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Digital can open up new markets for consumer goods companies

FACED with a small local market and big overseas market opportunities, most Singaporean companies will at some point have to venture abroad if they wish to continue growing.

Expanding regionally is a logical step, given that Singapore is in the middle of fast-growing Asia. The Asia Pacific is expected to have more than 50 million new middle class consumers by 2020, accounting for some US$400 billion in new spending. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies seeking to capture these new customers will be challenged by market fragmentation, with up to 90 per cent of the market spread across 20 million small outlets.

Digital channels now present a great opportunity to help CPG companies reach previously untapped outlets at relatively low cost. With direct relationships between retailer and companies, targeted campaigns, and swift and seamless ordering and fulfilment payment, leveraging technology to build a digitally enabled distribution ecosystem can help extend market reach in a cost-effective and scalable way.

Once the client is acquired, servicing them becomes important. Instead of time-consuming and costly visits to a huge number of outlets, developing a mobile self-service app that outlets can use to monitor stock levels in real time and easily reorder can help drive real savings.

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Analytics and artificial intelligence can detect and predict sales fluctuations, and pinpoint other outlets that can benefit from such an app. Smart use of data can provide insight about when to roll out trade promotions, which can be customised for each outlet. Practically instant feedback allows sales tactics to be fine tuned in order to provide dynamic offers. Analytics can optimise product delivery routes and aid decision-making, leading to enhanced productivity.

Sales-team training and product information can also be delivered via the app, with gamification and learning support to boost engagement and curb personnel attrition.

More importantly, digital can help salesforces focus on strategic selling since it alleviates routine tasks, allowing teams to spend more time on gaining new clients, and engaging more effectively with existing ones.

Digital can unleash the agility, speed, dialogue and relevance that CPG companies need to win consumers today. Accenture’s NewsPage distributor management system is an effective example. It is designed for businesses in emerging and developing markets, and can help businesses reach a higher level of performance by controlling promotions, improving productivity, streamlining inventory and getting accurate and reliable data on sales.

Digital technologies are fundamental to the capabilities required to win across multiple markets. They provide connectivity across internal functions and throughout the supply chain with customers, distributors and other partners. Mobile devices and the cloud play a vital role, as do digital collaboration platforms, all helping to enable cost effective management across geographies.