Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

How to Master Technology in Route to Market Strategy to Save Resources and Fuel Sales

Posted by Ross Marie on Fri, Jan 11, 2019

When we discuss Technology in terms of Route to Market (RtM) Strategy we are looking at our overall approach to and use of Technology at every stage of our RtM Strategy and Execution.

rtm-technology-webThis includes, for example, the hand-held system we take orders on, the ERP system the company uses, the tracking method we have for targeting the RtM team, the way we measure and track our key account agreements, how we optimise our route planning, and everything else across the RtM space.

The key in many cases will be minimising the number of systems we use, facilitating their integration, ensuring their simplicity and allowing them to minimise human intervention.

Welcome to my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. Over the past number of months, we have gone through the first 13 steps of my model. The purpose of my blog series is to stimulate your thought processes around RtM, and to allow a moment to think and to ask some key questions. The focus of this post is Step 14 ‘Technology’.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 14 ‘Technology’:

  1. Based on the RtM Review in Step 1, what is our current approach to and use of Technology across our Route to Market?
  2. What is the Systems Landscape operating across our RtM function? To what extent are the systems integrated?
  3. Do we use an ERP system? Is this linked to any other RtM systems? How does this integration work? Have we adopted systems that are no longer fit for purpose?
  4. Do we get distributor, customer or third-party sales data? If so, what do we do with this? Is this fed into our own RtM system? Can we measure and report on this? What manual intervention is involved?
  5. What is our use of spreadsheets across the RtM function, including strategy, execution, monitoring and reporting? How many different departments are using them? Have we looked at this aspect in the past and what view did we take at the time? To what extent are we managing the risks associated with spreadsheet usage?
  6. What is the current order capture method? Do we use a CRM? Do we use a hand held, tablet or phone? If so, what is their current ease of use and performance? How integrated is the order capture method into the overall company system(s)?
  7. What systems for we use to monitor the performance of our RtM representatives? For example, do we know how many calls they are doing per day, what their location is at any given time, what their stock levels are, etc.?
  8. Do we track our distribution and RtM vehicles electronically? If so, what do we do with the data?
  9. Do we have a solution for setting and monitoring our RtM targets? Is this automated and integrated into our overall RtM system?
  10. How do we measure product display across our retail, Horeca and customer network? Is there a technology solution for this?
  11. How do we track, monitor and report on compliance to customer agreements, whether they are national trading terms with key accounts, of single store contracts?
  12. Do we have any connectivity constraints in our marketplace? Does our RtM team have access to mobile/cellular data across the country or does connectivity wait until the end of the day? How does this impact on our approach to Technology?
  13. Do we use RtM data analytics across our RtM? If so, what do we do with the data? If not, have we looked at this in the past? What are our next steps for RtM data analytics?
  14. Do we have a solution for capturing cost to serve data across the RtM? Is this a simple automated process or does it require manual intervention? If so why? What are we doing with this information?
  15. To what extent do we use technology to set up sales territories and look at route planning? If not, why not? If we do use Technology here, what have the results been?
  16. What is the current amount of time our RtM team spends using technology? Is this what we want and expect? Is this the best use of the RtM team’s time or have we over complicated any process?
  17. Do we use social media and other form of digital marketing for RtM? Does it form an integrated part of our RtM strategy or has it been deployed in silo from other RtM initiatives? What have we used it for and what have the results been? Who in the organisation uses social media for RtM? Do we have a clear strategy and guidelines in place for the use of digital tools?
  18. Do we train our RtM team on all aspects of Technology that we use in RtM strategy and execution? Is it very clear which aspects of Technology are ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’ for certain roles/departments?
  19. Does our RtM team currently employ workarounds due to current system set up?
  20. What are the current technology gaps in our RtM? Where are the manual processes that need to be automated? On the other hand, are their examples where we are over complicating an area or issue for the sake of technology?
  21. Given all the above, what is our overall Technology plan across the RtM, Sales and/or Trade Marketing and Distribution function?

I hope you find this useful, as always views and comments are welcome. Next, I will cover Step 15 ‘Distributor Partnership Programme’. 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: SKU, Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Traditional Trade, Cost Reduction, Sales, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool, Information, Retail, RTM, Promotions, ERP, Ross Marie, RtM Strategy, 20 Steps to RtM Excellence

The Right Data and Metrics are Vital for FMCG Route to Market Success

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Nov 29, 2018

For a successful Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Route to Market (RtM) Strategy, we must be able to measure our performance across the market, internally within the company and externally against the competition and wider benchmarks. We must be able to measure the full spectrum of our RtM Targets, for example, our own sales performance, brand/SKU distribution, new product introductions, volume, revenue, mix, share, displays, in-store facings, pricing, promotion performance, payment terms, merchandising equipment & Point of Sale (POS) placement, visits, etc.

essential data and metrics for rtm strategy successWe must be able to do this by territory, by area/region, nationally, by channel, by sub-channel, by key account, by distributor, by retail group, etc. We then need the ability to easily compare these measured results against our targets, our competition and any other benchmarks. We must have the functionality to do this historically, against the current performance and against future targets.

The goal here from a RtM standpoint is to get as detailed, reliable and up to the minute information as possible, to allow us to take corrective action against problems or to recognise success as early as possible to spread it far and wide.

Welcome to my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. Some of you reading this may have gone to ‘Mr Google’ for some help. What I am trying to do here is to point you in the right direction to create an amazing RtM strategy.

Over the past number of weeks, we have gone through the first 9 steps of my model. The focus of this post is Step 10, ‘Data & Metrics’.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 10 – Data & Metrics:

  1. Based on the RtM Review in Step 1, what is the data that is currently available to us?
  2. What are the performance measures that we are currently measuring against?
  3. What are our current data requirements, in absolute terms and in terms of data capture and maintenance?
  4. Based on the RtM strategy we have chosen what are the likely future data requirements?
  5. To what extent are there any specific areas we need to measure based on external factors (e.g. wider organisation requirements, legislation, regulations, brand launches, restructures, etc.)
  6. Do we currently receive data from our distributors, our retailers, our key accounts, any other customers or partners? What is the data – e.g. sales, stock, etc. If we do, what are we doing with it? If not, is this possible in the future? Have we tried to get it in the past?
  7. Is the data that we will look to measure currently available in the marketplace? Do we need to pay for it? Do we have it internally within our own systems?
  8. If we do not have the data available, will we be able to use a third party to provide it?
  9. Do we currently measure our levels of display, facings or adherence to planograms in the market? How do we do this? How effective it the measurement and our adherence?
  10. Do we have an existing Revenue Management Model? If so, what does it measure? Does our model capture the difference between pricing, mix and volume changes?
  11. Do you have volume that is moving from the traditional trade to the organised trade and eroding margins? Does our Revenue Management Model capture this?
  12. Are our Trade Discounts out-pacing our sales growth? To what extent are we capturing this?
  13. Do we have a cross functional approach to revenue management? Are sales, supply chain, marketing, trade marketing all involved in the process? Are we feeding this information into the correct departments for action?
  14. Which department controls pricing and promotions in our organisation? Is it part of the RtM function and how will it be measured, and the information captured?
  15. Is the current Revenue Management Model fit for purpose? If not, what might a new model look like?
  16. What systems are we using to measure all of this and keep track of performance? Do we have an infield CRM or hand held linked to a back-office system? Can we generate reports with ease or do we have information on spreadsheets? Do we have a system to consolidate this data and information? To what extent are we reliant on spreadsheets for this?
  17. What are the actions that need to take place to have these KPIs measured?
  18. Do we have access to external KPIs, either from the wider organisation or from our marketplace, so that we can benchmark our local activities?
  19. What are the agreed data requirements and set of KPIs that we will capture to measure the success of the RtM strategy going forward?
  20. What is our agreed Revenue Management Model?

I hope you find this useful, any views and comments are welcome. Next week I will cover Step 11 ‘Sales Incentive Program’. 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: SKU, FMCG, Route to Market, ERP/SAP, Traditional Trade, Sales, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool, Information, Retail, RTM, Promotions, ERP, Ross Marie, RtM Strategy, 20 Steps to RtM Excellence

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


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

How Spreadsheets Undermine Your FMCG ERP

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jun 11, 2018

Despite what you may wish to believe the answer is probably, yes. You have invested heavily in brand new ERP software and similarly heavily in some smart, young consultancy people to run the implementation. You will have spent some timing debating and making these choices as the change to an all encompassing and integrated ERP is a huge step and at the same time a huge risk for your company.

Suddenly the flexibility to back-date or correct entries is lost or at least there is a rigid and auditable procedure to follow in order to make any adjustments. Sudden uplifts in Sales cannot be slipped in unnoticed at month-end and neither can supply shortages or marketing tardiness with promotional activity. Everything you do in a good ERP is recorded and can be seen.

ERP System ImplementationIf your ERP really is the only software being used to run your business then a hearty well done to you. However, in a surprisingly large number of companies the all important role of change management has not received the required seniority or focus.  Staff who have been using spreadsheets for maybe 10 - 15 years (it was released in 1985!) cannot and will not stop using them just because they have been trained in a new ERP.  Spreadsheets are like a cuddly teddy at bedtime; they are familiar, comforting, not demanding and always there!

An element of your decision to implement a new ERP was probably a supplier guarantee that people productivity and data accuracy would be improved. In reality you will find staff operating a covert shadow ERP on the same old spreadsheets. Detailed planning, sales and allocation decisions are being made on spreadsheets and then manually inserted into ERPs. Commonly, decisions are taken in isolation of S&OP and lack the consistency that ERP master data brings plus the all important history development for the business baseline.

Staff efficiency and data accuracy have certainly not improved; they have worsened. The tedious “cut and paste” of data into the ERP is time consuming and fraught with error. Post ERP implementation is always a rough time for businesses  as they get to grips with a new way of working but is it any wonder some stay in a continual state of intensive care?

If you pay sufficient attention to change management you can lessen the impact. Should staff not see the medium terms benefits outweighing the short term inconvenience then they will operate the shadow ERP.  The change manager has to clearly show what the ERP brings to people first and subsequently the company – not the other way around.

Of course, one solution might be to deactivate the spread sheet program on the network until ERP discipline is second nature? Now, who is brave enough to do that?

Image courtesy of HikingArtist

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Pharma, ERP/SAP, Supply Chain Analytics, Integrated Business Planning, ERP