Supply Chain Blog

An FMCG Distributor Is For Life & Not Just For Christmas

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Dec 14, 2017

Ok, so you are unlikley to see this on a car bumper sticker but FMCG Distributors will have a significant impact on your sales performance, probably your variable pay bonus and therefore your CEO aspirations! How have you treated your Distributors this year? Were they the usual pain in the proverbial - failing to achieve targets, not paying on time, always moaning about trading terms? Of course, some Distributors do fit this stereotype but others are keenly trying to be treated as and to be, equal partners in your business success. But do you see this?

How are things going in Q4? Have you fallen into the trap of the “sales bonus push”? Year end stock clearance FMCG Breaking all the supply and sales phasing rules you have been trying to drum into Distributors? Did you strictly maintain discipline on Sales & Operational Planning or did the last quarter deteriorate into a “sell whatever we've got in the warehouse” scenario?

Companies that spend time and effort in proactively guiding their Distributors, providing relevant training and support inevitably succeed in the market place. Yes, at the end of the day Distributors have to stand on their own two feet but so many FMCG companies assume an organisation calling itself an “FMCG Distributor” inherently knows how to properly support any specific business.

If you do not pay attention to the Traditional Trade (TT) distribution side of your business then you are asking for trouble and that trouble usually ends in divorce along with all the discontinuity baggage separation brings. You need to avoid your choice of Distributors becoming like the English Premier League where managers get about 5 minutes to make an impact before being shown the door. (Strange though, that all these football managerial failures usually find another highly paid role; the latest being Big Sam Allardyce)

So, as we approach a special time of the year why not think about your Distributors and ask yourself if you have given them a fair crack of the whip?  If not, then you might consider a New Year resolution to develop a strategy for mutual success. This is far better than continually highlighting deficiencies and using backward looking, discipline focussed KPIs to bash them on the head.

Sit down with your RTM Distributors regularly, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and agree to do something about the latter. Simply running through a Route To Market evaluation together can work wonders in establishing trust and cooperation. Do yourself a favour and do this now before Q1 next year also becomes history that you cannot change.

Click on the RTM link below and go!

CTA RTM Free Download resized 600

Image courtesy of stock.xchnge at freeimages.com

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, CEO, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain, S&OP, Distribution

FMCG Year-end 2017: Distributors overstocked?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Nov 30, 2017
How is 2017 going so far? Are you in cruise control or is your business chaos central? Be honest now! The last quarter of the year is always difficult to manage in order to achieve 2017 results without negatively impacting 2018.
Interim_Management_FMCG_Dave_Jordan_SKU_Distributor_Inventory.jpgWhen your business still relies on a healthy traditional trade serviced by distributors the balance of sales in versus sales out is always a challenge. Any major discrepancy will alert the auditors and in particular you do not want be accused of loading the trade to meet the planned numbers. 
 
If you have let your distributor stocks get out of control this can be remedied through discipline and rigour plus top-down leadership ideally through a dynamic S&OP process.
  1. Month, quarter and year-end push - Run your business on one set of numbers agreed at Board level and ensure NOBODY operates an alternative private agenda. If you follow a decent S&OP process such last minute, period-end pushes can be avoided. Let's face it; period-end sales pushes place huge strain on everybody in the organisation yet only the sales people receive a bonus for these efforts!

  2. Failed launches - Be realistic with new product launch volume projections. Brand Managers will always, repeat always overstate how successful their new SKU is going to be. They do not want to appear unambitious and nor do they want to run out of stock. This is what happens when self-interest decisions are taken outside of a healthy S&OP process.

  3. Old label stock - New launches are not a surprise and with half-decent planning you can avoid seeing old label inventory ageing in the distributor warehouse. As soon as you start pumping in a new label SKU the distributor will stop selling the old one. "Well that's his problem" - no it isn't! It blocks his warehouse, his cash and your customer service. If you plan your launch volume ramp-up well you can avoid this. Consider running a sink-market region where all stocks of the old label SKU are sold out, possibly with a discount.

  4. Old and expired promotions - If promotions have failed and do not move then bite the bullet and take rapid and direct action. Dismantle co-packs and put the valuable and original SKUs back into stock and/or re-label special offer packs.

