How to Become a Successful Distributor in the FMCG Sector

The Fast Moving Consumer Goods or the FMCG sector is a place where goods are sold at a relatively low price and includes products which sell out much quicker than other products. They mostly keep perishable items as opposed to durable items. For example, packaged foods, beverages, toiletries, over-the-counter drugs etc.; whereas durable items include kitchen appliances, textiles, items which can be used for many years. FMCG goods mainly compose of items which have low shelf life. Because it includes items which are required by masses in their daily lifestyle and because this sector has a huge demand, it is essential that this sector divides it work amongst various other short segments. The major segments in the FMCG sector are Manufacturer – Packaging – Sales and Distributorship – Retailer/Wholesaler.A distributor is someone who will ensure that all your products reach the right people. Whether it is business to business or business to personal. In any emerging market, as demand for a product increases, so does the need for distributors. From everyday use items like cooking oil, packaged foods like biscuits, snacks and everything else with an expiry date, every new trend which comes up as a team of dedicated distributors hard at work to find quality manufacturers and help them bring their product to retail.Steps to follow to become a Distributor:

Decide what type of distribution business you will run: Distributors can be split into two categories based on who they serve. The first category is, retail distributors buy from wholesalers or manufacturers and sell products directly to consumers. The second Category is, wholesale merchant distributors buy from manufacturers and resell the products to retailers or other distributors. You need to decide which type suits you best and work upon that.

Decide what you would like to distribute: You could focus on a specific product or offer a variety of items. You could base your decisions on a product about which you may feel passionately or any product which you think is not available much in the market. While many large companies are served by equally large distributors, these distributors are unwilling or unable to serve smaller, more specialized business.

Estimate your start-up costs: In addition to a business plan, you will also need some idea of how much money it will take to get your business up and running. As a distributor, your major area of expense will be your inventory. This means that your start-up costs will go parallel as to what product or products you choose to sell. If you are selling a single product then the pricing will depend on how many retailers you are targeting.

Figure out how to sell your products: This will depend largely on who your customers are and what type of products you’re selling. In any case, you have to chalk down specific goals on what methods you can adapt to sell your goods. One of the best ways to do so is to connect more and more with the manufacturers as well as the Retailer/Wholesalers. The more connections you build, the better opportunities you get. This can mean anything from advertising to personal meetings with store owners to search-engine optimization (SEO).

Form your company legally: You’ll have to legally create the company before you can do business. Check with your state regulations and see if you need to create an operating agreement or another type of founding document. Gather any business partners you have for this venture and have them sign any legal documents you fill out

Make your business licensed and registered: You will have to register your business with the correct places or business association as and when required. Your company should be listed in the legal list of companies. Other legal steps may be required to get your business started.

Contact manufacturers or wholesalers of your products: You will need to find sources from which you will buy your product. To locate manufacturers and wholesalers, you will need to build Relationships and connections which will help you to define your work. Networking is the foundation of the distribution industry. You must gain a deep understanding of your target market and clients to develop stronger partnerships. Keep communication open and available.

Purchase inventory: Once you’ve found a source for product, it’s time to place your first order. You’ll need to purchase however much inventory you need. Keeping in mind the budgetary and space constraints you will also need to buy products pertaining to the limit of your users. This is especially true of products with a short shelf-life or FMCG goods. Also, consider the logistics you will require to distribute your goods.

Find a location for your business: The size of the space you need to hold your inventory will be determined by the size of your product and your delivery method. You should consider starting off small as your business builds a reputation. As your business grows, you can move into larger facilities that can accommodate your inventory needs.

Create a website for your business: Creating a customer friendly website is essential in today’s business model. The website should describe prices and product offerings. This is especially important if you sell directly to consumers. You can also invest in search engine optimization (SEO) that directs potential customers directly to your website by placing it higher in search engine results.

Market your product to potential customers. Send out your catalogue to potential customers in your area. The tools of marketing that you can find in today’s digitally marketed world are immense and of huge influence.

The distributorship business is very lucrative. To become a distributor in the FMCG sector, you must have an eye for spotting trends in their industry, as well as with building relationships with manufacturers and retailers. If you’re interested in becoming a distributor for the FMCG sector, you need to follow the FMCG model.

