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How route optimisation delivers your favourite beer

Wednesday 28 November 2018 Field Force Planning

David Jones's picture
By David Jones

A product launch is always a very exciting time for a solution-provider, especially when the new product is a quantum-leap away from the existing offering. That is exactly where we find ourselves at CACI as we embark on the release of our fantastic new routing solution in January 2019.

Not a lick of paint on the UI, or a little tweak to the optimisation algorithm, but a complete overhaul of the way it looks and operates. This is most definitely revolution not evolution.
Our current desktop solution, CallSmart, was released in its original guise in 2004, and has had many evolutionary steps forward in the years up until now.

Recalling the days of 2004, and by way of comparison, most of us were listening to a limited selection of CDs on oversized units – now, just 14 years later we are listening to a virtually unlimited selection of music across a range of connected devices throughout our homes, cars and on the move. How things have changed, and CallSmart needs to keep up with progress.

Technology offers, and people expect, solutions that are connected, flexible, powerful, intuitive and convenient. These are some of the key concepts that underpin our new CallSmart solution.

The importance of responsive routing was made clear to me only this weekend when I popped to my local supermarket to pick up some beer for the weekend. Having become rather partial to a bottle or two of The Black Sheep Brewery’s Milk Stout, I walked down the beer aisle only to be faced with this depressing sight:

 

 

I returned on Saturday and Sunday (no, I’m not sad, just very close to the shop!), and still nothing on the shelf. Now, I don’t know whether there was no Milk Stout in the stock room, or none in the store at all. But if there was some in store that just hadn’t been brought out, sending a rep there on Friday to fill the shelves, and give the Beer & Wine section leader a nudge about doing it in future may well have netted me my prize. It would also result in my money, and possibly many others’ money, finding its way to The Black Sheep Brewery’s coffers too.

So, what has the lack of dark Yorkshire ale got to do with a new, shiny routing solution – well, it all revolves around those key aspects of connectivity, flexibility, power, intuitiveness and convenience.

Connectivity

CallSmart can work with sales data and workforce management platforms to save you time, money and effort. This creates a technological ecosystem enabling store issues to be flagged up, a new route created, and this to be visible to the rep out on the road in very short time.

 

Flexibility

In Stewart Moody’s recent blog, he highlighted that CPG companies are seeking a range of different types of sales call cycle – some are in line with traditional milk-round methods (static), some are focussed on realising medium-term store opportunity (agile), and some are wanting to deal with short-term store issues (dynamic). Some may also want some combination of these three approaches – CallSmart is now geared up to handle all eventualities.

 

Power

One of the things that hasn’t changed is the fundamental reason for route optimisation – to get reps to drive less and spend more time in store and increase call rates. In CACI’s recent study, route optimisation was found to reduce driving by 17% - this could have freed up the time for the rep to make an extra call to my local store and resolve the stock issue. Many improvements have been made to the optimiser in CallSmart, including how calls are prioritised, and allowing multiple optimisations to be run at once rather than queued, so even better routes can now be created even more rapidly.

 

Intuitiveness

When so many potential software users are now so used to using the internet and well-designed apps, a good UI and, hence, UX, is critical. A recent study from Forrester Research* demonstrates the importance of UI and UX. Given the findings, it’s not too big a step to understand why a lot of emphasis has been put on these for CallSmart, especially when bearing in mind that routing may well not solely be expedited centrally, as it has been previously, but could well be carried out by reps in the field. Adoption, and ease of use, is paramount.

 

Convenience

This last point about who will do the routing, and where, is important. In previous years, a user would have to access the company’s hardware infrastructure, whether that be a PC or server, to produce routes. This is potentially very restrictive. CallSmart now enables a myriad of users to use the software wherever they have internet access. Another factor to help companies increase their ability to respond to events.

So, we’re just a couple of months away from its official launch, but CallSmart is ready right now for you to have a preview of it in all its glory. If you would like to do this over a coffee (or a Milk Stout), please get in touch. Cheers!

 

*The Bottom Line: Why Good UX Design Means Better Business - Forbes.com

David Jones recently had a horrible experience when his favourite beer was out of stock.If only a field sales rep had been to the store to check availability! From this experience comes a relaunched version of CallSmart our field force route optimisation software, now in the Cloud so it is more connected, flexible, powerful, intuitive and convenient.

How route optimisation delivers your favourite beer