One of the key diﬀerentiators of a successful FMCG player is the strength of its distribution network. A complex distribution network, having wide geographical footprint, brings along with it unique set of challenges - the most relevant of which is perhaps to ensure a predictable, high quality consumption experience to its end-consumer. Most of the top FMCG players are aware that the distribution challenge is not limited to merely delivering the products to the retailers; it is the form in which the products are delivered to the end-consumer that has a dening implication on the moment of truth.
The challenge becomes overwhelming; particularly for temperature-sensitive products such as perishable frozen food items and beverages that require temperature control for storage. The consumer gratication associated with these products is predominantly sensory related and any unwarranted variation in color, texture or taste is unacceptable. One of the ways, in which FMCG companies have attempted to tackle this, is by providing retail outlets with refrigerators or visi-coolers. The companies provide these coolers free-of-cost and also take responsibility of their maintenance and servicing. Besides the regular use, these coolers oﬀer an added advantage - that of being an ideal branding piece, owing to their prominent visibility (hence the name visi-cooler).
While the visi-coolers appear to be an ideal solution for ensuring healthy shelf-life of frozen products, they are also capital equipment susceptible to malfunction that has to be addressed promptly to ensure they serve the intended purpose in a cost eﬀective manner. The common issues range from maintenance to ensuring that the retailer is indeed using the equipment regularly. Another major concern is that of missing coolers – a result of unauthorised change of hands (of the cooler) at the retailer’s end. Thus the FMCG companies which have provided such coolers/refrigerators to retailers nd themselves facing a new set of challenges concerning the monitoring of these rather expensive assets. Since the onus of maintenance rests on the company, it results into added cost pressure on the already margin-stressed distribution chain. The cost of periodic manual monitoring and untargeted servicing is a burden which the FMCG players cannot aﬀord. The FMCG companies now need a smart solution that can address these monitoring needs, that too remotely.