Unilever Ghana Ltd has deployed a mobile application (Mobile App), an important resource that is helping the company to manage its inventories through precision sales and distribution of products.
LeverEdge is a custom-made software installed on smartphones and other hand-held devices of Unilever sales force.
It has such features as the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates for all shops that they sell to and this helps in undertaking efficient sales and distribution to stores and wholesale outlets.
“The software can prompt the sales person that in this shop, the person bought a carton of Keysoap last week, and enough of Close-up. By now they should have run out of Pepsodent, so check it. It keeps data on behalf of the salesman,” the Managing Director of Unilever Ghana, Ms Maidie Arkutu, told the Daily Graphic in Accra, shortly after the company’s annual general meeting (AGM).
The MobileApp essentially enables the Unilever head office to monitor the movement of the sales force. It also allows the sales team to do optimum supply and distribution based on market demand analysis for retail outlets any time.
According to the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturer, the mobileApp can prompt the sales force of possible items they may forget to supply, thereby helping to increase the range of products in a shop.
“This goes for every single shop that we supply to and all our distributors have the software on their smartphones or hand-held devices. We believe this will make a significant difference and positive impact on our business,” Ms Arkutu said.
The Vice President for West Africa, Mr Luc-Olivier Marquet, explained that the application was fully integrated with the company’s information technology system and that of the shops, aiding the company to maintain inventories evenly across outlets and distributor stores, as well as control it from the factory.
“This helps us to be more reactive to products based on trends of sales, and eventually to control sales. If we want to get a long-term sustainable growth, it is really important to get control of inventories that we have in every outlet.”
Controlling inventories in outlets is very important to FMCG companies having sustainable growth pattern, because when there are too many inventories on the market, performance could be checkered year-on-year.
Although the economic environment was harsh for the company, Unilever saw a recovery in sales in the last quarter of 2014, which had continued into the first quarter of the year.
Total revenue went up by 26.9 per cent from GH¢323.4 million in 2013 to GH¢410.5 million, although the company was hard hit by the impact of the local currency’s depreciation.
Home-care products grew by 32 per cent, personal care recorded 23.5 per cent growth with the foods category registering 11.5 per cent growth in 2014 over the last year.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr Ishmael Yamson, said measures implemented to improve operational efficiency and cost cutting helped the company to salvage its loss after tax to GH¢710,000, an improvement from the GH¢14 million loss after tax it posted in 2013.
“This turnaround in performance has been underpinned by our renewed focus on high profitable brands and continuous improvement in internal processes that have enhanced flexibility and speed of reacting to market dynamics,” Mr Yamson said.