10 COVID-19 Coping Mechanisms for FMCG Businesses in Emerging Markets

In the days of COVID-19, online channels were the first to stockout on personal hygiene and packed food products.
10 COVID-19 Coping Mechanisms for FMCG Businesses in Emerging Markets

In the last 100 years, humanity has not been affected by something as widespread as COVID-19. We are all still learning to deal with the humanitarian and economic impact of the epidemic every day. But there is no doubt that the world as we knew it has changed.

At Bizom, we get a granular view of how some of our nimble-footed brands are adapting to the new world reality in emerging markets. From these observations, here’s documenting my top approaches for FMCG businesses to cope with the impact of COVID-19 in emerging markets. Some of these approaches can be implemented immediately. Others are more strategic midterm in nature.

10: Increase frequency of delivery especially to key channels/ key outlets

We see a massive surge in demand at class A, A+, Standalone Modern Trade and Modern trade outlets. It means these stores are often running with stockouts. For you, as a brand owner, it may make sense to increase the frequency of delivery to these outlets from once a week to 2-3 times a week.

9: Balance inventory

While we see a surge in demand for specific lines, we also see a slump for some other lines. For example, if you are a mineral water brand, you will see a drop in demand for travel-friendly SKUs like 250ml, 500ml, and 1Liter bottles but this a surge in demand for 5 Liter, 10 Liter, and 20 Liter packs. As a consumer and retailer friendly brand, you may instilll a policy to take back slow-moving SKUs from the supply chain instead of fast-moving ones.

8: Add more muscle to online temporarily

In the days of COVID-19, online channels were the first to stockout on personal hygiene and packed food products. Given the current conditions, you may want to add additional personnel and supply partners to ensure supply in online channels. Even if online contributes a minuscule 2-3% to your portfolio. This channel will grow the fastest for you at least during the social-distancing phase.

7: And to the wholesale channel

Wholesalers may not be your focus channel in normal times, but during pandemic situations, this channel will offer additional support to ensure supply, especially in GT. We cannot emphasise more about not ignoring wholesalers. Do provide individual attention to this channel.

6: Invest in dynamic routing

Social distancing means that your feet on the street sales team may have limited reach though you want them to handle key accounts. Dynamic routing algorithms like the one from Bizom can help you focus on “must-win” battles in field sales.

5: Dynamic Schemes using TPM

A crisis like these teaches us the need to be nimble. TPM algorithms like the one in Bizom can help you manage your schemes better to ensure that you get the right margin structure across your constantly changing push and pull product portfolio. If you haven’t done it already, invest in it now.

4: Move gate meetings to online

In field-sales, there is a culture of gate meetings before going on beats. Many of our customers are moving gate meetings to online video calling by using apps like Zoom, Webex or WhatsApp conference calling. I think that trend is here to stay even after the coronavirus threat goes away.

3: Demand forecasting and auto-replenishment for both distributors and retailers

Social distancing times are teaching us to rely more on technology. Auto replenishment techniques based on real-time demand forecasting can help you adjust to changing demand patterns in real-time.

2: Self-ordering

Adopting self-ordering apps is something you can do immediately. Ask all your retailers to order via a multi-brand application like the Distiman app. It ensures you have a “no-touch” ordering application in place at no extra cost.

1: Paperless Bulk/ B2B channels

This was the first thing to be done by all our brands after the outbreak. They moved their Bulk buyers completely to online/ self-ordering technology. Online is a channel most amenable to change. So you can take the small step immediately to reroute your sales team energy to other battles.

Bonus: Be humane

As a responsible brand, I am sure you are investing in sanitising supply chain, warehouses and providing more than usual health and safety support to your supply chain workers.

Stay safe and agile in these times!

The article has been authored by Lalit Bhise, CEO & Co-founder, Bizom

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