  5. Customer returns - Producer sales forces struggle with this and particularly when it concerns International Key Accounts. You need a cast iron agreement on responsibility AND authority for customer returns. If this is contractually agreed then fine, take the stock back and recycle within your system. If there is no definite agreement then you leave the door open to individual sales people taking unilateral decisions to accept returns to get clients off their backs. Unexpected and unmanaged returns cause havoc in logistics, warehousing and in ERP's.

  6. Producer forecasting errors - No forecast is ever 100% perfect and nor should it be, by definition. However, if you measure your forecast accuracy by SKU and take actions to improve accuracy then this source of overstock can be significantly reduced. Ignore calls to measure accuracy by brand or by category as the data is useless to the people supplying the products.

  7. Damaged and expired. This is really an accumulation of all the items above. Damaged and expired products will be present in any business. To ensure they do not appear in the ERP as good stock it is important to write off and dispose of them as soon as possible.

If you need to destock your distributors before the auditors come sniffing then you should get on with this quickly. No resources available? Look at who is available to help you get these tasks completed. Crush the internal resistance and get the job done now!

Image courtesy of nonicknamephoto at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, CEE, Traditional Trade, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Distribution, Inventory Management & Stock Control

FMCG Trade Loading & 4th Quarter Challenges - deja vue all over again!

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Nov 27, 2017

Some things never change and FMCG 4th Quarter challenges certainly do not. The same challenges are clearly present and what is astonishing is that some companies are still making short term, expensive efforts to “make the sales numbers”. I don't think that is very clever; instead of pouring cash into a black hole without guaranteed return why not divert resources to sort out the underlying problems? They will not go away on their own!

There is a little bit of growth in the market but those green shoots are still relatively puny. Assuming growth is to return, those companies that had the vision to be critical of how they do business in difficult times will be the winners. All the others will be achieving the numbers by loading the trade….again and again.

You should have a good feeling for how things have gone in Q3 and what is still needed in Q4 to reach the numbers you committed to over 12 months ago. "Committed" may well be the wrong word as you were probably forced/cajoled/persuaded to accept figures you knew would be difficult if not nigh impossible to achieve. However, for the greater corporate good you took it on the chin and said “yes, we will do it” (no idea how but cést la vie).

Exactly how are you going to achieve those seemingly distant numbers? The corporate world remains in trouble but so are consumers. The two groups are not disconnected; consumers are having a very tough time considering the increasingly clueless government austerity measures that continue to drip out around the globe. Consumers simply do not have the money to prop up your annual plan and what money they do have is likely to be rationed to be sure of a reasonably happy Christmas. Remember, consumers owe you nothing, not a penny!

One thing you may consider if sales are not going well is to fall into the trap of month-end loading. Let us consider this scenario which is far from uncommon even in “blue-chip” companies. Let us assume October sales are poor in the first 2 weeks and then the word is given to “push” stocks into the trade. Discounts are given, favours called in and hey presto, the required target number is achieved and you and your bosses think you are back on tSupply_chain_sales_planning_results.jpgrack.

You have pushed so much stock into the trade that distributors are short of cash and International Key Accounts platforms are overstocked. Consumers do not drink more beer or wash their hair more often or eat extra snacks because you sold at a discount. They have taken advantage of your offers and have filled their own domestic warehouses ready for Christmas and possibly beyond.

Then we get to November. This time sales are poor into the third week and the rallying call of the stock push does not seem to be working. Support  and discretionary spend budgets are raided again and yet more stock is forced into places where it has no demand. Despite this, the motivation of achieving targets and securing a bonus ensure that the right number is flashed to HQ at the end of the month.

Now just December to get through……even if it is really only a 16/17 day month for selling. You are so close that a few more discounts and the promotion of high value SKUs means you close the year on target. It’s that champagne moment, get the fat cigars out!!!!

Sit down and think about what you have just done for the sake of a slap on the back and a bonus. You have turned the operation of the company upside down, contravened numerous policies, abused S&OP (if you use it) and unfairly stretched your staff in all departments. 

