Managing In-Store Sales operations using SFA Solution
Whenever we talk about Sales Force Automation solution, we mostly refer to tracking of Channel Sales or Visual Merchandising operations executed by the roaming field-force. Tertiary sales, which is the last lap of any sales process, is often missed out from the automation point of view and hence that module is not available in most of the run-of-the-mill SFA solutions available in the market. While it may not be an important factor to track in case of fast moving goods, it bears huge importance in some specific industries such as Consumer Electronics, Home Appliances etc. and also in case of high value items.
If you feel that for your business also it is very important to track tertiary sales and in-store activities, here is a comprehensive list of end-objectives that you should try to achieve from your SFA Solution:
- Promoter Hygiene & Discipline
- Real time view of the tertiary sales
- Real time stock information with alerts for critical stocks
- Capturing customer demo and feedback
- Visibility of in-store merchandising and shelf arrangement
Let’s now discuss in more detail on how you should plan to leverage your SFA Solution to meet the above-mentioned end objectives.
Promoter Hygiene & Discipline: When you deploy promoters at the retail outlets, it’s absolutely important for you to check whether they are at their respective stores at right time with right attire and with right grooming. Following features in the SFA solution will help you to do so:
- Geo-fenced and time-stamped attendance: A promoter will be considered present for the day only after he marks his attendance from the SFA app by the cut-off time for his assigned outlet. The app should be geo-fenced so that a promoter cannot mark his attendance if he is not present at the designated outlet. Similarly, he should mark ‘Sign-Out’ for the day when leaving the store so that you get to know total time spent at the store.
- Backend Audit Mechanism to check promoter hygiene: In order to check promoter hygiene, there must be an option in the backend where a dedicated audit team can verify different important parameters by looking at the attendance images. The parameters must be defined as per your requirement and some examples could be whether he is wearing the uniform, whether he is using the lanyard, whether he is properly groomed and appears professional. Audit can be done on a random basis with a pre-define monthly frequency for each promoter. The audit score can be linked to incentive payout of the promoters to ensure it is taken seriously by the sale steam.
Real time view of the tertiary sales: Capturing tertiary sales data may look simple because all that is required is SKU-wise sales capture by the end of the day, but the complexity may come when we talk about different variations of submitting the in-store sales data. Here are three different which are mostly used by the customers and ideally all of them should be present in the SFA solution you are going ahead with as the business requirement may change from time to time or from one business unit to another.
- Punching each unit sold: When you want to validate your sales data through serial number of the product being sold (and also when you want to capture certain details about the sales such as customer details), you would require the option where your sales promoter can enter each and every sale separately along with the product serial number. Also the solution must have functionality to validate the serial number against some pre-defined format, or pre-uploaded list or through some external integration.
- Punching daily summarized sales: Most of the times, you don’t want detailed information of each unit being sold and you would rather want to have a visibility of overall sales figures by each SKU in every outlet. So, this option must also be available in your SFA app.
- Stock-in and Sell-out: Many times, there is a requirement to integrate sales and stock module for tertiary sales to avoid any inconsistency. In this case, the app must have an option to stock-in each SKU as and when he receives the stock and the at the time of sales, he will see whatever stock he has entered and can only punch in the sales data from the stock-in list. If this option is adopted, then the app must also be enabled with stock transfer from one store to another store as that’s a very usual scenario on the ground.
Real time stock information: Having visibility of stock information at the retail outlets is very important for you to plan stock replenishment. So the SFA app must have a feature where the promoter can enter SKU-wise current stock as per defined frequency. But most importantly, your solution must be capable enough to send real-time alerts to desired stakeholders whenever there is any critical or alarming stock situation at any outlet.
Capturing customer demo and feedback: When you deploy promoters at retail outlets, you also want them to demonstrate the products (especially new launches) to the customers stepping in the store and want to get gather customer details and their feedback. So, your SFA solution must have the functionality where all these data can be captured quite easily. Also, the mechanism of capturing this data varies significantly even within a company depending on the stakeholder who wants to see the data. So, the solution must be flexible enough to accommodate those workflow changes and implement the same quickly.
In-store merchandising and shelf arrangement: While in-store merchandising may not be the responsibility of the sales promoters in many industry, but if you have deployed a person dedicatedly at an outlet, why don’t you make full use of them by asking them to capture merchandising images through your SFA app? That will provide you a daily visibility of merchandising deployment and shelf arrangements and may help you to plan visit of your merchandisers basis the data submitted by the promoters. So, it goes without saying that a comprehensive Visual Merchandising module in your SFA app can help you immensely if the same is implemented for your in-store promoters also.