African FMCG leader transforms food sales and distribution with Claris FileMaker
Promasidor developed a multilingual, easily customizable, in-house-built FileMaker application to manage retailers and distributors in multiple African countries.
20 February 2023
FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods): food production, sales and distribution across 30 countries in Africa.
Transform retail management and improve efficiency by using precise data from point of sale (POS) systems from all regions, including those with scarce internet coverage. Enable different use scenarios depending on various regulatory and economic realities. Be autonomous in IT tool development and be able to adapt quickly in VUCA* market conditions
Multilingual, easily customizable, in-house-built FileMaker application deployed to manage retailers and distributors in multiple African countries.
Built-in modules to manage sales-related transactions and marketing campaigns.
Cost-effective IT tools help sales processes adjust to fast-paced market changes;
Quality supervision of sales processes and resources;
Straightforward setup that is adjustable to the regulatory requirements and field realities of each country;
Real-time data integration in decision-making cycle;
Logistics and sales optimized regardless of retailer locations;
Easy, efficient deployment in new countries.
*VUCA: Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity
Innovative ideas for initiating reach-out to distant regions
Founded 35 years ago with a mission to distribute quality, affordable food to the general population in Africa, Promisador is a leading African beverage and food product provider that caters to 850 million people in 30 countries.
We are a 100% African company operating exclusively on the African continent. It has always been like this and always will be – we are really dedicated to these markets and we know them very well. We work with an approach that we call multi-local – every country and every subsidiary has great autonomy. Delays caused by centralized decision-making processes are reduced, so decisions are not only quicker, but also closer to the market.
Serge De Pauw, Group ICT Director
When Serge joined the company about 20 years ago as an IT department manager in its Nigerian office, he was already familiar with FileMaker and its rapid application development environment. First used as a basic assets management tool to keep track of IT equipment, the platform was expanded for use in various departments, at first to automate their key processes, and finally to develop their flagship application – a typical Sales Force Automation (SFA) solution to get visibility and gain a certain level of control over the salesforce in the field.
In the African environment, there are lots of areas where the internet connection is slow, unreliable, or even nonexistent. There are some regions where salespeople gather on Saturdays, load slightly larger vehicles with stock, and then go on the road for a week to very distant places. In these conditions, being able to provide POS systems with some information – like up-to-date pricelists – was quite a challenge.
“Before being able to do it via an application, we would have to edit pricelists in Excel, print the lists and send them out. Later, they started using email, but it wasn’t very efficient”, says Serge.
It was also important to get products to hard-to-access regions, so route planning and keeping records of all customers needed to be optimized as well.
Embrace the continent using digital transformation
Target users of the application are salespeople in the field. They are all equipped with mobile devices, which they use to record transactions related to selling products – payments, balances for accounting, transferring of stock, and reporting which products are needed, to name a few.
They must be able to be totally independent and work entirely offline due to the specificity of their location, sometimes for a week at a time, and then synchronize the data afterwards, once they have a connection again.
Information that gets put into the centralized database can then be accessed in the offices and by distributors – each based on their personalized needs and rights – to be used in decision-making when it comes to commercial management and marketing. This circles back into the field in the form of new pricelists, promotions and bundles, and sales volume targets, and it can all be received on the mobile devices in the field by sales representatives.
This circular approach added more efficiency to operations and helped Promasidor optimize routes, time spent in the field, and shop coverage.
In-house development and ROI in VUCA conditions
Running a profitable business entails selecting cost-effective IT tools to support it. Unsurprisingly, the management challenged Serge and his team: how does the profitability of using FileMaker and developing an IT solution in-house compare to buying a ready-made solution?
Taking this challenge as an opportunity to compare solutions that were on the market at that point, the IT team listed high-level features that needed to be available and easily adaptable for the particularities of the African market — things like changing needs, changing markets, and users not always being aware of their needs.
The numbers spoke for themselves — considerable savings were achieved by using an in-house solution developed using FileMaker rather than a ready-made third-party solution.
Minds change when they see how much we can do with a small team. We wouldn’t be doing development ourselves if we didn’t have a tool like FileMaker — it never took more than a handful of people to build the solution. This is important because of cost, obviously. But to me, as IT manager, what is even more important here in Africa, is to stay in control of solutions.
Serge De Pauw
The plans of Promasidor are ambitious: expanding to new countries; opening new outlets; pushing efficiency improvement even further by programming more efficient routing, and vehicle loading patterns; and creating sales campaigns even closer to the market of each particular region.
Using FileMaker gives them the competitive advantage of being able to react quicker to the needs of the users and the market.
It’s really a must-have and definitely a key element for us to use FileMaker. It’s powerful and allows us to do a lot, and in a very simple and light way.
Serge De Pauw
Learn more about how Claris FileMaker can help you scale your business – get in touch!