EVER WONDER what differentiates a great product manufacturer from a good one or an average one?
Capital? Reputation? Product? Creativity?
Guessed any of the above, and you would be strongly refuted by an army of believers in product distribution.
Without the strength of data, visibility into sales, schemes, assortment, red lines, outlet targets, consumer buying patterns, and SKU or category micro-trends, any manufacturer stutters when it comes to demand estimation, stock planning, delivery planning, sales planning and operational pack planning, to name a few ERP processes.
Implementation is another ball game altogether, which requires a robust automation solution, that is somehow able to take all of these planned elements, and is able to present all the relevant and right items in an intuitive manner, right where it is required, to the right users. This solution should also allow the user to capture his inputs equally seamlessly, and provide visual insights and charts indicating his progress, so this user doesn’t have to go back to his office to be able to extract sense out of his hourly, daily, monthly or annual progress.
So why is this so difficult to get? Supply? Vendor quality? Lack of appreciation of Indian smarts? Engineering Loopholes? High Capex? Long Downtimes? Non-lingual or missing tech support?
What if we told you that there was something that could do all of the above, and yet have none of the difficulties associated with it?
What if we told you that this was not coming from back-breaking expensive SAP or a US-based SalesForce firm with an awesome grammatically correct yet text-heavy interface, that all English-speaking users would learn to use quickly, maybe in a few months? By the way, what about your sales till they ramp up??
What if we told you that this was indigenously conceived, designed and developed by a bunch of Desi IIT engineers, IIM analysts, and a couple of senior industry folks with relevant distribution leadership and sales experience at HUL, or Unilever, and Google?
We’re sure you’ll be happy. That’s the happiness that Gray Routes has been seeing on the faces of its customers such as Proctor & Gamble, Vinay Switches, Pace Projects & Logistics, Festival Ice Creams, Nivea to name a few.
Trust the over 110+ brands that have been deployed this year over the valuable-yet-affordableGrayFOS Sales Force Automation platform, and are witnessing over 10x ROI in the first few months of implementation itself.
If you’re not convinced yet, you can always go for a demo before booking your trial installation.
After all, it doesn’t involve procuring Rockets, and neither is Sales Force Automation as complex as Rocket Science !
I wrote a letter to one of India’s largest Truck Owner’s Association in the interest of protection of the country’s two most valuable resources – people and our vast mineral resources. Rampant driver murders and goods-in-transit robbery has off late, left Eastern India aghast, but there’s hope, as preventive measures are readily available, and associations such as above are readily adopting these frugal solutions. I’m sharing the letter here so that other Truck Owners, Transporters and Fleet owners world-wide may adopt these tools and save even more lives. Please help us spread the word, and protect the world’s valuable resources.
Best wishes to TRUCK Owners Association on Ganesh Chaturthi, 29th August, 2014, from GrayDrop Real-time Driver Tracking & Gray Routes team.
driver murders – If driver gets lost, you get instant alert on smartphone. Get driver alerts if they’re driving after drinking !
cleaner missing – alert on smartphone when driver or cleaner misuses vehicle or takes unplanned breaks
trucks being stolen with consignments – Real time truck track reports on Google Maps in 3D view on route followed
and Owner’s not having any trace of where was the truck located last –Replay entire track history with timestamps
or where had the truck been to in the last few hours before being hijacked – Get alerts with reason code, when the truck deviates from planned route, along with odd & rough road movements
SMS information falling in wrong hands – 3-level Secure face based login that prevents unauthorised users from spying and checking on truck route movements
We’ve seen the RFID planning system you’ve had in place, and admit that while SMSs provide departure/arrival information, the entire route info is missing. Owners are suffering as they don’t know their own vehicle and driver whereabouts, and arealways tense until they get the arrival at destination SMS. Above all, the SMS medium is very insecure as anyone can send/forward/receive SMSs, even your robber gangs can.
Today’s article in New Indian Express newspaper clearly states that the gangs are using surveillance mechanisms to track vehicle movements. If these robbers can implement systems to track vehicle route movements, I believe your transport association can surely use intelligent mobile solutions that can alert you of such incidents right on your mobile phone before or right when it happens.
Best of all, even if your robbers or drivers remove your driver’s SIM cards, using GrayDrop, you will be able to track the driver’s whereabouts long after the incident has happened. This is again different from mobile SIM & tower-based tracking systems some other transporters use, or other more expensive, high-maintenance and cost-prohibitive GPS tracker unit based systems used in other countries that can be easily removed or damaged, and are not reusable.
