Tip Top bakes digital into its field force

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Tip Top bakes digital into its field force
Tip Top's Daily Dough app.

Shifts conversation into the bread aisle.

Tip Top Bakeries has transformed the way it sells bread products into 18,000 retail stores across Australia by equipping its field force with iPads and a custom sales app.

The company - owned by George Weston Foods - is the largest baker in Australia, and has products spanning bread, crumpets, muffins and cakes.

It bakes, delivers and merchandises around a million loaves of bread a day. Its top SKU - or product - in bakery supermarkets is Golden Crumpets.

Tip Top has around 1200 field sales and merchandising team members across Australia; together they visit every store - usually at least once a week - and talk to the bakery or store manager to secure orders and maximise product positioning and sales.

Two years ago, those meetings occurred behind the scenes, away from where the products were actually merchandised.

“We visit every supermarket in Australia every week to take and produce an order and try to sell to the bakery managers,” director of sales Paul Foster told Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference.

“What we used to do when we went into a supermarket [was] we were actually out in the back room with the bakery manager, away from the selling fixture, talking about what the order should be.

“The customer hated it and our salespeople hated it. It was a very laborious process that required a lot of agony in and outside the [sales] call.”

Retailers that stock Tip Top baked goods said product availability was the most important thing they wanted from the company.

“Bread’s a very emotional purchase,” head of field sales Fred Vrazalica said.

“If people can’t buy any bread [they want] then they’ll go somewhere else, and that’s the sort of feedback we received.”

Tip Top wanted to be delivering “the right product to the right store on the right day”.

It also wanted to make the life of its sales and merchandising field force easier, and in particular to increase their amount of selling time in front of the retail customer.

That would mean minimising administration and other unproductive time, such as travel.

In turn, it was hoped that the company could “take significant cost out of the business” while growing its sales and revenue.

This was the foundation for what became known internally as ‘Program Maximus’.

Maximus “is all about building sustainable competitive advantage for Tip Top by transforming our customer service model in order to maximise our revenue and sales”, Tip Top said in an internal video played at Dreamforce.

“Our intention is to cut out practices that take time away from what [the field force] do well, delighting people everyday with the simple pleasure of good food and increasing what you do need - support, structure and a rewarding working experience.

“To do this we’ll invest in new tools and technology to replace some of the processes and paperwork that are getting in the way so you can do what you do best: sell.”

Doing the groundwork

Program Maximus is a business - rather than technology - project.

“Eighty percent of the work was on the business, processes and preparation of how we approached [the project], while 20 percent was technology enablement,” Foster said.

“First and foremost, it’s really important to ask the people what are their key pain points, and of those which are the ones that you can create value from, and then work on those to apply new processes and the technology to address those real pain points for your customers and your people.

“The solution will stick better.”

The first step to reimagining the way its field force worked was to understand - in detail - how they had been working to date.

To do this, they began with a time and motion study, which is typically used to explore a business’s efficiency.

“We hired independent people to go out and sit in cars with our merchandise and area managers and see what they do every single day - how much time they spent driving their cars, walking into a store, what they did in the store, and how much time they spent selling or on administration,” Vrazalica said.

The study found areas for improvement - in particular, that the field force only spent 6 percent of its time in a day selling product.

“What we did find is the actual time we do spend selling we do a pretty good job, but it was a case of ‘how do we more of that’,” he said.

Alongside mapping the current state, the company also looked at where it wanted to be.

It ran workshops with staff to give them an opportunity for input into what they wanted the future to look like, and mapped out every single existing business process.

“It involved every single person in the team,” Vrazalica said.

“We mapped out all our core processes and then we got the people who were actually going to be using the platform to design the future - so we identified a number of people in our sales teams and we got them on board really early.”

Some of these people would later become part of an internal “promoter network” that helped seed adoption of the new processes and technology enablers.

“They’re the people who are going to sow the change,” Vrazalica said.  

“They co-designed it, engaged and built it together. We piloted, accepted and adopted it.”

The technology portion of the effort is an instance of Salesforce Sales Cloud and Chatter, and a custom app developed by Tigerspike that sits on top of the Salesforce core.

