Powering up the PA sales process

Over the last decade, Hans Molleman, Functional Specialist at Blackmores, has worked for the business in various roles, from contractor to consultant, to now being a full-time employee. Most recently, he’s been the project owner for Blackmores’ PA 360, an app designed to support the company’s sales teams in Asia.

“Leading brands, including Blackmores, have a dedicated section (much like the beauty counters in our department stores) where advisors introduce customers to their product range and help them in purchasing products to support their individual health and wellbeing needs. Based on the volume of customers, some of our PAs are permanent, but others may only be in-store during peak sales times.”

Hans Molleman | Functional Specialist, Blackmores

To support consumers with their health and wellbeing goals and drive sales in their Southeast Asian markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, Blackmores places trained Product Advisors (PAs) within pharmacies. “Each local chemist has one or even multiple specialist staff representing the interests of the brands they sell,” explains Molleman.

Up until the last few years, the process of capturing those sales and calculating the subsequent commission payment (which varies from country to region and even store) was slow and time consuming.

Paper-based PAs

Until the introduction of the PA 360 app, a typical transaction consisted of a Blackmores PA offering pharmacy customers advice and product recommendations based on their needs. For example, suggesting an immunity product if someone was concerned about a seasonal flu. Once the PA successfully matched a customer to the right product, the customer paid for their item at the checkout counter and left the store both happy and better informed.

In the meantime, the PA logged the product SKU and quantity on a paper form, to be submitted to their supervisor at a pre-agreed frequency. This sales data was manually registered against each PA and used to help calculate their month-end commission payment.

As it was largely a paper-based process, the PAs had no idea how far off they were from achieving individual sales targets or the amount of commission they could expect. And, of course, Blackmores had limited visibility of product sales and, therefore, couldn’t optimise stock levels.

Real-time information

“One of the main ideas around creating the app in the first place,” says Molleman, “was to gain visibility of our product sales. As we don’t run the pharmacies, we don’t get detailed sales information from them. The smaller stores tend to have old-fashioned tills, which don’t capture much more than the price of each item sold. To understand stock levels in each store required the PAs to conduct ongoing – sometimes daily - physical stock takes.” 

Now, using the app and smart device, the PAs can log sales against their name on the spot. And even if they are offline, the data will upload when they next have connectivity. With this near real-time sale tracking through PA 360, Blackmores has gained valuable visibility of stock levels.

“The real-time nature of PA 360 means it can also function as a de facto method of calculating store inventory between scheduled stock takes, so we can proactively despatch products to a pharmacy before shelf levels get low,” says Molleman.

As well as replacing the paper-based sales processes by allowing PAs to register sales online, PA 360 provides them with detailed information on each product. 

“Through PA 360, our PAs can access on their smart device what is, in effect, a fact sheet on each product, complete with a photo and details on the benefits of each supplement. It’s very helpful for new employees to have that reference at their fingertips.”

Hans Molleman | Functional Specialist, Blackmores

Spot on commission calculations

“The addition of the commission calculator to the app by Fusion5 was a major step forward. The commission structure is different in each country, and there can be further variations if we run product promotions. Now, every time a PA logs a sale on PA 360, it’s captured in the Dataverse (an integral part of Power Platform), so their targets and commissions are constantly updated.”

Hans Molleman | Functional Specialist, Blackmores

Fusion5 completed two further releases of the app, progressively adding more functionality. The second version included a much-welcomed commission calculator.

Fusion5’s third iteration of the app replaced the paper and email rostering system. PAs now have a centralised calendar of where and when they are due to work next – from a store to an expo.

They can also request annual leave and roster changes. As sales are logged throughout the day, Blackmores can see a store’s peaks and ebbs in sales figures by the hour, so they can then decide whether to deploy PAs during recurring quiet sales periods.

The local Blackmores’ supervisor or manager can use PA 360 to send mini-surveys to their PAs asking for feedback on the foot traffic and competitor activity. PAs can include photos of product displays in their responses.

Working with Fusion5

Molleman says the relationship between Fusion5 and Blackmores has been a positive one.

“Given my industry experience,” says Molleman, “I found Fusion5 great to work with. They worked in a way I was used to, with standups every other day and regular communications. The team kept the whole project moving and, importantly, contributed great ideas.

“Even though we are now in support mode, Fusion5 delivers a proactive experience. And despite the time differences between Australia and Southeast Asian countries we were working with, the Fusion5 team were unfailingly flexible and available.”

Hans Molleman | Functional Specialist, Blackmores
Great outcomes start with great conversations


Great outcomes start with great conversations

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