Supply Chain Blog

FMCG Route to Market Distribution: Free Distributor Assessment Tool

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 28, 2015

FMCG producers are often far too ready to blame their Distributors when sales do not go to plan and targets are not met. However, it is rarely all their fault particularly if producers are not clear on what is expected.

To help Producers understand the real state of their Distributors, Enchange has released a free - yes, free - tool to guide an assessment of Distribution networks. While focussed on FMCG the tool is applicable to all sectors using distributors.

Download the tool here.

The RTM Distributor Evaluation Tool has been designed to guide your evaluation of four key capability areas:

Partnership – is the relationship a one way street or do you actually talk to your distributors? Do you treat distributors as real partners aligned with your business objectives?

Planning & Logistics – how does the distributor Supply Chain stack up? Your Supply Chain maybe a Rolls Royce but what about theirs, can it do what you want it to do?

Sales Management – how does the distributor take orders and execute them? You would be surprised (and probably disappointed) at how some major producers are represented in front of customers.

Finance & Back-Office – how well is the distributor organised? How health are the finances? Does the distributor exploit IT or is it still a pen & paper based system?

The tool is not difficult or complicated and it will not take too long to run through the various questions and benchmarking statements. The important point is that the tool is completed as accurately and honestly as possible and certainly in collaboration with the distributors. I recommend you use someone unrelated to the distributor sales function or even a 3rd party to run the process to ensure you receive a reflection of reality.

Of course, the tool is not comprehensive but it can be used to provide a reasonable guide to how your current distributor network operates. Why not try it out; you may well be very surprised by the results!

Image courtesy of Enchange at

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, Pharma, Traditional Trade, Sales, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool

(FMCG) Friendly Man Carrying Gifts & (RTM) Reindeer To Market

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Dec 02, 2014
Santa Claus aka Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, St Nick
Market: Most of the World
Reindeer To Market (RTM) Distribution
Deliverable: Evaluation of RTM against sector benchmarks

Summary of Evaluation

Click here to enlargeMagnifying Glass

 RTM reindeer to market

The project delivered:

  • A detailed evaluation of the Christmas RTM deployment highlighting strengths and weaknesses.
  • A grading of each core element in terms of capability to deliver the presents in compariosn to benchmarks.
  • A framework development plan for parents and Santa Claus.
  • A clear business case for the continuation of Christmas.

Santa FMCG Christmas resized 600We would like to thank Mr. Claus for allowing us the opportunity to evaluate this important Reindeer To Market network. The network is in very good condition and we wish him every success on the 25th December.

Need help with your RTM deployment? Click here and we will give you a call.

Santa image courtesy of stock images at

The full assessment tool includes 10 individual elements and this can be found HERE.

Other seasonal yo ho ho posts:

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Christmas, Dave Jordan, Pharma, Traditional Trade, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool

FMCG RTM Distribution : How Traditional Trade interaction could work

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Aug 20, 2014

I previously blogged about the reality of FMCG Traditional Trade (TT) Route To Market (RTM) distribution and described the drivers and behaviours in each party as the monthly plans inevitably imploded.  Let us now get out the crystal ball and stare into the mystic orb and dream how life could be if both producers and distributors really got their acts together.

FMCG Blog 200814 resized 600 

describe the imageI believe this is achievable but all parties have to work together closely, openly and with trust to make it happen. This will not happen overnight but a mutual programme of improvement with frequent training and coaching by subject matter experts will pay dividends.

At the end of the day both producers and distributors are trying to make a profit so why should getting your RTM to work efficiently be such a hurdle? If you will not accept your RTM network requires careful yet skilled management then your chances of success are like a man with no hands clutching at straws.

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain, Traditional Trade, Sales, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool

Supply Chain Insight: FMCG Drinks Stock Shrinkage

Posted by Stefan Cucu on Wed, Aug 06, 2014

Today we see a lot of writing about Supply Chain. Technology is advancing rapidly and we are seeing changes almost on a daily basis; progress is simply enormous. However, some things never change and this is what I discuss here – things that never change.

I am not going to tell you about anything difficult. What I mentioned above is as old as humanity but all too often forgotten. True, such things are not usually directly addressed by our business as they relate to common sense only but as we know, common sense is not that common! Of course, I can only approach this from a personal perspective as everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Today's Topic: "Yeah man, we steal here!"

