Modern retail (or trade) is a very important sales and distribution channel for Indian FMCG companies, especially in the urban and semi-urban clusters of the country where the end consumer seeks larger format stores, convenience, co-proximity to places they flock (say shopping malls), multi-brand shopping experience and brand promotions which can support their bulk-shopping needs. But understand this, only a handful of tier 2 and tier 3 FMCG companies have matured their modern retail practice in terms of systems and processes and that’s because of multiple reasons:
- Low business dependence
- Stringent product activation norms (minimum sale a month)
- Limited access to data from the big players
- Tough competition
- and most importantly, minimal control over sale
Which is why, many FMCG companies have been deploying Promoters – a frontline representative (onroll or loan staff) to manage the company’s products, create awareness by engaging with customers, run promotions and ensure product offtake, all in a nonobtrusive way. Since the work of these promoters is loosely defined and leniently managed, automation through a mobile-first CRM like Peri was never the top priority for sales leaders, until now.
Modern Retail Stats
India has more than 12 million traditional retail stores and just over 8000 modern retail stores (Euromonitor, 2018). The modern retail is further categorised into:
- Modern convenience stores (53%)
- Supermarkets (40%)
- and Hypermarkets (7%)
Food & grocery acts as the mainstay of sales in both Modern convenience stores and Supermarkets (around 63% share of sales). The adjoining table shows the count of modern retail stores across India during 2017, by store brand. As you can see, Easy Day leads the tally with 538 stores.
Ecosystem of Promoters
It’s a known fact that not all FMCG companies can afford promoters. In fact, those who can, also do it in a controlled manner. And the decision to invest in promoters is also a function of the kind of products and go-to-market strategy. For example, a company that is into speciality products like Nachos or dips will definitely need a set of promoters to ensure regular sampling to consumers so that they acquire a taste of the product and start demanding it at a later stage. Let’s understand the promoter ecosystem or what it takes to build and deploy a capable team of promoters.
A typical mid-sized, tier-2 Indian FMCG company will have a modern retail presence of 200 to 500 stores. Which means that even if a company picks the top selling stores, it will need at least 50 promoters to create a meaningful, value-generating initiative. The hiring and onboarding of these promoters is either done directly by the company (a model losing popularity due to the administrative overheads) or given to a marketing agency (who commits a certain foot on street on monthly retainer). Over the past years, the third-party promoter ecosystem has evolved and alot of marketing agencies have jumped into this business model which is a boon to the FMCG companies.
Once promoters have been deployed, the next task of modern retail sales teams is to ensure that they are trained on company’s products and on best-practices in promoting and merchandizing, with the overall aim of improving their efficiency. Unlike general trade, these promoters do not have a hard sales target, mature standard operating procedures and clearly defined KPI’s (like TC, PC). On top of that, promoter management has not touched by automation to a level where sales managers can use a software tool to measure their performance regularly.
Promoter automation is where we believe the gap lies, both in terms of efforts put by the FMCG companies and proactive initiatives done by leading software vendors. Peri CRM aims to bridge this gap through a highly practical, easy-to-use, and comprehensive modern trade promoter automation mobile functionalities as detailed below.
Four Exclusive Functionalities For Promoters
Peri CRM started working on promoter automation in early 2019 when one of our customer who was running a BTL marketing campaign requested if we could augment General trade modules to suit their needs as part of a pilot project. Because Peri’s Interaction management module is highly scalable, we were able to fulfil their short-term needs but it was clear in our mind that promoter management through Peri’s mobile app will require special focus and a different set of modules. In February 2020, when Peri CRM participated in the India Food Forum event, we were approached by multiple companies who were looking for a mobile-first solution to manage large teams of promoters. That’s when we started the journey to deepen our expertise in Modern Trade (also because we had become super strong in General trade, read the blog post) to continue our vision of serving Indian FMCG companies as a technology partner. In this blog, we will elaborate three unique functionalities, that have been exclusively designed and developed to automate work of Promoters.
1) Stock Audit
Perhaps the most important task of FMCG promoters is to keep the product shelves (both warm and cold) sufficiently stocked in an optimal manner; often based on a predefined order defined in a planogram. To ensure adherence to the process, promoters are given paper-based forms to enter the stock levels at various time intervals, and while performing the audit, highlight observations to allow account managers and marketers get the pulse of product demand, shelf throughput and plan proactive measures.
Peri CRM aims to digitise and automate this stock audit process by offering four audit types to promoters of Indian FMCG companies:
- Day-start audit
- Day-end audit
- Near expiry audit
- Returns audit
2) Sampling Plan and Execution
Another real value that a promoter brings to modern trade business process is to plan and execute sampling activities on a regular basis. Sampling is essential in situations like the launch of a new brand, or product category, or expansion to a newer territory. Like stock audit, sampling has also remained a manual, paper-pen based exercise for most companies which doesn’t allow effective execution and ROI analysis.
Peri CRM aims to digitise and automate this sampling planning and execution by allowing four sampling types to promoters of Indian FMCG companies:
- In store sampling
- Canopy based sampling
- Product launch sampling
- Event based sampling
3) Tertiary Sale
The ultimate goal of a promoter initiative is to ensure offtake by end consumers called tertiary sales which organically would not have happened. Capturing this tertiary sale accurately is perhaps the most challenging of the promoter tasks and companies rely on day-end gutfeel or guesstimate based reporting by the promoter. This number adds up to the promoters monthly soft target based on which some companies give incentives as well.
Peri CRM aims to digitise and automate this tertiary sale capture by offering an offline functionality to capture data throughout the day by promoters of Indian FMCG companies. This functionality allows promoter to enter customer counter as they are walking in (recall the old school hand couter retail stores used). It also allows for day-end adjustments from products collected from various store locations.
Future of Promoter Automation
Modern retail is poised to evolve in India over the coming years as newer geographical pockets traverse the urbanisation and development curve. And Indian FMCG product spectrum is still narrow compared to what’s available in the western world. All this will reinforce the need of trained and effective promoters who are not just positioned inside the retail stores, but who can act as business enablers, who can drive customer engagement, who can tactically move around multiple stores at different times, and who can be given larger roles and commensurate compensation.
These future promoters will also be equipped with a best-of-the-breed, user-friendly, comprehensive, mobile-first automation solution to empower them with speed, reach, real-time insights and deeper understanding of their end consumers.
Local convenience stores as we call ‘Mohala, Karyana Stores’ would certainly be benefited from FMCGs adoption of Peri process automation system. Benefits of better product pricing can be offered to the end-user by controlling or managing inventory with a controlled shelf life of stock in the shop.
Thank you Gurpreet for the encouragement…Peri CRM wants to serve the FMCG industry (from factory till the retail shelf).