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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

FMCG Drinks Distribution: Distributor & Producer route planning chaos

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Nov 06, 2013

As a general rule house or office numbering usually starts with number 1 at the start of the road nearest the city or town centre. Odd numbers on the left and even numbers on the right increase sequentially until the end of the road. In many countries long roads and highways are identified by the number of km or miles from the city centres. A simple logic of everyday life, you might think.

Not here in Romania. The road I live in gets off to an appalling start with houses 43A and 2 opposite each other at the far end of the road in the direction of City Hall. After a short distance of regularity it all starts to fall apart, horribly. The odd numbers jump from 7 to 15. House number 9 appears much farther down the road opposite number 32 and next to number 19. Houses 27 and 29 are nowhere near 28 and 30 and to cap it all, a new house is being built between 24 and 28 and what number does that have? Fancy a gamble on 26? No, not even an even number, it is 37 of course.

This road must have the highest incidence of free of charge dial a pizza transactions than anywhere else in Romania. You see the various pizza motorbikes criss-crossing the road trying to find hungry customers. Our Indian dial-n-deliver never arrives hot so we rarely have to pay for the treat and a quick microwave does the trick. The buzzing motorbikes of rapidly cooling food compete for road space with trucks from furniture and DIY stores and huge courier delivery vans. God forbid if anyone ever needs an ambulance or a fire engine - at least the fire engine could follow the flames and smoke, I suppose.

Think of all those incidents of repeatedly poor customer service, excess cost to serve and lost sales. Not forgetting the negative impact of paying for a pizza and delivering the same but not receiving cash in exchange.

Does that sound like your Route To Market distribution performance in Traditional Trade (TT)? I saw the very same last month in a big name FMCG drinks company:FMCG Drinks Route Planning resized 600

  • No route planning of producer deliveries from DC to distributors.
  • No route planning of distributor deliveries to outlets.
  • No route planning of distributor sales calls.
  • No route planning of distributor cash collection calls.


Exactly the same chaos and inefficiency as my road on a busy day. No wonder the company is struggling to maintain share and this is share which is extremely difficult to claw back once lost.

Sorting out a sensible route plan is not rocket science. With a decent map you can do it on a piece of paper or you can use one of the customised IT packages that make decisions using post codes. Even the IT package will not be perfect and inevitably you will see some wasted trips as clients change orders or delivery days or when new clients are secured. When you are in this situation, doing nothing really is not an option.

If you read this and think your set up is “one of the best” then perhaps the “best” you are comparing yourself with is not actually very good at all. Solving this does not require huge funds or resources and it is a growth opportunity directly under your own control. So, why not do something about it?

Alternatively, you could also employ Dora our post lady. Doamna Dora is the only person who understands the numbering logic in my road. Indeed, when she was on holiday recently a man took her place and he is still missing.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Route to Market, Dave Jordan, Humour, Supply Chain, Distribution

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