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: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, ERP, Promotions, RTM, Retail, Information, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Cost Reduction, Traditional Trade, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages, SKU

Realise Route to Market Excellence with a First-Class Trade Incentive Programme

Posted by Ross Marie on Wed, Dec 19, 2018

What are Trade Incentive Programmes (TIPs)? TIPs are the mechanisms that you put in place to incentivise and encourage your trade partners (e.g. retail, distributor, cash & carry, wholesale, Horeca) to engage with and deliver on your Trade Marketing & Distribution (TM&D) and/or Route to Market (RtM) objectives.

trade-incentive-programme-for-rtm-success

TIPs can include what may traditionally be associated with key account agreements, like sales volume discounts, or sales volume rebates. But they should also encompass so much more.

Whilst sales volume may be one of the most important KPIs, incentivising on it alone, or being too reliant upon it, may be counterproductive in the long term. For example, we may encourage certain customers to forward buy, thus bringing sales from next month or next period into this one, and therefore costing us more now, in terms of higher incentives, poor productivity and increased overall supply chain costs.

But focusing our TIPs on the individual trade marketing objectives (the building blocks of sales volume), can really help us to engage with and become partners of the FMCG trade, both with the owners, and in many cases more importantly, their staff.

A well thought out TIP can start to create real trade partnership with our company, encouraging and motivating those who want to work with us for mutual success, rather than customers who simply expect a discount.

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 12 steps of my model. The focus of this post is Step 13 ‘Trade Incentive Programme (TIPs)’.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 13 ‘Trade Incentive Programme (TIPs)’:

  1. Based on the RtM Review in Step 1, what are the current TIPs we have in place? What have their results been?
  2. To what extent does our TIP accurately reflect and support our channel strategy?
  3. Who are the current TIPs focused on? Who within the trade are they incentivising?
  4. Are the current TIPs focused on, for example, the owners of a retail chain, on the managers or operators of the retail stores or do they focus on the staff?
  5. Do we operate different TIPs based on whether the outlet is owner operated or managed by the owner’s staff?
  6. Do we have a different TIP approach based on channel? If so, what is that approach and how do they differ?
  7. What are the current TIPs trying to deliver? Are they based on volume, on achieving a target, on running promotions, on brand knowledge, on brand range, on product presentation, on pricing, on display, on exclusivity, on anything else?
  8. What incentives do we offer in these TIPs? Have we had the same incentives in place for a long time? Have we asked the target audience if they have any views on our incentives?
  9. What TIPs do our competition use? To what extent have they achieved success with them? Is there anything we can learn from their TIPs?
  10. How are our TIPs measured? What does success look like? How do we measure their usage by the TM&D team, their implementation, their success? Do we use mystery shopper programmes?
  11. Do we receive data from our trade partners on the implementation and results of TIPs? Is the receiving of data a condition of the current TIP?
  12. Who coordinates TIPs? Is there a centralised approach? Do we have a policy and an agreed process for TIPs? Do we have a key accounts department? Do they have control or oversite of TIPs or do they keep focus to key account agreements and trading terms? Where do these cross over and how is this managed?
  13. Who implements TIPs? Is it done centrally at HQ, is it done by channel, by key account, by region?
  14. Can a trade marketing representative or territory manager implement and run TIPs in their own patch? If so, who coordinates that approach?
  15. Are TIPs used to create and foster a culture of empowerment across our TM&D/RtM teams? Are we capturing the learning from TIP successes in one geography to allow us to roll this out to others?
  16. Do we have the ability to test market our TIPs in specific geographies?
  17. Who holds the budget for TIPs? How is it controlled and managed? Is it one central budget or, for example, split up by geography or by channel?
  18. Can a TIP be run at a local level in a modern trade outlet where there is a central key account approach? If not, then why not? If yes, then how is this managed? What is the link to key accounts? Is there an agreed process and communication set up?
  19. How does the above inform our approach to future TIPs? What is our overall approach to TIPs and their management?
  20. What will our TIP training needs be and how will this be translated into our training programme?

I hope you find this useful, as always views and comments are welcome. Next, I will cover Step 14 ‘Technology’. 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: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, Promotions, RTM, Retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages, Customer service

Empowering Sales People with the Right Trade Tool Kit Can be Spectacular

Posted by Ross Marie on Fri, Dec 14, 2018

Firstly, what are Trade Tool Kits? They are the specific commercial tools and materials that we provide to our Trade Marketing & Distribution/Route to Market (RtM) teams to help get their jobs done and to deliver on their targets. They are the trade incentive schemes, CRM systems, planograms, promotions, budgets, pricing initiatives, trade samples, etc. that they will implement, create, manage and report on.

fmcg-sales-toolkit-web

They are shared across the Trade Marketing & Distribution Team (TM&D Team). The TM&D Team in this case can include the Trade Marketing, Distribution, Sales, Merchandising, Promotions, Horeca, Events, Key Account, Customer Service and Telemarketing Representatives.