What will happen when you deploy expensive Rs. 45 lakhs multi-axle vehicles without any Driver Safety cum GPS tracking system in place? The robber gang will step up their operations in no time, and that too, before you can react, if you don’t act now !
I urge you to drive your trucks towards safety immediately, as such rampant loss of man and valuable resources is not doing this blessed state its due justice.
Hope, Lord Ganesha blesses your association and this new year sees less of such events:
About Gray Routes:
Founded by ex-HUL IIT KGP-IIM Ahmedabad graduate Soubhagya Sahoo & Sapna Patel, ex-Googler Sales, we serve over 80+ brands worldwide and several Fortune 500 firms such as Proctor & Gamble,GlaxoSmithKline and Nivea, as well as transporters such as Pace Projects & Logistics worldwide, & Pace Xpress.
With offices in Mumbai, Delhi & Odisha, our mission is to drive truckers and last-mile delivery staff towards safety, and ensuring every delivery worker is empowered using technology to do their job quicker, better & safer.
Help us spread the word by liking this article and sharing with your network so that endangered delivery workers and drivers live to drive another day, and the country’s valuable mineral resources do not end up in black marketeer’s coffers !
What is more interesting is the question as to WHO really is asking e-Tailers to target SMEs with their technology products? VCs are !
Why? Because India is a distribution country. In India, 47 million SMEs distribute their wares every day the rough n tough way – using trucks, vans, mopeds, cycles and feet-on-street. If it moves, it sells. Mumbai-based Elephant Paste Products is one such SME that sells Vermicelli products and a host of other affordable food products through a small network of retail shops in Mumbai. None of its consumers or end-users are likely to be going online in the near decade. Pan-India courier logistics firm Pace Projects and Logistics is another such SME that delivers packages of all sizes with promptness, efficiency and customized services to their customers…
What is more interesting is the question as to WHO really is asking e-Tailers to target SMEs with their technology products? VCs are !
Why? Because India is a distribution country. In India, 47 million SMEs distribute their wares every day the rough n tough way – using trucks, vans, mopeds, cycles and feet-on-street. If it moves, it sells. Mumbai-based Elephant Paste Products is one such SME that sells Vermicelli products and a host of other affordable food products through a small network of retail shops in Mumbai. None of its consumers or end-users are likely to be going online in the near decade. Pan-India courier logistics firm Pace Projects and Logistics is another such SME that delivers packages of all sizes with promptness, efficiency and customized services to their customers across several states in India. Mumbai-based SME DM Stores is another corner Kirana store that was until March this year, struggling to make ends meet with its 100 sq-ft leased-out shop inside Mumbai’s biggest dairy colony, Aarey Colony. These SMEs can never comprehend or afford the outrageously expensive SAP / Infosys / Snapdeal / Amazon / eBay built platforms and solutions as these have been designed keeping in mind net-a-holic denizens of India.
What does e-Commerce have to do in all of this?
One wonders, the real answer is NOTHING ! After all, e-Commerce was always supposed to be clean, dreamy, hassle-free shopping from your living room or the bed room, minus the rough n tough ways of India.
Nothing that e-Commerce portends to be one day, has to do with the above. Meant originally as a pureplay B2C endeavour, and struggling to find a working business model, e-Commerce in India is in a sorry state of affairs.
All the VCs know that. As an entrepreneur, I talk with investors daily, who have various inspiring and not-so-inspiring stories to share. E-Commerce is definitely fitting into the latter kind, only because of a gory bubble at its core.
Why wouldn’t Flipkart or its peers do an IPO any time this year or the next? Reason is the lack of a business model, especially with Executive salaries touching multi-Crores and zero profits, it is a matter of time, before aam junta realizes that most of it was really a huge marketing gimmick aimed at building personal fortunes.
“Shop till you Drop” should actually be rephrased as “Shop till we Drop”.
India’s hard-working and often struggling 47 mn SMEs deserve better than quickly hushed-up software or portals where their goods are advertised (with SMEs’ hard earned profits) with the promise of achieving 100% YoY growth.
Is that really possible? India’s 15-20 million engaged online shoppers have really very little to do with what 46.9 mn of these SMEs are selling in India. The barring 0.1 mn SMEs are really the ones who’ve set up shop exclusively to sell online. Thats the real reason why Snapdeal or Flipkart shudder at the thought of anything over 100,000 dealers online on their network.
