There are many processes where IT strategy helps improve efficiency. Distributor management systems, for example, can use the cloud to improve sales and reduce cost by better integrating and leveraging operations.
Ordering and promotions: Visibility into the planning and ordering processes of distributors; improving stock management processes to address aging and damages; capability to track, monitor assets and promotional goods in the system, and tracking changes in promotional plans.
Operations: Control can be exerted at the channel/outlet level. Other benefits include systematic measurement and reporting of key distributor metrics, and improved and automated operational workflows.
Retail execution: Provide the sales force with an Internet-enabled mobile/PDA, which improves productivity and provides real-time information.
Sales force management: Provides dynamic time and route management of field staff and improved coordination between head office, sales representatives and merchandising teams for real-time actions on field.
The selling process: Gain from availability of product information at the store, order capture, automated end-to-end ordering and monitoring of POSM and assets.
Promotions: Benefit from closer linkage to promotional planning to support the promotion execution process.
Execution and audits: These areas will see improved capture, analytics and reporting of in-store data as well as automated store audits to ensure better quality, consistency and faster turnaround.
These strategies are particularly useful in the developing and emerging markets, where IT solutions can improve customer collaboration. Though companies have to make necessary investments and initially fund the development of its partners, bringing partners into the IT-enabled customer engagement model pays off in the long run.
About the Author: Jayalakshmi Subramanian serves as a Principal Consultant at Infosys Consulting in the Retail, CPG & Logistics practice. She has worked on a number of strategic projects for global CPG clients and in the implementation of their IT strategies. She was part of the team at Infosys that developed the Infosys Collaborative Analytics solution. She has extensive experience in leading quantitative primary and secondary research, covering the spectrum from consumer to B2B research. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org