The reason Tip Top went for a custom app - rather than one that native to the Salesforce ecosystem - is because the baker needed the app to work in both off- and on-line modes.

“If you go to the back of some supermarkets, even in metropolitan areas you don’t have connectivity,” Foster said.

The app that was developed offers the same user experience between on- and off-line modes. If the person is outside network connectivity, sales orders can still be completed in the app, and there is an auto refresh every 15 minutes to batch process orders and load the latest data into the central Salesforce system.

For a while, the app was simply known internally as “the app”.

“We couldn’t keep calling it the app,” Vrazalica said.

“So we had a competition with our sales team and asked them to name the app, and one of our area managers named the app ‘the Daily Dough’.”

The Daily Dough

When a field force rep first opens the Daily Dough app, they see a home screen comprising four boxes.

Two of the boxes surface data on sales and merchandising meetings, allowing the rep to see that they made their appointments and then achieved what they needed to from them.

The second two boxes show the rep’s sales and placements.

“In Australia we place bread, and what doesn’t sell we bring it back,” Vrazalica said. “So it’s really important to get the right balance.”

From drop-down menus, the rep can explore data by store type and period - whether weekly, monthly or quarterly.

They are able to access their call cycle - "which stores am I going to today and how much time should I spend in each store?”

When they enter a store, the rep no longer needs to go out the back to do business.

“We actually talk to the customer at the selling fixture in the aisle where the bread is,” Foster said.

“We actually pre-populate an order and we talk about upselling opportunities rather than just have we got the order right.

“That’s proved to be transformational for both our sales and our customers.”

The order is digitally signed on the iPad and automatically fed back to Tip Top’s core systems (from where manufacturing volume decisions are made).

While the rep is in front of the customer, they are also able to pull up information through the app such as store sales comparisons, or the performance of the product range they are carrying over time.

“That means when [a rep is] engaging with a bakery manager or store manager they can have a conversation about what’s working really well and what are opportunities,” Vrazalica said.

There is great interest in among customers on the performance data held in the app, but not everything is shareable.

“We don’t share any competitive information - for example between a Coles and a Woolworths store,” Foster said.

“But with Woolworths, in a certain area they’re really interested with how their tracking versus the other Woolworths stores in their area.

“They’re quite competitive and they just want to learn what someone else might be doing that’s helping drive sales. That’s the sort of thing they really want to understand.”

The app holds “lots of good information to support the selling story”.

“Let’s say there’s a product we really want to sell - we can now talk about who buys our product and why, so we can have a conversation with a store about why it’s important to have that product in the right location,” Vrazalica said.

The app has a section known as the “toaster” which contains a library of sales information, reports, safety processes and procedural documentation, and marketing materials all in the one place.

“If I’m in a store I can just click into it, show the customer, and then just click straight back out and go into my order,” Vrazalica said.

The app has been designed so that the home screen is no more than two clicks away.

“We call it the two click approach - if I’m on the screen I can click somewhere and I can click back to where I am,” Vrazalica said.

“That’s really important when you’re engaging with a customer - you don’t want to start closing down spreadsheets and opening up [more windows]. You want easy navigation and that’s the thing we really wanted.”

The journey continues

Tip Top is continuing to evolve the capabilities of the Daily Dough.

“We don’t believe that we’ve finished on our journey. It’s a journey that is going to keep on going. [The app is] not a destination,” Foster said.

He noted that the solution had turned into a “gift that keeps on giving.”

“We keep learning new things that we didn’t know as a result of that as we’ve been on the journey, and with all the new data and insights coming in, we’re able to renew and improve the process ongoing, which has been very powerful,” he said.

Tip Top has since expanded its use of Salesforce, and is now operating three instances of the software-as-a-service across its business.

It is now running an instance for field sales in its New Zealand business and a separate instance for its food service business.

“The learnings and approaches from the big business [project] have absolutely helped us on those smaller businesses,” Foster said.

Ry Crozier attended Dreamforce 17 in San Francisco as a guest of Salesforce.

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