This is without any doubt one of the most powerful insights that I have been offered in my Supply Chain consultant career. Once upon a time, when I accompanied a sales rep on his route in a Route-to-Market (RTM) project, I visited a certain street in the southern Romania district of Giurgiu. The day was beautiful, the sun was shining and spring had finally arrived. I do not remember how many stores we had already visited, it was a typically busy day in multi-distributor RTM project. Despite the technology progression I mentioned earlier we had printed forms to complete as PC Tablets were still too expensive. I felt that, apart from the spring-like weather, the day would turn outquite boring.

The sales agent was visibly annoyed by me, as I marked several x’s and far fewer stars on my printed forms. He was wondering, what on earth do keep scribbling there? Well, I said, I have to write down whether I find any products in the refrigerator that are from the competition or even a different sector. “Aha, let me take you somewhere that you will remember for your whole life”, he said. And he was correct, I still remember to this day.

FMCG STOCK SHRINKAGE THEFT resized 600We went to one of the HORECA outlets, essentially a pub which was very crowded and full of people, noise and smoke. The pub also had a cooler provided by the sales agents company. Do believe me, that refrigerator was the most beautiful thing I had seen throughout the project. It was flawless, arranged exactly as it needed to be, with the premium and expensive products nicely placed on the top shelf at eye level, the products which his company tried so hard to sell and promote. In the cooler there was no trace of competition; excellent, this was simply divine. I would have gladly taken a “selfie” with the cooler and post it on Facebook but I figured out a tiny problem - a huge padlock.

Nobody could use the cooler. Was it just for decoration? The agile waitress was very busy, serving the customers by bringing them their selected beverages from the back room. At first, she did not understand what the long-face guy wanted from her (it was I, obviously baffled), but then exclaimed, “Well, I tell you, I can’t even leave the cooler open for ten seconds, the customers will steal everything”. Right, so it is, confirmed the agent, these guys steal everything!

Then something incredible happened: the buzz in the room stopped, like in old films the piano stopped playing and everyone was looking at me. A customer from a neighbouring table wearing a nice sailor T-shirt, showed me his broken and blackened teeth in a large, no, huge smile and exclaimed “Yeah man, we steal here!” Then obviously, everyone started laughing. And they laughed…

Half joking? Half serious? This is a warning to those who operate in traditional trade HORECA outlets – your products are being stolen or at least permanently borrowed!

While these drinkers were every honest about their dishonesty it is likely this is happening along the Supply Chain. A Supply Chain Manager surely needs to know the technical stuff but they also have to have a nose to sniff out where shrinkage is occurring.

Whether you signed a contract that can bring you personal benefits, no matter how large these benefits are, whether you favour suppliers or clients for reasons known by you only, or whether the stocks simply disappear from the company's warehouse - this is still called theft and eventually someone has to pay for it. Moreover, as a Supply Chain Manager you should be the first to know that something is going wrong and certainly before the Controlling or Audit department and certainly before any external legal involvement.

ERP, WMS, TPS, or BI, APO, MRP and the rest are excellent systems and procedures but they all fail if the phrase applies which my good old sailor friend from Giurgiu enunciated so well: we steal here!

Sometimes it’s that simple why you are losing stock and suffering expensive stock counts!

Image courtesy of chanpipat at

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Stefan Cucu, Traditional Trade, RTM Assessment Tool, Inventory Management & Stock Control

FMCG - Here comes summer, is your drinks RTM ready for the sun?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 02, 2014

Improve Beverage DistributionSummer has finally reached Romania and this will be good news for all the beer, water and soft drinks producers. Nothing raises sales like a scorching yellow disc in a clear blue sky.

One of the classic summer tracks is Here Comes Summer by a variety of artists depending on your age. When you hear this song it is a sure sign summer is approaching and if you want to sell your drinks you had better be ready!

With reference to the original piece by Jerry Keller.

Here comes summer
The sun is out, oh happy days
Here comes summer
The peak for drinks is on the way
If we’re winning
Our sales will rise right away
Will the sun shine bright on our happy summer sales?

