Supply Chain Blog

FMCG Co-packing and Re-packing Management

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jul 30, 2018
Whether you call it co-packing or re-packing this involves the further manipulation of a previously finished and complete SKU. Look around the shelves and the evidence of extra expense and work is displayed by special stickers, multi-packs and banded promotions amongst many others. The impact this has on your Supply Chain is potentially huge.

Wincanton_Copacking_SmallI will park the question of the value (or waste) of these activities for another day but where is the best place to carry out such operations? When you consider that some blue-chip FMCG producers co-pack/re-pack a majority of the volume coming out of their factory gates you realise this is not a small issue. How many products carry the original bar code into consumer’s houses? Not many!

The best location for these operations?

1. At the producing factory? From an operating company (OPCO) perspective this provides the least complexity downstream in the chain. For factories seeking higher and higher efficiency and asset utilisation this can be nightmare for cost and complexity. Even if the factory is part of the same company many will refuse to entertain “abnormal” requests from sister operating companies.

If an SKU requires a label that can be applied online without affecting speed then you might be ok. However, anything like banding together 2 different SKUs is unlikely to get a positive response. In any event, the 2 promotion-bound SKUs may be produced in different factories, countries and even continents.

2. At the OPCO warehouse? The stock is certainly closer to the final market destination so this makes sense but there are drawbacks to what providers call “added value services”. Seldom is a third party logistics provider (3PLP) set up to operate what is essentially a mini factory. If promotional volumes are low then you can deal with them on an ad hoc basis but where levels are higher you need a factory mentality and facilities and this is not common in 3PLPs.

Stock control is vital and a good quality WMS with added value functionality is a must. Knowing what product is where requires meticulous attention to master data detail. What goes into a re-packing location will come out with a completely different bar code – chaos prevails otherwise.

You are essentially locked into your 3PLP and he may well take advantage of that when it comes to pricing the work. Get this wrong and you will suffer unexpected and rising costs, stock “shrinkage” and a resultant drop in Customer Service Level.

3. At a specialist 3rd party? They do exist and if they are set up well and sensibly staffed this can work. You can expect a professional service and a well managed operation. Quality and flexibility will be higher and costs can be keen as the assets are not dedicated to a single company. Such a 3rd party is likely to have a wider portfolio of promotional options available and will invest in plant against a sound business case.

Of course, the downsides frighten potential clients away. You have the added cost and hassle of moving stock in and out of your logistical 3PLP and the associated longer lead times.

4. At the point of purchase (POP)? No, not as crazy as this might sound. If you can manage to get the same unadulterated SKU from the factory gate to the shelf then you are very lucky and secondly, you probably operate a slick chain.

Obviously, you will not be able to carry out the full menu of promotion assembly and display but this route does provide a tactical advantage that can catch competitors napping. An unannounced special price sticker or “buy 1 get 1 free” (BOGOF) promotion can pay dividends. You need the cooperation of the retailer but when there is mutual benefit, why not?

A blend of all 4 sounds like quite a unique opportunity. What do you think?

CTA 3PLs in CEE 0.03 Small resized 600

Image credit: Wincanton

Tags: Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, Manufacturing Footprint, Logistics Management, FMCG, Customer service

FMCG Mergers & Acquisitions - Why acquired brands fail to deliver

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 18, 2018

Let me get straight to the point on this one. Why do so many FMCG mergers or acquisitions frequently result in the apparent death-knell of once proud and promising brands? I am not going to name any names but if you think about it there have been some real clangers dropped by blue-chip FMCG giants.

Purchased companies or individual brands are usually already reasonably successful in order to attract new owners. Yes, sometimes companies will divest weaker brands or brands no longer core to their portfolios but you will struggle to sell a clearly decaying brand name. A real hospital pass if ever there was a branded one.

I am studying such a case in Europe at the moment where the FMCG brand acquisition is about 12 months old so plenty of time for smooth integration or so you would think. Marketing activity has not changed and I am also assured above and below the line advertising spend has been maintained at pre-acquisition levels. That in itself is unusual as sellers usually spend big to make a brand more attractive at sale time.

So why does an apparently attractive acquisition fail so quickly? Nothing at all to do with marketing or finance but everything to do with the extended Supply Chain. Just to be clear here I do not consider the Supply Chain to end at the distributor’s warehouse in Traditional Trade markets you commonly find in CEE, Africa and the Middle East. You need Supply Chain skills to get products on to shop shelves and then keep them replenished. With due respect to salesman and women, they are trained to sell.

