Supply Chain Blog

10 Top Tips To Tip-Top Customer Service in FMCG, Drinks & Pharma

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Aug 06, 2018

Do FMCG, Drinks & Pharma Companies delude themselves on Customer Service? I think some may well be doing this and may or may not know it! Whatever service related KPI you measure, the KPI is designed to asses how you are performing both internally and at a retailer or outlet level, against peers.

Customer service improvementThere are many ways of measuring the performance including OTIF, CSLM, CCF and CCFOT amongst many others. Essentially you are measuring how much of the right stuff you delivered to the right place at the right time. Importantly, it is not value based – you might measure that internally for monthly progress monitoring and sales bonuses but it is irrelevant for service measures.

Common errors in Customer Service measurement and management:

1. Service should be measured per SKU thus avoiding the possibility of hiding poor performance in one area with exceptional performance in another. Measuring by SKU allows you to hold the right people accountable and ensure resources are appropriately applied.

2. Are you measuring against what the customer ordered or what your team said he could order? This is a common error particularly when order capture is in the hands of staff rewarded via value based sales incentives - “We don’t have that but you can have some extra of this”. You need to see the raw, unconstrained demand from your customers to really understand what they asked for and what they actually received. There is no problem with substituting products with customer agreement as this maintains the relationship and should result in sales but this must be a visible process.

3. Yes, of course the customer may ask for unreasonable amounts of a certain standard SKU or promotion pack but hiding the “data blip” is not the answer. Addressing the issue with some collaborative planning would help both parties. For some reason they asked for a huge shipment; find out why and be more ably prepared to service the demand next time.

4. Use an ERP that automatically allows you to allocate reason codes for service failures and get them investigated promptly. Focus on the big wins using the 80/20 principle; don’t spend too much time finding out why you did not deliver 5 boxes of washing powder and do spend time on the failure to deliver large volumes of high value beauty products.

5. Get your service level on the agenda of the top table in the company. Your service level is a function of every single person in the company and is a reflection of how well you are performing in the market. This means the Marketing guy and the HR guy and others must be involved. Celebrate successes widely and noisily.

6. Do you have a Customer Service department led by a talented individual who is graded as highly as peers within the company? CS is a very important function and it should enjoy equality of importance within the business. Also, CS is not just about taking orders and printing invoices as customers deserve the opportunity to talk to a real human being (avoid answer phones!) about their problems and concerns. Small issues in invoice accuracy which can delay payments of thousands of Euros can be sorted out by knowledgeable and concerned staff motivated to help.

7. Make the CS measure highly visible around the company – everyone should be aware of the overall CS their company is offering to customers. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting low or “sand-bagged” targets – you are likely to achieve them and that gets you precisely nowhere. If you deliver to Retailer platforms you might wish to check where your measure is recorded.

8. Make cross functional visits to customers - they need to see people other than sales reps. Not every day, of course but an annual review with all interested parties present can smooth relationships and assist in times of difficulty.

9. Agree Service Level Agreements to ensure both parties know exactly what is expected as providers or receivers of service. The SLA should contain a few KPIs which allow you to understand the current state and drivers of CS.

10. Celebrate successes both internally and when appropriate, with customers. You need to maintain a rigorous approach to business principles but an above the board dinner does no harm.

Customer Service = Satisfied Customers = Sales = Pay/Bonus = Growth = Satisfied & Retained Staff

 

Tags: Customer service, Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, Pharma, KPI, Logistics Management

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

FMCG – Hunker down and find Supply Chain Analytics

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jun 06, 2018

Have you ever “hunkered down”? I remember being asked to hunker down during a business game training course many years ago and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Eventually I had to ask as failing to follow the hunker downwards request appeared to be causing a bit of a problem for the American presenter.

This hunkering failure occurred during one of the many versions of the Beer Game in which I have taken part or delivered over the years. Anyone who has been involved with supply chain activities will probably have taken part in the Beer Game, or the Moussy Game as it is sometimes known in dry countries of the Middle East.

