The new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on so many issues regarding corporate Route to Market (RtM) strategies. What many companies now face is the truth that has been hidden for years - we cannot race with unstable or unfit horses. Furthermore, the take up of mobile money and distance ordering through e-commerce platforms and mobile devices have created many opportunities to tap into accross the markets of Africa.Now is the time to make sure that your RtM horses are in the best possible of shape for the race.
I would recommend to FMCG leaders and decison makers to consider the the following steps.
- Performance. Draw a demarcation line between performance evaluation and distributors’ assessment. In the recent past many high performing distributors have failed to sustain performance. In doing so they have seriously affected their suppliers and internal teams. For example, a company which delivers volume may not be profitable. There are many recent examples of this in Africa and beyond. Distributors with weak management processes are at risk! Distributors with weak trade receivables are vulnerable and are likely to ‘quit the game’ at the first magnitude 1 earthquake. Thus distributors which are financially weak cannot support a company with growth expectations.
- Adapt to home delivery, e-commerce, go digital. Distribution channels evolve and winners are the early adaptors. People are less willing to be public in crowded places. They prefer ordering from online platforms or simply order by a phone call.
- Training. Move from one-off or single shot training and embark on a capability building journey. It does not really pay to gather people in a room for a few days and ‘over-feed’ them with chapters and chapters. A real plan should be developed and put in place for a longer period, supported by assessment and advice. Such a journey is more effective in positively changing Ways of Working (WoW).
- Measuring Success. Stay focussed, put in place a Balanced Scorecard that captures key initiatives and KPIs that focus on value drivers. For example, the top 5 initiatives of each key Team Player have to be identified and have the appropriate KPIs put in place. This drives ‘synergies’ within the organization in efforts to deliver shared goals and objectives.
- Review RtM Success. Make periodic RtM Business Reviews (BR). These should be more than just a meeting to review results. They should focus on the profitability and highlight the key findings from previous periods. The BRs should include a proactive approach to field activities, budgeted activities, implementation schedules, competition, market trends, etc.. Each BR should agree the activities and actions in advance of the next BR.
About this Author
Aristide F. Kouame is senior Route to Market (RtM) and Commercial Consultant at Enchange who is passionate about RtM and business development. He has over 10 years’ commercial and RtM experience in West Africa in the FMCG, Brewing & Beverages and Telecom sectors. He held several senior commercial, sales and distribution development roles including in Côte d`Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo with Diageo and Friesland Campina.