By MACmobile | 17 February 2020 | Published on ITWeb
In 2008, Coca Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) identified a need for salesforce automation to assist the business to enhance its customer service. The company started working with MACmobile to develop a suite of tools to leverage growth opportunities, particularly in traditional markets (the main market) in South Africa. Over the past 11 years, the relationship, and the solution offering, has grown significantly. What began as a basic system covering taking orders, field management and certain back-end reporting tools has evolved over the years into FIELDForce.
With FIELDForce, CCBSA has line of sight throughout its distribution channel, to automate resources in the field, leverage the benefits of paperless processes, reduce operating costs and increase efficiencies.
The challenge of the main market
Much of the South African fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market exists in the informal sector and in rural areas, which presents a number of challenges when it comes to supply chain optimisation. For CCBSA, paper-based processes were causing delays and inefficiency, and a lack of visibility into certain areas of the supply chain made addressing these issues a challenge. Van sales, a large component of sales in the traditional market, are notoriously complex to manage, and the need to constantly generate new invoices or issue credit notes added to inefficiency and increased costs.
Taking orders, ensuring that promotions are up to date and relevant and verifying assets are essential tasks for CCBSA’s salesforce. To improve the efficiency of sales teams and effectively monitor performance against key indicators, an automated solution was essential. However, many of the outlets and retailers are located in areas where mobile signal is inconsistent or non-existent, adding a further level of complexity to the technology requirement.
CCBSA needed an automated solution to digitise the sales function, removing paper-based processes and empowering the sales force to become more proactive and productive on a daily basis. They turned to MACmobile to develop a solution, which began as a simple salesforce automation tool and evolved over the years into a complete solution for managing the distribution channel from start to finish.
Evolution of a solution
“The original specification provided in 2008 was for basic sales force automation, including order taking, salesforce field management and several back-end reporting tools. Sales teams in the field were provided with a mobile device giving them an overview of their daily tasks, the ability to report on activities, capture time in and time out of merchants, place orders and measure and monitor productivity,” says Andrew Dawson, Commercial Director of MACmobile.
The salesforce automation tool removed many of the manual, paper-based processes involved in the sales tasks, minimising opportunities for human error and miscommunication. The system was designed in such a way as to store all information with accurate time stamps, until such time as the data could be uploaded. This ensured the solution functioned even in areas where mobile reception may be unavailable.
In 2009, an events management module was added to the solution to help automate and standardise the process of all promotional and sales activations, from large-scale events like concerts right down to small promotions at a corner shop. This module streamlines events of all sizes by ensuring teams are given an accurate picture of everything that is needed for their promotion. The composition of assets, for example, point of sale material, coolers, umbrellas, tables, prizes and pricing to be observed is all outlined in the mobile application. Teams are able to use this as a checklist to ensure success and can log this information. At the end of the promotion a return on investment (ROI) tool calculates the success of the promotion based on predefined metrics.
In 2010, the solution was extended to include independent distributors with salesforce automation and distribution tool sets, revolutionising van sales. This module empowered CCBSA’s network by enabling orders to be routed directly to these independent distributors, who are then able to view orders, load and deliver them. The real power of this solution is then evident, as a clean net invoice can be generated on delivery with the correct items, pricing and relevant discounts. This simplifies the van sales process by removing the need for credit notes and minimising loss by ensuring accurate monies can be collected on delivery.
The final module was added in 2011 and consisted of outsourced merchandiser management tools. This module enables CCBSA’s merchandisers to record their position, clocks them in and out and records all activities for the day. This includes ensuring fridges and shelves are stocked as required, that assets are in good working order, that all point of sale and promotional materials are in place and up to date and more. Reports can be generated to show time in store, deviations from schedule, cases per hour, general productivity and so on. This enables remuneration and commission structures to be accurately allocated.
“From a basic system designed to help automate the salesforce, the CCBSA toolset has evolved into a holistic suite of business enablement tools, from order capture through to money collection and settlement and everything in between,” says Dawson.
To ensure the solution remains relevant, technology has been updated over the years and continuous enhancements have been incorporated as CCBSA’s operations and the trade has evolved. CCBSA has updated the technology to ensure keeping up to market specs with continuous enhancements as the customer and the trade evolved.
Reaping the benefits
CCBSA now leverages line of sight throughout the value chain, for enhanced insight and intelligence on all areas. This includes potential bottlenecks as well as a breakdown of distributors and their profitability. With automation tools in place, activities are not duplicated, orders no longer have to be rewritten, redeliveries are minimised and credit notes have become unnecessary. This saves significant sums of money and ensures that accurate monies can be collected on sales.
In addition, productivity has been significantly enhanced, as digital solutions such as order capture are inherently accurate. The solution is fully functional offline, as long as the user can connect at the start of the day to download tasks and at the end of the day to upload data gathered. All data is accurately timestamped and uploads chronologically. MACmobile has worked with CCBSA to develop an integrated, always-on solution that suits the pace of the FMCG market and the unique challenges of the African market.
“With our solution from MACmobile, we benefit from the ability to perform live order generation in trade and live point of sales order placements. We have also improved market intelligence as well as our visibility and management of a geographically dispersed salesforce and merchandising employee base. All of this has given us superior agility in adapting to changes in strategy. We have also seen more than 25% improvement in productivity of our salesforce from a call completion orders placed perspective, which represents significant turnover,” says Steven Cox, Sales Excellence Manager at CCBSA.
“MACmobile has worked with CCBSA through its growth over the years, helping to support Coca Cola’s distribution in South Africa. The solution we developed for them has become the foundation from which our comprehensive FIELDForce solution has emerged. The model has proven to be highly successful and has been incorporated further into the African region, with Coca Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) rolling out similar route to market deployments,” Dawson concludes.
- 2008 – sales force automation
- 2009 – promotions and events
- 2010 – independent distributor network
- 2011 – merchandiser management
- 2012 onward – continuous enhancements
- End-to-end distribution channel management;
- Modular components that integrate seamlessly;
- Sales module for trade and field marketers;
- Warehouse module for visibility into stock at all times, in all locations;
- Fleet management module for fleet optimisation and driver management, route scheduling, stock confirmation and proof of delivery;
- Basic financial analysis and balance sheet of income versus expenses; and
- Robust reporting and powerful analytics.