If you are brutally honest you will know you have sold January’s demand over the last quarter the year. You will not get away with that for long as it will come back to bite you eventually!

With stretched resources it is difficult for companies to see what is really happening across all departments and how decisions in one area cause a detrimental effect in another. If you insist on chasing the full year numbers/bonus then you might at least take on some professional support and understand the damage you are causing to yourself.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, CEO, Performance Improvement, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, Distribution, Integrated Business Planning

FMCG Route To Market Challenges; Learn from IKEA

Posted by Dave Jordan on Sun, Nov 19, 2017

There is no excuse in visiting IKEA on a Sunday before watching 22 millionaires with daft hair styles kick a football around on live telly. The weather was cold and the air was full of autumn drizzle and as I turned into the car park the scale of the folly dawned on me; the IKEA car park was bursting at the seams. Cars were on pavements, on grass verges and on the approach road; grim.

There were entire extended families pouring out of cars and into the store. In parallel,   equal numbers were exiting before trying to squash brown flat-packs of “destroy it yourself” furniture and fittings called Grult, Splad and Twong into and onto impossibly small cars.

What do these people do when they have removed all the air from their cars? Do they give granny and granddad a few coins to take the bus home? There is no way you can fit all the people and the flat-pack must-haves into some of these cars.  Maybe that is why IKEA provides free rope on the loading bay; it is to strap the unfortunate grandparents onto the roof of the car.

Oh well, here now so might as well join the hoards of people unable to control a shopping trolley; absolutely no sense of direction and with variable but low levels of short-term memory. I hooked a yellow bag over my shoulder, picked up a pencil and I too became a zombified IKEA shopper!

I know there is a science to store layout design whether it is a Tesco supermarket, a Hornbach DIY store or an M&S type outlet. The store owner wants everyone to see everything at least once and they want exposure to be just at the right time when for example, the shopper has been subliminally convinced that the bright pink Plobo stool would look really nice in their kitchen (believe me it won't).

Ikea Shop Floor FlowOh, but the chaos this causes in an IKEA store! Being a supply chain type I would make the whole store strictly one-way with shoppers not permitted to double-back to soft furnishings or for a forgotten low energy light bulb. In fact, if I had my way I would make the floors with a defined downhill gradient and ensure trolley wheels were oiled hourly to help people on their way, through the broken furniture bargain section, past the cheap fast food and out into the car park. What about a small battery pack on each trolley which delivered a persuasive electric tingle if you tried to push the trolley against the traffic? Too extreme, possibly?

Think of all the wasted hours and effort of moving all the way through the store then insisting on reversing the entire route and getting in the way of everybody else. Then came my eureka moment. I realised where I had seen this behaviours before and why I perversely enjoyed dodging the trolleys in the IKEA maze.

This is precisely what many FMCG, Brewing and Pharmaceutical companies suffer in their Route to Market distribution planning every single day. Wasted miles, wasted fuel, wasted hours and in all that time there are customers not being serviced.

RTM Assessment toolIf your sales are struggling along towards the end of the year and the stream of excuses for gaps appears endless, you might take a close look at how much time your sales people spend travelling to, selling to and guiding distributors. If your sales team has adopted the IKEA system logic then you have just spotted a huge opportunity to improve your Route to Market (RTM)performance.

Get out from behind the desk and have a closer look. Get some IKEA rope, tie yourself to the roof a salesman's car and see where some simple experience, thought and logic can significantly add to your bottom line. 

Too busy to ease yourself out of that IKEA chair? Then seek out some professional resource to take a cold hard look at how you operate RtM in the traditional trade.

IKEA image courtesy of A littleSprite 

Tags: Route to Market, Interim Management, Dave Jordan, Supply Chain, Traditional Trade, Sales, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool

Supply Chains – A second look: What do all those initials really mean?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Feb 08, 2017

In common with many business functions Supply Chains adopt multiple initials and/or acronyms to describe various tasks and processes they manage on a daily basis. Those not familiar with SC-speak will often sit bemused as various initials are quoted and debated and then usually blamed for some tenuous lost sales claimed by Sales and Marketing.

