How FMCG Companies can Leverage Technology to Thrive During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption in the world of work and has compelled organizations to look at new ways of conducting everyday business. 

Organizations and industries have had to fasten technology adoption to navigate the complex challenges brought about by the pandemic. The changing times demand organizations to become more responsive and agile. 

This is so because, given the software-driven age we have entered, we cannot expect different results by doing the same thing. Being responsive to change is the only way to stay relevant and thrive. 

Change ahead – The new challenges in the FMCG sector 

The 1996 World Cup, for example, marked a low point in the history of Brazilian football. Even with a star player like Pele, Brazil was eliminated in the first round leaving many to wonder if Brazil’s days of glory were behind them. Four years later, Brazil entered the World Cup and won it with such grace and elan that the 1970’s team is regarded as one of Brazil’s best teams. Pele was the star of the match that year.

Brazil could only make this turnaround by innovating and by creating a new attacking style in soccer. They focused on building a cohesive team, changed rosters, and readjusted leadership styles both on and off the field. Brazil reimagined everything and came back stronger than before.

Similarly, businesses now have to figure out how to come out of the torment caused by the pandemic. As social distancing, working with low capacity, remote working, etc. become the new normal, all the industries have to reimagine the way they have been conducting business so far.

The FMCG industry, for example, thrives through its network of distributors and retailers. It has a heavy dependency on salespeople to increase this distributor network, manage retailer relationships, and drive sales. The pandemic has upended this dynamic and made it harder for FMCG companies to build and maintain relationships via their sales staff. It is also becoming essential to enhance market and sales force efficiency with detailed insights and intelligent analytics for better demand capturing.

How can technology help? 

Let’s take a look at how technology can help these companies. 

Increase efficiencies with insights 

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Technology can fine-tune the order-taking channel to increase efficiencies. FMCG brands can use mobile applications to build advanced bonding programs with retailers by enabling real-time communication. Through such apps, they can track and manage retailer information, get complete clarity on retailer buying patterns, and gain deeper insights into market trends and other business influencers that impact sales.

Improve processes to increase market reach 

Applications powered by new-age technologies such as AI and machine learning can alleviate the order booking conundrum. These can enable systematic order book generation for each retailer, allow them to place orders easily and directly with the company, and provide transparency into buying patterns by enabling order visibility.

AI-enabled applications also add intelligence to the buying and order placement process by adding a layer of ‘intelligence’ to it. Using this, FMCG companies can expand their reach and range, enable demand extrapolation, and order suggestions according to buying behavior. With these insights, organizations can also identify and target the inactive retailers in their network and take measured, calculated, and informed steps to change their status from inactive to active retailers.

Monitor to manage better 

Technology solutions can also come of immense use to increase the organizations’ monitoring capabilities. Centralized monitoring powered by technologies such as AI and advanced analytics gives organizations deep, clear, and intelligent insights. These insights provide clear visibility into their operations and processes. By fine-tuning their processes of capturing and processing of primary and secondary orders, fine-tuning loyalty programs, and managing the programs such as discount management, schemes management, and returns management better, organizations can measurably and capably increase their engagement with their stakeholders and customers.

Enable the sales force and drive productivity while reducing costs

Organizations today have to also increase their demand capturing capabilities to reverse the losses owing to the pandemic. It makes sense to leverage technology to complement the sales force by enabling telephonic multi-channel demand capture by trained tele-calling executives. Organizations can automate calling queues for the tele-caller for outlets that could not be covered by sales executives or are not covered in their beat plans. Auto-dialer integrations help drive productivity and help organizations get more orders with less travel and fewer expenses. 

Of course, it becomes important to ensure that such a solution fits into the existing ecosystem seamlessly with the least disruption.

Given the economy, organizations are also looking at ways of doing more with less and reducing their costs. 

With the right technology in place, FMCG organizations can 

  • Increase their market reach
  • Reduce the cost of order capturing
  • Increase sales efficiency by powering with AI-enabled intelligence
  • Connect all the dots in the supply chain seamlessly
  • Increase their customer base 
  • Dramatically reduce the time-to-market

As we gradually move into a post-COVID world, it becomes increasingly clear that technology is not just essential to survive, it is imperative when organizations want to move from the current mode of survival to that of success. 

The time to make wise technology investments is now as these will guarantee the future health of organizations.

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