Supply Chain Blog

First-Class FMCG Territory Planning is Crucial in RtM Strategy for Sales Growth

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Nov 15, 2018

Territory Planning for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies is about dividing up a piece of geography into different subsets, based on certain criteria, usually geographic proximity. It allows FMCG companies to effectively and efficiently service their customers, whilst allowing the organisation to target specific resources at each individual territory.

territory-planning-4 (002)Territory planning saves time and money by avoiding overlaps where more than one resource from the same company tries to service or sell to the same client. It also helps to ensure that all outlets within a specific geography get covered, by assigning management of a territory to one resource. It facilitates local knowledge capture, new outlet openings, closures, understanding competitor activity, capturing consumer and other trends, to name a few. Territory Planning also allows the assignment, measurement and management of Route to Market targets (volume, share, brand distribution, display, range, POS material placement, etc.).

One of the key elements of Territory Planning is simplicity. For example, pick a piece of geography, maybe a city in a state, a district in a country, or one small island out of many, and then assign one TM&D rep to manage and be responsible for that Territory and all the outlets in it. If you need to also assign additional resources like Telesales Reps, Merchandisers, Sales Promoters, Channel Managers, Key Account Managers, and Telemarketing Reps, etc., be careful who carries the overall responsibility. Any territory needs overall management.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 8 – Territory Planning:

  1. What is the DIME Approach (Direct, Indirect, Mix & Everything in between) in your Market? What does that mean for territory planning? Which outlets do we cover, and which outlets are covered by indirect channels?
  2. Do you have an influence on the territories of your indirect channel? Can you increase your influence? Are these distributors fully cooperative partners? Are they exclusive?
  3. Based on the RtM approach that we are taking, are we looking to take on new distributors or replace existing ones, and what impact will that have on our territory planning?
  4. Are there any existing sales territories in place? Have they been reviewed as part of Step 1 in the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence? If so, what are the results?
  5. Based on the review of the current territory map, what are the key areas for improvement? How would these improvement areas translate into new or revamped territories?
  6. Are there any specific issues that we need to be aware of when reviewing the territories, whether internal (regional, resources, launches, etc.) or external (competitive actions, distributors, government/political, etc)?
  7. How does the local geography impact on forming territories?
  8. Are there specific infrastructure constraints that we need to be aware of?
  9. Are there any existing external geographical factors that would potentially shape any territory formation? Is the geography split into islands, into counties, into districts, into regions, via postcodes, etc?
  10. Are we reviewing or designing territories for field force members who will call to retail outlets (sales reps, TM&D reps, merchandisers, sales promotion, etc.) and/or will there also be territories for back office support and remote activities (telemarketing, telesales, customer service, etc.) or for a combination of both?
  11. Which resource will be assigned to overall territory management? Who will be accountable? Will Key Account or Channel Managers have some or a joint responsibility for certain outlets across territories?
  12. Are we looking to cover the entire geography or are we looking to target specific cities or population concentrations, or volume levels, or other criteria, or a combination of these?
  13. Based on the results of the outlet and channel classification, what impact is there on my current territory map?
  14. How would a potential new territory map look with the required resources to service the outlets?
  15. What would the call frequencies for each outlet look like across the territories and what are the target calls per day?
  16. Are there different activities that need to be assigned to different call frequencies? If so, what are they?
  17. Given the above, have we accurately defined the size, scope and geography of each of our territories?

My goal here is to get leaders in the Route to Market environment thinking about all the elements involved in RtM strategy, one of my key messages is to keep it simple, but we still need the detail.

This post is part of my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. This post focuses on Step 8 ‘Territory Planning’. You can read about the previous steps here. I hope you find this useful, and I welcome any views and comments below.

