Sales teams have long made visits to customers armed with digital devices to record orders. The difference now is where they used to be mainly off-line and synched with office systems once reps returned to the office, they’re now connected via 3G or wifi to simultaneously fetch data on the move.
IT company, Sanderson’s Martin Beatty says: “We’ve had mobile technology for many years but we’re now really able to use it to provide real-time, accurate information. With 3G and soon-to-be 4G, connections are adding timeliness to how wholesalers deal with their customers – they can capture transactions, check stock levels or call up previous orders.
“Representatives never know what they are going to find when they call on a customer but this kind of mobile technology enables them to deal with most things immediately.
“And,” says Beatty, “mobile devices don’t just make for great business efficiency, but also excellent customer relationship management too. For instance, if a wholesaler’s customer has a complaint and it can be taken by the rep and reported back to head office while he or she is with the customer; and if that same customer then receives a telephone call within 15 minutes to deal with their issue, that level of customer service adds a sense of value to the wholesaler and customer relationship.”
“That helps foster loyalty and retention which can add 20% to growth from existing customers rather than having to find new ones. This makes mobile technology not just a sales tool, but a CRM tool too.”
Tim Williams, BCP’s divisional director of distribution agrees that the customer service element is important particularly as on average some 15% of sales are now taken by sales reps out on the road. “Even if 3G drops, the software will automatically re-synch when it picks up the signal again”
He adds that one of the company’s customers has issued iPads to its entire sales force and BCP’s Remote Ordering module software allows wholesalers’ reps to synch continuously with the main systems back at head office. “The clever bit is that even if 3G drops, the software will automatically re-synch when it picks up the signal again.”
WHAT’S AROUND THE CORNER…?
- 360 scanning: Items are scanned automatically as they are sent down roller conveyors. The scanning tunnel locates the barcode wherever it is on the case – ideal for fast-load checkouts where the products can be loaded straight onto the back of your customers’ vans.
- Eagle Eye: Security cameras over the checkouts, combined with advanced image recognition software can build a database of items on a trolley. Once the items are scanned, they are then compared with those captured by the camera.
The system can be used to combat collusion, where the operator doesn’t scan the item, or where the barcode is replaced with one from a cheaper item.