“Automation is solving the problem once and then putting it on autopilot.” – Michael Hyatt
The FMCG industry is booming with great business results, worldwide. And the key to a successful business in the FMCG industry is business automation. As many as 45 percent of the activities, individuals are paid to perform, can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies. Especially, in the times of the pandemic, business process automation has been the need of the hour for the FMCG industries and many alike.
In a prospering sector like FMCG, there are a lot many opportunities for further scope. And the catalyst that can add fuel to fire is business automation, due to which the business can continue its operations round the clock, with full-on efficiency and energy. It can help bigtime in operating with least resources and most profitability.
Automating FMCG business can benefit in multiple ways and that too, if certain best practices and guidelines are followed, it is like icing on the cake. When asked if they would trust technology – such as a digital / virtual assistant or software application – to manage repetitive tasks, around 9 in 10 workers in Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands said they would. Two-thirds (67%) agreed that implementing this type of technology would be important to remain competitive.
Business Automation in FMCG Sector – An Overview
Business process automation (BPA), also known as business automation or digital transformation, is the technology-enabled automation of complex business processes. It can streamline a business for simplicity, achieve digital transformation, increase service quality, improve service delivery or contain costs.
The main crux of automating a workflow or business process is to streamline their processes by finding out repetitive activities and manage them in a better way through an effective software application. Automating these processes pertaining to the industry segment, can yield several benefits. Here are some of the major business areas that fall under the FMCG business domain:
- Consumer experience and support
- Inventory and Sales
- Order management
- Purchase order approvals
- Vendor and supplier onboarding
Business process automation refers to the best utilization of software application to automate business related activities keeping mind client data integration, customer segmentation and management of all associated processes. This leads to engaging your clients in a much better manner, including visitors, prospects, and customers. The variety of reports and dashboards that these systems generate help a great deal in perceiving the future scope and understanding the patterns and trends.
In FMGC industry, business automation can be done by gathering and managing data files, automating repetitive tasks, connecting, and integrating data sources and by building applications that can transform the business.
Tasks that must be automated are those which are repetitive in nature, include human resources, are time critical, need compliance and have a great impact on other processes and systems.
Salient Benefits of Business Automation
- Enhanced efficiency levels of all those mundane processes that can be automated
- Better quality control, consistency, and security
- Fastened processes with automation as compared to manual work getting done
- Accuracy in managing and maintaining data with all involved processes
- Increased productivity levels of task force by facilitating them to focus on important areas
- Potential dependent market coverage and increased sales figures
- High-end customer satisfaction and repeat business statistics
- Valuable return on investment
- Metric based; data driven strategic decisions
- Reduced compliance risk and human errors
10 Best Ways in Which Business Automation in FMCG Can Yield Good Results
- Identification of Repetitive Activities and Business Goals
Automation primarily seeks to fasten those activities that are being repeated more often. Hence, identifying which activities can be taken into the automation mode is highly significant. While implementing any software solution in the FMCG industry, it must be analysed as to which processes are such that can avail maximum benefit after process automation.
Once this activity is done with great efforts, the rest becomes easy and more effective. Similarly, yet another activity that must be performed right in the start is to identify organizational goals. Automation must be targeted keeping in mind the objectives that the company seeks to achieve. Only then will the entire activity bring the best of results that will be in line with the organization. Not all business activities are fit for automation, hence identifying the correct ones is difficult but needed. If the decision makers feel that automation may lead to degradation in performance or results, those processes need not be taken under the spree.
- Email Synchronization with Clients and Targeted Email Campaigns
One of the best ways of automating business processes in a FMCG organization is to synchronize the client list with the email client so that the best of campaigning can reach each client, as desired. This automated workflow can reduce human intervention and yet, reach out far and wide. It enhances the marketing strategies by making the relevant product description, schemes, commissions etc. reach the right client, who is interested in that product. Automation through emails is the right way to increase marketing efforts in the right direction, without many human resources.