What does the beer game do? The rules are relatively simple and in summary, the overall objective is to meet consumer demand for cases of beer in a complex, extended supply chain while controlling unplanned expense on back orders and inventory. The game involves four overlapping and inter-dependent supply chains, i.e. source, make, distribution, and a retail outlet. There is a cost penalty for holding excess stock and any backlog unfulfilled orders.

Players rely on colleagues in the other departments to do the right things at the right time for the business but frustration soon surfaces. Usually, things do not go well and players feel frustrated because they are not getting the results they expect. Assumptions are made about consumer demand and erratic patterns emerge as backlogs mount and/or massive unnecessary inventory accumulates. It was at this stage in the game I was invited to “hunker down……….”.

Does that sound like your own supply chain – not the hunkering bit? Frustration is common between departments who all aim to do the right thing but only have the necessary data and information to do the right thing for their specific area of responsibility at that specific time. Even after careful consideration and informed debate, the real effect of an adjustment can only be seen in the future.

supply_chain_analytics_fmcg_inventory_performance.jpgIF - a big if -  nothing else changes and all assumptions are correct and accurate then there is a chance the desired effect will develop as predicted. However, life is not like that and certainly not supply chain life.

 

What can happen?

1. New launches kick-in and are successful, or perhaps not.

2. Competition by definition is designed to try and disrupt your plans.

3. The weather turns out rather different to the forecast and nobody wants beer.

4. The economy takes a turn up or down, again.

5. Factories, 3PLPs and distributors all suffer performance variability.

6. Customers and consumers change their needs and habits.

Etc., etc., etc., this list really is endless. Absolutely anything can happen to turn apparently sensible decisions into foolish, future forecast failure.

Hey, what about all that expensive IT we have? Doesn’t that help us understand what is going on and what is going to happen? No, not necessarily. Common supply chain IT tells us what has happened, what is happening, where and when but not precisely why an event happened or what will happen.

Subtle differences perhaps but to up your game you need to hunker down with Supply Chain Analytics to gain a full unexpurgated understanding of how changes you make today will impact the future and more importantly, how you can change that future.

Yes, you can change the future with a classy analytics tool.

Image courtesy of Enchange at Enchange.com

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, CEO, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Supply Chain Analytics, IT

An FMCG Success Story; Focus on customers and enjoy the consumer benefits

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, May 28, 2018

Once upon a time there was an FMCG company that I will refer to as “Foresight”. “Foresight” had spent many years and many Euros creating a slick inbound Supply Chain.

  • Top class global, regional and collaborative buying
  • Flexible manufacturing network
  • A state of the art ERP
  • Rigorous S&OP as the key business process

Slick inbound Supply ChainWith all those important boxes ticked they must be successful.....but they were not; not even close. In their peer group they were not number 1, top and bottom line growth was getting harder and harder. Throw in difficult economic conditions and the consumption of their product offering plummeted – double digit style. A large FMCG business and quite a few personal reputations were not looking pretty.

The problem was a surprising lack of focus at the customer end of the Supply Chain. Both International Key Accounts(IKA) and the Traditional Trade (TT) were being poorly serviced.

A lot of hard work upstream was being wasted through inefficiency and actually, ignorance. The situation had existed for a number of years but as the same malaise was common in the industry nobody could see the benefit or indeed the need for “getting ones act together”. “Last amongst equals” was hardly a motivating and compelling business proposition for an international big name.

Seeking external expert assistance “Foresight” started out on an adventure that would change the way they approached business at the customer end of the chain.

Customer Service.   This was something “Foresight” thought it was already good at providing but critical aspects were lacking:

  1. Customer Service responsibilities were fragmented and lacked clear and unambiguous leadership.
  2. “Customer Service personnel” had received no training in the subject - nobody really wanted to take responsibility.
  3. “Customer Service” was actually limited to invoice preparation. Proactive interaction with customers and problem solution were not in job descriptions.

This hardly projected an image of a caring “Foresight” and this was a huge risk considering the increasing power of the retailers…. 

Route To Market (RTM). “This is under control for TT and it seems to work”, however RTM was in the Sales black box and that box needed opening and shaking upside down vigorously!

