Today we speak to Paramdeep Singh Anand, CEO of FieldAssist to understand how FieldAssist is shaping the B2B SaaS industry through its innovative product offerings.
Read the complete interview:
TechGraph: Could you help give a sense of how far FieldAssist has come since its existence? From when it began to where it is now?
Paramdeep Singh Anand: Quite far, indeed. We started our journey in 2014 with one client and a sales force automation application at a nascent stage. Today, we have over 550 clients including brands like Haldiram’s, Eureka, Forbes, Philips, Wipro, Nivea, Marico, Jockey, Everest, and many others in more than ten countries in Asia and Africa.
Our Sales Force Automation application is highly advanced and amplified with a deep analytics application, online and rural distributor management system, and an application for modern retail, all packed with the latest technologies and vast features that are transforming the route-to-market capabilities of consumer brands.
We have over 150 people on our team, inclusive of talent par excellence from leading institutes like IIT, IIM, NIT, ITM, and VIT among others. Many members of our team had been former entrepreneurs as well. Not just in employees we are growing rapidly in revenue as well, approximately 70% year-on-year.
TechGraph: How is FieldAssist leveraging technology to enhance the distributor’s experience?
Paramdeep Singh Anand: For any brand, distributors are their biggest brand ambassadors. They may spend millions on promotions, offering great discounts and schemes but if the distributor’s experience with the brand is disappointing then they have lost the game already. By experience I mean tedious, monotonous procedures, complicated paperwork, delayed deliveries, and long, unsettled claims going on for months. Experience is everything here.
Working with our customers very closely, we identified various gaps in the last-mile deliveries. A sales force automation tool could very well give visibility on the secondary sales, but the lack of accurate and real-time data between primary and secondary orders hampered both brand’s visibility and top line.
In a wide distribution network in the Indian market, where we have distributors sitting in almost every nook and corner, we understood we have to make a platform that is easy to adopt, that can untangle the complexities, and that is scalable.
With FieldAssist Distributor Management System we are empowering distributors with a platform that accelerates their processes multifold and provides them visibility of the progress in real-time, be it placing purchase orders or finding the status of the orders placed. Definitely, it is a revolution we are making in the distributor community and we have a long way to go.
Yet, seeing more second-generation distributors embracing the technology confidently and conveniently is making us all the more optimistic and passionate about the transformation we are bringing. With the potential to empower over 30,000 distributors with technology this year, we are building and engaging the technology-powered distributor network.
Even for our partner brands, the transformation is palpable in the way processes have become smoother, relationships have become better and brand presence has become much stronger. Because everything is processed on a single platform by both parties, less time and effort are wasted on unnecessary communications and procedures.
To exemplify, the claims raised by distributors are settled within days which used to take 4-6 months otherwise. With the help of machine learning and advanced algorithms, our platform is helping distributors replenish their inventory with minimal effort in tracking and managing.
TechGraph: When it comes to products offering, FieldAssist has gone beyond Sales Force Automation and App for Field Sales to Distributor Management systems. But, do you see these categories becoming leading revenue contributors?
Paramdeep Singh Anand: We have expanded from Sales Force Automation to Distributor Management System and will be expanding further in the near future. The technologies we are building are aimed to help consumer brands understand, integrate and empower relationships in the entire ecosystem, and that begins with bringing them complete visibility of their sales and distribution. The scope is huge.
When we talk about sales channels, be they traditional or modern retail, growth is imminent. General retail in particular is expected to grow 10% each year, reaching $2 trillion by 2032. The same goes for modern retail which is accelerating at a rather faster pace. Over the next 3-5 years, the share of modern retail, including e-commerce, is expected to increase anywhere between thirty and thirty-five percent.
With this growth in mind and the speed, intelligence and connectivity promised by technology, the eminence of SFA, DMS, ModMart, and connected applications will only advance from here. Even more, considering the FMCG sector has a growing network of direct distributors amounting to over 100,000. The majority of this network still remains unconnected to the consumer brands’ automated platforms.
TechGraph: How is technology transforming the sales space? Do you think the trend had taken hold even before the smartphone-induced disruptions?
