[BONUS] A Step by Step Guide To Use Digital Tools For Boosting Retail Distribution

Consumer Goods Companies, including FMCG, Consumer Durables, Cosmetics, Dairy, Tobacco have long envisioned their distribution network as being comprised of mainly 3 traditional channels: General Trade, Modern Trade & HORECA/B2B. In the last decade, they have added E-Commerce as the 4th channel.

 

The traditional 3 channels have always implied having a sales team that visits the retailers/customers & collects orders at regular or semi-regular intervals. While this model has always worked for brands since the dawn of retail, many brands had been reassessing the ROIs they were getting from a majority of their outlets and were wondering if they could use technology to fundamentally transform their retailer outreach to improve ROI.

 

COVID crisis has forced companies to experiment with digital tools or telephonic orders, but still, most companies are seeing it only as a transient phenomenon.

 

Our experience working with leading brands of all sizes tells us that smart brands will use this opportunity to fully leverage digital technology to get 4-5X improved ROI on their retailer outreach and grow their retailer network by potentially 400% while keeping the same level of field force for physical touchpoints.

 

The 11 Steps To Use Digital Tools for Boosting Retail Distribution:

  1. Understand Your Current & Potential Retailer Universe
  2. Define Data Derived, Measurable Distribution Goals
  3. Understand Your Choices
  4. Choose the Right Digital Mediums
  5. Define the Right KPIs for Your New Age Distribution
  6. Train Your Sales Team on Selected Mediums
  7. Start the Rollout & Begin the Flow of Orders
  8. Arm Your Salesforce with Integrated Monitoring
  9. Identify Problems Before They Derail Your Distribution
  10. Adjust Digital Hybrid Mix & Continue the Cycle
  11. How to Proceed?

 

1. Understand Your Current & Potential Retailer Universe

First, get concrete profile data of each existing retailer in your distribution network. Not only understand their segment/class but also the context of their territory, their tech literacy, their relationship with your brand & your competitor brands, their buying pattern, their sales potential for your brand & other relevant factors that might affect your outreach strategy to cover them.

 

 

Second, use the existing retailer universe information to explore which types/class of retailers & which territories you can expand to. Having reliable, in-depth profiling data will not only help you pick the right digital mediums for distribution, but also expand to the most profitable retailers as you begin your growth journey.

 

2. Define Data Derived, Measurable Distribution Goals

Use the current & potential retailer universe data derived in the previous step to define your sales/distribution goals for the existing network, as well as set realistic & measurable targets for distribution growth.

 

 

Examples of these goals include:

1. Achieving XX Revenue per A Class Retailer in Existing Network
2. Achieving 60% lower cost of serving existing C Class Retailers
3. Adding 25% New A-Class Retailers in Next 9 Months
4. Reducing Physical Visits to D Class Retailers to Once Every 2 Months while
maintaining at least 85% of current revenue per retailer

 

3. Understand Your Choices

What choices do you have to serve your existing & new retailers?

3.1 Physical Visits: It has worked in the past, will work in the future, but to what extent? Some retailers would still need regular visits like earlier, some will use digital tools to place orders, but you would still need to visit them regularly to maintain relationships. The nature of visits might change, the frequency might reduce, many visits will be strictly need-based, but you would still need some field force to maintain a relationship with your retailer universe.

 

3.2 Retailer App: An increasing number of retailers have android phones & are becoming more tech-savvy by the day. If you deploy retailer app to those 15-20 percent of retailers who actively want to use it, you can take orders through the app, send them the latest schemes, offers, product launches through the app notifications, while visit them once every one or two months to maintain a good relationship.

 

3.3 WhatsApp Orders with mSites: More than 80% of retailers in India across territories use WhatsApp today. Using WhatsApp Automation, you can enable your retailers to place orders to you directly, without any human involvement from your part. You can similarly push offers, schemes, product information, reminders, etc to them just like retailer app, but here they don’t have to install any additional app either.

 

 

3.4 Artificial Intelligence Generated Orders: With this innovation, you can automatically generate personalized optimum orders for multiple retailers who you are unable to visit on a given day, and they will receive the suggested order details via WhatsApp & SMS automatically. They can then choose to change or confirm the orders on their own.

 

3.5 Telephonic Orders: You might have tried taking orders on call, but at the same time, you also need a way to send the order details to the retailer & distributors automatically for confirmation & dispatch.

 

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Author

Nikhil Chaudhary

I am part of the Inside Sales Team at BeatRoute. I love interacting with industry leaders, discovering their challenges as they try to increase their field sales output, and enabling them to solve those challenges using enterprise grade technology. Feel free to write to me at nikhil@beatroute.io