  1. The Distributor RTM network had been in place for several years and was decaying. “Foresight” salesman interaction with Distributors was far from an open win-win relationship.
  2. Several Distributors were simply incapable and/or ill equipped to represent such a major company. Some actually did not wish to be involved.
  3. “Foresight” did not know on whom they could rely in their network or how large and obvious opportunities could be targeted.

In-house Sales bonuses were linked to sell-in and the remaining steps to the consumer were ignored at “Foresight” level and left in the hands of some indifferent distributors.

The cures were not simple or quick but they were effective and the payback was fast and sustained.

Customer Service Centre“Foresight” now operates a centralised Customer Service department looking after customer needs in a standardised and caring manner. Phone calls are answered by someone who wants to help and the customer is not passed from pillar to post trying to find someone interested in their problem. Retailers now see CS staff face to face as they proactively take steps to understand the needs of both sides of the partnership. The Retailer office was once “sales only” and off bounds to other departments but not now and the benefit is clear and significant.

In RTM, “Foresight” carried out a comprehensive assessment of their distributor network making evaluations of all aspects of each distributor’s organisation. The strengths and weaknesses of each partner are now known and understood. “Foresight” now knows where there is receiver capacity to take more responsibility and a leading role in market deployment. Similarly, they also know to tread carefully with a number of distributors who are struggling financially or simply not equipped to meet expectations. “Foresight's” efforts are now focused on those areas providing maximum opportunity and reward. The “one size fits all” approach has gone and distributors are managed as important partners.

In combination these changes have transformed the business and success has been quick to materialise.  “Foresight” enjoys a leading position in its sector while competitors scrap around trying to find growth that is clearly there but they cannot reach.

For “Foresight” at least, they really are able to live happily ever after!

 

Tags: Customer service, Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Distribution

FMCG SKU Proliferation: You DON'T need lost sales in Q4

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Nov 13, 2017
Extra SKUs sneak onto price lists when nobody is looking. Sales & Marketing colleagues prefer new launches with lengthy SKU lists different flavours, different sizes, different colours, new packaging etc. How many shelf facings do they want? How do these decisions get through S&OP meetings? (You do run an S&OP process, don't you?)

Do you know this SKU proliferation is likely to affect your customer service? Rather than delighting more and more customers you maybe disappointing them and wasting countless Euros at the same time. Introducing an SKU is a cross business decision, or should be! When considering new SKU introduction at your next Board or S&OP meeting then the supply chain people should ask some testing questions.

Cost per SKU. Have you ever sat down with your Management Accountant and calculated how much it costs to have an SKU on your price list? Sales staff will bemoan the rising listing fees but in reality the cost of an SKU is much, much more. Including, e.g.

  • An employee must spend time buying the different label, dyestuff, cap, box, etc.
  • The new raw material/packaging must be stored in a warehouse.
  • Someone must call it off at the factory.
  • The factory must schedule and make the SKU.
  • The finished product is stored in a warehouse.
  • Someone at the operating company must plan the SKU.
  • Transport into and ex-factory.
  • Transport to Distributor or Retailer etc, etc

All of these activities and many, many more ensure that the cost of having an SKU on the books is significant. In a very rough rule of thumb the cost of having any 1 SKU on the books of a medium-sized company is typically 30,000 Euros per annum.

Factory complexity. Time is money in factories as they try and make their assets sweat and get as much out of the gate as fast and cheaply as possible. Each colour or perfume change or label or pack size adjustment stops the production line and steals valuable time which you cannot recover.

Logistics. Each individual SKU requires a dedicated pallet or rack or bin location. The more SKUs you have the more money you are paying for space. When you have 16 variants of the same shampoo pack size you can understand why picking errors occur, lowering your customer service and causing lost sales.

Interim_Management_FMCG_Dave_Jordan_SKU_Complexity.jpgPlanning. At year-end low value SKUs really drag your business down as resources are applied to plan and deliver SKUs to market which may increase your volume number but not your profit line. Your scarce resource should be focussed on delivering those SKUs that make a real difference to profit rather than spending time on low value/slow moving SKUs which may actually have to be written off in the long term.