Supply chain rtm m&a resized 600The newly acquired brand that was purchased with buoyant sales and a high profile has been dragged down to the level of the existing brands by inadequate Supply Chain and Route To Market (RTM) operations. Frankly, it did not stand a chance and it is no wonder the company wanted to buy a top selling brand when their own were performing so badly. However, the reasons for failure were all in-house as the once top selling brand plunged the depths.

There was no formal Supply Chain department with planning, logistics and customer service roles scattered around in Finance and Sales departments. There was no focus and no single person to co-ordinate and run a functioning Supply Chain. Forecasting accuracy; what’s that? Stock cover; no idea. S&OP; forget it Customer service; no!

Couple that level of disorganisation with a bonus-centric, forecast averse sales force trying to run the distribution chain through to the TT shop shelf and it is no wonder all the presentation arrows were red and pointing south.

When considering an acquisition to bolster sales and profit make sure your existing SKUs are not already blighted by lack of care an attention to your Supply Chain and RTM.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Mergers & Acquisitions, Dave Jordan, CEO, Traditional Trade, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Distribution

FMCG & Pharma: Top 10 Tips for a Tip Top Supply Chain

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jul 16, 2018

Only a few months into the year and I am hearing the same old complaints about the economy and business being in general ill health. However, there is a new recurring theme which popped up at various parties and gatherings over Easter; “my company doesn't seem to do anything different and just hopes business will improve”. Not going to happen, no way!

FMCG_PHARMA_SUPPLY_CHAIN_TIPSCertainly learning by your mistakes is a powerful message but banging your head against a brick wall for a number years is a rather pointless and painful experience and reflects dire leadership. Those companies that identify failings and shortcomings in their supply chain AND do something about them will be best prepared to beat the competition.

Based on client feedback and impact analysis of “before and after” performance I list our top 10 tips to tip top Supply Chain performance. 

  1. Route To Market – Has the march of the International Key Accounts stalled? Traditional Trade Distributors may still be a large chunk of your business and they are capable of scratching out growth but only if you support them. Give your RTM a thorough service and your Distributors will serve you better.
  2. Sales & Operational Planning - If this is in place and working well, great but there is no doubt you could improve it. If there is no S&OP you should use it! If you are not yet a believer of S&OP check out “What has S&OP ever done for us?".
  3. Reduced Inventory – Why not give your sales a boost with some unexpected and low cost support using stock that will be otherwise written off? I detect numerous companies “encouraged” stock into the trade for year end and only the residual stock disposal companies will benefit if stock gets too close to expiry.
  4. SKU Complexity – When did you last study your complexity? Do you have any idea what complexity is doing to your business? Understand your sku complexity and check if it appropriate for your business.
  5. Improved Customer Service – A number of major global companies still do not measure CS to any degree of accuracy or honesty.  Companies that fool themselves on Customer Service rarely succeed.
  6. Proactive 3PLP’s – Are they meeting the agreed KPI’s? If they are then perhaps you need to review them and revise targets upwards, again and again.
  7. Sales & Marketing Buy-in – This is still a problem, I fear. If only everyone in your company was aligned to the same volume/value plan and 100% mutually supportive. Think what sort of competitive edge that would provide.
  8. Use the ERP - Avoid uncontrolled spreadsheets like the plague! They undermine your business and waste time and effort. If you are considering a fresh implementation of an ERP then chose a partner with experience in the field. I mean real operational experience and not bought-in fresh out of university, suited “experts”.
  9. Continuously Improve – If you are in the same position in 12 months time then you will be dropping towards the back of the pack and will be ill equipped to compete. Keep innovating and improving your Supply Chain.
  10. Supply Chain Awareness – A very important tip top number 10. There is more to supply chain than trucks and sheds - for the uninitiated this is what Supply Chain is all about.

Check out the top 5 as a priority and then seek an expert partner to lead you through the process of change in the next 5. Don’t be in the same position this time next year; do something!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, CEO, Performance Improvement, Pharma, KPI, Traditional Trade, S&OP, Cost Reduction

Manage Supply Chain Expectations with Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 11, 2018

If you do not specifically agree on what is expected between two parties before you start a relationship then anything and everything but success is likely.

