The watch industry has gone through some significant changes in the past few years. While smartphones have made wristwatches a rare sight among youth and young adults, the recent introduction of smart watches has rekindled interest in the classic accessory as a flavor of wearable electronics and an extension of the smartphone.
Online commerce has introduced another major change to the way in which watches are sold, and these new sales and marketing channels put significant pressure on traditional retailers, distributors and wholesalers to keep up. Consumers have direct and immediate access to retailers worldwide – they are better informed, able to compare prices and make smarter purchasing decisions based on the wealth of information at their fingertips. Similarly, retailers and distributors have simpler, faster access to manufacturers and wholesalers through B2B sales and fulfillment technologies.
But what does this mean to sales operations? Of course, manufacturers need to figure out their smart watch strategy. Yet, even more importantly, the changes in technologies, buyer expectations, and new sales channels create significant pressure on prices and margins. The price/margin pressure requires manufacturers to find ways to streamline their operations, become more efficient, and reduce costs.
The following are the four trends we think will define the next few years in watch industry sales operations:
#1 PoS Inventory Management: Minimize Dead Inventory, Plan Production
As watches are high-value fashion-sensitive items, inventory and sell-through visibility are key for watch manufacturers. While most ERP systems track inventory levels at the manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor level, tracking PoS inventory is a challenge. Recent developments in field sales and merchandising technology enable PoS inventory taking, giving management full sell-through visibility and a complete understanding of inventory levels throughout the supply chain.
#2 B2B e-commerce: Self-Service as a Channel
Today’s savvy consumer is accustomed to gathering all of his/her information online before making a purchase. The B2C e-commerce experience is completely streamlined: the user finds the desired item, researches the product details, understands the time it will take for delivery, and sees the total cost of the purchase. With the click of a button, he or she makes the purchase. The same process is becoming available to B2B buyers who can access self-service channels through both online and mobile storefronts with the B2B product catalog available to them 24/7.
#3 Field sales reps’ role is changing
Watch brand manufacturers and distributors find that with the adoption of automated order taking in the field, sales reps’ visits can focus on retailer relationship management and new product introduction. Furthermore, the introduction of a self-service channel allows sales reps to focus on the large, strategic orders and plan customer visits accordingly: sales reps can visit more retailers, focus on the ones that matter - and most importantly, devote time to developing new business.
#4 Better control and visibility for management
As watch brands work to alleviate pressure on price margins, streamlining operations becomes a priority. Sales reps time is expensive, so making the most of it is key. Sales managers must find ways to ensure that their field sales reps are working as efficiently as possible.
Mobile sales tools provide managers better control over their salesforces, and provide increased visibility into sales rep performance. For example, mobile sales apps allow managers to utilize geo-planning tools to create efficient routes for their team based on physical location and business needs of customers. Through the data collected in these mobile apps, managers can have full visibility into each rep’s daily activities and performance.
When it comes to creating a lean and productive sales force, the more data and insight managers have the more they will be able to drive their sales teams to maximum efficiency, reducing costs and improving profitability for the company.