Here comes summer (here comes summer)
Almost June, the sun is bright
Here comes summer (here comes summer)
The drinks market will be tight
It's the toughest (here comes summer)
So little time to get it right
Will the sun shine bright on our happy summer sales?

Distribution’s not so bad but it could be better
They need close attention to make it to the top
Assess your route to market and do it soon
If we miss, our drinks sales will surely drop

Here comes summer (here comes summer)
Don’t let your competitor sales outshine
Here comes summer (here comes summer)
Whether it’s beer, soda or wine
Make it the greatest (here comes summer)
Drinks season of all time
Will the sun shine bright on our happy summer sales?

Image credit: raichinger

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, CEE, Traditional Trade, Sales, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool

Communicating FMCG Supply Chain Change; Music to your SC ears?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Jul 02, 2013

From personal experience I know how difficult it can be to enable sustainable change in the extended Supply Chain.  Communicating change is hard enough but actually seeing it happen and being maintained is a tough task for most companies. Even though life and technology change almost daily there is still an in-built barrier in many people to doing something differently after doing a particular job another way for several years.

Endless slick presentations and training courses quickly numb people and they eventually pay lip service to the new way of working. So what can you do to get the doubters in line and engaged with you on your Supply Chain journey of change? Song and verse; no, honestly!

Musical blogs S&OP RTM SC IT resized 600Rather than persevering with the glossy PowerPoint slides why not present the need for and benefit of change in a way far removed from the normal training materials?  Take a look at some of these innovative ways of communicating change in extended Supply Chain operations.

Sales & Operational Planning (S&OP)

Shakespeare, yes the famous Bard helps us understand the pitfalls of not having a living S&OP process in place.

Village People tell us why S&OP is important, why it is not a Supply Chain problem and why sales forecasting is important.

Ultravox get all moody and show us how CEO’s feel when they fail to appreciate the value of S&OP.


ABBA advises us on the benefits of using IT like APO to best advantage in business battles.

The Beatles quietly warn us on the continued use of spreadsheets instead of available ERPs.

Route To Market (RTM)

Madness help us understand the wisdom of working with distributors as true partners in Traditional Trade markets.

Mungo Jerry strums through the importance of drinks producers being ready for the arrival of the world’s greatest salesman.

The Beatles again, this time urging beer producers to be ready for the summer season.

Try a few of these out and see if they break the ice with people who find the boring cascaded presentations and briefings far too serious.

Find out more about how Enchange lives up to its name and ENables CHANGE by clicking here.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane at

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, CEO, Traditional Trade, S&OP, RTM Assessment Tool

FMCG RTM: Evaluate your distributor network in peak season

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Jun 27, 2013

When you are absorbed in a competitive fast moving consumer goods business there is never a good time to take holidays. Those long awaited training courses always appear on the agenda at a critical launch period or at a difficult month or quarter end. And of course, do not forget the all-time favourite when a party of senior suits from head office makes a very short notice visit to your organization to see how they can help!

People must think that senior suits cannot smell fresh paint, spot newly polished floors or new carpets or that the factory workers all seem to be in the same new uniform and even that the bloke with the long hair in planning has put it in a pony tail. There is nothing wrong with everyone having a wash and brush up as you want to appear in a go0d light but blatantly obvious cosmetics don’t actually impress anyone.

FMCG shop shelves RTM resized 600In fact, the visiting VIP is likely to want to see how your business operates under normal operating conditions rather than under false pretences. What is the point of preparing a set-piece presentation or display that potentially glosses over the real issues? Perhaps the senior suits should communicate in advance that they do not want to hear good news but where there are real issues and challenges or the business. They could then earn their mega-bucks salaries by adding real value to struggling operations, particularly in D&E markets.

The same principle applies to FMCG producers who use a network of distributors within the Traditional Trade channel. Often they have inherited distributors from local companies that have been purchased and shoe-horned into the existing producer network.  While all sectors have peak and trough periods, e.g. drinks, ice cream in summer, household cleaners in spring and chocolate at Easter, there never appears to be a good time when producers can take a critical look at how they are getting their products in front of consumers.