Six Myths of Effective Communication

Communication Process or Effective Communication or Communication Skills are such subjects that has been properly researched and many authors have filled volumes of pages to explain all the nitty-gritty involved in communication and to explain to the world how one can and must communicate with others or group of people. A simple Google search for “Effective Communication” generates 44 million pages. Yet, I believe that the communication process as a whole is governed by certain myths and misnomer. We are preparing this write-up to touch upon some of those myths and provide clarity.

1) Language is critical for effective communication process – In India; we speak more than 18 recognized languages. Have you ever wondered how does a Kashmiri local communicate with his fellow citizen from Southern part of India or our Marathi Maanus (local from Maharastra) communicate with other country men from Eastern India? They don’t use common language to communicate with one another or to express their thoughts. Yet, they communicate effectively, if not efficiently. Your ability to read, write and speak any particular language or list of languages comprises only 10% of communication process and the balance of 90% of communication process consists of your body-language, facial expressions, message, context, complexity or simplicity of the message (words, terminologies, and jargons used in the message), listening, perceiving, interpreting and giving feedback. How efficient or inefficient you are during the 90% of the communication processes makes the overall communication process either effective or ineffective.

2) Effective communication means your ability to communicate in English Language – Do you know how does the Premier’s of world’s top three economies (President of China Hu Jintao; Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama and President of USA Barack Obama) communicate with one another on world forum? Mr. Hu Jintao and Mr. Yukio Hatoyama have very limited understanding of English language and Mr. Barack Obama is not known for his proficiency in Chinese or Japanese language. It is an irony for our generation to use “effective communication” and “proficiency in English language” as synonym. You cannot make a defense by saying that the English is a widely used language for communication, because it is not. Chinese is the widely used [add language] for communication purposes, followed by Spanish at number two and English at number three. It is also interesting to note that the number of people that use Chinese for communication outnumbers the total number of people that uses Spanish and English combined. There are many prominent people, head of states, historians, and other celebrities who are very effective and influential in their native language, be it French, Italian, Hindi, Arabic or any other language, but they are not good with English language. Does this mean that they are not effective communicators or they have deficiency in their communication? English is not the only language used for communication but is one among many other languages used for the purpose.

3) Ability to write and speak proficiently qualifies you as an excellent communicator – If you write well in any language then you can become a writer and if you speak well in any language then you can become a good speaker or orator but that doesn’t qualify as an excellent communicator. What will you do with your ability to write flawlessly and speak fluently when whatever you write is a piece of irrelevant nonsense and whatever you speak is senseless rubbish? Communication is not just about speaking and writing. It is about understanding the message, context of the message and time of communication.

4) What you communicate is not as important as how you communicate – There is a difference between being a communicator and being a spokesperson and the key difference is related to the ownership of the message. When you communicate, you know what you are communicating, you take-up the responsibility and you also provide clarification, if required. Subject matter expertise is important. Verifying your facts and figures is important. Taking up the ownership is critical. When you are a spokesperson, you pass-on the message prepared by others and are not in a position to provide any clarification and enhancement.

5) People holding command over two different languages cannot communicate efficiently – Language is one of the modes to communicate and fortunately, it is not the only way. While communicating, your message, body-language, facial expression and confidence level, should sync to make it an effective communication. Recently, I went to a laundry shop to check the cost. I can communicate in three languages but the shop-owner didn’t know any of those three. Yet, we communicated, verified our message, gave feedback to one another and gave acknowledgement of acceptance of message. Communication across languages and cultures is possible, provided we minimize our self-constructed hurdles. If I decide to not to understand or accept the message then doesn’t matter what language or mode of communication the other person uses, I will never understand. It has a lot to do with the willingness and desire of both the parties involved in communication process.

6) “No communication” is good communication – In our personal life as well as in work-life we ignore or curtail many requests for communication. We assume that it is good to not respond to a particular message. We hold the information which is meant to be passed-on to people up or down the hierarchy. “No response” or “No communication” or “No feedback” is not considered as good communication but this in turn strangles and complicates many workplaces as well as family relations that actually require frequent exchange of messages for its very existence.

