The distribution structure is one of the essential elements of a complex value chain in businesses today. It is an important determinant of the future of brands. Distribution challenges such as operational inefficiencies, dismal channel performance, gaps in secondary sale insights, and negative impact on shareholder value are undesirable situations. These are reasons that prompt most organizations to connect the dots in the supply chain and optimize their distribution structure.
In order to overcome these challenges, organizations are increasingly emphasizing on digitizing their distribution operations. Research reports from Markets and markets’ point out how organizations are steadily working towards modernizing their distribution arm.
Technology tools to streamline distribution
At the global and national levels, organizations are adopting emerging technology tools to streamline distribution operations. Some of these tools are:
Sales Force Automation
The Indian retail industry has identified the massive potential of field force automation that has truly emerged as a differentiator in the global market. There’s a steady boost in the demand for integrating SFA into the existing systems by businesses. One of the key determinants is that it enhances operational efficiency and streamline sales processes. Research studies predict that the global field force automation is set to grow at a CAGR of nearly 13%.
SaaS-based automation systems are capable of effectively handling order booking, territory management, scheduling, and Business intelligence. Owing to its simplified usage and mobility platforms, there is a steady increase in their demand by small and large organizations.
Organizations are relying on partner networks to significantly reduce their financial overheads and operational hassles associated with maintaining a direct sales organization. These networks comprise integrators, distributors, resellers, and dealers who play a pivotal role in enhancing sales performance. Advanced partner management systems offer easy-to-use, web, and mobility-based service tools and useful information to assist partners. In fact, the tool is used for onboarding new clients, share product updates, impart training lessons, and manage accounting transparency.
Predictive Analysis and BI
This is a critical step towards enabling a tech-driven distribution structure. Leveraging on Big data and analytics is considered to be the game-changer that is all set to convert information into actionable to grow revenues. This tool shares critical business information about distribution networks, secondary sales, and customer buying behavior. It analyses an enormous amount of data hence augmenting sales. An effective business intelligence tool accounts for factors of seasonality, demography, market growth, brand performance, and demand factors. (eg. Power BI, Alteryx Designer)
Forecasting applications aids in predicting sales trends and customer demands of products and services. Direct sales organizations heavily rely on them since it helps improve inventory management, production scheduling, and financial planning. It can either get integrated into the ERP system or installed as a standalone technology tool. An effective forecasting tool minimizes wastage costs and aims at realizing the sales potential for a brand by building focus on sell-outs.
The deployment of these key tools aims at enhancing operational efficiency levels, minimize outage costs, and provide real-time data insights to streamline sales processes and grow bottom-line revenues. Organizations immensely benefit from digitizing their distribution structure since it arrests gaps in the supply value chain and eliminates resource wastage. Thus, technology is key since automating at various stages of the supply chain leads to several benefits. These include effective pricing strategies, incentive, and scheme management, and sale forecasting in addition to real-time data analysis.