Next week I will cover Step 9 ‘RtM Structure’. Please subscribe to the blog on this page, to ensure you don’t miss the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps click here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, RTM, retail, Information, Distribution, Sales, Route to Market, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages

Take Ownership of Channel Classification for a Killer Route to Market Strategy

Posted by Ross Marie on Fri, Nov 09, 2018

Let’s start at the beginning. When we talk about Channels, we are referring to channels of distribution to get products from a manufacturer to a consumer or customer. There are many ways to achieve distribution, e.g. direct to consumers (e.g. online, mail order), through retailers, through wholesalers then retailers, through wholesalers then cash & carry’s and then retailers, through other types of intermediaries/agents, and the list goes on and on.

channel-classificationFor consumer goods, when we discuss Channel Classification, we are talking about identifying all potential and possible routes to the consumer, and dividing them up into homogeneous groupings, often based on physical format. The main benefit of doing this is so that we can effectively manage, resource and measure performance of these channels to achieve our RtM goals.

For example, an FMCG company may service the retail outlets across a country through 3 main channels, Grocery, Convenience and Horeca (Hotels, Restaurants & Cafe's/Catering). The channels may be further split into sub-channels – e.g. Grocery could be split into Discounter, Hypermarket, Supermarket, etc. This is mainly based on the format of the stores and who owns them. Channel Classification does not generally take into account outlet specific criteria such as volume, location, consumer profile, footfall, opening hours, engagement opportunity etc., for this we need to look at Outlet Classification.

Channels of distribution can vary significantly depending on sector. For the soft drinks, confectionery or tobacco industries, the “Vending Channel” could be a significant source of revenue and focus but may not even be on the radar for other sectors.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask when looking at Channel Classification:

  1. What are all the potential and possible channels of distribution that you can use to get product to your consumers or customers?
  2. How do you currently segment your universe and classify channels and sub-channels?
  3. Which channels do you currently focus on?
  4. Which channels and sub-channels do you not focus on or are you not present in? What is the reason for this?
  5. Are you measuring the performance of your current channels and sub-channels?
  6. What is the current channel performance based on volume, share, brand distribution, display, range, TM&D opportunities, etc.?
  7. Which channels have the most growth potential?
  8. How does the previously reviewed Consumer Behaviour & Trends impact on future channels?
  9. To what extent are you using or focusing on the more ‘traditional’ channels in your industry? For Example: Modern Trade, Traditional Trade, General Trade, Online, Digital, Direct Sales, Key Accounts, Wholesale, Cash & Carry, Warehouse, Grocery, Discounter, Convenience, Mom & Pop, Pharmacy, Organised, Independent, Horeca, Nightlife, Hypermarket, Supermarket, Petrol, Kiosks, Open Windows, Street Vendor, Self Service, Counter Stores, Vending, On Trade, Off Trade, etc.
  10. Are there any potential niche or alternative channels you could be targeting?
  11. Are you looking at direct to consumer options, e.g. mail order, telesales, online? Are these relevant in your field?
  12. What approach are you taking to digital and e-Channels?
  13. Will you look to target specific activities or resources at the different potential channels?
  14. How will you resource each channel in future with people and money vs how you currently operate?
  15. Will you have channel managers and how will responsibility be shared if channels cut across regional geography splits?
  16. Which channels offer the best growth potential?
  17. Which channels offer the best access to current and/or potential customers or consumers?
  18. Which channels offer the best TM&D opportunities?
  19. Based on your Competitor Analysis (Step 4 of the 20 Steps Model), how does your current and potential future set up compare?
  20. What are the agreed target channels, resource requirements and training needs?

This post is part of my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. The model is designed to give FMCG managers a step by step guide to building or reviewing their RtM strategy to maximise growth opportunities. This post focuses on Step 7 ‘Channel Classification’. You can read about the previous steps here.

I hope you find this useful, and I welcome any views and comments below. Next week I will cover Step 8 ‘Territory Planning’. Please subscribe to the blog on this page, to ensure you don’t miss the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps click here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, RTM, retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages, Customer service

Retail Outlet Classification in RtM Strategy, an Essential Element or a Complete Waste of Time?