SKU rationalisation. Ok, so despite the above you are drowning under SKU complexity. Far too many organisations launch a new SKU and then fail to revisit the data assumptions on which it was first introduced. Firstly, if a new SKU is not even expected to deliver at least 30,000 Euros (or whatever your in-house figure may be) profit then DON'T LAUNCH IT! For all SKUs on your price list you should carry out an SKU Rationalisation exercise preferably quarterly but at least annually. SKUs that do not meet profit/margin/volume/GP criteria should be placed on watch. If they remain below your cut off points then it is time to propose a delisting.

The ideal time to carry out that rationalisation exercise is before you submit Annual Plan 2018 and certainly before the end of 2017. Your staff will be concentrating on the day to day operation so recruitment of an external resource to carry out the segmentation is advisable. The temporary recruit will be dispassionate and unbiased and will deliver a proposal which is right for the business and not just right for some. 

Of course, there will always be special cases like SKUs that constitute a range or a niche local jewel but as long as these are the exceptions then you have a chance of a fast flowing, efficient and reliable supply chain ready for 2018. 

Need more expert advise from readily available talent to address SKU Complexity? Please click here. 

Image courtesy of Supertrooper freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Customer service, SKU, FMCG, Interim Management, Dave Jordan, S&OP, Sales

Global FMCG Supply Chain Transformed by Analytics

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Apr 05, 2017

The Challenge

A leading global FMCG company undertook an aggressive supply chain improvement programme across 150 markets. The objective was 100% alignment of worldwide operational activities with company strategy and objectives. Not an insignificant task! 

The Problem

The organisation routinely calculated and published multiple KPIs and targets, but a lack of data integrity, accessibility and insightful reporting limited supply chain progress. Data was ‘scattered’ across multiple sources including enterprise ERP, market ERP, multiple factory systems and MI systems. No shortage of data but a severe dearth of insight and information.

In several markets, the organisation was suffering from volatile and highly variable short-term supply chain plans and an excess of finished goods inventory, despite a stable and predictable consumption. The ways of working within the supply chain and the interactions externally were traditional, with operating practices and decision making analysis unchanged for far too many years.

The Solution

Engagement with key stakeholders across the business established the corporate need and critical success factors for the analysis. A Toolset & suite of SKU-level Dashboards was developed, focussing on demand, planning, materials, production & execution. Company data was extracted into the toolset to provide information leading to appropriate actions. New monthly reporting and analysis revealed significant inventory reduction opportunities and importantly, operational management had the confidence to drive the required changes with a far greater understanding of potential outcomes.

sc_transformation_supplyvue_updated.pngThe Winning Tool

SupplyVue is a revolutionary supply chain analytics solution.

  • SupplyVue uses existing data to analyse and diagnose problems and successes in the supply chain.
  • SupplyVue provides a suite of tools and dashboards to model different inventory, financial and service level scenarios.
  • SupplyVue provides the visibility, data, information and business case to drive changes in the supply chain while fully understanding potential trade-offs.
  • SupplyVue enables provides visibility across the end-to-end supply chain to deliver better service to internal and external stakeholders.

The Result

Hard work, patience and trust in the analytics tool provided:

  • Improved forecasting accuracy.
  • Senior management tools to set informed policy.
  • For the first time, planners had powerful and relevant tools to perform root cause analysis of supply chain issues.

The big one? The company achieved an inventory reduction of 40% (yes, forty) in 12 markets amounting to US$ 200 million. Not too shabby eh?

Plus, something that is difficult to measure. SupplyVue raised the morale of supply chain staff who were now able to offer intelligent and assured solutions rather than shoulder shrugs and excuses.

The Future

Would you like to read more about analytics?

Supply Chain Analytics

SupplyVue

The Pathway

How to transform your supply chain?

The Next Important Step

Enchange can help you transform your supply chain, the overall business and personal ambitions!

To find out how we can help you and to enquire about our wide range of supply chain and related services please click here and contact us.

