Shopdev recently partnered up with Bayer, a Fortune 500 enterprise and one of the largest multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences companies in the world. Its crop science division is a front-runner in agricultural research and development; focusing on innovative crop solutions which aim to enhance food security.
Despite having a strong market presence, Bayer felt the need to devise a new market expansion strategy to grow sales exponentially. The objective was to establish relationship based selling in Rural Pakistan via an Affiliate Program to minimize costs and increase overall profitability.
Data acquisition is non-existent in Rural Pakistan. Tapping into the massive potential of qualitative and quantitative data allows businesses to gain a deep understanding of their customers needs and serve them accordingly. Unfortunately, a lack of undocumented information and a prevailing trust deficit in rural areas often prove to be showstoppers to this activity.
Bayer was also facing numerous issues with their inventory and sales force management. The root cause of this prevalent problem was the lack of an efficient automated workflow. The absence of real time performance metrics made reporting up the chain of command a cumbersome process especially for a highly distributed sales force. The problem of “missing inventory” loomed large without an efficient tracking system, making it difficult for Bayer to analyze key performance metrics. Other challenges faced include:
- The inability to capture a Farmers’ intent (order taking) and lack of a CRM system ultimately inhibited business owners to collect and analyze valuable information associated with its customer base.
- Lack of track and trace of inventory.
- Insufficient product knowledge dissemination amongst customers deprives them of the benefits Bayer’s product range offers.
- Presence of counterfeit and tampered products in the market having a negative impact on brand value.
- Incentivizing and tracking affiliates to maximize sales.
- Tracking product retail price.
ShopDev’s core product OBTech is an assisted commerce platform that enhances sales effectiveness, streamlines supply chain management and promotes on-the-ground marketing and promotions. The platform provides advanced and robust solutions that cater to data consolidation, security and system transparency while facilitating transactions through a relationship based sales model. It was evident that Bayer had to leverage technology in order to gain market share.Thus, OBTech partnered up with Bayer to launch the Affiliate program.
The Agile Methodology was implemented to deliver the project within 4 weeks. Great emphasis was laid on design sprints which built out a high fidelity prototype that was validated by the end users. In addition to the existing feature-set, the platform also incorporated customizations to meet the particular requirements of Bayer and its salesforce.The Affiliate Program was conducted in Pakistan within Bayer’s 14 operational territories and comprised of thousands of users.
The Bayer OBTech ecosystem comprised of several mobile applications, each catering to a specific user type including:
- Affiliates; who primarily used the application to place orders on behalf of rural farmers.
- Dealers; who primarily used the application to process orders
- Farmers; who could validate the authenticity of the products they purchase via the application.
Bayer management, in parallel, was given access to a reporting dashboard via a web interface to gain key insights into the Affiliate Program.
Affiliates had access to a product catalog and an in-built CRM system to capture Farmer data. Being already acquainted with the rural community they were selling to allowed Affiliates to greatly bypass the trust deficit roadblock in data acquisition. The availability of in-App Product brochures would not only acquaint Affiliates with product knowledge, but allowed them to offer Agronomic advice to their customers. Product and time based incentives along with targets and associated commission structures would motivate them to perform well throughout the season. The ability to view order history, fulfilled orders, potential incentives and earned incentives allowed them to gauge their own performance on a daily basis. Any order captured by the affiliate could be fulfilled by any dealer participating in the Affiliate Program by simply giving them the generated order ID.
A unique QR code was associated with every item in the inventory. The use of QR codes tracked inventory down the value chain - accounting for lost inventory. Dealers would fulfill orders by searching for the order in their application via the order ID and scanning the products unique QR codes. The Dealer based application also acted as a point of sale system and catered to walk-in-customers, who had not placed their orders through Affiliates. Modifying orders via Affiliates and having the ability to input selling price allowed Bayer to actively monitor the retail prices of their products. The ability to manage sales and returns through the application breaks the traditional cycle of manual documentation. Dealers could now maintain digitized records that were safeguarded in a central repository.
Economic livelihood and earning potential significantly improved for the Affiliates as they were now being paid proportionally to the product sold. The best performer earned a staggering PKR 6,293,000 (USD 49,099) as compared to the monthly average salary of a meagre PKR 30,000 (USD 212). A record breaking 6,357 bags were scanned by the top performing Dealer. The platform hosted 7,800 Buyers where the bags per customer was around 24. The revenue earned surpassed expectations by 116% making the collaboration a huge success!
The Affiliate job description has evolved into more than just a sales representative. Building up relationships not only retains the existing customer base, but also helps expand it. Affiliates offering real time personalized customer support plays a significant role in consumer retention. Strengthening existing and new relationships helps Affiliates earn more and ultimately aids in expanding market share for Bayer. Farmers also feel a sense of security and trust towards the brand when they can validate product authenticity on their own and also receive free agronomic advice to improve crop yields.
OBTech assisted Bayer to achieve a holistic and coherent view of its data; allowing them to transform data into actionable intelligence. Regional and district level hierarchies are established to ease reporting. Smart insights encompassing customizable dashboards, reports, key metrics and KPI’s provides a similar vantage point of assessment to all users. Regional and Territory managers can monitor Affiliate movement via GPS tracking. This interactive unique feature showcases the areas covered by the sales force and also highlights any crossover sales. Setting up reward programs, incentives, target assignments and analyzing customer information (via CRM) not only motivates the sales force to perform better but gives an overall insight into the performance of the business at a level not possible before.
The applications are hosted on a GCP Cloud Server with all communication being facilitated through a secure public API, enabling easy integration of OBTech with any API based platform. The mobile applications are built on React Native, a hybrid mobile development platform, allowing programmers to publish both IOS and Android applications from the same common code base. The Admin Web Application is built on AngularJS and NodeJS, making the application highly scalable, secure and available. The data resides in a SQL database.
ShopDev’s collaboration gave Bayer the ultimate competitive advantage in sales effectiveness. A new entrepreneurial opportunity was provided to a rural economy paving not only the way for a new market strategy, but brought about a revolution in the space of assisted commerce in Pakistan.