Much of the focus of Trade Tool Kits will be around providing “stuff” that the TM&D Team can “put” in the field to increase sales. But Trade Tool Kits can be so much more. They can effectively harness the creative power of every member of the TM&D Team by empowering them to look at, and examine, what they believe might work for their customers in their geography. Trade Tool Kits can be used to foster a culture where we believe in our TM&D Team and want them to contribute. I have seen this first hand and it can be amazing. This does not take away from the ABCs of what a Sales Rep should and must do, but maybe they can do more?

In summary, Trade Tool Kits can be the difference between an average TM&D Team and a Great one.

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 11 steps of my model. The focus of this post is Step 12, ‘Trade Tool Kit’.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 12, ‘Trade Tool Kit’:

  1. Based on the RtM Review in Step 1, what are the current Trade Tool Kits we have in place?
  2. Are the TM&D team empowered to conduct their own promotions & trade incentive programmes?
  3. Does the TM&D team have a specific budget for in field promotions or events? How is the monitored and measured? Has training been given? How is success captured and replicated?
  4. Can the TM&D team run local territory incentives with selected customers? Do they have guidelines or training for this?
  5. Does the TM&D team launch, manage and/or implement pricing initiatives? If so, what controls are in place for this? Can they be done on a territory/area or regional basis or is this a national implementation? What materials are provided to the TM&D team for this and how are they managed and tracked?
  6. Do we differentiate trade engagement with owners from trade engagement with staff or operators? Do we see any difference? Have we trained our TM&D team on trade engagement?
  7. What Point of Sale (POS) material does the TM&D team have to place? Do they have guidelines on placement, duration, how to record placement, how to record effectiveness? Are we in regular contact with colleagues in Marketing to refresh and provide feedback on POS material?
  8. Does the TM&D team have or use planograms? Have they been trained on these? How to they monitor or record instore display? How often are they updated?
  9. What is the order capture method? Do they use an electronic method? What tools have the TM&D team been given to monitor their accounts? Are these tools well understood?
  10. Does the TM&D team have a CRM solution? Is this common across all roles? Does management have real time access to the CRM tool, its data, and its ability to set and monitor tasks?
  11. Does the TM&D team have laptops or tablets for use in the field? Does the TM&D team have access to customer data with the ability to conduct business and performance reviews? Have they been trained to do this? Is this a role requirement, is it encouraged, or does it fall out of scope?
  12. Does more than one member of the TM&D team share responsibility for a customer or group of customers? If so, what are the rules or guidelines in place for this? How does this effect the use of trade tool kits?
  13. Who in the TM&D team deals with customer complaints? How do we capture and monitor complaints? Can we report on resolution?
  14. Who in the TM&D team opens new accounts? Is there a clear process and system for this?
  15. How do credit limits get set for each customer? What tools are in place to monitor and inform the TM&D team?
  16. Does the TM&D team get involved in invoicing or payment collection? Do we accept cash? If so, what is our process for this and how effective are controls? Do we provide tools for this?
  17. Do we provide product samples to the TM&D team? Is this on a regular basis? How are they monitored or controlled? Are the TM&D team given additional samples at any time, e.g. around specific promotions or brand launches or events? If so, how are these monitored?
  18. Does the TM&D team accept, manage or control product returns? If so, what is the system in place and what are the tools for doing this? What is its effectiveness?
  19. Do the TM&D team place promotional assets and /or merchandising material in the field, e.g. display units, fridges, coolers, electronic displays, branded furniture or items, etc.? If so, how are they managed, tracked and recorded?
  20. What is your overall approach to trade tool kit management?

I hope you find this useful, any views and comments are welcome. Next week I will cover Step 13 ‘Trade Incentive Programme (TIPs)’. 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: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, Promotions, RTM, Retail, Order to Cash, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages, Customer service

A Crystal-Clear Sales Incentive program is Fundamental to Route to Market Success

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Dec 06, 2018

When I say Sales Incentive Program (SIP) in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector, I am referring to the internal company incentive program that is used to motivate and influence the behaviour of sales people and teams to deliver company specific results. This is not to be confused with a Trade Incentive Program, designed to motivate Retailers or Distributors or other Trade Partners.