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Nov 01, 2018

Firstly, what is Outlet Classification? It is a process of segmenting every individual outlet, meaning every point of purchase, based on a set of company specific agreed criteria that you will design, e.g. volume, location, consumer profile, footfall, opening hours, engagement opportunity etc. This will then allow you to target specific activities, resources, brands, SKU’s, promotions, metrics, etc., at a specific outlet groupings level. The main benefit of Outlet Classification is the ability to target your product offerings at specific outlet groupings, regardless of who own them or what their retail format is.

fmcg-rtm-outlet-classification

Outlet Classification must not be confused with Channel Classification. Channel Classification, which will be covered in my next post, tends to group outlets together based on format. For example, an FMCG company may service the retail outlets across a country through 4 main channels, Grocery, Convenience, Horeca and Wholesale. These 4 channels may be further split into sub channels, Convenience could be further split into Organised, Mom & Pop, etc. This is mainly based on the format of the stores and who owns them. Outlet classification focuses on specific factors pertinent to your industry and company. It allows you to become much more targeted with your service model. A specific Outlet Classification grouping could contain retail outlets from all channel classifications, but grouped together based on specific consumer profile or location criteria set by you.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 6 – Outlet Classification:

  1. Do we know all of the outlets in our geography – including name, address, etc? If not, do we have plans to reach the total target universe?
  2. Will we call on the points of sale ourselves?
  3. Will our distributors call on them or will the outlets collect the product?
  4. What percentage of outlets will we cover either directly or indirectly?
  5. What are the criteria that we could classify our outlets under?
  6. On which criteria can we classify using existing data we or our distributors have, and what criteria requires an outlet visit?
  7. Should we classify and visit all outlets, or should we focus on a subset based on a certain criteria?
  8. Do we have the skill set, coverage and resource to do this ourselves?
  9. If not, then is the service available in my market and what are the resource requirements?
  10. Are there options to do a phased on the job classification or is a specific focus and resource required?
  11. Will we have a different approach to dealing with the outlets based on size, total volume, our volume, category volume, share, display, location, accessibility, consumer profile, footfall, opening hours, engagement opportunity, owner vs staff operated, shopper entry, time spent in outlet, potential growth, TM&D opportunities, credit risk, etc?
  12. What will those different approaches be?
  13. Do current key account agreements effect how we may classify/treat/service specific outlets?
  14. What is the timing required to finish the classification?
  15. What are the criteria for assigning call frequencies and resources (people, money, time) based on the classifications?
  16. What are the training needs arising out of outlet classification?

Arguments can be made against Outlet Classification. If you are in a market entry scenario, with limited resources, with established distribution channels, you may decide that Outlet Classification at this stage would be a drain on resources. But if you are a national player looking for country wide distribution, effective Outlet Classification as part of an overall Route to Market strategy could be the difference between winning and losing in that market.

This post is part of my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. One of the main goals of this blog series is to demystify RtM strategy and to provide FMCG leaders with a step by step guide to follow when reviewing or building their RtM plans.

The overall 20 Steps are split into 4 phases, Assessment, Strategy, Design and Implementation. This post focuses on Step 6 ‘Outlet Classification’. This is the first step in the Design phase and would be undertaken after a full review of your current RtM (Assessment phase), and the development of your new RtM Strategy (Strategy phase). You can read about the steps under the previous phases here.

I hope you find this useful, and I welcome any views and comments below. Next week I will cover Step 7 ‘Channel Classification’. Please subscribe to the blog on this page, to ensure you don’t miss the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps click here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, RTM, retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages, SKU, promotions

How to Build a Competition Slaying FMCG Route to Market Strategy

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Oct 25, 2018

Welcome to my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model.  The purpose of this model is to assist and guide consumer goods professionals when they are putting together their strategic and operational plans to tackle their Route to Market (RtM). 

route to market strategyThe 20 Steps are split into 4 phases, Assessment, Strategy, Design and Implementation.  Over the last number of weeks, we have gone through the first 4 steps which cover the Assessment phase on the model.  We now move to the next phase of the model, Strategy.  The focus of this post is Step 5, ‘RtM Strategy & the 4D Approach’.  Whilst it may be the only step in this phase of the model, it may well require more time than any previous step. 

This step is where we bring together all the information we have gathered and reviewed during the Assessment phase.  We have reviewed every element of our current approach looking across the 20 steps, we have mapped out the entire marketplace and the total number of points of purchase.  We now understand our consumer trends, and what the realities of our marketplace bring.  We have assessed our current and the potential distribution models and we have analysed the competition.  Now it is time to reflect on all of this and to make the big strategic decisions as to our approach to the 4D’s (Distribution, Display, Dialogue and Digital). 

