Frucor puts CRM on the road

Frustrated by Microsoft's apparent lack of a mobile upgrade strategy for Windows, drinks company Frucor embraced Apple's iPad platform

When Microsoft seemed to have no upgrade strategy for Windows on mobile devices, Frucor decided to move its sales staff to the Apple platform. It’s a move that not only has expanded functionality but has proved very popular with the sales team.

“They’ve become much more engaged,” says Paul Miller, Frucor group IS manager for Australia and New Zealand.

“Two years ago, just before Windows 7, Microsoft didn’t come back with a response to our enquiries. There was no solution. We’d been busy doing in-house development around sales force tools and needed to do a refresh.

“We talked to Vodafone and they put us in touch with Apple, who introduced us to a Christchurch developer, Smudge, so we could move to iOS. We partnered with Smudge and rewrote all our in-house applications.”

The suite of tools includes a route plan for each day’s calls, based on factors such as the priority of the customer, as well as distance, timing and the customer’s preferred time of day for meeting. Account managers can also show customers how changes in a store’s product mix can deliver more profit.

It’s like an extended CRM application that has been optimised for the iPad, Miller says.

“We’re now looking to expand the interface to take advantage of new and clever things such as video-based training for reps in the field.”

Frucor is also taking advantage of social media as a “chatter” tool internally. “It encourages the reps to have discussions, such as customer feedback when we launch a new flavour.”

All of the 140 sales staff in Australasia are now using iPads. “We know staff are more engaged because we’re getting a lot of positive feedback,” Miller says. “Our sales people can take customers right through the story because of the bigger form factor, which lets the rep do a lot more outside of the office.

“Customer feedback has been good. They can see what the reps are doing and the reps can measure what people are buying.”

He says the platform cost less than Frucor anticipated and it has a lot more functionality than the Windows environment.

“Apple advised us to keep it completely open, which our executive team and IT team were a bit funny about originally. They didn’t want to be managing Angry Birds. But it’s all worked out very well and our sales staff are much more engaged.”

Frucor’s brands include Fresh-Up, Mizone, Pepsi, V, H2go and Just Juice. The V brand, which was created in New Zealand, is the most popular energy drink in Australia and New Zealand.

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