Operators in consumer mobile business are under enormous pressure –while revenues from services are falling, high costs deter operators from reaching under-served population in far-flung areas. Operators address this limitation through multiple channel partners. This adds significant scale and enables timely response for delivery.
However, the efficacy of such sales is dependent on an efficient Sales & Distribution (S&D) network. Supply chains have to be agile and responsive to react to new market dynamics, operational efficiencies of inventory and logistics management are critical to control costs and ensure adequate and timely supplies to the end-points of sale. Unlike CRM or Billing, S&D has many market-specific nuances. Solutions that address this should have flexibility to model these differences rather than imposing their own structure to which business has to adapt. This paper lays out the building blocks required to build a robust S&D solution that addresses the above issues.
Unlike other industries operating in mass-market consumer segment that have relied on IT systems for good effect, Telecommunications industry has lagged behind in adopting a standards-based technology in this space. Systems that catered to the traditional Sales & Distribution activities were originally limited by being too rigid in their capability to adapt to the differences in processes and functionalities arising from different markets1.
Is your integrated Dealer Network Strategy in Place?
- Integrated and Unified Partner Management
- Integrated Downstream and Upstream Processes
Does your Channel Have Right Quantity to Sell at Time?
- DIFOT – Delivery in Full on time
- Market Demand Based Supply Network
- Agile Supply Chain
Is Your Channel Motivated to Sell?
- Drive – “Pay for Performance”
- Attract and Retain Partners
- Motivate Sales Partner to be Agile with Corporate Objectives
Are You Able to Track Serialized Inventory
- Item tracking and visibility right from Top to Bottom Level
Typical Challenges in Sales & Distribution
In the classical era, with limited automation, operators had to struggle with the below challenges across all processes:
Sales: Includes primary and secondary sales only. It does not support push sales based on campaign or past sales trend.
Inventory: Telcos have to track each individual serial number within systems, with huge volumes of data required for serialized inventory.
Product & Price: In order to influence distribution channels, operator needs a flexible product and price model that allows different pricing, product eligibility for partners based on their tier level or their location.
Marketing & Miscellaneous: It is important to maintain brand presence, get consumer-buying behavior and seek regular market intelligence.
The solution comprises of major components – A Web based system, and a Mobile Application. It acts as a decision support system for operators and distributors, giving insights into channel sales, monitoring sales, check stock levels in the distribution chain, compliance and monitoring. It streamlines and automates workflow, thereby increasing productivity significantly.
S&D is a differentiating process for operators – this implies that most operators would have deviations from standard out-of-the-box processes provided. There is a strong need for a system that is flexible to accommodate these differences without too much customization.
- No visibility of past sales trends
- Inaccurate quota allocation, sales forecast & targets
- No tracking of secondary sales
- No visibility on inventory movement and availability at partner level
- No visibility of physical stock and requested stock
- No stock audit
Product & Price
- Inflexible product eligibility for partners in association with sales channel and geography
- Inflexible product eligibility at geography wise
- No support for segment based pricing
Marketing & Others
- No information about consumer behavior from partners
- No information about market intelligence from partners
- No tracking of trade marketing and permanent marketing material
Standard Process and Systems for Channel Partners – Single View of Operations
- Definition and maintenance of a ‘single’, ‘true’ sales, geo, channel and profile structures
- Standardized, Light weight, easy-to-use, functional channel enablement
- Ability to provide consistent view to end customer that will operate across channels
- Enable partners to run business from mobile devices (tablets)
Holistic Inventory Management
- Ability to ‘push’ based on inventory norms set at various levels in the supply chain: controls product availability
- Bring reliability and method behind demand planning and supply chain management
- Integrated and holistic view of inventory movement and tracking
Effective Sales Performance Management
- Enablement of performance profiles of channel partners
- Performance/value driven commission definitions
- Enablement of transparent, (real time) pay out leading to higher trade equity
Flexible Building Blocks
Success of any application depends on how flexible its fundamental building blocks are. Figure below shows the fundamental entities of the solution:
- Channel – It allows users to configure boundary-less channels depending on business needs. Each channel represents a different sales unit under business.
- Product – Have a configurable level of product hierarchy based on sales channel and geography along with flexibility in setting other attribute e.g. secondary sales date, partner product eligibility, etc.
- Location – Define any number of location types and actual locations based on type. It also helps in setting the custom properties to each location
- Partner – Setting partner hierarchy based on the sales channel along with configurable level of approval
- Performance – Configure KPIs for partners, sales territory, etc. Allows users to configure the calculation logic and to set the targets against each KPI.
Transactions within S&D are essentially an inter-play of these base components and hence it is important to have a solution that brings in richness in modeling these entities as well as the flexibility to accommodate future changes. Further, every operator has a different flavor of usage of these entities.