It is in this step that we will define and decide upon our DIME Approach (Direct, Indirect, Mix & Everything in between).  Our DIME Approach details out our distribution model.  We may choose to distribute Direct to retailers (via our own owned distribution network or via a 3rd party), or we may use Indirect distribution through intermediaries like wholesalers, distributors or cash & carry's.  We may also have a Mix of Direct and Indirect distribution.  But our DIME Approach will be clearly defined in this step.

Below are some of the questions you should ask under Step 5 – ‘RtM Strategy & the 4D Approach’

  1. What are the organisation’s goals? What is the Sales Function/Trade Marketing Function or Route to Market Function charged with delivering?
  2. What are the specific distribution, display, dialogue and digital goals to be achieved?
  3. What are the revenue, volume and share goals to be achieved?
  4. Do the short term, 12 month goals and the longer 5 year goals support one another or do they suggest that a different approach to RtM is needed?
  5. What is the budget available to deliver these targets?
  6. What processes do we need to adapt or put in place to support our strategy?
  7. What are our constraints? Do we have access to the required skilled people to fill roles?  What, if any, are the legal or regulatory constraints?  Are there other constraints particular to our market?
  8. Will we have a national approach, a regional approach, a channel approach and/or a key account approach? Will we have a prioritised mix of these approaches?  If so, based on what criteria?
  9. How do we measure success? What data and metrics do we require? 
  10. What is our approach to order capture?
  11. What will we equip the sales force with and what is our approach to training and internal incentives?
  12. What is our overall approach to key account management, trade incentives and trade engagement?
  13. Considering our current market position, that of the competition, what is our DIME Approach (Direct, Indirect, Mix & Everything in between) to deliver our goals?
  14. Will we use direct methods of distribution and manage it ourselves or will we use distributors? Will we use a mix of direct and indirect?  What are the development needs of our distributors?
  15. What are the different RtM options and combinations available?
  16. Have we identified key individuals both internal (sales/trade function & cross functionally) and external to the organisation who we can bounce RtM ideas off? Have we then consulted with and sought advice from these key individuals on the available RtM options?
  17. Using scenario planning, what are the best options available and how would these be ranked?
  18. Based on the chosen DIME approach are there any other decisions that need to be made before we design this strategy?
  19. How best can we present our strategy in a way that engages Stakeholders?

This step requires real clarity of thought and honesty.  You need to work closely with the members of your team, you need to include cross functional and interdepartmental teams, and together you can map out your own RtM Strategy and approach to deliver your goals.

I hope you find this helpful, and I appreciate your views and comments below. I will pick this up again next week, with Step 6 ‘Outlet Classification’. Please subscribe to the blog, you can do so on this page, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, please visit our website here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, RTM, retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG

Essential Competitor Analysis Tips to Improve Route to Market Strategy and Execution in FMCG

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Oct 18, 2018

Over the last number of weeks, I have been writing a blog series on my 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. You can read more about the the steps I have already discussed here. My goal is to provoke business leaders in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) community to really think about every element of their RtM, and to question and analyse the decisions they will make (building) or have already made (reviewing). Is my RtM Strategy and Execution as good as it could be?

The 20 Steps are split into 4 phases, Assessment, Strategy, Design and Implementation. This blog focuses on Step 4, ‘Competitor Analysis’, which is the last step in the Assessment Phase, and is the last step to take before consideration of your approach to RtM strategy.

competitor_analysis_enchangeBusiness leaders today fully understand the need for competitor analysis. It is a cornerstone of any business strategy, but as with all elements of RtM strategy, it is all about the detail. Understanding what your competitors are doing, why they are doing it, how they are doing it, what their results are, and why you are different, is key to any effective sales and distribution or RtM strategy.

