Supply Chain Blog

FMCG Supply Chain: What is your 2018 Planning Priority?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 17, 2018

We already find ourselves at 17th January so not many days left to ensure your monthly top and bottom lines are on target. Good luck with that if your business (& body!) is only just shaking off the holiday excesses. What is top of mind? The sagging month to date sales rate? The slow return to normal of the S&OP meeting schedule? The upcoming corporate audit? No. Top of mind is where to go on your summer holidays and to get this booked as soon as possible.

Get your holiday slot booked at the office and make sure you sync with school holidays and soon you will be surfing the internet checking out all the best deals. Flight only or hotel included? What about airport transfers? Do we go with full service airlines or suffer the middle of the night, cattle-class treatment on a low-cost flyer? Long term car parking at the airport? Oh, look at the kids go free offers – no I don’t believe it either; nobody gets a holiday for free, well except possibly Mrs Queen and free-loading MPs.

You may even create a dreaded Excel spreadsheet listing potential destinations and a matrix of all the travel options and applicable costs. Carefully you will fine tune the list until you really have found the best deal with the most convenient and least expensive travel. After the briefest of discussions with the rest of the family the bookings will be done and dusted well before the end of January. What a personal masterclass in forward planning!

FMCG_ACTIVITY_PLANNING_SALES_WINE.jpgYet you still have no idea on your FMCG acivity plans for the next 6 months let alone a much longer horizon. If you left your holiday plans to the last minute you would probably struggle to find something decent. Yes, if you are single or a couple minus mini debt creators then you can just turn up at the airport and see what seats are available and take it from there. You may well be sleeping on a beach or in a hostel where there are more joints than an orthopaedic ward and the only pillows are inflated wine box bladders but so what, you will cope. However, with small people in tow that last minute gambling option will rarely be entirely appropriate.

Back to your activity planning or lack of it. Some of your major in-market initiatives will be annual events around Spring Cleaning or Easter or a seasonal weather peak so being late with those is unforgiveable as they should be fixtures in your rolling plan. Other promotions will be tactical or at short notice due to market dynamics such as competitor activity or price increases (prices rarely drop do they?). Nevertheless, most of your activity planning for the next 12 months should be firm with a further 12 months of tentative plans which firm up as the S&OP process passes through each month.

Short notice opportunities are ok if you can manage the same without affecting those that have been carefully planned. Marketeers may demand a special promotion to take account of some topical and usually scandalous news or about the latest air-head to emerge from the Big Brother house. If you can, so be it but let these impact on the ones that really matter at your peril. Topical opportunistic activities will probably be sexy and raise a guffaw, but seldom do they contribute much to your top and bottom lines and they don’t impress the suits at HQ.

People outside of supply chain somehow think that promotions and special offers magically appear outside of all the usual planning processes. They don’t. If you stick in a last-minute giggle promotion, then be very sure you are disrupting regular day to day activities about which you will no doubt complain.

You should try inflated wine box bladders; great for camping!

Image courtesy of recyclethis.co.uk

Tags: FMCG, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, promotions

Your FMCG Supply Chain in 2018: 5 Problematic Predictions

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 10, 2018

Chris Rea has finally found the correct turn off, a lot of people in Africa still don’t know its Christmas and the novelty Santa toilet seat cover is back in the box. Oh, and chocolate Easter eggs are in the shops 4 months in advance. Christmas and the New Year holidays are well and truly over, and the clock is already ticking down on the month of January.

FMCG_PLANNING_S&OP_INVENTORY.jpgAs I type it is the 10th of January, so you have 15 working days left to get your year off to a flying start. And once January has gone and the short month of February flies by you will be well into the 1st quarter. Time is already running out so do you know your supply chain priorities for 2018?

Here I make 5 predictions on what will happen with your FMCG supply chain this year:

SKU Complexity

The one in/one out policy for new SKU introduction will be overridden by sales and marketing plans that overestimate the benefit of additional SKUs. Despite the usual guarantees and commitments, you will end the year with far more complexity than you started. You will retain the same number of key SKUs that account for 80% of your business but maintaina rat’s tail of SKUswhich contribute little to turnover and profit.

Inventory

Your inventory cover will remain high as demand planners knee-jerk stock build as they do not understand which specific SKUs are driving the excess. You will set stock reduction targets by shaving the number of days cover and while this may allow you to tick a KPI box it does not remove the underlying causes. You belatedly consider some clever supply chain analytics to see past the one-dimensional limitations of ERP functionality.

Spring/Easter/Ramadan Campaigns

Preparations will be last minute as deadlines for receipt of artwork are missed despite the supposed rigours of the NPD and SAP processes. Agreed volumes will be eventually be shipped only to sit on the shelves after the target period causing a knock-on detrimental effect to subsequent promotional schedules and regular demand. Your target for reduction of write-offs and waste will not be achieved and by some distance.

Sales Peaking

All your best efforts to avoid selling huge amounts of product in the final week of the month fall on deaf and dumb ears. The business continues to struggle as insufficient resources are available at month end to manage the sales push. Despite the source of the problem the sales team bleat on about lost sales when they actually mean lost bonuses.

S&OP

This should be the most important process in the business, but it isn’t working and you know it! In companies where all departments fully buy-in to the success of the process, the in-market results are stunning. Despite spending a fortune of the ERP your staff operate the business in a series of silo based, underground Excel spreadsheets which are littered with cell errors and inconsistencies. Business results are reported in the ERP but this is not a true reflection of how processes are applied.

Perhaps that is an imperfect storm on what may happen within your supply chain, but one thing is certain. If you do not do something different to what you did last year, then you are looking at best at flat results rather than a fat bonus.

A happy new year to you and your supply chain!

Image courtesy of Aimee Jordan at AimeeJordan.co.uk

Tags: FMCG, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, Inventory Management & Stock Control