Complicated, expensive and long: 5 myths about field teams automated optimization
Business is a complex "game". And to win, you have to be open to everything new, and you must think in original way. This also applies to sales representatives business automation, which is associated with many outdated myths.
Myths can be interesting. But in business, in order to stay ahead of the competition and develop, you need to be open to new things and not think in a formulaic way. In this article we will examine and refute the myths of sales representatives automation in FMCG and merchandising that prevent you from optimizing your business now.
Myth №1: Avgiye stables, or "It's complicated"
The entrenched view that automating distribution is very labor-intensive constantly leaves this necessary step in the tenth priority: someday, maybe... but right now there are more pressing problems. It seems to require a whole staff of IT Hercules, expensive servers and other network infrastructure. A few years ago, that may have been true. But today, ease of startup and use is one of the competitive advantages of such service providers. Therefore, the speed of implementation is constantly decreasing, and the provider takes care of all the control, management, backup and data storage, and customization of the application. At ST-Mobi.com, it takes just a few hours to put the system into operation, after which the client can start working in full. Managers need only a browser and Internet access to monitor and manage the system.
Myth №2: King Midas, or "It's expensive"
The myth of cost is rooted in the first myth, that of complexity. Yes, not long ago automation was associated with serious costs. Their volume and nature depended on the complexity of the project and could eventually lead to significant financial investments. But technology is not standing still: in the past, the Internet was much more expensive and dial-up, and free messengers have replaced free text messages, etc. The digital environment democratizes all prices and simplifies logistics. Even local businesses can now take advantage of services that used to be available only to large corporations. The distribution sphere is no exception: it is no longer necessary to be King Midas, all that is needed for full operation is Internet access and software on employees' mobile devices, the purchase of which is a one-time investment. If you use the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept, where software is put on the field staff's own devices, you can avoid implementation costs altogether. As for subsequent service charges, at ST-Mobi.com we decided that it would be fair to charge only for the effective working day of the sales representative: the client deposits any amount in advance, and the money is debited only if the agent visits the sales outlet and performs some kind of operation, for example, accepts an order or sends a photo report.
Myth №3: Europe kidnapping, or "It's not safe"
We remember that in the myths everyone was constantly stealing not only what was bad, but also what was well guarded: golden apples, fleece, mortal women and even goddesses. Today the main value for business is data. Information security is an important element of corporate policy, but there is a common belief that the proper level of protection can only be provided by your own network infrastructure. However, this is also a myth: in modern SaaS services, such as ST-Mobi.com, data transmission is encrypted at all stages. According to experts, a properly designed and built cloud system can provide a higher level of reliability than the operation of traditional network infrastructure.
Myth №4. Building an Ark, or "It's too long"
Automating sales representatives commerce and merchandising business processes for the FMCG market can seem like a long process: not 120 years like building an ark, but something like that. In fact, the launch of the project takes on average one week. The speed of implementation of the ST-Mobi.com service is limited only by the potential absence of mobile devices among field personnel. The cloud architecture of the service allows it to react quickly and flexibly to customer needs, implementing requests in a short time and at minimal cost. The services provided can be easily added, canceled, changed, limited at any time.
Myth №5. Sisyphus, or "It's Ineffective"
The last of the common stereotypes about distribution automation: the costs of implementation and operation do not pay off, do not bring economic benefits, and do not reduce costs. Let's find out if this is really the case and what benefits you can get by using ST-Mobi.com, a cloud-based sales representatives commerce automation service:
- Accelerated sales reps. Time costs are reduced at all stages of the route: from a visit to the point of sale to filling out and delivering orders. An agent can visit up to 30% more sales outlets and take more orders in a day.
- Reduces the number of employees required. Reduced payroll costs. No longer requires a large staff of operators who receive and process sales agent orders over the phone.
- Reduced time to create an application. No more having to call and check stock balances.
- Savings on IT-infrastructure and specialists. No need to buy expensive equipment and hire maintenance staff.
- Profit from the lack of need for color printing. ST Mobile Trade's electronic product photopresenter mode eliminates the need for printed materials (product catalogs, presentation materials, forms, questionnaires, etc.) for sales teams.
- Lean use of time and effort employees. They no longer have to carry a ton of waste paper with the price lists and receivables.
- GPS tracking of field employees allows you to find out which sales outlets they have been to, how much time they spent there, what activities they performed, and much more. This improves the overall performance of agents, raises the quality of work, makes it clear to follow the route and execute the plan of visits and sales.
- Minimization of risks associated with the human factor. The system simply won't allow field employees to make mistakes. What's in it for you? At a minimum, "crooked" orders, forgotten outlets, etc. will disappear.
As a supporting example, let's take the real experience of implementing automation in a company involved in the distribution of food products.
Case study. FMCG distributor
- 16 sales representatives and 4 operators;
- 900 points of sale;
- Operator salary fund: 30 000 rubles;
- Salary fund of sales representative: 40 000 rubles (without taking into account percentage of sales).
Total: the cost of the salary per year (4 × 30 000 + 16 × 40 000) × 12 = 9 120 000 (rubles).
Additional costs: GPS control of sales representatives, per year (16 × 500) × 12 = 96 000 (rubles).
- The number of orders already in the first month after implementation increased by 35%, because the speed of work increased, errors during checkout and registration of applications practically disappeared, and the number of sales outlets visited per day increased;
- The number of operators was reduced to 2 people;
- Company got rid of printed product catalogs that we had to take with us all the time, thanks to the use of the "ST Mobile Trade" program photo presenter mode.
Savings for a year on payroll due to reduction of two operators was (2 × 30 000 ) × 12 = 720 000 (rubles)
Savings at the expense of additional GPS control, due to built-in GPS tracker in ST-Mobi.com service, a year (16 × 500) × 12 = 96 000 (rubles).
Increased profit due to an increased number of orders.
And this is only a financial benefit, without taking into consideration the system-operational transformations that have increased the speed and quality of personnel work.
As you can see, the myths about distribution automation are based on a "rudimentary" familiarity with the subject. Some theses were partly true 5-7 years ago, however, during this time progress has stepped forward by mastering cloud technologies. Today, a sales representatives automation system is a serious advantage for a company on the market. Using it, you will always be one step ahead of your competitors.