- Automated Lead Generation and Nurturing
Leads form the crux of a good FMCG business. Not all visitors or leads get converted into customers. That is where automating the entire process of lead generation and nurturing can help in a great way. Automated processes will help reaching out to prospective leads in influencing their decision in a positive way and help in converting them into actual business opportunities. These processes may include a variety of content like discount schemes, informational posts, commission-based information etc.
- Seek Client Feedback After Transacting
Garnering customer feedback after purchasing is a must to know the in-depth views of customers and the loopholes that may be existing. Enhancing this process through automation is sure to offer a great experience to customers and better the entire process of customer satisfaction. Automated emails, follow up emails, messages, and notifications etc. would be a good way to reach out to customers and thereby, analyze the self process too. There may be negative reviews promptly given by customers. Through automation, they must be attended to, so that it shows how carefully you look at issues.
- Selection of the Apt Software Solution and Service Provider
Though you may have all requirements defined, goals set, resources identified, there is one big decision that may affect your entire automation process. There are many software solutions doing the rounds, world over and many service providers that act as supporting hands to make your implementation successful. Choosing the right software solution and IT partner is the crux to a successfully automated process. Looking at their experience, past customer implementations, domain knowledge, testimonials, quotient of understandability are some of the key parameters that must be checked with details, right in the beginning of starting the automation process. The software solution also must be checked appropriately for its scalability, flexibility, security, efficacy and robustness.
- Process and Workflow Audit for Best Optimization
Regular audits are required especially when organizational processes are being automated. Whenever any company goes in for a process and workflow change, due to automation, it must be regularly monitored through regular audit programs that measure and analyze the number of variations that are happening. Automation testing is important areas that must be adhered to, but most automation testers make mistakes that must be avoided.
Is the RoI being met, are there loopholes in the system, are the data processes being fulfilled correctly – these are some of the questions that are answered with detailing, whenever an audit happens. Hence, regular auditing of process workflows is a must while automating processes through software solutions.
- Training and Orienting End Users
However much you have planned and implemented, an especially important factor that is crucial to implementation is its acceptance by the end users. A negative opinion by them means a complete failure to automate processes. It needs big amount of time, money, and efforts to train the users and orient them into using the system with full faith and efficiency. Solution providers often tend to give less importance to this arena and that is where they face issues at the end point. User onboarding is an important task to achieve and hence, right from beginning, there must be stress given on appraising the users on what is going on, take their opinion and involve them at each step. That is how they will take up ownership of the automated processes and work towards making it a success.
- Customer Segmentation Depending Upon Characteristics
One way to increase customer effectiveness is to analyze customer behavior. That can be done well by automating the process of segmenting customer list depending upon different characteristics like age, orders, gender, location etc. This can help in augmenting the service and offer the customers, the exact kind of service they are looking for. Such segmentation can be done effectively through different workflow automation tools and hence, reduce involvement of human resources at large.
- Measurement of KPIs, Productivity & Predictive Analytics
How else would you know how effective the entire automation process is! There must be relevant key performance indicators, metrics, analytics, and measures identified, that can perform detailed calculations to judge the level of performance by the software solution and its acceptance by the users. These metrics can help users at different levels in observing their own performance and enhance their weak areas. The productivity quotient can also be observed and bettered, through these measures. Even predictive analytics can facilitate sales representatives to suggest orders depending upon the history, future predictions, and thereby offer a smooth experience.
- Automation Between Internal and External Components
Automation is necessary for internal workflows as well as external affiliations. Ensuring automation only in internal processes may not suffice. Studying and analyzing external connections with third party systems or other internal systems is a must to ensure a complete automation process. There must be automated connects between different software components for seamless data flow and report outputs. This saves big time on efforts and person hours of work. Also, it ensures no workflow missed out in the entire working chain. This gives management a complete and transparent view of the working ensuring increased productivity at all levels, on equal basis.
Focusing on Automation – the Key to FMCG Business Success
What a competitive FMCG unit needs is implementation of its business processes through an effective sales force automation system. An ideal SFA system would take care of automating all important business processes like field force management, sales route management, van sales automation, sales order management, deals and promotions, BI and analytics.
Automating FMCG business processes are a direct hit at attaining good business results and increase in productivity and profitability. You must implement it to enjoy its benefits! There is no looking back then!