Technology Has Changed the Dynamics of Direct Selling Industry
Have you ever wondered how many individuals does it take to deliver one matchbox at your doorstep? It is probably a bigger number than you can ever imagine, and most of them are neither manufacturers nor the last mile delivery guy, but those handling it in between. This supply chain increases the cost of the product by up to 40 per cent in case of some products. Kanwarbir Singh, Director-Information Technology, tried to curb this cash-burning chain and create a direct connection between company that owns the brand, and the customer. He called this ‘Direct Selling’. Though he wasn’t the one who brought this idea in India, but he is considered as one of the early starters. Singh spoke at length with Abhishek Kumar Singh of the Opportunity India about the changes this ‘Direct Selling’ space has been witnessing. Here are the excerpts.
How is Technology Supporting the Supply Chain of Direct-Selling Companies?
Utilizing technology in supply chain significantly increases the value of a company in the direct selling industry. Supply chain technologies have both direct and indirect impact on a company’s outcome. In other words, it provides value in both obvious, and less obvious yet significant ways. Manufacturers and distributors might anticipate many benefits that technology will bring, such as:
Improved Access To Information - A successful supply chain technology can link previously disconnected data. You have an information silo when different parts of your supply chain don't communicate with one another in a regular, dependable and repeatable way. Silos can develop when internal corporate divisions and operations (such as sales, production and distribution) do not share information. Longer reaction times, faulty execution, and erroneous forecasts are the results of this. But, with the help of the technology and by encouraging communication and networking between team members, information silos can be prevented.
Improved Insight - It is simpler to review data, gather insights (on issues like customer demand, storage/transportation constraints, and supplier lead times), and make decisions that have both direct and indirect effects on the functioning of the supply chain as a whole. Additionally, it allows businesses to analyse data and execute simulations in real-time depending on a variety of scenarios, allowing them to consider potential solutions.
Improved agility - Agility is improved when technology is used in the supply chain. With improved access to information and simulations, executives may solve issues or develop new business opportunities faster when they have a superior understanding. An organisation cannot operate fast if its processes or systems contain barriers or silos. You must monitor occurrences throughout the whole supply chain, assess their effects, and develop preventative measures.
What has Technology Contributed to Strengthen the Industry During and post pandemic?
Many businesses faced difficult times during the pandemic as there were many ups and downs during the period. It is only after the pandemic when numerous businesses, including the direct selling sector, started thinking outside the box. The pandemic has effectively illustrated new ways for the direct selling industry and one of these is the path towards digital transformation. It is due to the advances in digital technology that the direct selling industry has been able to meet the needs of consumers and grow and prosper in the digital age. This has eventually strengthened the industry as a whole.
How can Technology be used to Bring Brands and Distributors Closer?
Today's brands have a variety of electronic communication tools at their disposal to assist them and attract their target audiences. Before the introduction of technology, brands understood very little about consumer preferences and they were directing their goods and services to a wide group of customers due to the fragmented nature of the market and a lack of consumer data. Knowing the brand's target market is crucial since it helps determine the methods that can be used to interact with customers. Social media and other cutting-edge digital tools have made it possible for firms to concentrate on a specific group of customers who are intimately related to them. If digital is used as a tool for brands to interact with their consumers, communication with them must be on point and the latest trends must be kept in mind. They should invest in gathering research and data on consumer behaviour trends and employ intelligent tools to create the ideal customer base. A successful brand is built on appealing creatives, unconventional concepts, and content produced exclusively for digital.
How is Tech Transforming the Dynamics of Dealership and Distributorship in the Direct Selling Industry?
All types of dealership service departments are switching from using pen, paper, and even whiteboards for record-keeping to using computers and digital files. Dealerships may leverage technology in more ways than ever to expand their operations and replace antiquated, inefficient, and labour-intensive procedures. Similarly, the distribution sector is changing as a result of technology. Moving things from point A to point B physically has become much more difficult. As a result, several staff positions — from movers to monitors — have changed.
The direct selling industry is enabling the growth of entrepreneurship in the country and making a great societal impact by furthering economic sustainability. India is becoming more capable of raising the bar in both societal and economic standards. The Digital India programme is also changing the sector. Companies are increasingly investing in online training and development tools in addition to leveraging technology for marketing and distribution. The direct selling sector is using digital strategies that not only help the direct selling entities but also ensure that distributors can conduct their businesses easily so that the end users can have better experiences. Direct selling businesses have built websites and mobile apps that allow their distributors to place orders, track payments, and access training materials. These are creating transparent, self-sustaining business models for entrepreneurship through better governance.