Below are some of the questions you should ask under Step 4 – Competitor Analysis. An important consideration is the availability of open source, legally available and reliable data and information – e.g. internal company data, field force knowledge, trade publications, industry reports, trade visits, etc.:

  1. How are our direct competitors executing their RtM Strategy? What is their DIME approach to distribution (Direct, Indirect, Mix & Everything in between)?
  2. What are the differences between their RtM and ours?
  3. What are the differences in their performance and ours? What is their brand distribution, volume & share vs ours?
  4. What are the factors that we believe are behind that?
  5. How are other non-competing organisations, still in our sector, executing their RtM strategy?
  6. How is that different to mine and why?
  7. Are there elements from competitors’ operations that we should look to evaluate, either positive or negative?
  8. Are there lessons to be learnt or mistakes to be avoided?
  9. Looking across the 20 Steps, ask yourself, what is their approach to the 4D’s (Distribution, Display, Dialogue, Digital)
  10. How does the competition classify their outlets, or their channels? Do they use the traditional norms, or do they target specific avenues?
  11. How do they set up their territories and what is their trade structure and FTE’s?
  12. Do they get sales data from the trade and what metrics do they measure? Do we know how they target their field force?
  13. Do they have specific planograms and trade promotions? Are they active in POS placement?
  14. Do they have a trade incentive and /or engagement programme?
  15. What is their order capture method? How are they using technology in the field?
  16. How are they leveraging Digital (with regards to sales channels, order capture, engagement, promotions, trade incentives, trade marketing, etc.)?
  17. What do we know about competitor distributor activities? Who are they partnering with? Has this changed in the last 5 years? What is their distribution effectiveness?
  18. Do we see evidence of their successful initiatives in one area being rolled out to other territories?
  19. How do they manage key accounts? What is their overall relationship with the trade?

There are many questions you could ask here, and I would encourage you to think about which are the most relevant for your markets and industries. Give Competitor Analysis the importance it deserves to gain a well-rounded, in-depth knowledge of your competition and feed this into your RtM strategy.

I hope you find this helpful, and I appreciate your views and comments below. I will pick this up again next week, with Step 5 RtM Strategy & the 4D Approach. Please subscribe to the blog, you can do so on this page, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, please visit our website here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, promotions, RTM, retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Route to Market, FMCG

Distributor Assessment Essentials to Deliver Sales Growth and Improve RtM Strategy

Posted by Ross Marie on Fri, Oct 12, 2018

Welcome to Step 3 of the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence. You can read more about the overall model and the steps I have already discussed here.

fmcg-distributotor-assessmentThe third step is ‘Distributor Assessment’. Whether you are looking to build a RtM strategy from scratch or review your existing sales and trade marketing execution, assessing the current and/or available methods of distribution is crucial. Distribution in FMCG is typically complex, with many layers, levels and combinations. There may also be local geographic nuances, and/or historical challenges to deal with. You may own and control every element of the distribution network, known as Direct Distribution. You might contract out the distribution to 3rd parties who then distribute on your behalf, also falling into the Direct Distribution category. You may sell to distributors who then distribute on to retailers themselves (or via other intermediary wholesalers or cash & carry’s), known as Indirect Distribution. You may have a mix of any of these methods which effects both the level of control, and the complexity involved.

No matter what is in place now, you must evaluate every step in the current method of distribution, from an independent point of view, and consider the possible alternative methods for getting your products to retail.

Here are just some examples of questions you can ask under Step 3 – Distributor Assessment:

  1. What is my current method of distribution?
  2. Is my distribution all ‘direct’ to my customers via my own owned or contracted distribution network?
  3. Is my distribution all ‘indirect’ to my customers through distributors that work either exclusively or non-exclusively for me? What are the layers of distributors, sub-distributors, wholesalers, cash & carry's, etc.?
  4. Is my distribution a mix of the above?
  5. Is this the way it has always been for us or did we change and if so why?
  6. Is my current point of sale coverage a function of my distribution model, or of my route to market strategy?
  7. What are the total number of distributors in my market?
  8. What is their coverage map? How many, if any, am I using? Why is this?
  9. How are my direct and indirect competitors servicing the marketplace? What is their distribution model? How do we feel is it performing for them? Is there anything we can learn from them?
  10. How regularly am I assessing the distribution network or the distributors?
  11. Do I have a distributor assessment tool to conduct the assessment? Feel free to gain inspiration from our Distributor Assessment Guide and Distributor Assessment Tool available for download.
  12. After conducting visits, and using my distributor assessment tool, what is the current performance of my distribution network and /or each one of my distributors?
  13. Where are the gaps in performance vs my ideal distribution network?
  14. What are the current levels of brand and SKU availability at the distributors retail level? What are the levels of out of stock?
  15. Is POS material available and visible at retail level? Are planograms being adhered to? What are the overall levels of display in retail?
  16. Is there an awareness of my brands at a retail level? Are trade engagement programs being run at retail level?
  17. What are the current service levels of my distributors? How does this compare to our contract and our KPIs?