So, why brag about the Sellers network or the 47mn SMEs figure? So that more funds might latch onto these numbers. Because, rich people know Excel (If x=100,000 valuation=Billion Dollars, if X=47,000,000, VALUATION=Trillion Dollars). Because, it is easy to fool consumers into believing that all is rosy and pink inside Flipkart or Snapdeal’s board rooms, so that they may continue to shop online and expect good Returns handling or good Installation servicing for a lifetime. Little do consumers understand, that once the money runs dry, the phone will stop ringing in Bangalore or Gurgaon call centers and the fake electronics and cheap clothes are soon going to fade away.
“Make hay while the sun shines” seems to be the marketing mantra for our homegrown e-tailers.
So, who then, are the ones who are really positioned to target these 47 mn SMEs?
It is going to be the few innovative firms who don’t like to push quickly put up good-looking-outside-empty-inside software packages down their client’s throats. These firms are pulling all-nighters and working smartly with end-users since their inception to carve out a novel app or a novel report or generate meaningful data that can really save these SMEs operational costs, or uncover hidden insights from their sales or POS data, or help them identify their consumers from hoards of India’s real consumers, rather than fake, face-less online entities that e-Tailers claim to be as loyal shoppers.
e-Tailers are going to struggle to raise their seller numbers beyond 100,000 by devious marketing tactics since India’s SMEs know better – after all, they’ve consumed India’s salt with pride, and understand that real products solve real problems.
And what should VCs do? Consider not squandering valuable HNI and FDI funds in pseudo-business models that barely address 0.2% of India’s GDP, rather look at Gray Routes Innovative Distribution and other such firms that are solving real problems which 100% of India is facing every single day.
P.S. In case you are a VC and are wondering why this last figure isn’t 99.8%, the answer is: Gray Routes’ patent-pending solutions and service plans are context-aware of and quite capable of serving the tiny-yet-growing e-Commerce sector as well ! 🙂
In case you still need the numbers to prove that traditional is a safer investment bet, consider this projection where you invest equal amounts in say, both Flipkart and Gray Routes, and BAAMMM !! 39-years later, e-Commerce finally rules ! 🙂
e-Commerce projected to grow at 30% versus Traditional growing at 10%. In this timeframe, our grandsons would likely be getting into the Venture Capital business long after we’ve retired without seeing a successful EXIT in e-Commerce:
Each product launch can cost anywhere between INR 50 lakhs to 10 Crores upwards. That’s an astounding INR 15,000 – 20,000 Crores or higher worth of consumer surplus gone down the drain each year. That’s almost $ 3-4 Billion wasted – or what HUL or ITC used to do in annual turnover terms up until last year.
Experts suggest need to tweak product design, strategy and development, to fix these multi-billion dollar failures.
Experts mention “strategy” when they want a suave filler word that communicates nothing relevant yet “clicks” with its audience, which happens to be someone from the same industry with similar mind-maps.
So, then is it really down to design and development?
No, here’s why – Everyone in FMCG industry ought to know that new products are essentially 99% of the same old chemicals with a dash of “that special elixir-like herb or new chemical” and a new fragrance in a new package. Only development is in fetching that herb extract, or borrowing a chemical from another product, or changing the packaging vendor.
The real reason lies way deeper than simple design and development tweaks. There is an adage that in FMCG “Jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai”. So, if in a particular month, smelly teenager boys are unable to find Axe Deos on the rack, they’re bound to swing majorly towards WildStone or Engage simply because its cooler, the ads are sexier, and its easily visible on the rack (serving as a POP or POS reminder) when they’re out shopping for college essentials.
Two things are worth noting in the above para – First, trending ads influence purchase decision, and Second, POP or POS reminders matter. Who implements and controls these factors?? Distribution teams of CPG players, and in particular the sales operations desk, typically manned by seasoned field workers and staff who are not particularly adept or capable of the analytical prowess required to handle this increasingly rising volatility, as recently cited by McKinsey.
Hence, when new launches are executed by sales teams, two of several issues prevail:
Alignment of trending ads and stock availability is almost always amiss. So much so that, when the ad bursts really spike, the stores are out of stock or clueless about the presence of such a novelty. Even if the retailers are well informed, following their traditional approach, they’d rather dispose older product stocks before placing the fresh stocks.
Visibility and promotional material meant to serve as POP or POS reminders are usually gathering dust or rotting in distributor godowns as they rarely reach their delivery destinations or even if they do, in a retailer’s stowage, waiting for delayed action by the firm.
There’s hope. At Gray Routes, the experienced and analytical FMCG and industry professionals work hand in hand with some of India’s best engineering talent from IIT Kharagpur, Roorkee, DAIICT, and VIT and leading analytical talent from IIMs at Ahmedabad, Indore, Shillong and Udaipur to invent, design, develop, test and deploy proprietary and intelligent industry tools and platforms which can rid the industry of these multi-billion dollar launch failures, and in the process making new products more affordable and consumers happier !