Here I take a fresh look at just a small selection of those Supply Chain initials and acronyms.

SC – Super Colleagues. Well, I may be biased but that is what you usually find. Supply Chain people must react to wildly varying demands and impossible timings but more often than not they succeed to get stock to the right place at the right time.

SOP - Supports Outstanding Performance. If you do not follow an S&OP process and your business is doing well and is robust then a pat on the back is deserved. However, if your business is struggling then you might consider the benefits of S&OP which can make all the difference.

IBP – Irritating But Productive. Often considered to be a more mature version of S&OP, Integrated Business Planning can be similarly difficult to get started but when everything clicks, business benefits.

Supply_Chain_FMCG_Initials.jpgSAP - Spreadsheets Are Preferred. The use of spreadsheets is prevalent in many businesses and equally common is the number of CEO’s who believe spreadsheets are NOT being used in their workplace! They almost certainly are but what can you do about this?

IKA- Irritating, Keep Away. In mature Western European markets, big name International Key Accounts are firmly established but in many other parts of the world the reality is quite the reverse. Traditional Trade is a very important part of many developing businesses yet most fail to pay sufficient attention to the continued growth potential of the TT channel.

SKU - Sales Keep “Upping”. Introducing new SKUs really should be a cross business decision taken within the context of S&OP and with sound financial analysis. Sadly, this does not happen very often as businesses rack up lengthy SKU lists where the tail items do not even pay for themselves in turnover, margin or profit.

KPI - Keeping People Interested. The adage of “if you don’t measure then you cannot improve” is certainly true here. Take care to manage your KPI’s closely and frequently but make sure you have a set which ensures everyone knows how they impact collective team performance and results. Visibly reward against the relevant KPIs and your staff will keenly follow them.

ERP – Everyone Requires Products. The whole purpose of your Enterprise Resource Planning is to get your products to the right place at the right time and at optimum cost. Occasionally, priorities must be made between demanding customers and a good ERP will guide your decisions.

PLP -  People Loading Products. Think long and had before outsourcing your outbound logistics operations to a 3rd party as they may not be ready to take on your business, seamlessly.  Prepare thoroughly and ensure you know exactly what you want from them and the relationship. A big step that is difficult to reverse without pain so be careful!

WMS - Where’s My Stock? Your 3PLP partner should be left to run their own business as that is why you pay them. However, you need to be involved in the stock counting process or you will lose sales and experience costly year-end write offs.

4PLP - 4 People Loading Products. If you have successfully used 3PLPs for some time you might wish to take a look at what a 4PLP can offer to the business. This is certainly not for everyone but can be very cost effective.

RTM - Retail Takes Money. Whether your focus is on IKA or TT how you manage your distribution network will be a key driver of your success in the market place. It is a fact that companies spending time and effort getting their developing market TT distributor networks in good order are more successful.

FIFO – Find It, Fuss Over. When you (or your 3PLP) operate a tight warehousing operation you will know where your stock sits, how old it is and what needs to move out to avoid write off costs and the inevitable poor customer service.

OTIF - Often The Invoice Fails. If you fail to deliver orders on time and in full you invite the customer to challenge the invoice and delay payment until you have made financial adjustments.

There are many, many more examples of SC-speak but this set will do for a KO so TTFN!

Image courtesy of boulemonademoon at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: SKU, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, KPI, Traditional Trade, S&OP, Logistics Management, Distribution, Inventory Management & Stock Control

An FMCG Distributor Is For Life: Not Just For Christmas

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Dec 21, 2016

Ok, so you are unlikley to see this on a car bumper sticker but FMCG Distributors will have a significant impact on your sales performance, probably your variable pay bonus and therefore your CEO aspirations! How have you treated your Distributors this year? Were they the usual pain in the proverbial - failing to achieve targets, not paying on time, always moaning about trading terms? Of course, some Distributors do fit this stereotype but others are keenly trying to be treated as and to be, equal partners in your business success. But do you see this?

How are things going in Q4? Have you fallen into the trap of the “sales bonus push”? Year end stock clearance FMCG Breaking all the supply and sales phasing rules you have been trying to drum into Distributors? Did you strictly maintain discipline on Sales & Operational Planning or did the last quarter deteriorate into a “sell whatever we've got in the warehouse” scenario?

