Ever since the cost of storage and processing has gone down around 2010, Technology has been in a frenzy, affecting all aspects of life as we know it. One would expect that because of the eCommerce boom, the Traditional Retail channel would suffer, but on the contrary, Organized Trade and Traditional Retail have grown significantly. In-fact, some estimates say that the Indian Retail Industry will grow to US$ 1.3 trillion by 2020, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.7 per cent over 2015-20. The Retail Industry and Sales industry have surely seen their fair share of disruption. Sales Force Automation (SALES AUTOMATION) is the new buzz word in town, and why wouldn't it be? It's the technology that is enabling many businesses to keep pace with the technology, and giving new entrants an advantage at par with bigger players in the segment.
However, one begs to ask - what separates a Good SALES AUTOMATION Solution from a Great one? Most SALES AUTOMATION Solutions in the market come pre-packed with standard workflows - Attendance, Beat Plan, Merchandising, etc. In-fact that is the first thing you want to look at while deciding upon which SALES AUTOMATION to go for. These hard-coded workflows will take care of 80% of your present Business needs. The Fulcrum of the decision rests on how the SALES AUTOMATIONs handle the not so obvious aspects of Business. We've listed 5 things that you should thoroughly consider before choosing a Sales Force Automation tool for your organization. Here they are:
It's easy to run a scheme where you offer the retailer a 5% incentive on whatever she sells. But, what if the retailer asks you for additional products in place of a cash rewards - do you mark that as a sale in your system and risk the value this information might have in designing a future scheme? In our experience working with large conglomerates, a great deal of flexibility is needed in storing unstructured data within a structured system. If a system lets you handle outlier cases, then it's definitely worth investing in.
Ask any Data Analytics professional and they'll tell you the value of data which is not so obvious to the untrained eye. Many a times, events logs and usage statistics are helpful in answering complex business questions, which can make or break your sales strategy. There aren't many solutions that can give you access to the backend data without spine-breaking effort. The ones that do - they must make it to the top of your list.
Suppose you send a field executive to update the Stock of 2 shops. Easy breezy. The executive can probably do that on his mobile phone. Now, let's ask you to update 3 different SKUs with Serial Numbers across 10 Retailers in the city. Believe it or not, how the developer has approached the product development can have a MAJOR impact on the usability of the solution in such cases. This is where good UI and field knowledge on the part of the vendor organization can be extremely valuable.
Simple enough, but this is those hidden details which has ended up being the saving grace for many of our clients. When dealing with a multi-tiered distribution network, you will invariably come across a retailer or distributor who is using some other software and is not as willing to adopt your solution as you like. Whether the SALES AUTOMATION Solution has or offers additional support for Partner Integration can be detrimental to your sales strategy. Especially if it's a big distributor who you cannot afford to ignore.
Let's face it. Processes are handled by computers, but it's the humans who do the real work, and every now and then, there will be an issue. A good system designer would keep these things in mind and offer you flexibility to fix these issues without jeopardizing the integrity of the data. Always ask if the SALES AUTOMATION system has procedures in place for these issues.
Any good investment requires thorough research. Over time, a good choice of Sales Force Automation systems can be the difference between a 5% growth and a 10% growth. ARMS Enterprise, our Entreprise level solution takes care of all the needs of any organization. Surely there will be other points which must be given due importance, but these 5 can be a good starting point for any evaluation.