TRACKING UNAUTHORIZED DEALERS AT SHEELA FOAM
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