Key elements required for effective communication

1) Know what you are communicating – Knowing what you are communicating is very critical. While communicating, one must correlate his or her own thought process with that of the sensibility of an individual or group of people that they are communicating with. Communication is not a onetime process but involves many to and fro motions and rounds of clarifications, and feedback and hence subject matter expertise is crucial. If you fail to provide the required clarification then you may risk losing your credibility as a communicator.

2) Know the size and composition of people that you are communicating with – It is important to know the composition, size of group (One-to-one or One-to-many or Many-to-one) and cultural background of your audience and based on that you may be required to either level-up or level-down your communication style. If you couldn’t level-up or level-down your communication style based on the need then either you will be considered as incompetent or an idiot.

3) Credibility, Sincerity and Trustworthiness – Do you walk your talk? Are you a reliable and serious communicator or are you an entertainer or publicity seeker? How honest are you in your communication? Are you a habitual liar? Are you authorized to communicate or are you the right person to communicate on the subject or matter that you are discussing or debating about? What’s been your background? All these affect your communication process and your credentials as a communicator.

4) Time of communication – Delay in communication or communicating the wrong message at right time is as good as receiving no communication at all. For example, you could have saved your relation or you could have retained one of your high-performer or you could have brought onboard a very talented candidate but you missed it because you mistimed your communication. There is a right time for every communication to be passed on and for every discussion but unfortunately, the right time is not when you decide it to be right. Just as depicted in one joke between a doctor and a patient.

Doctor: I have good news and a bad news to communicate to you.
Doctor: Good news is that we have been able to prolong the life of your father by one day and the bad news is that I forgot to communicate this to you yesterday.
Good communicator knows the right time to communicate.

5) Precise and simple – Complexity and Longevity of Communication Process kills the essence and effectiveness of the message. Message needs to be simple, straight and accurate. At this point, I remember one of my Department Head. When asked to provide highlights or summary of a concept, he sends across a document of 75-100 pages and of which 99% of text and data would be irrelevant.

6) Feedback – Feedback is very important as it ensures that the message has been understood and accepted in the manner it should have been and that there is no conflict of understanding between the sender and the receiver.

Things to avoid

There are few things that one must avoid to ensure effective communication.

1) Assumptions – There are further two issues that are related to assumptions.
a) Communication between sender (s) and receiver (s) should not have any space for ambiguity. Message must be clearly stated and understood by both the parties and should not be left anything on fancy assumptions. Any such assumption can be fatal for the execution or follow-up of the message.
b) In a relationship between boss and subordinates, among team-members, between employer (or representative of employer) and between any two people that share emotional proximity, mis-communication or lack of communication or misrepresentation in communication leads to assumptions, and gives space for gossip and rumors which in turn distorts the relation, trust and reliability.

2) Common Lingo – In group communication, it is critical to communicate in a language that is understood by everybody else in the group to avoid any conflict of interest, to ensure fairness and transparency. Setting-up a common lingo with one or two or a set of people within a group, which in a way eliminate others from the communication process and make them look embarrassing, not only shows you as disgraceful, disrespectful, scandalous, and despicable but also put questions on your credibility, honesty and communication skills. I was staying with one couple and to keep me out of their discussion, they used to communicate, not privately but right in front of me, in a language that they thought I cannot understand or conversant in. Least did they know that not only I could pick-up few words in that language but their tone and body-language was loud and clear enough to pass on the message. In a group situation, such things need to be avoided or else these put us in an awkward and embarrassing situation.

Conclusion

Tell us what you are going to tell us, tell us, and then tell us what you told us; that is the essence of communication process. Good communication requires clarity of thought, precision of language and empathy with your intended audience. People will interpret your message differently based on their level of education, past experience, familiarity with the topic, fluency in your language, etc. A good communicator has his audience’s best interests at heart. They concentrate on the message, not themselves.

We do not talk TO people, we talk WITH people.

We welcome your comments and feedback because that’s been very crucial for us. Feel free to contact us for any clarification or professional assistance.

Have a great day and take good care of yourself.

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