Companies that spend time and effort in proactively guiding their Distributors, providing relevant training and support inevitably succeed in the market place. Yes, at the end of the day Distributors have to stand on their own two feet but so many FMCG companies assume an organisation calling itself an “FMCG Distributor” inherently knows how to properly support any specific business.

If you do not pay attention to the Traditional Trade (TT) distribution side of your business then you are asking for trouble and that trouble usually ends in divorce along with all the discontinuity baggage separation brings. You need to avoid your choice of Distributors becoming like the English Premier League where managers get about 5 minutes to make an impact before being shown the door. (Strange though, that all these football managerial failures usually find another highly paid role.)

So, as we approach a special time of the year why not think about your Distributors and ask yourself if you have given them a fair crack of the whip?  If not, then you might consider a New Year resolution to develop a strategy for mutual success. This is far better than continually highlighting deficiencies and using backward looking, discipline focussed KPIs to bash them on the head.

Sit down with your RTM Distributors regularly, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and agree to do something about the latter. Simply running through a Route To Market evaluation together can work wonders in establishing trust and cooperation. Do yourself a favour and do this now before Q1 next year also becomes history.

Click on the RTM link below and go!

CTA RTM Free Download resized 600

Image courtesy of stock.xchnge at freeimages.com

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, CEO, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain, S&OP, Distribution

Olympic level FMCG performance or simply distributor over-stocking?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Aug 16, 2016

Wow, four years have flashed past since the London Olympic bunting was packed away and the metal polish put back under the sink. The 2016 Rio games are well and truly underway and the cauldron flame is alight for the duration.

Over 11,000 competitors from nearly 200 countries and even a refugee team have been getting up ridiculously early to sweat and train at whatever sport they excel. That is a huge number of really fit people who are focused on being in peak condition for a once in a lifetime event that might last less than 10 seconds or several hours.

Taking the 100m sprint as an example; the top sprinters will have 4 opportunities to perform. A combined window of 40 seconds to reflect all that money, time and effort that has been expended to qualify and perform to the best of their ability. What if they stumble or don’t hear the starting gun, drop the baton or worse still, get disqualified?

FMCG_INVENTORY_DISTRIBUTORS_CEO.jpgAll that planning and careful preparation to get to the final of the competition only to be disqualified for being a little twitchy waiting for the starting pistol to crack out loud. Or, sticking your foot just a millimeter into the triple jump plasticine. Hey, don’t worry, there will be another chance for you in Tokyo………

You are not in the final to perform in front of millions of people watching around the world. Nobody will see you perform and instead of your stock rising and attracting more lucrative advertising deals you will be remembered as that poor guy with the twitch or that girl with the too-big training shoes.

Cue segue. The global economy seems permanently stuck in “weak and unpredictable” performance mode with no obvious way out even for the dis-United Kingdom of Brexit. Imagine you are a yellow CEO Pac-Man (do they have female Pacs?) nibbling away at the dots and then getting stuck in a dead-end. What next, nowhere to go, panic, panic! Despite this, many CEOs will be under extreme pressure to “make the numbers”. How exactly? While all this Olympic activity is taking place is your physical FMCG stock rising as we move through the second half of the year?

Despite what sales and finance colleagues will spout, there is a limit to how much stock can you push into your trading channels and this includes International Key Accounts. Coercing (or more likely forcing) a distributor to take more and more stock may appear an easy option but it is an unsustainable action that damages your business in the long run.

At some stage a brave CEO has to say enough is enough and start a period of controlled destocking despite the effect this will have on top and bottom lines. Loading the trade does not happen by accident; you know you are doing it so stop deluding yourself and HQ and do something! Put a stake in the ground that sets the tone for the future.

You may believe that excess inventory means you will never be out of stock or off the shelves but this is not the case. The available stock will inevitably be unbalanced and just when you expect your long planned relaunch to fly out of the blocks and hit the shelf you also twitch and realise you have 9 months’ stock of the old product sitting in distributors warehouses.