Regardless of which method we choose to assess our distributors by, one fact will not change. We must get out into the field, see the distributor and retail environments first hand, and assess effectiveness of what is really happening, not what we believe is happening. Information, reports, and monitoring tools are essential in RtM execution, but nothing replaces actual field work.

I hope you find this helpful, and I appreciate your views and comments below. I will be continuing my series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence, with Step 4 Competitor Analysis in my next post.

Please subscribe to the blog, on this page, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, please visit our website here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, retail, Logistics Service Provider, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Performance Improvement, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, SKU

Your Guide to Consumer & Market Mapping to Improve RtM Strategy for Sales Growth

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Oct 04, 2018

Welcome to Step 2 of the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence. You can read more about the overall model and the steps I have already discussed here:.

The second step is ‘Consumer & Market Mapping’.  This is where you will review how you are currently reaching all the potential places from which your consumers are buying, to maximise sales growth.

consumer-market-mapping-rtmIn the consumer goods business, buying trends, brand distribution, product availability for consumers, and reach, are things managers live and die by. The measurement of these are also critical as they can be a key factor in understanding poor performance or in delivering success. For example, you may have a first-class Route to Market model for retail right across your market, but what if your consumers are moving to digital channels? Or your internal availability/brand distribution measure may show 95%+ on your system, but what if your RtM doesn’t cover all available points of sale?

This is where Step 2 of the 20 Steps model comes in. Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 2 – Consumer & Market Mapping:

  1. What are the current buying trends of my consumers?
  2. How have these trends shifted in recent years and do we expect them to change soon?
  3. What are the market specific geographic challenges and realities that we need to be aware of?
  4. What are the current number of available points of sale in my market?
  5. Do we have this data available? If so, at what level of detail and how is it maintained?
  6. Do we need to conduct an ‘Every Dealer Survey’ to map all the points of sale? What are the constraints involved? Could we do this internally or do we need to look externally?
  7. What is the split between direct vs indirect points of sale?
  8. How many points of sale are we reaching?
  9. What are the gaps and why has this happened? Was this a strategic decision or natural development?
  10. To what extent are there any specific ‘cost to serve’ issues?
  11. To what extent is the picture similar for our direct competitors and can we learn from them?
  12. What about the picture for other companies who do not compete with us in our sector?
  13. What is the population spread of consumers in relation to our coverage of points of sale?
  14. What percentage (best estimate) of the target consumers are we reaching?
  15. What are the key battlegrounds and must win areas for the market?
  16. Where are our gaps in relation to this and how are we going to bridge them?
As with each of the 20 Steps, the key is getting into the detail, getting behind the data and understanding the actual reality of your company’s marketplace and not just your own historical view of it.

Getting these foundation steps right in the Assessment phase of the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence can be the difference between beating or missing those sales targets.

I hope you find this helpful, and I appreciate your views and comments below. I will be continuing my series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence, with Step 3 Distributor Assessment in my next post.

Please subscribe to the blog, you can do so on this page, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, please visit our website here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, RTM, retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG

Practical Questions FMCG Leaders Should Ask When Reviewing Route to Market Performance?

Posted by Ross Marie on Wed, Sep 26, 2018

Recently I shared my methodology for the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence at the beginning of this blog series.  You can read more about it here: The FMCG Leaders Guide to Route to Market Strategy & Execution in 20 Steps.  The first step, ‘Review Route to Market Performance’ sits in the ‘Assessment’ phase of this model.  This is where we will begin our journey, and I would like to start with sharing a lesson I learnt from my own career.