You buy a new car and you get a contract that tells you what is covered by the guarantee and for how long in time or in distance travelled. From your side you will be expected to pay the same people to periodically maintain the equipment at peak condition.

Travelling by air? You buy a ticket to Bucuresti and you know when and where it will take off and hopefully land you and how much baggage you can take. There are rules in place for delayed take off and excess and lost baggage. You might not like these rules but that is what you have agreed to by investing in the ticket. (Before you say it, I know certain airlines stretch the boundaries here yet people still fly on them!)

Service Level Agreement resized 600While it may not be as popular as it used to be, marriage is still perhaps the most widely used Service Level Agreement (SLA) in the world. The names of the two parties are made very clear to a number of witnesses and depending on your brand of religion there follows a list of statements you have to agree to or the marriage ceremony does not continue. You even get a certificate which is in effect a contract or your SLA. Of course, this does not go down the detail of who does the washing up or who gets up at 3am to feed the baby but it does set out clear expectations.

Should the husband run off with the woman for the chip shop then a divorce is highly likely. Think of the arguments about who gets to keep Eric the hamster if there is a parting of ways. Alternatively, you could use one of those “pre-nuptial” agreements favoured by plastic Hollywood-types who think a long relationship is several months in their world so far away from reality.

In all cases, it reflects “you scratch my back and I scratch yours” or sometimes “you stab me in the back and I take you to court”.

Despite SLAs being a vital part of daily lives why do FMCG. Brewing, Pharmaceutical companies fail to have the same in place for their suppliers, IKA/TT customers and internal departments within the S&OP framework? Such an approach holds people accountable for the service they provide and at the same time making the penalties clear in the event of failure.

SLAs do not have to be a lengthy tome of text but should contain enough information for both parties to be 100% clear about what is expected from the relationship. Include some relevant and why not stretching KPIs and you have the basis of a relationship that may flourish rather than end up in the divorce courts.

No relationship in business or in private life is perfect but why not start out by writing down what level of service you expect to provide to each other?

 

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, Supply Chain, CEE, Traditional Trade, Logistics Management, Performance Improvement

SC and Sales senior team squabbles: Always bad for business

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Jul 05, 2018

Another sign of getting old I guess. When was the last time you watched a football match when no tattoos were on show and the haircuts did not look like something out of the Time Warp musical? As I write England is still involved yet we are all waiting for the inevitable elimination on penalties. At least it won’t be to Germany this time – what rotten bad luck boys!

sales-supply-chain-disagreementIn other news I see The Donald and Kim Jong-un have finally met face to face after a great deal of public bitchiness. That must have been the bad hair day to end all bad hair days; an orange bird’s nest and something that looks like a greasy black croissant. Funny, after so much apparent dislike that these 2 diverse characters actually seem to get on well with each other, in public at least. Even if you don’t like someone you may still have to do business with them and that can be difficult.

The bird’s nest-croissant situation reminded me of many FMCG and Pharmaceutical companies where the Sales and Supply Chain Directors do not co-operate very well. Commonly they fail to see that doing business is just that and difficult discussions and criticism is not personal. However, when relationships break down (or don’t even start) you find that precious time is spent trying to prove the other party wrong.

While the focus should be on beating your competition, you may find that 2 of your key operational directors are motivated in a very different direction. You can hear your competitors laughing as the in-fighting worsens and the conflict cascades down the business to those operating at lower levels. Decisions are being made in order to trick or trip the other department and ensure KPIs are missed and fingers can be pointed. What a complete waste of time, effort and experience!

Such behaviour has to be tackled head-on and it needs the Chairman or CEO to bang heads together and quickly. From a leadership perspective it is vital that the CEO does not appear to take sides or knee-jerk react to information received.

One of the frequent causes of Sales-SC conflict is a poor alignment of Key Performance Indicators. When setting KPIs for the senior team it is important to ensure that a few principles are observed:

  1. Some KPIs must be shared. If a bonus relies on performance of some common KPIs then you are more likely to put the personal stuff aside and do what is best for the business. Stop allocating silo based KPIs.
  2. KPIs should be equally stretching. Any imbalance will surely lead to a bitter and twisted relationship for all involved.
  3. Share out the recognition. Sales tend to be seen as the in-market heroes yet everyone else in the company is working to support that success. If the quarter has gone well, congratulate everybody.

If the Presidents of USA and North Korea can get along despite many, many differences in style and opinion then surely there is hope for your Sales and Supply Chain Directors.

