There’s help at hand for thousands of small retailers in India who sell cigarettes and confectionery supplied by ITC Ltd, and who have thus far had to wait for the next arrival of the company’s delivery van to top up on the fast-selling products.
ITC is working on developing an application that will allow the owners of the small shops that typically sell these products, the so-called paan and kirana stores, to place orders through mobile phones. “We are in the midst of pilots and proof of concept studies to evaluate use of wireless and hand-held terminals at retail points,” said V.V.R. Babu, chief information officer, ITC.
ITC’s application will result not only in timely delivery of products to smaller retailers
The company did not share details of the application and the time by which it hopes to implement it.
Mint could not immediately ascertain whether this technology could be used by other firms to serve their retailers.
ITC reaches more than two million retailers in the country. It currently sends its delivery vans with salespersons to shops where they take orders and replenish inventory. These vans often travel to remote areas without any idea of the actual demand there. The application that the firm is developing will not just result in timely delivery of products to retailers, but will also help in better utilization of delivery vans. And salespeople on the trucks will get to know of demand from individual stores through updates on their cellphones.
According to Balram Gowda, the owner of Sadashiv Paan & Beedi Shop at Mumbai’s Dadar station, delivery vans only stock popular products. The rest, he said, takes up to a day to be delivered. Gowda stocks cigarettes, biscuits, confectionery and joss sticks made by ITC. Gowda has a mobile phone, and added that if the company allowed him to place an order through it, the process would be smoother.
India has more than 210 million mobile phone users with between seven million and eight million being added every month. Several companies are beginning to realize the benefits of mobile phone based applications that they can use to improve their efficiencies.
According to Tech Mahindra Ltd, a software firm, the demand for such services is “huge” because they reduce cost of operations for firms. “Mobility based applications can bring down the cost of operation by 20-30% from the manual basis of operation,” said Rajesh Chandiramani, general manager, sales and marketing, Tech Mahindra.