There’s a multi-billion dollar company that runs on automating the Sales Force, there’s several that run on moving the business processes online, there’s one that runs on automating document sharing, there’s one on automating finances, but there’s one leg of the Supply Chain in every modern firm that is dying for automation – the last mile delivery.
Its a crucial mile, that connects the customers to the products – the “essence” of marketing, as very correctly pointed out during an internal presentation at #GrayRoutes today.
How your products connect with each customer, how they are received by each customer, the issues that arise, the happiness that prevails, or the hassles that remain in returning bad choices – these are important levers to running profit-making sustainable businesses in the modern world.
E-Commerce works by hooking customers up with cool (or hot, as is the case with a few lingerie firms) products using a cool frontend and a not so cool backend – the regular last-mile courier companies – for whom the bread and butter is getting “packages” across.
It is important to understand that beyond mere “packages” lies the “Modern Product Experience” that comes from being able to add a personal touch to the mundane delivery process.
How do you make this mundane delivery step “Cool”. Taking it away from these mundane courier companies portends a likely approach.
DIY: Deliver It Yourself. Lots of billion dollar valued firms do it – try it for once. You won’t regret it. Its our promise – don’t just trust us, trust the valued brands and our customers whom we advise daily.
You can achieve this in a jiffy with Gray Routes’ novel creation GrayDrop – a unique end-to-end delivery automation solution, the World’s first Delivery Force Automation solution – plugs this HUGE gap in the Product experience matrix for modern and online retailers.
Unleashing a better world where the product experience doesn’t just end at the “PAY” button online, where a Vanity bag purchase experience continues into the shopper’s fingertips with the same TLC that a DOLCE & GABBANA retailer would hand it to her.
For GrayDrop enterprise adoption queries, please reach out on email@example.com.
Warm Greetings from Gray Routes Innovative Distribution.
Gray Routes Innovative Distribution presents “Gray Routes Print Ad Contest”, an opportunity for all students from various top colleges across India to create an innovative print ad for Gray Routes’ novel product GrayDrop and …
Grab a Brand New MOTO E .. !!
GrayDrop is a Dynamic Routing Optimization Platform. A solution designed for developing markets catering to the specific needs of last mile product distribution. A solution providing services from Route Planning to GPS Route Navigation. It provides enterprises a smarter way to deliver their products to customers economically, timely, reliably and efficiently to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage in the market. With help of this solution, vehicles will be able to dispatch much larger product volumes and cater to more number of customer, running less number of miles resulting in cost savings.
About the Gray Routes Print Ad Contest:
Ensure that you capture the essence of GrayDrop product while making the print ad. The print ad must be innovative, creative and convey the value proposition of GrayDrop in small crisp sentences. Go crazy! Go creative!
Participants must Register their information in the registration form above to participate in Gray Routes Print Ad Contest. Participants have to create an innovative Print Ad for GrayDrop, a Cloud-based Delivery ERP solution for e-Commerce and Retail Logistics designed by Gray Routes Innovative Distribution. Kindly go through our website for more details about the product.
The participants have to Email their submissions in PNG/JPG or equivalent formats titled “Name_CollegeName” to mail id “firstname.lastname@example.org” with subject“GrayDrop Print Ad contest”.
The participants then have to Visit Gray Routes Twitter page and upload their entries by hash tagging Gray Routes (#GrayRoutes)
All the updates about the contest will be posted on our Facebook pageregularly. Please like the page in order to track your progress in the contest.
The entries for the contest will be accepted till 5th June 2014 5 PM.
All the qualifying entries will be uploaded on our Facebook page by 6th June 2014 11 AM and the participants will have 5 days to promote their entries to get maximum likes and shares. The promotion closes by10th June 2014 11:59 PM.
The winner will be announced on 14th June 2014.
40% weightage to Judges’ evaluation
60% weightage to Re-tweets/Shares and Favorites/Likes to the qualifying entry on Facebook and Twitter pages
i. Each Re-tweet/Share on the Twitter/FB post will get 5 points, provided the participant Likes/Follows the FB/Twitter page.
ii. Each Favorite/Like on the Twitter/FB post will get 3 points, provided the participant Likes/Follows the FB/Twitter page.