Image courtesy of Ben Schonewille at freedigitalphotos.net.

 

Tags: CEO, Supply Chain, Sales, KPI, Dave Jordan

FMCG ERP and The Beatles.......? Spreadsheets cause damage.

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 04, 2018

Some time ago I wrote about the way spreadsheets were undermining expensively assembled ERP’s in FMCG, Brewing and Pharmaceutical companies. They still are, by the way.

Not too long ago a paper on Public Debt and Austerity published by 2 eminent Harvard Professors was found to contain errors in the Excel coding. Several significant countries were excluded from the data analysis and therefore the conclusions could not be accurate.

The glitch was spotted by a student who like everyone else, believed he and not the professors must be wrong. If you can make mistakes at this level then think what may be happening in your demand planning office. A decimal point in the wrong place or a misplaced cell could lead to market place challenges in stock availability or indeed, excess.Beatles_ERP_Spreadsheets

The bug in that Public Debt spreadsheet leads me to the Beatles – what a segue! Here is what Lennon & McCartney might have written about spreadsheets and ERPs.

Yesterday, an IT man took my Excel away
Now I have to plan a different way

How I wish it was yesterday

Certainly, I’m not as comfortable as I used to be
There's a new ERP in front of me.
How yesterday came shockingly

Why Excel had to go I don't know, IT wouldn’t say
Did I plan something wrong? How I long for the Excel way.

Yesterday, spreadsheet planning was the only way
Now I need to learn a different way
I need to believe in our ERP

Why Excel had to go I don't know, IT wouldn’t say
Did I plan something wrong? How I long for the Excel way.

Yesterday, poor planning was the only way
Error riddled spreadsheets everyday
Now I don’t believe in yesterday
Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm

You can catch up with the classic Beatles track by clicking here.

If you do not run an ERP that relegates spreadsheets to useful and reliable supporting tools then you are risking poor planning in your business.  If you are running an ERP you might check exactly where the data comes from, where critical calculations are really made and how secure is the information.

Image courtesy of artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, CEO, Pharma, ERP/SAP, Supply Chain, Forecasting & Demand Planning, ERP

FMCG S&OP: Who is the stooge in your process?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jul 02, 2018

Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise, Abbott and Costello, Little and Large, Hale and Pace, May and Johnson. These are examples of double acts where one party plays the straight/stooge and apparently serious man while the other plays the fool/jester. I admit I am not too sure who is who in the last example.

Having suffered 2 weeks of UK television recently it was difficult not to see the latest popular double act of Ant and Dec popping up at frequent intervals (mostly Dec in the medium term though!). My jury is out on these two as they appear to be part of a UK TV talent vacuum glibly presided over by a man who looks like a dark-haired Max Headroom – youngsters, Google it. I always thought Simon Cowell was that nice bloke who rescues badgers from drains in Surrey but there are 2 of them!

S&OP Success Through TeamworkAnyway, the point is that these performers work through their contrast in styles and the way each party plays off the other to score points and generate laughs. For some reason the first name in the act title is usually the funny or less serious partner who generates the gags and generally puts down the straight partner. This notation is also consistent with Sales & Operational Planning with OP being the collective remainder of your FMCG, Brewing or Pharma business.

Why do so few Sales people – at any level of seniority – get S&OP? In fact do any Sales people really get S&OP and recognise the process as one for common good in a company? If only there was a way of replacing sales bonuses with cross-discipline, volume/value bonuses. While the straight man of the team endeavours to supply on time in full against the forecast the joker waits until the last few days of the month to sell anything including his granny to make the required number and secure a bonus. And thus, the monthly cycle repeats again, and again, and again.

If you pump too much unwanted inventory (done pretend its sales) into the market sooner or later you will need to destock your distributors and/or International Key Accounts (IKA). Distributors have always been ripe for a bit of extra loading here and there to manipulate the sales figures but do not fool yourself this does not happen with IKA. It does and with the modern power of IKA accounts you might find yourself with a very unwelcome stock return and a difficult to refuse request for compensation and refund.

Frequently, when things go wrong in the market place the Sales people will chirp up with something like “that’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into” as a prelude to their Teflon blame-storming. S&OP requires a team effort to succeed as a process which will lead to better performance in the market place. No planning or forecasting process is ever perfect but a little more diligence and team playing from the funny man would bring immediate and lasting results.

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, Humour, Supply Chain, CEE, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, FMCG