SIPs in the FMCG sector are crucial in the delivery of Route to Market (RtM) goals. The old adage is true, what gets rewarded gets done. But is it that simple? Well, no. Putting a SIP together can be a minefield unless all the bases are covered. Let’s dig a little deeper.

sales-incentive-program-fmcg-rtm-webWelcome to my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. I am writing this blog to offer guidance on the things that should be considered when putting a RtM strategy together. Over the past number of weeks, we have gone through the first 10 steps of my model. The focus of this post is Step 11, ‘Sales Incentive Programme’.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 11 - Sales Incentive Programme (SIP):

  1. Based on the RtM Review in Step 1, is there a SIP in place? If yes, what is the current SIP? How is it performing? What were the key factors that led to any past successes?
  2. What does the current SIP measure? How is the performance of the sales people measured and what are their targets?
  3. To what extent are we targeting volume, revenue, profit, share, brand distribution, display, range, TM&D activities, point of sale material, promotions, new accounts, new brand introductions, out of stocks, cash in, etc.? What are the top 3 or 4 metrics that we currently measure? How would this be used in developing any new SIP?
  4. How do we currently assign targets between the different Regions, Areas, Channels, Territories, Key Accounts, etc.? How will this be done in the future?
  5. Is the current program complex and difficult to understand or administer? Or is it simple, easy to follow and understood by all?
  6. How attainable are the rewards in the current SIP and how will this inform any new programme?
  7. Is the current programme based on short terms incentives, e.g. monthly or quarterly, or is it based on longer term, annually or 3 yearly? How will this influence any revised programme?
  8. How achievable is the current SIP? To what extent are targets achievable? Does it favour a small group within the sale force? How will this knowledge be used to develop any new programme?
  9. Based on the new, revised or reviewed RtM approach, what measures will we use in future for our sales/RtM department?
  10. How will we report the new SIP? What method of reporting will we use and what will the frequency be?
  11. Will we operate a leader board system where every sales person knows where they rank? Will sales people have real time visibility of their and others performance?
  12. What are the primary motivating factors within our organisation, country, culture, etc? Are they financial, recognition, skill acquisition, team based, career progression, etc.? Are they a mix of them all?
  13. If we choose a financial route, will it be a percentage of the sale, their salary, the monthly revenue, a fixed amount? Have we considered using a physical item equal to the value of the financial reward as the incentive? Would a personal item that the sales person keeps in their home be more rewarding than cash?
  14. Will any targets and rewards be individual, or team based and how does this reflect how the sales people actually work in the real world?
  15. What will be the elapsed time between achievement of an incentive and the attainment of the reward? Could we lose motivated sales people through extended time lapses?
  16. Have we ever asked our sales people for feedback on the current SIP? Have they ever been asked how they would change or structure a programme? Do we know what motivates them? Have we directly asked them what they want as an incentive?
  17. Will managers have the ability to adjust sales targets or quotas based on specific factors? Will there be a need for a process for this? If so, what will the process look like?
  18. How will any new or revised programme be ‘sold’ into the organisation? How will we achieve, and measure buy-in?
  19. Has any new SIP been tested and modelled before rolling out?
  20. Based on the above, what will the new SIP look like?

I hope you find this useful, any views and comments are welcome. Next week I will cover Step 12 ‘Trade Tool Kit’. 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: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, Promotions, RTM, Retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, SKU

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 Strategy, we must be able to measure our performance across the market, internally within the company and externally against the competition and wider benchmarks. For example, we must be able to measure our own sales performance, our brand/SKU distribution, our new product introductions, our volume, our revenue, our share, our displays, our in-store facings, our pricing and promotion performance, 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: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, RTM, Retail, ERP, Promotions, Information, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Traditional Trade, FMCG, Route to Market, ERP/SAP, SKU

Retail Outlet Classification in RtM Strategy, an Essential Element or a Complete Waste of Time?

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Nov 01, 2018

Firstly, what is Outlet Classification? It is a process of segmenting every individual outlet, meaning every point of purchase, based on a set of company specific agreed criteria that you will design, e.g. volume, location, consumer profile, footfall, opening hours, engagement opportunity etc. This will then allow you to target specific activities, resources, brands, SKU’s, promotions, metrics, etc., at a specific outlet groupings level. The main benefit of Outlet Classification is the ability to target your product offerings at specific outlet groupings, regardless of who own them or what their retail format is.