20 steps to route to market excellence

In March 1999 I started work as a Trade Marketing & Distribution Rep (aka Sales Rep) for P.J. Carroll & Co. Ltd., an Irish tobacco company owned by Rothmans International.  I had a territory in the south of the country.  The market at the time was Direct Store Delivery (DSD), meaning we delivered product from our warehouse to the individual stores.  Order capture was by Rep’s stock & order card or by telesales, with the main determining factors being volume and call frequency.  I had about 300 customers in my territory, we operated a 5 week cycle and my customers were divided into call frequencies of weekly, 2 weekly, 5 weekly and 10 weekly calls.  The target number of calls per day was 15.  All very logical and all very professionally managed.   

When I joined I was 21 years of age and I was very keen to please my boss and look to get promoted.  Once I figured out the geography of my territory, where each customer was located, I found out that I was finishing my 15 calls earlier and earlier each day.  In terms of numbers, I was overachieving on my sales volume, my brand distribution and on my new product introduction targets.  But by the end of month 3, I could do my required calls by lunchtime, most days, and still overachieve on my targets.  Nice if you want an easy life, or great if you want to use the extra time to impress the boss, but overall, not a very well set up RtM.  From the outside, everything looked like a well-oiled machine, but the devil was in the detail.  This is where the 20 Step model comes in.

rtm-performance-review-questionsThe first phase is Assessment, and Step 1 is Review RtM Performance.  In reviewing your current RtM performance, you need to look at all the 20 steps that are currently present within your RtM and get into the details to understand your current performance. Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 1 – Review RtM Performance:

  1. What does a detailed analysis of my ERP & RtM data reveal?
  2. Does available market data allow us to understand market realities & consumer buying trends, and what does this mean for our RtM?
  3. What is really going on in the marketplace & when did we last conduct systematic trade visits?
  4. What are the current levels of brand distribution and product display?
  5. What are the current levels of product understanding and brand dialogue within the trade?
  6. Are we leveraging digital effectively?
  7. How are the territories set up & how have they performed over the last number of years?
  8. What are the current call frequencies? What are the current outlet & channel classifications?  How have they been determined, and do they need to be reviewed?
  9. What is the current RtM structure and the trade tool kits? Are they fit for purpose?
  10. What is the current sales incentive program and what has it delivered?
  11. What data is available on your RtM performance? What’s being measures?  Is it enough?
  12. What are the levels of training now? Do we train on the ‘steps of the call’?
  13. How are we capturing and learning from success?
  14. How are the key accounts being managed? How are we generally engaging with the trade?
  15. What are the links to other functions across the organisation? How well are they working?

This step is detailed, it requires extensive experience and the right tools to ensure all the current performance is laid bare.  The more you do this, the more experience you have in FMCG operational execution, the more you will be able to interpret the details to reveal the true picture.  This will also uncover if there are underutilised resources allowing people to finish by lunchtime!

I hope you find this helpful, and I appreciate your views and comments below.   I will be continuing my series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence, I will be discussing step 2 in my next post.  Please subscribe to the blog, you can do so on this page, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model.  If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, please visit our website here.

Tags: RtM Strategy, 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, Ross Marie, RTM, RTM Assessment Tool, Route to Market, Distribution

The FMCG Leaders Guide to Route to Market Strategy & Execution in 20 Steps

Posted by Ross Marie on Wed, Sep 19, 2018

Wouldn’t it be great if someone developed and shared a step by step model detailing how to build and improve route to market execution, sales execution and trade marketing strategic and operational plans? After 20 years in RtM and after working with Enchange and some of the biggest multinationals around the world, I have now developed just such a model.

First things first, where did it all start?

In the summer of 1998, I had just finished my Degree and Masters. Tom Hanks was searching for Private Ryan and I had yet to get my first mobile phone. The dot com bubble had yet to inflate and I was desperate to get my first ‘sales’ job with a company car. I really wanted to start my career, I wanted to begin my climb up the sale ladder, I wanted to follow in my father and brothers’ footsteps, but more than anything, I really wanted the independence of my own transport. It’s amazing how you view the world at 21!

