SMS Mobile App Manages Inventory, Orders, Delivery & Payment

Managing Inventory of Produce & Other Goods

The Scenario

In regions of the world where electricity is unreliable or limited, produce and other perishable foods can’t be refrigerated easily and need to be delivered to retailers on a daily basis. In order for suppliers to efficiently receive, manage and deliver these foods to retail outlets, they need to do several things. These include:

A) Track incoming and outgoing inventory and provide alerts when there is insufficient inventory available to accommodate expected supply

B) Make and receive payments for foods purchased and sold

C) Collect information from each retail outlet they supply (their customers) regarding the types and volumes of foods needed for each day

The Bamba platform can be used to carry out each of these processes through SMS, only requiring simple inputs from users into a smartphone application. The app will aggregate and process all the info, send out and receive payment transfers over SMS, and keep track of inventory, deliveries, and orders from retailers. It can be automated so that managing inventory and payments doesn’t have to be done manually.

Keep reading to learn more about how it works!

Ideal for Use By:

  • Companies that regularly purchase and store perishable foods (produce, meat, dairy, etc.) from local suppliers in regions of the world with limited access to electricity/Internet
  • Companies that supply produce or other perishable food items to retailers on an ongoing basis in these regions
  • Organizations that need an inventory management system that can track daily supply and demand, keeping them informed of expected supply deficits so that proactive measures can be taken

SMS Mobile Application to Manage Inventory

Leveraging Bamba

The mobile application collects information about product supply and demand on an ongoing basis, and then sends this information via free SMS to the Bamba inventory management platform. The platform then aggregates the data in real-time. These processes are explained in more detail below.
Managing Supply

We’ll use the example of a company that purchases produce from local farmers and uses it to supply retail outlets (such as markets and grocery stores) with produce on a daily basis.

  1. Farmers deliver produce items to the company storage facility daily.

  2. Produce is received, sorted, and prepared for storage and/or delivery. During this process, the following information is collected for produce purchased from each farmer and is inputted into the Bamba mobile application:

    • Farmer from whom this produce was purchased
    • Type of produce
    • Volume
    • Grade/quality
  3. The inputted information is automatically sent to the Bamba inventory management platform via free SMS messaging.

  4. Payment for the purchased produce is automatically sent to each farmer based on the type, amount and quality of the produce purchased from that farmer. The payment is made via mobile airtime money transfer over free SMS through the Bamba system.
  5. By inputting this information into the smartphone application each day, the data can be aggregated by the Bamba platform through free SMS messaging into a robust database with real-time, accurate information on inventory supply.

Managing Demand

  1. Produce retailers, such as markets and grocery stores, place an order via telephone each day with a sales representative specifying what produce they need delivered from the supplier for the following day. Sales reps record this information into the mobile application.
  2. This information is automatically sent via free SMS to the Bamba inventory management platform.
  3. The Bamba system alerts the supplier via the mobile application if the demand for a given product for a specific day exceeds what is currently available in inventory.
  4. Delivery personnel can obtain order information for each retail outlet through the smartphone application to ensure that they transport the appropriate types/volumes of produce to each retail customer, planning the most efficient route.
  5. Delivery personnel also input information on what they remove from inventory into the smartphone app, which automatically passes this info on to the Bamba platform via free SMS messaging.
  6. Upon delivery to each retail outlet, delivery personnel can confirm via the app that the delivery was successfully made, and this information is automatically delivered to the platform via free SMS messaging.
  7. The retail outlet can confirm receipt of the product and transfer payment for the products to the Bamba platform via the mobile application, which completes the transaction by transferring the information and payment directly to the Bamba platform via SMS airtime money transfer.

The Application

The smartphone application that we’ve created is customized to suit each organization’s processes, but would ultimately look similar to the photos below. Using the application simplifies the process of communicating with the Bamba inventory management platform, which happens automatically through free SMS messaging in the background. Users need only to interact directly with the mobile application.


Benefits of the Approach

  • Information on stock levels for various products is updated in real-time as products enter and leave the storage facility, ensuring the availability of accurate inventory information.
  • The only technology needed is a smartphone with SMS capabilities (no internet access or electricity required).
  • Having an accurate inventory management system that updates in real-time allows better visibility into how much product is available, and how much demand is expected for that product.

    • This makes it possible to set appropriate prices based on supply and demand
    • It also ensures that farmers receive the proper market prices for their products.
  • Knowing exactly how much of each product needs to be delivered to specific locations makes it possible for delivery personnel to be more efficient, planning their routes accordingly and taking exactly what is needed to each location.
  • Companies no longer need to physically send out personnel to visit markets in order to determine what their needs are for different products each day (this is largely inefficient and expensive).
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