The COVID-19 pandemic has toppled the world of work and has introduced us to new norms – social distancing, working at lower capacities and remote working have become the organic part of the vocabulary across industries and organizations.
For organizations in the Manufacturing, FMCG, Retail, Pharma, and other comparable sectors, this means increasing their focus on multi-channel demand capturing in the post-COVID era.
Most organizations in the above-mentioned sectors rely on their network of distributors, suppliers, and retailers. These industries also have a heavy dependence on their field sales force to drive sales by managing relationships with this network and capture demand. However, with normalcy returning gradually, to navigate the new normal, these sectors need to ramp up their offline omni-channel capabilities to capture demand and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks to get back on the path of profitability.
This becomes all the more essential since social distancing and fewer physical interactions are a very big part of this new normal. Salespeople and their organizations are thus in a quandary on how to navigate this tumultuous time and build and maintain relationships with their clients, distributors, and retailers.
When we look at the above-mentioned industries, technology can come to the rescue here as well and help organizations with multi-channel demand capturing.
Field sales in the time of social distancing
As the world returns to normalcy, the field sales workforce will be back in the market. However, with the virus still looming large, while many have returned back to work, most are unwilling to meet people. The sales teams have to bear the brunt of this and have to work harder at getting physical appointments to capture orders.
Technology can come to the aid of the field force by helping organizations enable telephonic demand capture by trained tele-calling executives who are well-aware of the rules of the game. Technology can also assist the tele-callers further by automating calling queues for those outlets that the field force could not meet personally. Using auto-dialer integrations, organizations can also help their sales force drive productivity and get orders with lesser travel and lower expenses.
Refine order capturing
Given the large distributor/retailer/supplier ecosystem, organizations in manufacturing, FMCG, retail, and the like have to now also fine-tune their order-taking channels. They need deeper insights into market trends that influence sales and track and manage the retailer buying patterns. Additionally, these organizations also need to manage and track all retailer information to build the right bonding and loyalty programs to drive sales.
With the sales teams gaining limited traction owing to the social situation, a robust technology solution like a mobile application for retailers can help these organizations manage relationships with their networks by enabling all these essentials. Clarity into buying patterns using advanced analytics, improved visibility into buying patterns, advanced bonding programs, and real-time communication contribute to improving engagements and interactions with the retailer and provide greater predictability of their end to end sales.
Empowering the partner channel
To improve their reach and range and to improve demand extrapolation in the post-COVID world, organizations have to also look at avenues to enable the partner channels like the distributors, dealers, retailers, and the like book orders independently and directly with them. To make sure that no revenue slips through the cracks, these organizations also have to make sure that they tap into not only their primary partner channels but the secondary ones as well.
Given that the sales and the filed force may not be able to connect with all those who fall under this offline umbrella, organizations need to enable these partner channels so that they can place orders, provide feedback, avail the associated discounts, avail schemes, and get or redeem points with ease. Using a technology solution that connects everyone on the supply chain seamlessly and enables order capturing and processing even for secondary orders proves to be immensely beneficial in these challenging times.
Enabling contactless end-to-end interactions leveraging technology can be used to help these partner channels like the retailers and distributors raise requests regarding damages, returns, and replacements from a single source.
Clarity to drive offline omnichannel demand capturing
Organizations now need greater clarity into demand extrapolation and buying behavior and patterns. Sales automation solutions that use new-age technologies like AI can be of significant help to drive omni-channel demand capturing.
Using advanced algorithms, these solutions can help to enhance in-market efficiency, assist in scheme uptake by showing the most appropriate scheme for the customer, and drive cross-selling opportunities using AI-driven SKU suggestions. Demand capturing through mobile apps and tele-calling can be immensely beneficial to increase the reach and range of the organization. These can be used to target the channels or outlets not covered by the field force.
Applications like the mobile application for retailers can provide organizations with actionable insights into buying behaviors and help them manage offline demand sources, maintain production, and create relevant business strategies to drive targeted buying and selling at a geography level.
Technology is going to be a great enabler for organizations as we adopt and adapt to the new normal brought about by the pandemic. As buying behaviors change and move online, most organizations will have to expand their technical vocabulary to ensure that they can capture demand by identifying new ways to connect, communicate, and conduct business.
Thus, taking carefully calibrated technology decisions will play a big role going forward to drive business outcomes and will play a pivotal role in helping organizations stay ahead of the curve.