Image courtesy of Enchange.com

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, KPI, Supply Chain, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Supply Chain Analytics

Logistics Outsource Tendering in CEE - Top 7 Hazards

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Nov 16, 2016

This process can be straight forward but a little extra care and knowledge will ensure you achieve the best warehousing and/or transport solution for your business.

Just a quick reality check, do you need to outsource? Before embarking on a complicated and potentially disruptive tender are you convinced your current in-house operation is unsuitable? Think long and hard about outsourcing or you could be trapped in a long-term relationship with someone who may not care about your business as much as you.

Assuming you have taken the correct decision let us look at 7 things that can go wrong.

1. Process Leadership If possible, appoint a leader from outside of the Supply Chain team, e.g. Finance. This will promote impartiality and in any case, many of the key debates will be in the Finance area. For complete impartiality, you might consider hiring an experienced Interim Manager or Consultant who has no long term interest. All contenders will be trying to pick up snippets of advantageous information and you must not compromise the tender process in any way.

2. Qualification. Get an idea for which companies are likely to be interested in and capable of being your 3PL partner. Do not be surprised if your list is relatively small but you should aim for 8-10 contenders in this first sweep. Contact these companies with a questionnaire asking them to outline their capabilities, pedigree and reputation in your geography and follow this up with a face to face meeting where you can get a better feel for competence and commitment.

3. Cost Comparison. Outsourcing is not always about cost reduction but the costs of the 3PL contenders will be a major element in the decision. Ensure you know your accurate current costs for the entire service you are expecting the 3PL to provide. You need transparency on your own cost structure to make a valid and meaningful comparison.

4. Time Expectations. Don't rush the process despite the pressure from above (or below) to make a change. You will be reliant on your 3PL to support your business so make sure a timetable is agreed with all stakeholders, including your own Supply Chain people. The tender process will not be a secret however hard you try and your people will be nervous. The changeover should fall in a slack period so avoid your seasonal peaks and major promotional periods.

5. People. If you are outsourcing your existing in-house Logistics function, then you are either going to make several staff redundant or you will be looking for the new 3PL to take those staff on board. Either way you must treat people in the best way possible or your service levels will suffer as you make this difficult change.

supply_chain_3pl_logistics_transport.jpgIf you are making staff redundant you must keep them fully informed at each critical step. Why not consider an escalating loyalty bonus linked to performance? If existing staff members are being offered the opportunity to join the new 3PL then it is your responsibility to ensure terms and conditions are fair. From experience in CEE it is wise to build a "parachute" agreement into the new contract ensuring existing terms and conditions are maintained for a period of say, 12-18 months.

 

6. Beware of well- meaning Distributor partners trying to step up to the mark as a 3PL and be similarly aware of any of the big names who are not present locally but "expect to be". This means they are unlikely to enter your market unless they get your business and you will not appreciate being their new guinea-pig!

7. Start-up Phase. Ensure your tendering process includes a clear understanding of what will happen as the business is transferred. How soon will KPI's be at the required level? Does the 3PL have the necessary staff with relevant skills, e.g. narrow aisle FLT drivers. Do they have extra FLT batteries than can be swapped to maintain the operation? Has the WMS been robustly tested? Do they have sufficient trucks and drivers?.........Even some of the big name 3PLs make mistakes at this crucial time.

Taking care of these 7 elements will help you move through the all-important implementation phase to a steady business state without surprises.

Some 3PLs tend to be very slick at securing new business but some of them are not very good at keeping it!

Want to know more about logistics in the CEE region?  Check out these posts too!

Logistics: Working With 3rd Party Logistics Providers in CEE 

Working With 3PLP's in CEE - When did you last see your stock count?

Top tips to improve your cycle counting & avoid suffering stock shock 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Customer service, Logistics Service Provider, Supply Chain, Cost Reduction, Transportation, 3PL

FMCG – Hunkering down for Supply Chain Analytics

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Aug 24, 2016

Have you ever “hunkered down”? I remember being asked to hunker down during a supply chain training course many years ago and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Eventually I had to ask as failing to follow the hunker downwards request appeared to be causing a bit of a problem for the presenter.

