Distributor Data Collection For FMCG & CPG Companies - A Practical Guide

With Fieldproxy's distributor software, you really don't have to look anywhere else to manage your distributors on an end-to-end basis.

Shoaib Ahmed
8 minutes
January 29, 2024
fmcg products delivered by agent

As we move into the digital age of business, where every step of the distributor journey - from stock check and merchandising to order fulfilment - is digitised and buried under thousands of terabytes of information in a distant cloud somewhere across the Atlantic, making sense of the data we have on our clients, customers, distributors, managers, and our own processes and operations, and then using that information to head organizations towards the right direction - all of this has never been more important than today.

But we’re looking too far ahead here. What if you don’t have all of this data stored in a single platform, accessible at the click of a button? What if you don’t have the means to make proper connections between these different data points your teams have collected, and no way to make sense of this data dump? What if you don’t have this data at all, and all your valuable information in stored as manual paper forms? What do you do then?

In this article we’re going to take a look at tackling exactly that. How do you have your teams adopt a more data-centric mindset, perform customer and product feedback surveys faster, more effectively, and use an advanced distributor management system like Fieldproxy to tie it all together in one place. Let’s get started.

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Why Is Distributor Data Management So Important?

As we said before, data is everything in today’s world. AI and machine learning have made it possible for organizations to track and measure user behavior to unimaginable extents, and if you’re not joining the bandwagon, it’s only going to be a matter of time before you’re thrown under the bus.

This rings true for the FMCG industry as well. Understanding your distributors, their order behaviours, tracking distribution and inventory, maintainin dealer relationships - all of these data points have become not nice-to-have but must-have metrics for your business. And just getting a good software to help you will not get you far.

Having a food distribution ERP solution is just the tip of the iceberg. What you need is the foundational strength on top of which a distributor management system can do its magic.

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Your teams need to be structured and trained to collect feedback, store it in a central system, and have automated workflows set up to promote better relations between your distributors, your agents, and your backend teams.

So let’s understand how we can help set up better systems to efficiently collect and track distributor data, then take a look at how software can help you scale this process.

How Do I Capture And Collect Customer And Distributor Data On The Field?

Before you go ahead and deploy your field teams in full-on attack mode, take a step back and identify why you want to capture distributor information from your existing dealers and distributors.

Setting The Right Objectives

Here’s a simple exercise we like to run by our clients at Fieldproxy to help us get to the why of data capture:

  • Are we introducing a new product to the market? What kind of feedback are we expecting to collect from this attempt?
  • Are we intending on developing our existing lineup of products, and need dealer support to identify which products to focus on more?
  • Do we just want to streamline our sales and get an idea of our distributor sales and territory coverage?

These questions can be tailored to the business use case, but you get the idea. Digging one level deeper into the exact reason for your data collection helps in two ways:

  • One, it sets the tone for the entire team that this is the agenda for this visit, you are to collect data from the dealer, customer, or distributor, for this reason, and anything outside that scope may not be important to the visit.
  • Two, it helps you capture only the information you want, so the data cleaning is done before it even gets inside the system

Your team is thus expected and knows that each visit will help in growing the organization towards the right direction. That’s a great foundation to lay your technical expertise on.

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Creating Customized Data Forms

Once you know your purpose for collecting data from your distributor, it’s time to determine what kind of data you want to collect from your distributors. And if you think this is the hard part, we’ve got good news for you.

When it comes to recording distributor information, it’s pretty straightforward. You need a tool or an application that captures distributor name, outlet information, stock intake and outgoing on a regular basis, any feedback from the distributor, geo-tagged information, order history, purchasing power, decision makers, and more.

Of course, this should all be relayed digitally and shared with your managers in real-time. This is why choosing the right distributor management system matters.

Choosing The Right Distributor Software

With distributor data collection platforms like Fieldproxy, you get complete control over the kind of data you want your agents to capture while out on the field. Use drag-and-drop question fields to completely tailor distributor data to your liking, and streamline information to only have what you need.

Want a date of purchase field added to your form? Done. Need a photo of the distributor’s outlet? Just select that question type, have your agents point their phone camera, and it’s done.

You also have distributor signature, OTP, and feedback stars, just in case you needed some additional motivation. If this scratches your itch, then look no further than Fieldproxy. Get a free demo today.

Our Favorite Ways To Collect Distributor and Customer Data

Now that we’ve established why to collect data from your distributors and what tools to use to achieve this, let’s talk about a few tactics that you can use to scale the results of your team’s efforts while they’re out on the field.

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Online Surveys

One of the fastest ways to collect consumer feedback and distributor information is to send out online surveys. You can always embed public forms into your website and send out email campaigns asking readers to participate in your survey for fun treats and prizes (Amazon coupons work best in our professional experience)

Fairly simple, straightforward, and easy to execute. One thing you will have to pay attention to however, is getting engagement on your surveys through your emails. If that is sorted, you’re well on your way to having executed a successful distributor data collection strategy.

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Personalized Forms

We’ve already talked about customizable forms, but we’re mentioning it here again because they simply work! Create a customized survey form, and have your field teams reach out to your target client and distributor profiles. Sooner than you imagine, you’ll be stuffed with a lot of valuable information, each piece more interesting and unique than the other.

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Existing Retailer And Distributor Surveys

At Fieldproxy, we like to perform a cleansing ritual at the end of every quarter. We take a look at our CRM systems, and revisit all the contacts in the database, just to collect feedback, see if there’s an opportunity for us to improve, or simply find leads that now want to buy an advanced distributor management system.

While online surveys can help you reach out to newer markets and territories, there’s no better source of truth for your business than your customers, dealers, and distributors. Reach out to your existing database and dig through that gold mine. This is going to be your biggest source of clean distributor data.

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Distributor Surveys

Use your existing database as a reference for newer distributors, and have your field teams start conducting surveys across multiple locations. This is a good practice in helping your agents establish relationships with dealers not just for the sake of selling. It helps build a strong foundation for your survey collection teams.

How Does A Distributor Management System Work?

Okay, but how does a distributor management system really help in data collection and management? Isn’t it just supposed to be software that helps with inventory management for distributors?

Well, yes and no. Let’s take a look at a distributor management system and how it works kind of as a crm solution for distributors.

Everyone uses Fieldproxy. So should you. Get a free demo today!

Capture End-to-End Distributor And Customer Information

A distributor management system is like a data warehouse for all your distributor contacts. But it is also so much more than that. A good DMS solution should be able to not just store and retrieve distributor data for you, but also give you actionable insights and steps to enact on the information you have.

Think of it as a smart application that helps you keep track of when your distributors are running out of stock, what would be a good time to initiate a marketing campaign, and sending out personal handwritten notes to their families on Diwali. Well, maybe not that last bit, but for everything else, and more, an end-to-end DMS is the ideal go-to.

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Optimize Routes And Make Visit Plans To Distributors

Building up on our previous point, a software for distributors should be built around the relationship between your field agents and the dealers/distributors.

It should be able to recognize when a shipment needs to be made, notify managers of the upcoming shipment, help them create a proper route plan, identify who is best suited to complete the job fastest and most effectively - capacity planning 101 - assign the job to the right field agent, all while doing a hundred and fifty-five other things. That is the definition of a distributor management software that works for your business.

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A Little Bit About Fieldproxy

As businesses expand and operations grow more complex, managing field teams can be a daunting task. From managing tickets to scheduling jobs and everything in between, keeping track of everything can be time-consuming and inefficient. That's where Fieldproxy comes in - an end-to-end field team management solution that aims to simplify these tasks and streamline operations.

Distributor Management Solutions By Fieldproxy

Fieldproxy's Distributor Management Solutions leverage AI and smart sheets to optimize inventory management, order processing, and supply chain visibility. It helps you improve communication between manufacturers and distributors, promoting better issue resolution times and faster deliveries.

With real-time data analytics, businesses can make informed decisions, minimize stockouts, and enhance overall productivity. It’s worked for 250+ clients across the globe, it will work for your business too. Get a free demo today!

Everyone uses Fieldproxy. So should you. Get a free demo today!

Schedule Jobs For Field Agents

Another important aspect of Fieldproxy is its job scheduling feature. With this tool, businesses can schedule jobs and assign them to field teams in real-time. This helps ensure that the right team is on the job at the right time, which can save businesses time and money.

Generate Quotes And Estimates

Fieldproxy also offers a mobile application that allows field teams to generate quotes and estimates on the go. This is particularly useful for businesses that operate in industries where quotes and estimates are necessary, such as construction or landscaping. With this feature, businesses can provide accurate quotes to their customers quickly and easily.

Everyone uses Fieldproxy. So should you. Get a free demo today!

Raise Invoices And Collect Payments

In addition to generating quotes and estimates, the Fieldproxy mobile application also allows businesses to raise invoices and facilitate payment collections through integrations with popular payment gateways. This can help businesses get paid faster and with less hassle.

Collect Valuable Customer Feedback 

With features like customer happiness index, and historical customer data, ensure your customers are always satisfied with your products and services. Know exactly how your customers operate and provide better quality services.

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Dashboards And Reports

Fieldproxy’s easily-presentable data dashboards and reports allow managers to make sense of all the data their field teams collect, in real time.

Create, curate, and manage different dashboards and reports to help make better data-backed decisions for your service teams.

There’s always going to be visits that clash with your agents’ schedules or that are of immediate attention. Question is, will your current route management process be prepared to handle it? If not, then you might want to consider shifting to a new system.

The old way to go about this would be taking a look at all your visits scheduled for the day and find out which agent has more time on their hands, then see if they’re closer to the client’s place and schedule a visit. 

At Fieldproxy, we do things a bit different. All you have to do is, head over to Fieldproxy’s AI visual builder, ask it a question, and it will show you actionable data for you to interact with, in 5 seconds.

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You instantly know who’s available and who’s not, and allocating tasks to your agents becomes child’s play. The point is, if you’re not able to prioritize your visits for your agents, you will have a hard time scaling your operations.

Closing Thoughts

So why should businesses consider Fieldproxy? With its comprehensive set of features, Fieldproxy can help businesses save time, streamline operations, and improve customer satisfaction. And with a free demo available, there's no reason not to give it a try.

If you're looking for an end-to-end field team management solution that can help you manage tickets, schedule jobs, generate quotes and estimates, raise invoices, and collect payments while also providing customer feedback support, then Fieldproxy might be the solution for you. Book a free demo today to see how Fieldproxy can help your business improve its operations and customer satisfaction.

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Distributor Data Collection For FMCG & CPG Companies - A Practical Guide

Shoaib Ahmed
January 29, 2024
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