major challenges faced by the FMCG industry in 2020?
While the FMCG sector is one of the worst affected, there are many challenges faced by the FMCG industry. The significant challenges include booking the orders, communication gaps with the retailers, a halt to the distribution channels, and lack of visibility at the stores.
How has COVID-19 impacted the FMCG business?
Unprecedented situations like lockdown restrictions, travel constraints, social-distancing norms, and rising health concerns have completely halted sales and business operations. Field visits and distribution channels are also seen impacted due to this COVID-19 pandemic. All these factors combined have a huge impact on FMCG Business.
What are the benefits of doing Visual Merchandising audits?
For a business to maximize its sales, a visual merchandising strategy must be closely followed by both the field reps and the business. Visual Merchandising audits provide regular check-ups on retailers, ensuring that the Visual Merchandising techniques are strictly followed and adhered to the agreements made by the business owners.
How can BeatRoute help FMCG companies in the COVID crisis?
BeatRoute’s New Age Tech Platform helps in countering the COVID-19 challenges by assisting in an updated sales plan and optimizing the communication with the retailers through BeatRoute’s Digital Bridge Platform. It also helps in efficient Visual merchandising audits and smart inventory management. FMCG companies also get assistance through Field Force Automation which helps in driving sales of FMCG companies even in the COVID crisis.