Being able to properly identify your customers is the cornerstone of a successful and rigorous go to market strategy. It lays out the foundation on which you can afterwards perform a segmentation of the outlets, define the territories, the sales infrastructure required to cover this territory, in terms of distributors, sales rep, etc. Traditional trade in Africa is made up of small shops that operate on small capitalisation, and can therefore go bankrupt, or close because of seasonality effect (agents closing to go harvesting for example). While some companies will contract an external agency to do a one-time census exercise, we believe it is better to run it internally leveraging a software solution provided to the field agents to be able to constantly update it. The only justification of having an external eye on it is if the current sales teams are too busy focusing on sales, and need to be challenged with an external objective view on the universe size.
From our experience, these are the key dimensions that need to be collected when identifying a retailer on the field:
Outside / Inside picture
Type of shop. Use the classification that makes sense to you with specific options
Product categories sold. This is useful to make sure these outlets sell similar products as yours.
GPS localization. Make sure the accuracy is below 10 meters
Shop owner contact details: email address, phone, name
Shop assistant contact details: email address, phone, name
Unique identifier. It can be an agent code, or a number specific to your business to be used as a primary key
Address description. Plain text indication of where to find the shop as the street address might not be accurate
District / City
Equipment presence, such as fridge, cooler, etc.
Branding / Shelves / Hanger picture
Each attribute can be marked as mandatory or optional based on their importance in your database. We recommend putting as mandatory at least these:
Unique identifier. Agent code or phone number
Obviously, it is much simpler to capture all those details directly through a mobile application to have accurate information and to ensure the captured information reflects on the cloud-stored version of the overall database.
With the FieldPro app, you even have the ability to add custom attributes to identify your retailers if those above are not enough. You can also define any of these attributes to be unique, preventing the user to register a retailer twice and generating duplicates. Once synchronised, this data can be seen online through the web app by the manager or by all field users.