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The food industry leads the way in adoption of SFA systems

The food industry leads the way in adoption of SFA systems

The food industry in Poland is one of the market segments which embraced the modern IT technologies such as mobile SFA systems to the fullest. Interview with the Head of the Department of Mobile Implementations and Connector Platform.

Do food companies invest in mobile applications?

More than that, the food industry in Poland is among the market segments which embraced the modern IT technologies such as mobile SFA software the best. More importantly, the industry constantly monitors the IT market for innovations and is willing to invest in the latest technologies which have the potential to improve the performance of their mobile sales staff. The competitive FMCG market often forces the manufacturers to seek innovative solutions which can give them a competitive advantage and increase the sales. We know this from our experience as a well-established business partner to many industry leaders and a recognised European vendor of sales force automation and retail execution systems.

Branża spożywcza jest liderem we wdrażaniu aplikacji klasy SFA

Tomasz Kajdzik, the Head of Department of Mobile Implementations and Connector Platform

Not so long ago, Polish sales representatives were using mobile applications running on their hand-held PDA devices. Nowadays, touch-screen applications available for smartphones and tablets are definitely more popular.

The users’ growing interest in the mobile devices has forced us, the suppliers, to create a new generation of software which can leverage their capabilities and is able to offer a broader scope of support services for the mobile sales staff. This is primarily about a shift in philosophy, a more ergonomic interface and finally, a seamless integration with a range of fairly standard, yet very useful applications, such as maps, email, video, calendar, or camera.The new software also provides a much better access to the multimedia material. The most advanced SFA software on the market - such as Mobile Touch, can also better integrate with and process data from external sources. One of their key advantages is the ability to create new business processes easily - it is an added value offered only by the best software vendors on the market.

What is it like in your case? Does your new touch system Mobile Touch meet these standards?

We listen carefully to the testimonials from our clients and based on those you can certainly say that Mobile touch does indeed meet these standards. Ever since its launch, we have been implementing it on many markets both in Poland and in other European countries. Last year, the system was praised by the Gartner report as one of Europe’s leading sales force automation solutions which can translate into a significant competitive advantage for the companies operating it. Our many years invested in this and other solutions were therefore finally recognised. We were amongst the first in the country to offer our clients this new-generation mobile sales support system and at the same time, a flexible platform supporting processes and functionalities which can be easily modified to adjust to their changing needs.

Do SFA mobile solutions have a measurable impact on the sales representatives’ performance?

Implementation of SFA software has always had a significant impact on the sales teams performance and, by extension, the entire company. However, the new generation of the SFA systems, such as Mobile Touch, shows an ever greater impact on the work of the mobile sales teams. For some time now, we have been observing a need to redefine the role of a sales representative, which could even mark the beginning of a “new era” in the mobility of sales staff. They become sales developers - leading agents in the process of growing the sales in a designated area and the first line of contact with the client. This is possible due to the fact that the comprehensive mobile application can supply them with the right information.

Equipped with the new generation of touch-screen SFA systems, the sales representatives are no longer simply performing centrally assigned tasks, primarily in the extra-sales activity area (i.e. data collection and registration of orders), as it has been the case to date. Based on the information and functionalities available in the system, they can influence the relationship with a store to a much greater extent. They are in a position to both sell and advise, in other words, work for the growth of their own and the client’s business.

How can the mobile systems suggest or prompt the sales representatives to take specific action at a given time?

The latest sales force automation software guides the users, suggesting the most appropriate action for a given client by analysing sets of data collected directly through the application as well as from other integrated external sources. To make this possible, the mobile software must be fully integrated with other systems such as the manufacturer’s ERP system - providing data on products, promotional offers, prices or offers, or with a commercial data exchange platform (between the manufacturer and distributors) - supplying information on stock levels and the product availability at the distributors. It is on the basis of the data obtained from the two types of external systems that the actual sales activities by are carried out by the sales representatives.

Asseco Business Solutions offers its clients a complementary solution to the SFA application: the Connector platform. The system allows the exchange of a large volume of messages (data) between the manufacturer and their trade partners. By integrating Mobile Touch with the Connector Platform, the sales representatives gain access to the up to date information on the level of purchases made by their customers and the distributors’ stock levels . This knowledge is very useful in the sales process as it prevents generating empty orders. Thanks to the link between our connector platform and the SFA software, the sales representatives are able to send the right order to the appropriate distributor while monitoring their progress. This element of the mobile application becomes even more important with the future possibility of including even more and varied sources of information

The Connector platform has recently opened a new service: the Category Management. It supports the collection of market information on the volume of sales within an entire product category at the level of individual retailers. More importantly, product categories can be created by the platform users themselves. By analysing the collected data, our SFA system can help the mobile staff determine which stores in a selected area have the greatest sales potential in the desired product categories. Having such information on hand, they simply need to choose the most suitable action to benefit from this potential – this is where Mobile Touch offers invaluable support.

What is the knowledge of new technologies/mobile applications amongst the food and beverage producers?

For over fifteen years, FMCG manufacturers in Poland, both global multinationals and local market leaders, have regularly been investing in the development of networks of professional sales representatives, both own and outsourced (external). In both cases, the sales representatives are equipped with the newest retail execution solution. Today, mobile sales software is increasingly seen even at the smaller companies as they become aware of how their business can benefit from purchasing and deploying such applications at an early stage. You can certainly say that mobile systems have become one of the key elements supporting the activities of mobile sales staff in meeting the targets defined by the management.

Looking at this market, we can see a growing demand for solutions that improve the efficiency of sales representatives’ work. For some time now, the direct involvement of the managerial staff in the activities in the field has grown (for example in execution, audit and coaching/training). Thanks to the coaching and audit functions of Mobile Touch, managers are able to supervise or review their staff’s activities as well as set goals depending on the situation and for any desired period of time at virtually every level of the company’s structure.

What is the growth rate of investment in mobile software solutions?

Polish FMCG market is already heavily saturated with SFA systems. Of course, there is still some movement on the market but companies tend to focus on upgrading or expanding the existing solutions by switching to newer versions, adding new features or integrating with external software to gain access to business-sensitive data. As I said before, there is a visible trend of move to touch applications deployed on smartphones and tablets, although good sales force automation solutions for the Windows platform still enjoy relative popularity.

However, with regards to the investment in new IT solutions, they depend on whether the vendors are able to present the FMCG sector with new concepts, often planning ahead. This calls for major financial outlays from IT manufacturers, and only few can afford that. Besides, a decision to replace a system is not taken overnight. Companies must be absolutely certain that such a change will yield tangible benefits. Much depends on the vendors themselves and whether they are able to deliver such benefits instead of simply offering hardware platform replacement.

We know that our clients are becoming more discerning and more demanding than ever. We continue to stay in the lead as we keep improving our products and services. Consequently, we are still able to offer the users added value. One of the key features of our new SFA software is the ability to support the dynamically changing business processes. We are also proud of the fact that, building on our many years’ experience and using world-class technologies, we can still create new market phenomena and discover new areas of the business. This is the added value in our systems which our users definitely appreciate

Source: Portal Spożywczy

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