Focusing on quality storage and distribution to strengthen the entire value chain – Bisleri International

The pandemic affected the economy & did so without discrimination, and organizations were impacted no matter the scale of their operations. Among those who took advantage of the situation to create something new and keep afloat the existing, was Bisleri. A household name for decades and a leader in its category, the homegrown bottled water brand has lately even forayed into manufacturing hand sanitizers on one hand and catering to the D2C channel on the other. In this interview with Ashutosh Mishra, Head of Logistics at Bisleri International, we take a look at how an organization with 122 operational plants and a network of 4,500 distributors & 5,000 distribution trucks transformed itself to adjust their supply chain with the ‘new normal’, learn from the challenges and grab the opportunities.

Q] What kind of demand pattern changes have you noticed since the beginning of the pandemic era? 

Pandemic started with almost zero demand and huge level of uncertainty within the environment wherein, the rules/policies of starting business once again was not clear. Being part of an essential supply chain, we quickly got the supplies started from the relevant authorities. However, initial days of pandemic saw that the demand for home consumption packs like 20 ltr, 10 ltr & 5 ltr packs increased.  The modern trade stores saw good sale of the 5 ltr and 10 ltr pack. Consumption coming from offices/travel and tourism/events was affected substantially. However, as markets were closed and opening time were regulated, the company started Bisleri@Doorstep program. It enabled customers to order online (from through our website sitting comfortably from their home. It helped to ensure we reached our customers on time with all kind of pack sizes during the difficult times. Additionally, I must tell that as the time passed by, the momentum also gained for smaller packs (500ml & 250ml variants) as the consumers became more conscious toward products with good quality. 

Q] What opportunities and challenges have you witnessed with your new D2C offerings?

Opportunity is immense in the D2H channel as it provides the customer full choice of availability of products at a genuine cost and with full assurance on quality of product. This comes further with a good amount of ease. With increased affinity of customers towards online shopping, this will in times to come will become a norm in days to come. Such requirements of customers will come more like a subscription model. We are currently in more than top 40 cities and have done digital awareness through ‘Ab Ghar Aayegi Bisleri’. Such a channel will also help address issues of customers coming around product quality (counterfeits), availability issues and at a fixed genuine price. However, this journey has seen initial challenges. Due to lockdown, things were executed without a full blown integrated system making things difficult to execute. However, the same got addressed and we now have a B2C system which is integrated with our ERP enabling us to cover all aspects from order placement, tracking and execution of the same by service providers. Our traditional set up was towards B2B operations, this channel needed training to our stakeholders (our delivery boys/drivers, distributor partners and internal teams) and this issue got resolved by constant supervision and guidance. The health of stakeholders and their travel during lockdown was another challenge.

Q] How far has Bisleri imbibed the motto of One Nation One Water into its supply chain strategies in ensuring minimum leakages? 

Bisleri aims to have availability of product assured across the country due to the presence of several plants located in different parts of country. We have more than 150 plants and have more than 4500 distributors in our distributor network. This move not only help in better satisfaction and availability of product but also helps to keep costs in control. We hardly have primary movement and in secondary movement, our proximity to plants also results is a smaller distance of fulfillment, even in remote locations of country. We also understand varying need of consumers and come up with new variants to delight our customer base. One important factor defining the entire value chain is the importance given on quality adherence at all steps of manufacturing, storage and distribution.

This is an abridged version of the original interview that was published in the February edition of the Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete article, get your copy of the magazine.

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