Raymond is using AI to automate sales, connect retailers and dealers2 min read . Updated: 04 Feb 2019, 12:46 AM IST
- Automation exercise will boost demand forecasting and reduce wastage in the system, says Pokhriyal
- Retailers can now place orders, pay, track order/delivery, get instant notification about new products, schemes, claims and promotions
Till even a few months back, the sales staff at textile company Raymond would manually take orders from retailers. Consequently, it would take the sales staff months to reach out to its 5,000 dealer network in case of a product launch, promotion or price reduction.
That’s when Raymond reached out to Applicate, a four-year-old Gurgaon-based startup, to automate the process using artificial intelligence (AI). The company launched a pilot project in March 2018 with Applicate’s hybrid software as a service (SaaS) based B2B platform called Channel KART (renamed Midas by Raymond for internal communication) to communicate between the retailers and dealers.
Hybrid SaaS refers to a software delivery model where the software and the data linked to it are hosted on the cloud, and integrated with the enterprise resource planning (ERP) or document management systems (DMS) of an organization, allowing large enterprises to incorporate custom work-flows when needed.
Midas, on its part, allows Raymond’s sales team to connect with retailers located anywhere in the country and provide them with timely service. Retailers can now place orders, pay, track order/delivery, get instant notification about new products, schemes, claims and promotions.
“The textile industry is still behind other consumer industries in terms of sales automation. The variety in designs and types of fabrics which we offer to consumers requires retailers to carry those wide varieties as well," says Sudhanshu Pokhriyal, president textiles, lifestyle business, Raymond. He believes that this automation exercise will significantly improve demand forecasting and reduce wastage in the system while also lending visibility to dealers under wholesalers who are currently not visible to Raymond.
Channel KART uses Applicate’s proprietary AI platform for sales. It has an AI sales assistant called Sellina to assist, train and engage with millions of retailers simultaneously. “Sellina can understand the sales related conversations and assist the sales team and channel partners with data, information and content based on natural language conversation in voice and text. It can even take customer orders in the absence of sales representatives," explains Ranjeet Kumar, chief executive officer and co-founder of Applicate.
Applicate’s Kumar points out that the app has been designed keeping in mind that it should easily be used by anyone who can use WhatsApp or any other e-commerce app. Since most retailers are exposed to such consumer applications they can use it without any assistance or training. The retailer app pilot, which lasted four months, has since been scaled-up to more than 2,400 retailers across India. The total number of retailers on the platform is more than three times of what was originally planned, says Pokhriyal. He adds this is one of the key initiatives to make Raymond’s distribution network future ready.