As it turns out, I did start my sales career that summer. I joined an agency in Dublin, doing sales promotion and merchandising with Showerings (Allied Domecq) and Grants of Ireland. My focus was the spirits division in the grocery sector. I also finally got that company car (sort of). My red 1998 Diesel Ford Courier Van, it may not have been the sales man’s dream Beemer or Alfa, but I loved that little van. Most importantly, my career had started, and I was on my way.

Moving on into Diageo later that year and then entering the tobacco industry for 15 years, mainly British American Tobacco, allowed me to experience in detail the breath of roles across the sales, route to market and trade marketing and distribution functions. When you work in the tobacco industry, and you can’t communicate with consumers on billboards, or TV, or almost anywhere, you live and die by route to market (RtM) execution. I loved that challenge.

Following a successful and enjoyable career working for multinationals, I joined a specialist supply chain and RtM consultancy company, Enchange. Enchange shared my passion for RtM execution and has been delivering RtM improvement programs with amazing results for some of the world’s leading companies for the last 25 years.

Together, we have spent the last number of years refining our approach and building a model for RtM execution. I would now like to introduce you to the ’20 Steps to RtM Excellence’.

20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence

 

This methodology not only combines decades of RtM experience, it brings a strategic approach to delivering excellence in RtM execution. It gives you a systematic step by step approach to driving sales and share growth while meeting consumer’s needs.

The 20 Steps are split across four phases of Assessment, Strategy, Design and Implementation. Over the next weeks and months, I will be sharing more and more information on each of the 20 steps, how they work, how they build on each other and how they can transform an organisation to deliver sales growth.

I hope you will find this helpful and I would really appreciate your views and comments below. Please also sign up to our blog, you can do so on this page, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, please visit our website here.

Tags: RTM, RtM Strategy, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Ross Marie, FMCG, Route to Market, Traditional Trade, 20 Steps to RtM Excellence

Improve Manufacturing Performance with Total Productive Maintenance

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Aug 23, 2018

When I first came across Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) I was sceptical of yet another ”blue sky” approach to pursuing manufacturing excellence. Surely, this would soon be replaced by the next set of buzz-word initials dreamed up by sharp-suited consultants. But no; I saw the light and now I’m a firm believer in this technique that originated in Japan.

If you have a factory that is running below par in terms of efficiency, output, reliability or cost etc, then TPM could be the ideal tool to achieve a sustainable turnaround. Companies do not like under-performing factories and there is usually somewhere else they could make their products better, faster or cheaper. So, if your factory is under threat of closure you might consider following the TPM principles.

TPM is not rocket science but it requires just as much senior management buy-in and patience as an S&OP process demands. There are multiples levels of TPM success but even the basics will require a significant and sustainable change in behaviour. Kick off with the Kaizen 5S approach which is remarkably simple stuff.

Total Productive MaintenanceKaizen 5S is based on the translation of 5 Japanese words relating to systematic improvement and maintenance of a clean, efficient, well organised operation.

  1. Sort – Sort out what you really need – I mean really need! Throw out anything that has been hanging around for a few years “just in case”. Check out your spare parts store and see what items are held for equipment you no longer own!
  2. Straighten – Have you ever mislaid your car keys? This system creates a dedicated space for every tool or spare part located near to where it is needed and you can clearly see when it is missing!
  3. Scrub – Clean the machines and the production area thoroughly. Dust can affect quality, spills can be hazardous and well maintained equipment lasts longer.
  4. Standardise - If you use identical working practices for maintenance and cleaning your employees will become highly proficient. Standardisation provides you with a flexible workforce that can be deployed where needed and without a training period.
  5. Sustain – From the factory manager to the tea boy you must keep the faith and sustain every initiative. This is very difficult at first but you have to grit your teeth and keep going.

Of course, this is merely a snap-shot of what TPM entails but it shows you the basic elements you need to start the journey. As mentioned, the first tentative steps can be painful but if you stay the course the benefits are immense in efficiency and employee satisfaction. The principles apply equally to logistic centres, offices; essentially everywhere people work.

Oh, but don’t try this at home or a divorce is highly probable, believe me!

Image credit: corbindavenport.blogspot.co.uk

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Manufacturing Footprint, Supply Chain, S&OP, Cost Reduction