Avneesh Chhabra is the sixth generation to join his family business, a company that has been trading since 1840. In the 1980s, their Baby Saffron brand seized opportunities for differentiation within a challenging market and is now one of the leading saffron producers in India.
“When my father joined the company in the 1980s, Baby Saffron was a small cottage industry-style company,” says Avneesh, Managing Partner. “But he focused on innovation and product quality rather than price competitiveness. This won us some large deals and suddenly we were outgrowing our existing production facilities.”
Today, Baby Saffron has state-of-the-art production facilities that produce high-quality saffron for distribution across India. The company is growing 20% year-on-year and besides large-scale bulk orders, retails more than 10 million retail packs a year.
The vision at Baby Saffron is to increase the demand for saffron by positioning it as a daily-use product rather than the niche spice it is today. But to deepen the reach of the product, Baby Saffron’s team needed to first gain a deeper understanding of their end-consumers.
As demand for the product grew, Avneesh also realised that he needed to streamline the existing distribution processes and network for growth.
“We had more than 200 distributors across the country, but no visibility into where our product actually ended up,” details Avneesh. Baby Saffron did not know who the end-consumer was and how pricing and margins rose and fell along the distribution chain. Often, the product was stockpiled by distributors and traded like a commodity, hitting the brand image as well.
“We had no answers to basic questions – how well is our product selling in retail stores? At what price point is it being sold? Who is buying our product?”
Avneesh knew that it was time to spice things up with an integrated platform that would help monitor and streamline distribution. And Salesforce was the answer to his needs.
“Our distributors are not tech-savvy and I knew that they would resist complex technology,” he says. “Salesforce is the best CRM solution in the market because of its easy usability and intuitive interface. It also generates multiple reports that facilitate data-driven decisions at the click of a button.”
Implementing Salesforce has transformed Baby Saffron’s distribution network.
“Before using Salesforce, we were unable to optimise the performance of our sales reps,” exclaims Avneesh. “Without automated data collection, we relied on manual reports of locations covered in a day, number of meetings with distributors, etc.”
This information was often incomplete and inaccurate, and the management team had no visibility into actual sales activity on the ground.
Implementing Salesforce allowed the management team to monitor sales activity across all direct and indirect channels. Sales reps now input activity data into the Salesforce app, which also tracks their movement, allowing managers to monitor customer interactions and sales rep coverage respectively. This has given Avneesh full visibility into sales activities, but more importantly, he is now confident of scaling easily.
“I now have a transparent and efficient view across the sales teams and am ready to onboard more sales reps to service our growing business,” he says. In fact, more than 15,000 retailers have been on-boarded on Salesforce in just three months.
The Salesforce platform is also helping Baby Saffron better monitor their distributors using customised dashboards that offer a single source of data around the distributor relationship.
Avneesh can track the amount of stock distributors have on hand at any given time, thus preventing them from stockpiling or driving up prices. This has forced distributors to be more accountable. And insights around distributor performance are improving the distributor relationship.
“Using Salesforce, we are able to build up a complete picture of our presence in selected markets. This is powerful data”
Baby Saffron is also using Salesforce to offer smarter service to end-consumers. Avneesh deployed a retailer mapping project, where sales reps in some of their largest markets mapped the retail outlets where the product was available. “Using Salesforce, we were able to build up a complete picture of our presence in those markets,” he says. “This is powerful data.
“We have mapped 14,000 stores in one state. If a consumer from a small town reaches out to us, we can point them to the nearest store where our product is available. Ultimately we’re servicing our end-consumers better.”
By the end of this project, Avneesh hopes to have mapped out 200,000 stores across India.
Ultimately, the Baby Saffron team aims to develop a better understanding of their customers through data, and thus develop more customer-centric products while driving more leads for the sales team.
Avneesh also explains how retailer mapping is helping access competitive insight. Using granular store feedback at the SKU-level, the team is able to track how their products perform against competitors across pricing and presence. “Such competitive insights will help us plan campaigns to target gaps in the market, and nurture our end-consumers more effectively,” says Avneesh.