The next big step for FMCG businesses: Machine Learning

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can be easily found at home now. Say “Alexa, play classical music” and the cylindrical speaker near the fireplace begins to stream Puccini’s ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’. The intelligent algorithm of Alexa automatically plays a popular classic that people like to listen by the fire. AI is slowly revolutionizing homes after making subtle positive changes in various industries, especially in India.

However, the Indian Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector has barely seen the light even though it has a lot of potentials. Workflows have been automated but still, require some form of human supervision. Take customer management for example.  Most small Indian FMCG companies still lack a system that can handle simple customer queries and problems.

This can be solved by creating an assistant AI, much like Alexa, that manages customers and keeps data on its fingertips. Markets can suffer a slowdown due to unavoidable events. Machine learning can suggest profitable optimization of prices and devise marketing strategies to promote a less-spotlighted product.

By taking in customer suggestions, market trends, and information from competitors, an AI system can create innovative marketing solutions for FMCGs. Although the solutions may not match the creativity of a human mind, it can solve a lot of problems for budding FMCG companies who cannot hire a big team of marketers.

Machine learning can also help look for new marketing channels for FMCG companies based on their customer’s data.

Multiple channels mean more profit and less risk as the failure of one will not bring down the other channels.

AI can also globalize the FMCG business by learning the behavior of international consumers and suggesting actions according to the pattern noted. Machine learning is employed more by big FMCG and retail companies. The small players should take a good look at the bigger fishes like Marico, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, Alibaba, and Tesco.

Procter and Gamble’s Olay brand features an AI that uses deep learning to analyze the skin of women on their selfies. The AI works out the age and skin quality of the women, based on which, it suggests Olay products that can better the skin quality.

Retailers like Alibaba, Amazon, and eBay are investing heavily in AI to create revolutionary automation and analytics solutions. They are developing a complex AI system that will employ the use of robots as well. Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon are already helping sellers with fraud detection, restocking of inventory, alerts, and price recommendations with the help of their simple AI systems.

To sum it all up, the small and medium FMCG enterprises in India are struggling with digitization. They do not have a software or a structure in place that automates simple tasks like creating an inventory of products, tracking of products, and recalling a batch if things go south. Before FMCG can leap onto a huge platform, it must take baby steps and invest in such software that makes arduous tasks easier.

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