TRACK­ING UNAU­THO­RIZED DEAL­ERS AT SHEELA FOAM

CRN - - COVER STORY - — Srikanth RP

Sheela Foam is one of the largest man­u­fac­tur­ers of mat­tresses. Unau­tho­rized deal­ers used to in­crease their cus­tomer foot­falls by keep­ing its Sleep­well brand of prod­ucts, but they would then ei­ther try to con­vert the cus­tomer to some other brand by talk­ing neg­a­tively about Sleep­well or of­fer heavy dis­counts on Sleep­well prod­ucts to spoil au­tho­rized prod­uct sell­ing. This cre­ated a neg­a­tive brand im­age in the cus­tomer’s mind, which in turn re­sulted in loss of sales and cre­ated dis­sat­is­fac­tion among au­tho­rized deal­ers.

Pertisth Manko­tia, Head, IT, Sheela Foam, ex­plains the chal­lenge of unau­tho­rized sell­ing. “We have ab­so­lutely no con­trol over unau­tho­rized deal­ers, and their num­bers are also huge. We can only stop ma­te­rial flow­ing into their shops. Al­though we use MRP la­bels which carry unique prod­uct se­rial num­bers, the unau­tho­rized deal­ers tam­per with the la­bel, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to track the sup­ply source.”

To outsmart them the com­pany in­tro­duced RFID tags. The RFID tech­nol­ogy was in­te­grated with its home-grown ERP Great­plus so that the same unique prod­uct num­ber could be stored for pro­duc­tion slip gen­er­a­tion and the MRP la­bel.

Hand­held mo­bile de­vices with RFID read­ers were then pro­vided to mys­tery cus­tomers so that they could carry the same to an unau­tho­rized dealer to col­lect on­line the unique prod­uct num­bers of the mat­tresses. Once at the shop, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the hand­held de­vice and Sheela Foam’s server was es­tab­lished so that a prod­uct’s iden­tity based on the unique se­rial num­ber could be traced.

Once the se­rial num­ber was thus col­lected the dis­patch his­tory of the prod­uct’s move­ment could also be known, and the prod­uct’s sup­ply source— the dis­trib­u­tor or dealer who sold the prod­uct to the unau­tho­rized dealer—could be iden­ti­fied. On iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of this dis­trib­u­tor or dealer the com­pany pe­nal­ized him.

Af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of the hand­held de­vice the com­pany has been able to con­trol unau­tho­rized sell­ing to a great ex­tent.

“We used to lose 5–7 per­cent of Sleep­well sales due to unau­tho­rized sell­ing; this amounted to at least ` 25 crore per an­num. Sleep­well op­er­ates with a mar­gin of 15, thus im­pact­ing our bot­tom-line by ` 3.75 crore which can now be added back,” in­forms Manko­tia.

We used to lose 5–7 per­cent of Sleep­well sales due to unau­tho­rized sell­ing. This amounted to at least 25 crore per an­num

PERTISTH MANKO­TIA

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