This hunkering failure occurred during one of the many versions of the Beer Game in which I have taken part or run over the years. Anyone who has been involved with supply chain activities will probably have taken part in the Beer Game, or the Moussy Game as it is sometimes known in dry countries of the Middle East.

What does the beer game do? The rules are relatively simple and in summary the overall objective is to meet consumer demand for cases of beer in a complex, extended supply chain while controlling unplanned expense on back orders and inventory. The game involves four overlapping and inter-dependent supply chains, i.e. manufacturing, distribution, procurement and a retail outlet. There is a cost penalty for holding excess stock and any backlog unfulfilled orders.

Players rely on colleagues in the other departments to do the right things for the business but frustration soon surfaces. Usually, things do not go well and players feel frustrated because they are not getting the results they expect. Assumptions are made about consumer demand and erratic patterns emerge as backlogs mount and/or massive unnecessary stocks accumulate. It was at this stage in the game I was told to “hunker down……….”.

Does that sound like your own supply chain – not the hunkering bit? Frustration is common between departments who all aim to do the right thing but only have the necessary data and information to do the right thing for their specific area of responsibility at that specific time. Even after careful consideration and informed debate, the real effect of an adjustment can only be seen in the future.

supply_chain_analytics_fmcg_inventory_performance.jpgIF - a big if -  nothing else changes and all assumptions are correct and accurate then there is a chance the desired effect will develop. However, life is not like that and certainly not supply chain life. What can happen?

New launches kick-in and are successful, or not.

Competition by definition is designed to disrupt your plans.

The weather turns out rather different to the forecast.

The economy takes a turn up or down.

Factories, 3PLPs and distributors all suffer performance variability.

Customers and consumers change their needs and habits.

Etc., etc., etc., this list really is endless. Absolutely anything can happen to turn apparently sensible decisions into foolish, forecast failure.

Hey, what about all that IT we have? Doesn’t that help us understand what is going on? This should tell us what is really going to happen in supply chains? No, not necessarily. Common supply chain IT tells us what has happened, what is happening, where and when but not precisely why an event happened or what will happen.

Subtle differences perhaps but to up your game you need to hunker down with Supply Chain Analytics to gain a full unexpurgated understanding of how changes you make today will impact the future and more importantly, how you can change that future.

Yes, you can.

Image courtesy of Enchange at Enchange.com

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, CEO, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Supply Chain Analytics, IT

Frock Stocks & FMCG Supply Chain Inventory Decisions

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Aug 04, 2016

Senior Management has been on quite a shopping spree over the last few months taking advantage of various big name high street stores that have lost their lustre and even their premises in some cases. The demise of these familiar UK brands has nothing to do with Brexit and the variable value of Sterling but in one case a run on the Green pound has been responsible…..

Of course this has had several knock-on effects and not least the amount of money “invested” in clothes and shoes is now significant and that money is largely sunk - the market for unwanted or out of style apparel being extremely limited. I hate to think how much money is hanging in the wardrobe but that raises a second issue.

The trusty old Grink pine wardrobe from IKEA has reached capacity. As a result, the small Allen Keys have been out causing blistered fingers in order to erect another Grink plus a wall mounted Plop shoe tidy. Another investment to store items that are not in regular use. In fact, if you consider that the vast majority of clothes and shoes are seasonal, at any one time most of the space is taken with things you would not dream of wearing. Fake leather Boots in August? A floral summer dress in December? (NB Northern hemisphere before someone comments!) A Superwoman onesie at any time!

FMCG_INVENTORY_STOCK_SERVICE_CONTROL.jpgWith so many clothes squeezed into the now two Grinks they are so full that finding anything in a reasonable time is difficult. Senior Management might well be correct that there is a perfect dress in there for a particular special event but can you find it? Sooner or later all recollection of what is in the wardrobes has been lost as the memory grey matter section diminishes.

Worse still, fashion trends do not stand still so what was a “must have” last year may be considered an insult to the designer where they to be worn the following season, luvvie!  