fmcg-rtm-outlet-classification

Outlet Classification must not be confused with Channel Classification. Channel Classification, which will be covered in my next post, tends to group outlets together based on format. For example, an FMCG company may service the retail outlets across a country through 4 main channels, Grocery, Convenience, Horeca and Wholesale. These 4 channels may be further split into sub channels, Convenience could be further split into Organised, Mom & Pop, etc. This is mainly based on the format of the stores and who owns them. Outlet classification focuses on specific factors pertinent to your industry and company. It allows you to become much more targeted with your service model. A specific Outlet Classification grouping could contain retail outlets from all channel classifications, but grouped together based on specific consumer profile or location criteria set by you.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 6 – Outlet Classification:

  1. Do we know all of the outlets in our geography – including name, address, etc? If not, do we have plans to reach the total target universe?
  2. Will we call on the points of sale ourselves?
  3. Will our distributors call on them or will the outlets collect the product?
  4. What percentage of outlets will we cover either directly or indirectly?
  5. What are the criteria that we could classify our outlets under?
  6. On which criteria can we classify using existing data we or our distributors have, and what criteria requires an outlet visit?
  7. Should we classify and visit all outlets, or should we focus on a subset based on a certain criteria?
  8. Do we have the skill set, coverage and resource to do this ourselves?
  9. If not, then is the service available in my market and what are the resource requirements?
  10. Are there options to do a phased on the job classification or is a specific focus and resource required?
  11. Will we have a different approach to dealing with the outlets based on size, total volume, our volume, category volume, share, display, location, accessibility, consumer profile, footfall, opening hours, engagement opportunity, owner vs staff operated, shopper entry, time spent in outlet, potential growth, TM&D opportunities, credit risk, etc?
  12. What will those different approaches be?
  13. Do current key account agreements effect how we may classify/treat/service specific outlets?
  14. What is the timing required to finish the classification?
  15. What are the criteria for assigning call frequencies and resources (people, money, time) based on the classifications?
  16. What are the training needs arising out of outlet classification?

Arguments can be made against Outlet Classification. If you are in a market entry scenario, with limited resources, with established distribution channels, you may decide that Outlet Classification at this stage would be a drain on resources. But if you are a national player looking for country wide distribution, effective Outlet Classification as part of an overall Route to Market strategy could be the difference between winning and losing in that market.

This post is part of my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. One of the main goals of this blog series is to demystify RtM strategy and to provide FMCG leaders with a step by step guide to follow when reviewing or building their RtM plans.

The overall 20 Steps are split into 4 phases, Assessment, Strategy, Design and Implementation. This post focuses on Step 6 ‘Outlet Classification’. This is the first step in the Design phase and would be undertaken after a full review of your current RtM (Assessment phase), and the development of your new RtM Strategy (Strategy phase). You can read about the steps under the previous phases here.

I hope you find this useful, and I welcome any views and comments below. Next week I will cover Step 7 ‘Channel Classification’. 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: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, RTM, Retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages, SKU, Promotions

Essential Competitor Analysis Tips to Improve Route to Market Strategy and Execution in FMCG

Posted by Ross Marie on Thu, Oct 18, 2018

Over the last number of weeks, I have been writing a blog series on my 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. You can read more about the the steps I have already discussed here. My goal is to provoke business leaders in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) community to really think about every element of their RtM, and to question and analyse the decisions they will make (building) or have already made (reviewing). Is my RtM Strategy and Execution as good as it could be?

The 20 Steps are split into 4 phases, Assessment, Strategy, Design and Implementation. This blog focuses on Step 4, ‘Competitor Analysis’, which is the last step in the Assessment Phase, and is the last step to take before consideration of your approach to RtM strategy.

competitor_analysis_enchangeBusiness leaders today fully understand the need for competitor analysis. It is a cornerstone of any business strategy, but as with all elements of RtM strategy, it is all about the detail. Understanding what your competitors are doing, why they are doing it, how they are doing it, what their results are, and why you are different, is key to any effective sales and distribution or RtM strategy.

Below are some of the questions you should ask under Step 4 – Competitor Analysis. An important consideration is the availability of open source, legally available and reliable data and information – e.g. internal company data, field force knowledge, trade publications, industry reports, trade visits, etc.:

