O4S ensuring end-to-end visibility across supply chain

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Divay Kumar, CEO and MD, O4S, in interview with Mobility India shares his company’s profile, outlook, strategies, mission and vision.

O4S is an Enterprise SaaS enabling Supply Chain Visibility. I, along with the co-founder Shreyans Sipani, established the entity in 2016 to enable businesses to have 360° control over their downstream supply chain. O4S’ SaaS based supply chain solution relies on UID serialization at the product manufacturing level using proprietary IOT technology. Using this UID to interact with products, O4S brings warehouses, distributors, retailers and consumers on an easy to interact, mobile app based platform helping organisations to optimize planning and production, improve visibility into their supply chain particularly
during secondary sales (sale to retailer) and tertiary sales (sales to consumer), better demand estimations and product placement along with elimination of counterfeit products from the supply chain by creating a barrier to entry.

Through MARK (Manufacturing Automation Reconciliation Kit) is a core product offering which integrates O4S‘s cloud-based random UID generator with manufacturing industrial printers. This module is the basis of allocating a unique identity to a product and recording all product manufacturing details.

Through a web/mobile-based application, Original4Sure, our company helps consumers verify their purchases by scanning the highly secure UID. Additionally, we recently introduced a trade promotion application called Gynger, which allows manufacturers to disburse and track trade promotion incentives meant for retailers which were earlier controlled by distributors. Over the past 3 years, we have been able to offer increased visibility to manufacturers into their secondary and tertiary sales, build barriers
to entry for counterfeits, and build direct engagement channels with millions of consumers.
Currently, we are associated with some of the prominent names across India and Middle East, such as Honeywell, PepsiCo, ITC, Zydus, Pasura, Campus, among others, catering to diverse industry verticals across FMCG, Agriculture, Pharmaceutical, Apparel among others.

What are your Suggestions to the Business Community in the Current Scenario?

As the country is bracing itself in fighting the menace of the unprecedented pandemic, there are larger economic consequences that will unveil itself over the coming months. The restriction of movement due to lockdown in the country has affected all the supply chains. While the movement of essential items has been permitted, there is a growing gap between the demand and supply due to lack of clarity around these new guidelines. As a result of which, opportunists have begun infiltrating the market with counterfeits, to cater to the current demand-supply gap. Counterfeiting poses a serious threat to the economy and with this situation, it is further expected to deteriorate with far-reaching consequences as
businesses across verticals continue to have little visibility when it comes to their supply-chains.

During these testing times, it becomes the responsibility of the brands to not only ensure an adequate supply of essential items, but also empower consumers to verify and authenticate all attributes of the products purchased and report counterfeits. There is a strong need for visibility of stock across supply chains to ensure sufficient availability and evade a panic situation due to the non-availability of products. It is important to ensure and be committed towards the well-being of customers by ensuring that only original and authentic products are consumed at all times.

Our company, O4S, provides technology that enables businesses with their downstream supply chain and helps them track product movement right after it moves out of the manufacturing unit, through different nodes in the supply chain, until it reaches the end consumers.

How it will effect to bring things back on track for businesses?

With absolute visibility of product movement across the downstream supply chain (including end-users), it will become easier for companies to track stock position and status, and accordingly plan their production and distribution. These plans are full-proof as they are backed with real-time data and actionable insights.
Using O4S’ solution, companies can exercise much tighter control over warehouses to ensure better demand and supply planning with minimal wastage and disruption; improve warehouse management to track their inventory across various entities in the supply chain, therefore ensuring end-to-end visibility of stocks across supply chains. Moreover, companies can engage directly with the retailer and replenish stocks across channels where stock-outs are foreseen proactively.

How O4S supply chain management works ?

Our solutions cater to all manufacturers across sectors, who are looking to solve critical issues pertaining to their supply chain and brand protection. Using our solutions, brands across verticals have tracked over 500 million unique products across 100 thousand retailers in general trade. Moreover, over 10 million consumers have verified their purchase using O4S. This has helped brands increase their shelf space and tighten control over the quality of goods sold to the consumer. One of our ongoing projects is a pan-India engagement with a leading wheat genetics producer. Few of the challenges faced by the
client which needed immediate attention are:

1. Dispatch and Inventory Tracking – Latest compliance pertaining to dispatch procedure was creating a hassle in the agriculture industry. As per the latest compliance update procedure, every dispatch’s invoice has to be synced with the batch no. of every individual SKU which is a mammoth task especially when the entire process is manual.

2. Brand Protection – Availability of similar looking products in the market made it difficult for rural consumers to distinguish between the original product and the local brand variants. The latter, in order to increase their sale of inferior quality products, were using packages with similar branding to deceive consumers creating negative feedback for the original brand.

3. Consumer Engagements – Absence of consumer data and scalable engagement channel coupled with low product differentiation were leading to lower level of consumer trust. The existing retailer / influencer and consumer loyalty programs were failing to provide visibility into the inventory consumption pattern towards the last mile supply chain partners.

We at O4S understand the importance of a 360- degree visibility of the distribution supply chain which is a key to build a resilient system. In order to achieve this, our first step was to implement the process of serialization at the finishing point via our core offering MARK. We also enhanced the process of Inventory Management and Dispatch through a semi-automatic syncing of SKU information to the Invoice.

Keeping in mind the challenges associated, our solution Supplytics ensures that the dependency on human decision-making was minimum, therefore minimizing error and delay. With the help of Gynger, the brand was able to directly engage with the retailers, incentivizing their efforts of selling original products along with closing the feedback loop. Since the primary end-customers are farmers, the Brands along with O4S came up with unique methods such as custom regional language support on the Original4Sure app, which would help them verify their purchase and increase their trust with the Brand.
With O4S as a partner, the client was able to tackle the challenges and increase their market penetration.

1. Digital Engagement: Lakhs of farmers were engaged in the program with seamless flow of data on consumption patterns and buying behaviour. The client saw a considerable hike in farmer engagement. Moreover, the feedback from farmers aided in process improvements.

2. Visible Differentiation: With product validation features, consumers were able to not only verify the authenticity of the product but also easily differentiate the client’s product among various other deceptive products. There was a significant growth in consumer trust which further supported the growth in sales and profitability.

3. Inventory Tracking: Increased visibility across secondary and tertiary sales via the recording of SKU level information was a crucial aid for the client to plan, manage and optimize supply chains by reducing losses due to wastage and maximizing efficiency of available resources. Advanced analytics and reporting tools offered by O4S via a web dashboard aided the client by giving actionable business insights.