What a disappointment. A waste of money, time and effort, i.e. an Olympic gold medal-sized goof and HQ is unlikely to give you another chance in a lot less than 4 years’ time.

Image courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: FMCG, CEO, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool, Inventory Management & Stock Control

7 Deadly FMCG Sins: Overstocked Traditional Trade Distributors

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, May 06, 2015

044951C8572581EB3FB7ABA741B0A21E066A3CEE461F88BE9Apimgpsh_fullsize_distrSorry to be a little direct right at the start but make no mistake Mr/Mrs. FMCG Producer, YOU put the stock there, oh yes you did! Distributors don't buy stock for a laugh and a giggle as they like full shelves. Excess stock blocks up their shelves and warehouses and, most critically locks up their cash. Yes, the cash you are desperately trying to collect and book in the accounts to meet your month-end commitments.

 Let us take a look at the 7 deadly sins of excess stock:

  1. Month, quarter and year-end push. "Targets have to be met so push as much stock as possible into the Distributors. Even if they have no chance or intention to sell it."
  2. Failed launches. Unrealistic Producer sales objectives leading to slow moving and eventually expiring goods. Slow movers and expired all form part of Producer stock value and Distributor sunk cash until you do something!
  3. Old label/pre-relaunch stock. Perfectly good stock but the pack with the new artwork is being sold already and nobody wants this variant. Some careful planning in advance could see older stock liquidated in a sink market or moved out through discounting.
  4. Old and expired promotions. Funding support has ended and the guys with the best cars have moved onto the next “big thing” so what do we do with all these left over promotional packs? Disassemble, discount or destroy but don’t keep lying around!
  5. Returns from customers. Still arguing about who is to pay for these returns? Was a return policy agreed in the first place?.
  6. Producer forecasting errors. Nobody wants to lose face at Producer HQ so the excess stock sits and gathers dust until the annual stock count and later expiry.
  7. Damaged and expired. Is it clear who pays for any damages and expired goods? Make a decision and either re-sell or get this stuff off the books. Inevitably, damages will happen but get them written off quickly AND destroyed and get over it. You can avoid expired goods – see all of the above!

You might think your Distributors have a healthy 21 days of cover but in reality they are operating with a much lower level of saleable stock. The rest sits in their books and in your stock cover numbers but it contributes nothing, zero to sales. In fact, it negatively affects sales as stock that is in demand and selling out is available at too low levels to meet customer requirements.

"They have so much stock but my Customer Service level is rubbish". THIS IS NOT A SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEM ALONE!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, CEE, Distribution, Inventory Management & Stock Control

FMCG Distribution: Route Planning & IKEA Shopping Chaos

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Apr 29, 2015

Ok, I know I should not have gone there. It was Sunday and well before the live Premier League football on the TV. The weather was cold, the air was full of drizzle and as I turned off the overgrown roundabout the scale of my folly dawned; the IKEA car park was bursting at the seams. Every available legal and illegal space was taken.

There were families pouring out of cars and into the store and equal numbers trying to squash brown flat-packs of “destroy it yourself” furniture and fittings called Grunt, Splat and Twong into impossibly small cars. What do these people do about their Sunday outing passengers after they have loaded up? Do they give Granny and Granddad a few coins to take the bus home? There is no way you can fit all the passengers and the flat-pack must-haves back into some of these cars.  Maybe that is why they provide rope at the IKEA loading bay; it is actually to tie Granny and Granddad onto the roof of the car.

Oh well, I am committed so might as well join the hoards of people unable to control shopping trolleys, with absolutely no sense of direction and with varying levels of short-term memory loss. I hooked a yellow bag over my shoulder and I too became an IKEA shopper!

I know there is a science in store layout design whether it is a supermarket, a DIY store or an M&S type outlet. The store wants everyone to see everything they have available and they want it to be just at the right time when for example, the shopper has been subliminally convinced that the bright pink Plobo stool would look really nice in their kitchen.