  1. How are our direct competitors executing their RtM Strategy? What is their DIME approach to distribution (Direct, Indirect, Mix & Everything in between)?
  2. What are the differences between their RtM and ours?
  3. What are the differences in their performance and ours? What is their brand distribution, volume & share vs ours?
  4. What are the factors that we believe are behind that?
  5. How are other non-competing organisations, still in our sector, executing their RtM strategy?
  6. How is that different to mine and why?
  7. Are there elements from competitors’ operations that we should look to evaluate, either positive or negative?
  8. Are there lessons to be learnt or mistakes to be avoided?
  9. Looking across the 20 Steps, ask yourself, what is their approach to the 4D’s (Distribution, Display, Dialogue, Digital)
  10. How does the competition classify their outlets, or their channels? Do they use the traditional norms, or do they target specific avenues?
  11. How do they set up their territories and what is their trade structure and FTE’s?
  12. Do they get sales data from the trade and what metrics do they measure? Do we know how they target their field force?
  13. Do they have specific planograms and trade promotions? Are they active in POS placement?
  14. Do they have a trade incentive and /or engagement programme?
  15. What is their order capture method? How are they using technology in the field?
  16. How are they leveraging Digital (with regards to sales channels, order capture, engagement, promotions, trade incentives, trade marketing, etc.)?
  17. What do we know about competitor distributor activities? Who are they partnering with? Has this changed in the last 5 years? What is their distribution effectiveness?
  18. Do we see evidence of their successful initiatives in one area being rolled out to other territories?
  19. How do they manage key accounts? What is their overall relationship with the trade?

There are many questions you could ask here, and I would encourage you to think about which are the most relevant for your markets and industries. Give Competitor Analysis the importance it deserves to gain a well-rounded, in-depth knowledge of your competition and feed this into your RtM strategy.

I hope you find this helpful, and I appreciate your views and comments below. I will pick this up again next week, with Step 5 RtM Strategy & the 4D Approach. Please subscribe to the blog, you can do so on this page, to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. 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, Promotions, RTM, Retail, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Route to Market, FMCG

FMCG Supply Chain: What is your 2018 Planning Priority?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 17, 2018

We already find ourselves at 17th January so not many days left to ensure your monthly top and bottom lines are on target. Good luck with that if your business (& body!) is only just shaking off the holiday excesses. What is top of mind? The sagging month to date sales rate? The slow return to normal of the S&OP meeting schedule? The upcoming corporate audit? No. Top of mind is where to go on your summer holidays and to get this booked as soon as possible.

Get your holiday slot booked at the office and make sure you sync with school holidays and soon you will be surfing the internet checking out all the best deals. Flight only or hotel included? What about airport transfers? Do we go with full service airlines or suffer the middle of the night, cattle-class treatment on a low-cost flyer? Long term car parking at the airport? Oh, look at the kids go free offers – no I don’t believe it either; nobody gets a holiday for free, well except possibly Mrs Queen and free-loading MPs.

You may even create a dreaded Excel spreadsheet listing potential destinations and a matrix of all the travel options and applicable costs. Carefully you will fine tune the list until you really have found the best deal with the most convenient and least expensive travel. After the briefest of discussions with the rest of the family the bookings will be done and dusted well before the end of January. What a personal masterclass in forward planning!

FMCG_ACTIVITY_PLANNING_SALES_WINE.jpgYet you still have no idea on your FMCG acivity plans for the next 6 months let alone a much longer horizon. If you left your holiday plans to the last minute you would probably struggle to find something decent. Yes, if you are single or a couple minus mini debt creators then you can just turn up at the airport and see what seats are available and take it from there. You may well be sleeping on a beach or in a hostel where there are more joints than an orthopaedic ward and the only pillows are inflated wine box bladders but so what, you will cope. However, with small people in tow that last minute gambling option will rarely be entirely appropriate.

Back to your activity planning or lack of it. Some of your major in-market initiatives will be annual events around Spring Cleaning or Easter or a seasonal weather peak so being late with those is unforgiveable as they should be fixtures in your rolling plan. Other promotions will be tactical or at short notice due to market dynamics such as competitor activity or price increases (prices rarely drop do they?). Nevertheless, most of your activity planning for the next 12 months should be firm with a further 12 months of tentative plans which firm up as the S&OP process passes through each month.

Short notice opportunities are ok if you can manage the same without affecting those that have been carefully planned. Marketeers may demand a special promotion to take account of some topical and usually scandalous news or about the latest air-head to emerge from the Big Brother house. If you can, so be it but let these impact on the ones that really matter at your peril. Topical opportunistic activities will probably be sexy and raise a guffaw, but seldom do they contribute much to your top and bottom lines and they don’t impress the suits at HQ.

People outside of supply chain somehow think that promotions and special offers magically appear outside of all the usual planning processes. They don’t. If you stick in a last-minute giggle promotion, then be very sure you are disrupting regular day to day activities about which you will no doubt complain.

You should try inflated wine box bladders; great for camping!

Image courtesy of recyclethis.co.uk

Tags: FMCG, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, Promotions, S&OP