Innovating for the current market dynamics is quite challenging but there are enough use cases that showcase that strategic infusion of IT into an enterprise’s operations is definitely a successful way to jumpstart innovation.
After the first wave of traditional IT that automated various businesses, the second wave is all about extending the market reach. This is where ‘mobility’ comes into the picture.
Let’s here look at innovative usage of mobility at Sheela Foam, which is in the business of home comfort products with the brand name of ‘Sleepwell’—a well-known brand in this segment with 5,000 plus authorized dealers in India. Quips Pertisth Mankotia, CIO, Sheela Foam, “Our industry has a seasonality influence over sales. The project ‘Exchange Offer’ was launched to reduce the impact of seasonality in sales and to offer a solution to customers for disposing their old mattress.
We have innovatively used ‘e-wallet’ in ‘Exchange Offer’—the scheme provides far more benefits to the retailers, as they can also use their existing stock during the exchange offer.” For the exchange offer to work, the company used mobility solutions that involved SMS, apps, along with its dealer management system. It has in a way created a cohesive mobile ecosystem that makes for real speed and transparency to the system, enabling customers to enjoy the benefits of real-time rewards and retailers to attract customers.
Generally, all schemes run at the retail counters that are controlled by the retailers and are on new stocks as supplied by the company.
The company wanted that the retailer should have the flexibility of using his entire stock (old + new purchases) and the scheme to be exclusively controlled by the company. “To cater to this business problem, with the IT systems in place, we created a platform on which the entire ‘Exchange Offer’ operates. We created an ‘e-wallet’ for each dealer (5,000 plus dealers across the country) in which their stock value is maintained. The stock value is calculated on the basis of material purchases by the dealer during the exchange period and the dealer can use his stock value to sell the mattress to the customer, till the time there is balance in his e-wallet,” explains Mankotia.
HOW IT WORKS
In ‘Exchange Offer’, if the customer brings any old mattress he gets a flat 10% discount on product MRP plus an assured cash reward or a bumper prize. The entire system is technology driven. The dealer pushes the serial number of the mattress and customer mobile number through any of the three modes (ie, mobile app, dealer management system or SMS via registered mobile numbers), which after validation by the system within two minutes replies back the dealer and the customer with an ‘assured cash reward’ or a ‘bumper prize.’ The entire system also ensures that there are no unauthorized product selling, no unauthorized dealer selling, and the assured cash reward or bumper prizes are made aware to the end-customer at the time of purchase . The cash awards and bumper prizes are not known to the entire chain and are controlled centrally, so are random in true sense. “We can also control rewards and prizes to be generated each day and they are based on sales volume and are spread over the entire country,” elaborates Mankotia. Mankotia further adds, “Our system on receiving a message from the dealer through the mobile or the Dealer Management System or dealer’s registered mobile number, within two minutes validates the authenticity of the dealer, authenticity of the product, product model and auto generates assured cash reward or the bumper prize and messages back the same to the dealer and customer.”
The system on a real-time basis also credits the dealer the assured cash reward generated. The bumper prizes, after verification of customer details, are dispatched to the customer from the company. On receiving the SMS, the balance in ‘e-Wallet’ of the dealer is also reduced automatically based on the sale made by him. The balance is auto increased when the dealer purchases the product from the distributor. The amount is based on the model value of the mattress.
THE SOLUTION UP CLOSE
“We run the entire ‘Exchange Offer’ through our internally developed systems. We have integrated our homegrown ERP ‘greatplus’ with the homegrown distributor management system and dealer management system. All these systems are well synchronized with each other. We have developed a mobile app which can be downloaded on Android-based smartphones through which the dealer can also send us the unique product serial number along with the customer mobile number and our system on receiving the details, reverts with the details of assured cash reward or bumper prize both to the dealer and the customer within two minutes,” says Mankotia. The SMS gateway has also been integrated with the system to receive messages from the registered mobile number of the dealer and to send back the messages to the dealer and customer.
THE BUSINESS BENEFITS
“Today, with the help of technology we do not have to depend on the retail chain or create/arrange for scheme stock with 5,000 plus retail outlets. The ‘e-wallet’ has enabled us to start the scheme at one go without any hassle and address delays and over/under stocking by the channel. It has also enabled the dealer to use his old stock during the scheme period, provided he replenishes it with new purchase of the same value,” says Mankotia. The use of technology to instantly receive and send an SMS within two minutes to the dealer and customers has upped its operational efficiencies. Moreover, the company does not have to worry on account of pre-offer sales loss, as it need not pre-announce the scheme far in advance. “We can control and run the scheme for the period we want. We do not need to preinform the channel and create artificial peaks and valley in the sales. We also do not have to dump scheme stock with 5,000 plus dealers and do not have to worry about stocks left after the closure of scheme period,” asserts Mankotia.