FMCG RTM ROUTE PLANNING resized 600Oh, but the chaos this causes in an IKEA store. Being a Supply Chain chap I would make the whole store strictly one-way with nobody allowed to double back to soft furnishings or for a forgotten low energy light bulb. In fact, if I had my way I would make the floors with a defined downhill gradient and ensure trolley wheels were oiled hourly to help people on their way, through the broken furniture bargain section, past the cheap but strangely filling fast food and out into the car park. What about a small battery pack on each trolley which delivered a persuasive tingle of current if you tried to push the trolley against the traffic? Too extreme, possibly!

Think of all the wasted hours and wasted effort of moving all the way through the store then insisting on reversing the route and getting in the way of everybody else. Then it struck me. I realised where I had seen this before and why I perversely enjoyed dodging the trolleys in the IKEA shopping maze. This is what many FMCG companies suffer in their distribution route planning in Romania every single day. Wasted miles, wasted fuel, wasted time and in all that time there are customers not being served.

If your FMCG sales are struggling along and the stream of excuses for monthly gaps appears endless you might take a close look at how much time your sales people spend selling to and guiding distributors in the Traditional Trade If they have adopted the IKEA system then you may just have spotted a huge opportunity to improve your Route To Market performance.

Go and have a closer look. Get some IKEA rope, tie yourself to the roof a salesman’s car and see what some simple thought and routing logic can add to your bottom line.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Supply Chain, Sales, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool

FMCG Traditional Trade Distribution: A letter to the Drinks Agony Aunt

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

Dear Drinks Agony Aunt,

I have reached the end of my patience. I’m drinking too much coffee, too much beer, I smoke like a chimney, I’m not eating properly and I just cannot sleep. I have not managed to watch or play any of my favourite sports and now even my kids call me Uncle Dad as I spend hour after hour at work. At times, a short step off a tall bridge without a bungee cord does not seem such a bad idea. These drinks Distributors are killing me. Literally!

FMCG Drinks Distribution Agony resized 600The world’s greatest drinks salesman is glowing bright yellow in the sky. Consumers are literally gasping for drinks yet we cannot get our products onto shelves and into coolers. We have given the Distributors some very focused incentives and we are spending thousands on quirky TV adverts with that irritating guy with the funny hair. There is no doubt our brand awareness is right up at the top level yet we just don’t sell as much as we could and should!

When the weather is this hot, consumers want a drink when they are thirsty and not when Joe Egg the Distributor can be bothered to turn up in his smoke belching van to replenish stocks. If our product is not sitting invitingly in a cooler the thirsty masses simply take an alternative product. Consumption is immediate, I have lost a sale and this drives me madder than Brian Mad of Madcastle.

Please, please help me. Tell me what I should do before I lose even more of my hair.

Yours,

Frustrated of FMCG Drinks

......and the answer.  

Dear Frustrated of FMCG Drinks,

Thank you for your letter, which was a delight to read. Believe me; you are not alone in having such feelings and concerns. There is nothing worse than seeing the world’s greatest drinks salesman shining down and not being able to meet the demand of the thirsty masses. This frustration plus the lack of return on valuable investment can leave even the calmest of souls agitated and depressed. However, do not despair. As I said you are not alone and this is not the first time I have seen this problem. You need professional help to receive the Route To Market/Distribution therapy you need.

Firstly, you must overcome 2 important barriers. The first is that you cannot assume your existing Distribution network is entirely suitable for the job in hand. Secondly, you must look at yourself in the mirror and realise that you are not perfect either. If you can do these 2 things then help is at hand.

Using this simple checklist and guiding definitions you can take a critical look at how you manage your Distributors and how they manage your business on your behalf. Some of the questions are searching and may cause you some discomfort but this is necessary in order to accurately evaluate what is going well and what can be improved.

Do not keep this to yourself. The effective management and exploitation of a robust and proactive Distributor network is a team effort requiring buy-in from all Board colleagues and peers. Keeping this problem to yourself will only increase the caffeine/beer intake and accelerate the hair loss!

I will always be pleased to help you and look forward to your feedback on a very positive experience with the checklist. Cure the problem, do not treat the symptoms!

Yours in a soothing, calming tone,

The FMCG Drinks Agony Aunt

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Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, Traditional Trade, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool