Supply Chain Blog

Distributor Assessment Essentials to Deliver Sales Growth and Improve RtM Strategy

Posted by Ross Marie on Fri, Oct 12, 2018

Welcome to Step 3 of the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence. You can read more about the overall model and the steps I have already discussed here.

fmcg-distributotor-assessmentThe third step is ‘Distributor Assessment’. Whether you are looking to build a RtM strategy from scratch or review your existing sales and trade marketing execution, assessing the current and/or available methods of distribution is crucial. Distribution in FMCG is typically complex, with many layers, levels and combinations. There may also be local geographic nuances, and/or historical challenges to deal with. You may own and control every element of the distribution network, known as Direct Distribution. You might contract out the distribution to 3rd parties who then distribute on your behalf, also falling into the Direct Distribution category. You may sell to distributors who then distribute on to retailers themselves (or via other intermediary wholesalers or cash & carry’s), known as Indirect Distribution. You may have a mix of any of these methods which effects both the level of control, and the complexity involved.

No matter what is in place now, you must evaluate every step in the current method of distribution, from an independent point of view, and consider the possible alternative methods for getting your products to retail.

Here are just some examples of questions you can ask under Step 3 – Distributor Assessment:

  1. What is my current method of distribution?
  2. Is my distribution all ‘direct’ to my customers via my own owned or contracted distribution network?
  3. Is my distribution all ‘indirect’ to my customers through distributors that work either exclusively or non-exclusively for me? What are the layers of distributors, sub-distributors, wholesalers, cash & carry's, etc.?
  4. Is my distribution a mix of the above?
  5. Is this the way it has always been for us or did we change and if so why?
  6. Is my current point of sale coverage a function of my distribution model, or of my route to market strategy?
  7. What are the total number of distributors in my market?
  8. What is their coverage map? How many, if any, am I using? Why is this?
  9. How are my direct and indirect competitors servicing the marketplace? What is their distribution model? How do we feel is it performing for them? Is there anything we can learn from them?
  10. How regularly am I assessing the distribution network or the distributors?
  11. Do I have a distributor assessment tool to conduct the assessment? Feel free to gain inspiration from our Distributor Assessment Guide and Distributor Assessment Tool available for download.
  12. After conducting visits, and using my distributor assessment tool, what is the current performance of my distribution network and /or each one of my distributors?
  13. Where are the gaps in performance vs my ideal distribution network?
  14. What are the current levels of brand and SKU availability at the distributors retail level? What are the levels of out of stock?
  15. Is POS material available and visible at retail level? Are planograms being adhered to? What are the overall levels of display in retail?
  16. Is there an awareness of my brands at a retail level? Are trade engagement programs being run at retail level?
  17. What are the current service levels of my distributors? How does this compare to our contract and our KPIs?

Regardless of which method we choose to assess our distributors by, one fact will not change. We must get out into the field, see the distributor and retail environments first hand, and assess effectiveness of what is really happening, not what we believe is happening. Information, reports, and monitoring tools are essential in RtM execution, but nothing replaces actual field work.

I hope you find this helpful, and I appreciate your views and comments below. I will be continuing my series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence, with Step 4 Competitor Analysis in my next post.

Please subscribe to the blog, on this page, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, please visit our website here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, Retail, Logistics Service Provider, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Performance Improvement, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, SKU

Improve Manufacturing Performance with Total Productive Maintenance

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Aug 23, 2018

When I first came across Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) I was sceptical of yet another ”blue sky” approach to pursuing manufacturing excellence. Surely, this would soon be replaced by the next set of buzz-word initials dreamed up by sharp-suited consultants. But no; I saw the light and now I’m a firm believer in this technique that originated in Japan.

If you have a factory that is running below par in terms of efficiency, output, reliability or cost etc, then TPM could be the ideal tool to achieve a sustainable turnaround. Companies do not like under-performing factories and there is usually somewhere else they could make their products better, faster or cheaper. So, if your factory is under threat of closure you might consider following the TPM principles.

TPM is not rocket science but it requires just as much senior management buy-in and patience as an S&OP process demands. There are multiples levels of TPM success but even the basics will require a significant and sustainable change in behaviour. Kick off with the Kaizen 5S approach which is remarkably simple stuff.

Total Productive MaintenanceKaizen 5S is based on the translation of 5 Japanese words relating to systematic improvement and maintenance of a clean, efficient, well organised operation.

  1. Sort – Sort out what you really need – I mean really need! Throw out anything that has been hanging around for a few years “just in case”. Check out your spare parts store and see what items are held for equipment you no longer own!
  2. Straighten – Have you ever mislaid your car keys? This system creates a dedicated space for every tool or spare part located near to where it is needed and you can clearly see when it is missing!
  3. Scrub – Clean the machines and the production area thoroughly. Dust can affect quality, spills can be hazardous and well maintained equipment lasts longer.
  4. Standardise - If you use identical working practices for maintenance and cleaning your employees will become highly proficient. Standardisation provides you with a flexible workforce that can be deployed where needed and without a training period.
  5. Sustain – From the factory manager to the tea boy you must keep the faith and sustain every initiative. This is very difficult at first but you have to grit your teeth and keep going.

Of course, this is merely a snap-shot of what TPM entails but it shows you the basic elements you need to start the journey. As mentioned, the first tentative steps can be painful but if you stay the course the benefits are immense in efficiency and employee satisfaction. The principles apply equally to logistic centres, offices; essentially everywhere people work.

Oh, but don’t try this at home or a divorce is highly probable, believe me!

Image credit: corbindavenport.blogspot.co.uk

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Manufacturing Footprint, Supply Chain, Cost Reduction

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

FMCG New Product Development (NPD) is a key part of S&OP

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jun 25, 2018

There is enough disruption and discontinuity in supply chains without the necessary evil or pleasure of new product development (NPD) and product change getting in the way.

Just when everyone has become used to ordering, storing, picking, delivering or merchandising that pretty blue bottle with the picture of a carrot on the adhesive label, someone decides it is a good idea to relaunch the brand/SKU or replace the label with a shiny shrink-wrap label featuring a spud. The vegetables of choice are irrelevant as I just did not want to highlight any particular sector but no doubt the farmers will be up in muddy arms.

If your business operates a classic innovation funnel then well done to you. However, if you do not run one at all or you do and it is not linked to S&OP then you run the risk of:

  1. Out of Stock (OOS) and real lost sales
  2. Poor Customer Service.
  3. Overstocked inventory
  4. Write off and destruction costs
  5. Losing your job.......

The funnel is not rocket science although the people at the Brand Gym reckon an “innovation rocket” is far more effective for growth. The funnel can be depicted in many ways but all are very simple, e.g.

Integrate NPD with S&OP

At each decision gate the relevant NPD leader must feed information into the S&OP process to avoid the 5 pitfalls listed above. Existing stocks can be run down in a controlled manner and new stocks ramped up to ensure continuity and more importantly, correspond to any breaking TV or other advertising campaign. Is there a bigger waste of marketing budget than appearing on TV when the product is not yet ready for consumers to buy?

Inevitably there may be write off when you relaunch or make a product change but as long as you co-ordinate within your S&OP process these amounts can be minimal and manageable. What the CEO does not want is an unexpected cash loss from write off appearing in the results unexpectedly. Marketing might well claim a successful launch but the profitability could be shot to bits and actually be negative once obsolescence costs are allocated.

Depending on your accounting convention the cost of write off will end up in “supply support” or “supply chain others” when in fact the funds should be deducted from the fat marketing budget. If marketing people do not manage the innovation or change process closely then they should feel some of the pain. Far too often they crack open the celebratory bubbly while causing problems in other departments and for the company in general.

Change is inevitable and supply chains have to continually manage change as it will not and should not go away. However, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change if marketing fully bought into S&OP?

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, CEO, Performance Improvement, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, FMCG

FMCG Supply Chain: KPI Scorecards - Don’t look back in anger

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, May 30, 2018

UK has been my base for a few days and even in that short time I have started to genuinely think I must now be a different nationality if not from a different planet. When my denim jeans rip at the knees it is time to throw them out.  I do not have a badly drawn and inappropriately placed tattoo. Nothing on me is pierced or decorated with metal, precious or otherwise.

I do not have a preference for Ant or Dec – the “best” UK double act in a sea of tepid TV reality dross? What is Keith Lemon all about? So many TV channels yet so little talent and even less TV shows worth watching. I put litter in waste bins. I still know how to queue. Even my waistline is now considered trim. I own music recordings where the performers wrote the lyrics and play the instruments and don’t get me started on that things like the Kardashians. 

Nevertheless, there is something consistent. Something that has not noticeably changed since I packed my company leaving gift suitcases in 1991 and departed for the Saudi desert. Traffic Wardens.

FMCG_KPI_SCORECARD_SUPPLY_CHAIN.jpgBeing a Traffic Warden is a universally hated career choice and possibly third on the detest list after Tax Inspectors and Bankers these days with Politicians being universally disliked, of course. In the UK wardens patrol the streets looking for vehicles illegally parked even for a short time or even if the front bumper/fender overlaps the authoritative  yellow lines by a few mm.

Why do they exist; the role that is, not the people? What good are they doing for the general public and the fuel duty/road tax cash-cow motorist? Are they here to keep the Queen’s highways, byways and pavements clear of transportation obstacles to allow free flow of vehicles, people and prams? Or, are they here to generate as much revenue as possible for councils and police authorities?

Is their role to gently correct errors, show understanding and guide people on their future behaviour or are they here to discipline, penalise, visually allocate blame with a sticky yellow ticket and generally strike fear and hate into drivers? Should people hide and shy away from traffic wardens and treat them with mistrust or should they be seen as a welcome, integral part of day to day UK living.

Friend or foe? Beauty or beast? Pariah or paragon? 

So what does your Supply Chain team think about your monthly KPI Scorecard discussions within your IBP/S&OP process? Is it a meeting all about blame and backwards looking fault finding and discipline? Or is it what it should be, an open discussion about what needs to be done better by everyone in the current and coming periods?

You certainly must learn the lessons of past shortcomings but applying the learnings to the future is a far more positive and healthy experience for everyone. Supply Chain Analytics can assist you in reaching a much more mature approach to running your business effectively and without people being at each others throats.

Applying a “…don’t look back in anger” approach will lead you and the business to a much more profitable oasis within the market place.

Image courtesy of iosphere at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: FMCG, Performance Improvement, KPI, S&OP, IBP, Dave Jordan, Supply Chain Analytics

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, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Distribution, Brewing & Beverages

Balanced Scorecard KPIs: Keeping Track of Business Performance 

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Mar 29, 2018

How do you keep track of Supply Chain performance within your FMCG, Brewing or Pharmaceutical business? You do, don’t you? If you are not measuring any KPIs then perhaps you should stop here, read this KPI piece and then pop back and carry on.

You can measure and report in many formats as long as you measure appropriate KPIs for your business. One of the most pointless tasks is calculating and reporting a “KPI” which is in fact worthless and of no beneficial interest. Colleagues in Sales & Marketing usually assume they are immune from KPIs as they gleefully sit back and let the Supply Chain guy take the flak at Board meetings. In reality however, the actions of everyone in the company must be reflected in one or more KPIs. If there is anyone in your business who is not impacting a KPI in some way then perhaps you might consider a round of head-count reduction!

The following is a demonstration example of a Balanced Scorecard of business KPIs. While many are indeed Supply Chain related you need only look at Sales Forecast Accuracy to see how other departments can influence that measurement to a far greater extent. KPIs are designed (usually 2 or 3 per discipline) and presented within the company Scorecard.  Target performance threshold levels are agreed (RAG – Red, Amber, Green) and presented monthly within the S&OP process to measure success and target further improvement.

Supply Chain KPIs

There will undoubtedly be more PIs calculated around the business but those in the scorecard really must be the priorities; those that provide actionable information.

The use of simple colour notation allows business managers to see exactly where problems exist allowing them to focus resources. Conversely, you quickly see what is going well and where you might have to raise the bar to maintain and improve further.  (If you are measuring your KPIs at the same level as 5 years ago then that may reflect a business which is stagnating.)

Whatever design you use it does not really matter but:

1. You must measure KPIs relevant to your overall business strategy and performance.

2. You must report them promptly and widely.

3. They must be discussed at the top table, routinely.

4. You must review and delete/insert new KPIs as the business need develops.

5. You must ensure the targets are stretching but achievable as a constant red display is demotivating.

While KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator it could easily be considered as Keep People Interested!

Image courtesy of Enchange.

 

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Pharma, KPI, S&OP, Brewing & Beverages, Supply Chain

Key Performance Indicators or just monthly data dumping? 

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Mar 27, 2018

Last month I spent a few weeks enjoying the UK weather disaster as 10mm of snow brought life to a halt. While there I moved the heiress into her new apartment - not a flat now as student days are over, very posh. Hopefully, that will be the last time I have to manage boxes down a narrow and winding staircase and my glass back can get a much needed rest.

Job done, I made my way back to base with an unpleasant 15 hour delay on BlueAir but at least there was no jobsworth amongst the crew.  Despite the weather I continued my minimalist approach to clothing to ease my way through the various security screenings. I wore no belt, no watch, no metal at all in an attempt to glide through the checks without being patted, prodded or made to make a second pass through the metal detector. Unfortunately, my innocent pack of UNO playing cards looks like plastic explosive, apparently.

The end of the world was in progress on arrival back in Bucharest. Heavy dark and angry clouds were dispensing precipitation by the bucket load and it was relentless. The sleet quickly soaked my UK grade Arctic coat and everything underneath including socks.  Futile attempts at shelter included the held-aloft flat newspaper and the rather dangerous shopping bag with eye holes over the head. Even the all in one little black bin bag number a girl was wearing (or was it a dress?) was ineffective in diverting any of the torrential downpour. This was a real storm without escape where complete saturation was guaranteed and inevitable. 

I felt rather like an FMCG CEO. Saturated by data that people believe he/she needs to see in order to run the business. Not actionable information but raw data. Completely submersed in meaningless numbers and perceived trends. Often, that data is aimed at passing the buck to other departments for failure or lack of success or to ensure backside protection during the post-mortem that takes place long after the month or quarter or whatever period has closed.

Even if you do not run a swish ERP you need to be able to address in-market issues while you still have a chance of making a difference. However, to do that you need to receive information which quickly converts to relevant knowledge and then facilitates actions. To actually see the reality of market performance you don’t need masses of numbers, you need facts.

image.pngIf you don’t have a KPI or Balanced Scorecard then sort one out quickly. If you already monitor performance in this way then take a long hard look at what is actually being reported; is it for the benefit of the reporting colleague/department or for the benefit of the entire company?

Remember that KPIs never tell the full story. When a KPI refuses to improve despite all efforts it may well be due to the impact of another completely different and apparently unrelated measure. In such cases you should adopt a Supply Chain Analytics Approach to deep dive into the detail and really see what is happening all along your Supply Chain.

Image courtesy of SupplyVue at Concentra

 

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, CEO, Performance Improvement, KPI, Supply Chain, Pharma, Supply Chain Analytics

A Practical Guide to FMCG SKU Complexity Reduction 

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Mar 20, 2018

If your business is struggling to cope with day to day sales while managing innovation and range extensions then give your SKU list a thorough review. Not just a cursory glance but a scientific evaluation of what brings in the profit and what eats at the same. Few businesses are lucky to operate with just one or two monster SKUs but an excessive list of items on the price list can severely affect your customer service performance.

In the customer service link above we looked at the cost to have a single SKU on the books and it is not insignificant when you take all elements of supply into account. If SKUs do not pay for themselves and contribute to the bottom line then why do they exist? SKUs plodding along with low margin AND low sales turnover cannot be worth the cost and effort of maintaining them, can they? They are simply getting in the way of potentially more profitable SKUs.

If you could base your business on high margin/high turnover SKUs then of course you would. Life is not that simple and the market place is ever more competitive so you need to constantly review the wisdom of what you are putting in front of consumers. Unless your business is in dire straits a large proportion of your SKUs will be either low margin/high turnover or vice versa. Both situations can provide reasonably healthy growth but wouldn’t it be better if you could edge them towards the high/high green quartile as per the diagram below?SKU ComplexityThe first step is to make a very rough estimate of what your business spends on keeping an SKU on the price list. This is not an accurate science but you need to put a “stake in the ground” and agree a number, say 30,000Eur. If the margin of a particular SKU does not at least break-even then delisting should be considered. Staff who look after those SKUs in the yellow segments need to be challenged on a quarterly basis to get their SKUs away from the red and towards the green, or delist.

If you carry out such an assessment and find that a majority of your SKUs are in the red segment then you might benefit from a professional spring clean of your portfolio. Such an approach will remove any emotion and bias when clinically assessing what you should be placing on shelves.

Image courtesy of Enchange at Enchange.com.

 

Tags: SKU, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Pharma, Supply Chain Analytics