On digitalization of FMCG industry in BD
One important illustration of rapid digitalization of our lives is that almost any kind of products and services have been made available in internet. Such a feat was considered to be unimaginable even as recently as just a decade ago, although people were looking forward to it and countless depictions of such a time had been mentioned in many science-fiction writings. In fact, most of us have even come across the meme "I will not be satisfied with the internet until I can download food." Although we are yet to "download" food in the literal sense, we can have it come to our doorsteps within 20 to 40 minutes of ordering on a website or webpage.
For a while in Bangladesh, it had been just the restaurants that delivered food, by taking orders over phone, their webpage or via fast food delivery companies. Following the western flow of development, the people of Bangladesh are quickly absorbing the Westernized digital concepts and molding them to developing their own "digital ecosystems" as some would refer. The free space for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) that had been created in Bangladesh due to the worldwide tech boom for is now rapidly being filled up with more than 500 local or national business companies. That market, thus is growing at an astounding rate.
An authoritative characteristic of FMCG products is that they are produced, packaged and distributed in colossal quantities. The reason for this being their non-durability and frequent consumption. The characterization often extends onto processed food products and beverages, stationaries, toiletries, and many other expendables that takes the buyer little or no time to choose between varieties (as a result of the cyclical consumption). Added to that, is that almost everyone now uses a smartphones and are connected to the internet round the clock. Thus, consumers no longer need to constantly head to the nearest retail outlet or super shops. They can simply order them online at shopping websites, that too after analyzing product reviews from a plethora of websites, YouTube, blogs and vlogs.
A point to be noted though is that the things mentioned above are from the perspective of a consumer. The question that remains is that 'how much of digitalization has actually been established in the industry?'
FMCG businesses have high volumes of output and thus that use an extensive distribution networks to operate on massive scales both nationally and internationally. The main mode of income of the business sector is to make a cumulative profit out of the total products sold, at a relatively low cost. Many companies have had already established points in urban or rural areas due to telephone or courier delivery systems and recently, some of the progressive FMCG companies have integrated online platforms while most others are still developing their portals or have added it to their agenda.
As the concept of legacy migration is not new, the producers of Bangladesh do need to consider how fast the world is advancing and then keep up with the advancements. There are already organizations that provide IT solutions to the companies and producers, they may soon integrate themselves into the field as well.
For anyone who wishes to enter the scene with a company, it is crucial for them to first study upon the ecosystem starting from product choice, purchasing, pricing, branding, promoting, marketing, billing and taxing to competing, architecturally improving, modernizing, HR managing. Also, everything requires huge information management systems. Thus, here are some digital systems:
l ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner) software to keep the stock and transactions under check, manage orders, workflow, employees, and distribution channels. FMCG industry requires high inventory turnovers and ERP helps with the all-inclusive business process management.
l Cell phone apps render a "personalized experience" for the consumers. Apps will notify the user about products, its locations, sales or offers along with the product's portfolio. Although promotions are made on social media, hardly anything keeps the attention of a consumer for long in such a field and a mobile app is capable of holding their loyalty.
l Sales Force Mobile Automation is a way to connect clients with suppliers easily as FMCG marketers can fall under great pressure trying to manage all the distribution points nationally. It is also an information management system.
l CRM (Customer Relationship Management) encourage customer care centers and for FMCG companies, customers include the retailers and distributors too. The relationship is also maintained through evaluating the customer's experience through the user-friendly cell phone apps and by keeping them engaged.
Earlier, the FMCG industry had lower scopes of investments in technology coming in. However, the situation has transcended. The industry is slowly entering the globalized scenario and our soon-to-become-a-reality Digital Bangladesh has more of a chance of exporting commodities using the FMCG sectors than before. The people's higher purchasing power have given many companies huge opportunities in front of them. They need to attend more and more technology conferences and stay updated to take the whole industry onto next level.
On the downside there are some obstacles that hardly can be eradicated here, such as, competing with the already famous brands, fast cloning of any new product launched, replacement of local brands by foreign ones etc. and information technology would rather advocate these. Nevertheless, it is important to embrace this new culture, as you cannot deny that technology had already became inseparable from us since the Industrial Revolution, only its progression is geometric and life is ever getting unimaginable without it.