Paramdeep Singh Anand: The consumer goods industry is complex but commendable, especially when it comes to sales. There are 13 million grocery retail outlets in India serving the FMCG market size of USD 110 billion. There are an additional 22,000 modern retail outlets, accounting for up to fifteen percent of consumer goods sales.
Further, there’s a vast fleet of salesmen forging connections with the complex distribution network of the FMCG brands and their retailers. Every day, a single salesman covers almost 30 outlets. If every transaction processed across the chain were to be recorded on paper and processed to extract data, imagine how gruesome it would be. This was the reality until technology entered the picture.
Today, every transaction be it between a salesman and retailer, or a retailer and distributor, or a distributor and salesman are recorded on one platform, albeit with different applications. Although it begins with recording, its brilliance of it is seen in what comes ahead.
First, the interface makes it so simple to process any transaction from taking orders by salesmen using intuitive selling features to managing inventory and invoices by distributors to completing a store check with automatic real-time analysis by in-store executives- everything is processed within minutes.
For managers, information about all these transactions is available in real-time with ready insights. No extra effort is spent in filtering excel sheets and preparing reports. All data is remarkably presented in a snackable format to formulate and execute strategies in minimal time. Every day, 100,000 users reach 7.5 million outlets with the FieldAssist platform, using innovative features like FA Flo and FA Near Peer to amplify sales for their brands.
All this was unimaginable over a decade ago. Before smartphones were rampant, many multi-million-dollar companies had devices of different kinds to record sales. However, those were costlier and tedious to manage and were limited to very few organizations.
TechGraph: What are the new trends in the SaaS industry?
Paramdeep Singh Anand: The biggest trend is the growing interest and trust in the SaaS industry. The amount of money invested in SaaS companies in 2021 spiked three times that of 2020. That does not mean the trust was unmet. In fact, in 2021, over 35 SaaS companies recorded over $20 million in annual recurring revenue. With that kind of investment and growth, it is obvious the industry would want to sustain, accelerate and amplify growth with innovations.
The technologies we are riding on in the SaaS industry are in fact a trend in itself. IoT, computer edge, AI and ML with predictive capabilities, cybersecurity, web 3, and immersive reality technologies. All owing to the growing demand for hybrid work models, digital connectivity in the supply chain, and the upcoming wave of industry 4.0. The most prominent trend however still remains to connect digital applications to promote faster processes and forge stronger relationships with the entire ecosystem.
TechGraph: What is FieldAssist’s growth trajectory?
Paramdeep Singh Anand: Upwards, to sum in one word. During the early years of FieldAssist, we built up our sales force application to amplify the shift of consumer brands from being a cost center to becoming a profit center. In that journey, we upgraded our application from roughly ten features to over a hundred and upwards.
As more consumer brands started trusting our platform, we kept up our progress of identifying critical problems in the industry and building up our platform further with deep analytics, intuitive abilities, and quick visualization capabilities to accelerate the growth of CPG brands. In the last three years, we have launched some remarkable features like FA Flo, FA Near Peer, Safalta, Beat-o-meter, and many others that have led to double-digit growth for CPG brands.
To enable brands to keep up with the turbulent pandemic times, we launched Contactless SFA, ensuring the seamless sales process continues. We have expanded from one country to more than 10 and counting. And from one product, FA SFA, to 10+ products, including the recently launched FA ModMart.
Today, we are at an inflection point of our journey, being a Proud Partner to Great Brands – more than 550 brands from enterprises to new-age startups. We are standing strong as a bootstrapped company expecting an annual revenue of $4 million in this financial year.
TechGraph: What are the latest developments at FieldAssist?
Paramdeep Singh Anand: Last quarter, we launched ModMart, our deep analytics platform for consumer brands to help them ace their in-store execution in modern retail outlets. This quarter, we have already launched our new website and the campaign, Proud Partner to Great Brands.
Ever since we have been celebrating our association with great brands of today and tomorrow with our interview series and podcasts. As a SaaS brand that is building technology for emerging economies, we are widely expanding in the African continent where companies can leverage the power of automation to amplify their sales processes.