So, what have we got and what have many, many FMCG and pharmaceutical companies?

High working capital – all that money tied up on stock that may not be useful.

High storage costs –  you will be paying too much for storage whether you manage logistics internally or outsource to a 3/4PLP. (Don’t expect them to reveal that you are storing too much!)

FIFO - stock age is not monitored and write offs persist. Old stock is not liquidated before expensively assembled relaunches hit the shelves. You do not actually know what is there contributing to ongoing working capital.

High stock shrinkage – loss and damage have a higher incidence when stock is not correctly monitored and inventory levels are kept high – harder to miss.

Stock accuracy - cycle and annual stock counts are difficult to execute and usually provide unwanted shocks at reporting period ends.

Efficiency -  when warehouse capacity utilisation above 80%, operational efficiency stalls and soon plummets. Picking becomes a hazard and the warehouse simply does not have sufficient doors to move goods in and out.

When supply chain processes are inefficient and specifically inventory build decisions are not fully assessed and evaluated, you inevitably overstock as planners do not know what else they should do to protect sales and customer service. Conversely, when this happens you actually lose sales and offer poor customer service.

Does this provide the basis for a profitably growing business? Of course not but so many companies remain oblivious to the processes applied and decisions that are taken that bulk-out the supply chain.

Image courtesy of photostock at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Pharma, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Supply Chain Analytics

Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat & his Supply Chain hat

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 06, 2016

I recently peeped outside of the FMCG and Pharmaceutical world and took a look at the amount of empty beds in the National Health Service in UK and how a little alternative thinking plus basic demand and supply planning expertise could improve bed utilisation. Today it is the turn of the Royal Mail and all those “black and white cat” postie types to be in line for my critique. 

Before you say that the Royal Mail is not a proper supply chain, it is a supply chain and a very complicated one at that. Apart from the reducing but still significant Christmas card peak, this is a business that cannot really forecast how many letters and parcels will be dropped into Post Offices and Post Boxes for delivery on a daily basis. Or perhaps they can or should? Is it any different from the daunting, daily, dynamic demand volatility experienced in Tesco, Asda and Aldi etc.?

Anyway, that is not the issue on this occasion but it is about the Royal Mail redirection service which should be a very straightforward formality. You move to a new address and pay the Royal Mail to keep an eye on your letters and parcels and forward them to your new abode. This is not as simple as it sounds as finding that gas bill in a plain brown envelope must be very close to searching for a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, they have been doing this for ages and in large numbers so should be very proficient.

FMCG_MAIL_POSTAL_SUPPLY_CHAIN_SERVICE.jpgNot this time. They got it horribly wrong from day one and continued to do so as even “signed for” mail which must be capable of automatic sorting was sent to the old address. Luckily we are still in the locality and in contact with the remaining Neanderthal student residents who in their few conscious periods send vowel-free texts letting us know Postman Pat has left something in the heiress’s name. Before they have the chance to eat or smoke what has arrived we quickly pop down and rescue items that slipped through the redirect net. That net must have holes the size of Ronaldo’s ego.

After repeated telephone calls and emails and the release of only a minor amount of my pent up frustration from afar, Postman Pat has refunded all costs and is now carrying out the service – very efficiently now, incidentally – free of charge. What a waste of time, energy and other resources!

I have no idea what the inside of a sorting office looks like or what processes and procedures are in place or their daily challenges but failure to carry out core advertised service is very disappointing. Delivering enveloped and packaged mail is what they do best; if they cannot get that right then what chance do they have with other value added services?

Walk into a pub on a scorching day (ok, so that is not going to be in UK) to be told sorry, no beer. Step into a supermarket to find no bread, milk, tea or cheese! Pull up at the McDonalds drive-in to be told no fries today - actually no bad thing!

You have to get the basics right or your credibility with existing and potential new clients is severely limited. Some organisations bend over backwards to gain new business and rightly so but why don’t they bend further backwards to keep that business? In FMCG and Pharma I find business retention is far harder than finding it in the first place.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Performance Improvement, Pharma, Forecasting & Demand Planning