FMCG companies open links with retailers to ensure supply

  • Companies have launched tele-services and even dedicated apps that let shopkeepers place orders
  • The companies say this will help ensure supplies do not run out at a time when distributors and wholesalers have been immobile because of lockdown

Suneera Tandon
Updated6 May 2020
Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Several fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have stepped up deliveries of their products to neighbourhood grocery stores that are struggling with supplies of essential goods.

Marico has launched telephone services for retailers and even rolled out a dedicated app that lets shopkeepers place orders. Dabur, too is reaching directly to retailers. The companies said this will help ensure supplies do not run out at a time when distributors and wholesalers, key suppliers of packaged goods to retailers, have been immobile because of lockdown restrictions.

“We have commenced tele-servicing and introduced an app for retailers. This enables retail partners to feed in their requirement and place orders digitally or through a phone call at their convenience,” said Sanjay Mishra, chief operating officer, India sales and Bangladesh business, Marico Limited. The facility is available for 80,000 top retailers of the company, which makes the popular Saffola cooking oil and oats.

“In some cases, retailers are picking up stocks, but we have gone ahead and extended the services of our third-party logistics partners to distributors also to ensure smooth movement of goods to the retailers,” Mishra said. This includes tie-ups with logistics companies such as Delhivery, Shadowfax, Lalamove and Zoomcar “to ensure products are delivered from factories to depots and thereafter to distributors”, he said.

The move, said Mishra, helped resolve problems at different levels in the distribution ecosystem and helped multiple distributors across regions to restart their business. Marico’s Saffola oils portfolio benefited in the three months ended 31 March as shoppers across India cooked more at home and stocked up on cooking oils. The company’s edible oils portfolio saw a 25% year-on-year volume, even as its personal care portfolio gave a weak performance.

“We are deploying new strategies and finding innovative solutions to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential products to our retail partners during these unprecedented times. We have tied up with online delivery service providers, besides establishing a direct contact with retailers and leveraging technology to drive sales and service demand,” said Mohit Malhotra, Chief Executive Officer, Dabur India Ltd.

Constraints in replenishment of stock, disruptions in the movement of distributors that are key suppliers of goods to retail stores, and lack of retail staff had dented supplies of essential goods in phase 1 of lockdown, market researcher Nielsen said in its update on India’s FMCG sector in April.

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