For Queries, contact:
Dipak : 8415922041
Karthick : 8415921231
Swati : 8415921271
Ritesh : 8415922054
Thanks and Regards,
Gray Routes Innovative Distribution
I love the concept of disruptive innovation, so much so that I have decided to coin a moniker “Disruptivation” for it. Well, its actually used on and off by some people, though its still not a word as per Oxford dictionary. I thought the word was catchy, as it not only effectively suggested both the component words – disruptive, something that is outlandishly and weirdly different, and innovation, something that is composed of already available things yet useful in a novel way – but was also rhyming with motivation, another one of my fav words.
I am of the firm view that it is mandatory to be motivated internally in whatever task you pick up, if you want to do it well. This is opposed to the counter-belief that several industries like financial services especially investment banking are founded on – “external motivation can prove to be equally effective”. Not trying to point out the devil here, but the aforesaid is an example of an industry that thrives on hiding truths from gullible consumers/customers due to vested monetary interests of a few rich men. Then there are those industries, that do very much the same to a wider set of gullible consumers, but keeping in mind the vested monetary interests of a very large shareholder base.
In case it wasn’t clear which industry the second example above was referring to – I was talking about the marketing arm of consumer goods firms, who mix and match packaging elements to create that mesmerizing Zeroeth Moment of Truth for which they can charge double/triple the price for effectively the same set of chemicals Eg. Cadbury Silk which is essentially the same mixture with a 1-2 degrees lower melting point, or Ponds Age Miracle which is barely different from the F & Lovely creams that are priced at a fraction.
What then is an industry that will give you an opportunity to work for some cause or purpose for which you can be internally motivated. To understand the answer, we need to understand that the purpose of life is to make the world a better place. We can do so by creating better ways of doing mundane jobs, making them more interesting, easier, and faster, so that people can then focus on doing higher quality tasks, that merit better livelihoods. Case in point is last mile logistics – developing innovative tools and solutions that intelligently automate deliveries, customer mapping, pricing and shopping activities, giving consumers, retailers, sales reps, all common people more time and energy to enjoy and earn rights to a happier life – finally ridden of all daily planning and supervisory issues. To give you an example of what is disruptive innovation, consider what the biggest MNCs today consider as innovative features and services – Eg. TrackDart by Blue Dart – a mere search box on each page for tracking courier packages ! Thats ridiculously pointless … at Gray Routes, we have created image processing algorithms in our Retail ERP solution that can analyze images to separate out relevant portions, split every invoice into its components and analyze and index them separately, now that is intelligent automation which is disruptive !
To all the new joinees from campuses across the country – Welcome to Gray Routes ! A happy family of sorts that works diligently on solutions that create meaningful energy, save valuable human and fuel resources, organize world’s information, and get better value products to more people in an Earth-friendly way:
GrayDrop – saving human and fuel resources while making daily work routes safer and quicker
GeoVitas – Scientifically organizing world’s information visually as well as geographically, all at once
GoStocky – Getting better value products to more people and vendors in a paper-less way
and many more to come …
I believe “commitment” is the process of internalizing all motivation that is external, and making it a part of your internal motivation framework. Take this external motivation from me – that what you do will possibly save lives, improve livelihoods and increase access to better products, facilities and infrastructure; and make it a part of your internal energy. Become “committed” to the purpose, as it is a damn good purpose to live by.
Winter is the season for passionate people ! Why so? It is easy to shine
through in all your endeavours if you are goaded by an internal fire to do something remarkable despite harshness of or induced laziness from external conditions.
So, while the rest of the community takes in the cool evening breeze, and slumbers away the mornings under layers of their choicest wool, it is time for those few passionate and analytical minds to make hay even when the sun shies away !
Winter is the time for festivities, for family, and for friends. Celebrations rule the roost, and work takes a backseat for most.
Au contraire, it is also a time when growth plans for next year are taking seed, when all hard work shines through easily, and gives the diligent worker the definite edge to begin next year with a headstart.
What makes it further interesting is the fact that days are shorter than ever, and the dichotomy wider than ever !
I’ve been following Tradebriefs FMCG/Retail newsletter since 2011 some time into my National Project Manager role at HUL, long after Sreekumar had identified FMCG newsgroup as a meaningful pain point in 2008.
2 years hence, he’s featured in 500 Startups, and ETRetail is out with its me-too competitive offering for this new digital-age “commodity”.
Innovation will be key in competing in this space, and this is where I feel Sreekumar does a really smart job.
Case in point, being the “Recent subscribers” section on the homepage, which he’s managed through leveraging Linkedin.
Imagine ETRetail doing the same – trying to get users to log on to ET/Times portal or create a Linkedin group and start all over!
Linkedin user base has provided him a clear winning strategic asset from Day 0, which should help him keep the biggies at bay !