Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mobile SFA (Sales Force Automation) for FMCG

FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector is probably the next industry after banking and financial, which can benefit tremendously from optimised sales processes using modern mobile technologies. Following are some examples of optimisation which are ultimately driving cost saving and increased revenues.
  • Submit an order from sales staff to HQ to trigger invoicing and fulfilment 8 hours sooner than before; 
  • Collect invoice payment more effectively, by 1 week sooner; and
  • Process a fulfilment 2 working days sooner than before.

EMAS Verticalised for FMCG 

In late 2015, we have inked a partnership with Asoft Digital - a software company that developed IP (Intellectual Property) in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and commands a customer base among the Malaysia's FMCG distributors, to verticalise EMAS (Enterprise Mobility Application Software) as mobile SFA for Asoft's clients.

With a mature platform base, it didn't take us long to complete the first version of this partnership product, named as Asoft SFA.

Soon after sealing our partnership, Asoft has secured an order from the 1st customer - a FMCG distributor with nationwide sales network. Beginning from 2016 Q1, we have started rolling out Asoft SFA to a pilot user group. And in less than a year, the mobile SFA product is now rolled-out to sales staffs of two major FMCG distributors, helping businesses to shorten sales turnaround time and ageing of accounts receivable while saving tens of thousands of pieces paper. Some highlights of Asoft SFA features are:

  • Sales summary: Presenting to salesmen a quick overview of sales performance they have achieved, for the month and for the year so that they can keep track against their sales forecast.
  • Sales order: Allowing salesmen to submit their orders to HQ directly from mobile app in the most natural way that most salesmen are trained and accustomed to.
  • Sales return: Allows returns to be keyed in in a similar manner with sales order.
  • Ageing report: Ageing retrieved from the backend system is presented directly on the SFA app to allow salesmen to view an updated version of their customer’s ageing. Eliminates the need for paper ageing report as per with traditional practices.
  • Stock report: Allows salesmen to get a feel of what are the inventory levels back in the warehouse, without the need to make that telephone call to an office clerk.
  • Customer receipt: Payment collection receipts can be printed via a paired portable Bluetooth printer and synchronised into ERP backend.

Lessons Learnt

Rome is not built overnight, and not every journey is constantly rosy. Following are some lessons we have learnt through this strategic partnership that is working out very well.
  1. Domain knowledge is always important: Never under-estimate the importance of domain knowledge, no matter how similar a use case is to another industry. At a quick glimpse, how much difference could a FMCG sales ordering form be, from a consumer e-commerce catalog? Well, a thought process that is applicable to consumer's usage pattern, is not entirely applicable to a B2B process. The partnership with Asoft is continuously a reliable source of domain expertise, as they are dealing with the actual users.
  2. Handling of offline mode: The user experience of offline mode that we have designed for financial institution and telecommunication company, is also not entirely applicable to FMCG sales ordering. In the use case of customer acquisition for financial/credit products, a relatively high degree of realtime-ness is expected. But for FMCG sales ordering, batch processing is proven to be more practical.
  3. Sales ordering form: A FMCG salesman is accustomed to traditional paper-based order form that helps "get the job done" quickly - especially to a person who is using the same form, repetitively, day in and day out. Often, if little thought is put into the design of an electronic form, user will find him/herself spending more time than the traditional method, and it creates resistance in change. The only way to mitigate change management challenge, is to convince and proof to the the users that, the mobile form is not only helping the company, but the users too.
  4. Fraud management: What's stopping a user from printing a payment collection receipt multiple times, with varying amount in the copy issued to customer, and the copy generated for the Company? Interesting, and a real-world issue that we have mitigated.
A business partnership is only, and will only be sustainable, when it is a win-win partnership for the long term. 

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