If it is not Christmas, Easter, summer, month end or year end then it is holidays of key people and probably more senior suit visits. While there really is no convenient time to assess your RTM deployment it is a necessary evil but one that will lead to improved top and bottom lines. Instead of looking for a slack period why not evaluate the efficiency of your RTM network of distributors in peak season?

You would not take your car to the workshop, tell them you think there is a problem with the engine but decline their request to start the motor to carry out diagnostic checks. Would you go to a dentist with painful toothache and then sit there tight lipped while the white coated devil tries to find out the problem?

If you evaluate your RTM in a peak season then you will see where the real pressure points and challenges exist. If your beer RTM does not work very well on a cold Saturday in November how can you expect it to cope with the guzzling, frothy demand that July to August brings – UK excluded, of course?

The cost of an assessment of the RTN network with improvement plans delivered for each distributor could be recovered in weeks, not years. Interested? Click here.

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, Traditional Trade, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool

FMCG Demand Planning Quality and Wimbledon Tennis

Posted by Dave Jordan on Tue, Jun 25, 2013

That time of year is upon us once again. This 2 week period usually guarantees rain in UK when the only relief could be an impossibly wrinkle-free and young-looking Cliff Richard leading the communal singing during the delays. “Oohs” and “aahs” and “I say’s” will reverberate around the famous courts and atop Henman Hilll or is it Murray Mount now? Was it ever Taylor Tor, Lloyd Lump or even Perry Peak?

Yes, the Wimbledon tennis tournament takes place in SW19. Will Andy Murray go one step further and win the championship? Will any of the British ladies get past the dressing room door? Will there be enough balls? Yes, balls. Wimbledon is a huge planning and logistics exercise which largely goes unnoticed – like Supply Chains all over the globe; nobody knows they are there until something does not go precisely to plan.

Can you imagine the umpire calling for new balls please, yet finding there are none available or not at the right storage temperature? How would McEnroe react to that at his peak of petulance? How do you forecast how many balls you need – around 52,000 apparently? Someone must and they are probably licenced to over-estimate to ensure no unhappy umps and palyers. (Good to see the used balls are recycled as nests for brown mice, honest.)

Pimms is usually associated with hot summery days so I always find it incongruous that this drink and strawberries are must-haves for 2 weeks in July in UK. More than 80,000 pints (   litres) of Pimms and 17,000 bottles of champagne are quaffed by people who are apparently trying to watch tennis.  If you look closely during the long rallies you will notice that the watching heads move from side to side with a 2 second delay as they belatedly react to being woken by the smash of ball on racquet.

My word, if demand forecasts were incorrect or logistics not seamless you could easily cause a riot in Womble-land. Spectators might even have to eat normal food and drink and that just would not do, would it? Pimms, champagne and strawberry producers do not get a second chance at satisfying this huge and unusual demand so these 2 weeks are extremely important to them. Ok, Wimbledon may not make or break annual performance but it can certainly put a very hefty dent in the final numbers.

FMCG S&OP RTM  Tennis resized 600As far as I am aware none of these Wimbledon staples have suffered significant stock-outs so these FMCG producers appear to have placed the right resources and processes (S&OP?) behind making this event a complete success. While there may not be a flagship, high consumption event associated with beer and other FMCG drinks why do they seem unable to ensure stock availability as close to 100% as possible in peak periods?

Is it lack of attention to S&OP or an imperfect Route To Market (RTM) deployment or is it a fact that demand cannot be accurately forecast? I don’t believe that drinks forecasting cannot be significantly improved through taking an outside view of demand planning within S&OP and the RTM network quality. Most CEO's know their RTM is just not working but seem unable or unwilling to raise their game.

So many Producers suffer peak period stock-outs that the most common exchange at appraisal time might be “new balls please”!

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, RTM Assessment Tool

FMCG Beer Brewers, here comes the sun. Is your RTM ready?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Jun 20, 2013


The sun is out and the sky is blue so what drink waits for you? Beer producers rely on the sun to drive sales and produce a distinct pull along the supply chain but how many will win the market place battle? Certainly, if they are not ready for the worlds greatest drinks salesman then they are in for a flat summer.

A short Beatles song modified to suit the beer business should have you singing along but will you actually take action and get your creaking RTM sorted?  Click to find out how and do it now!

Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo)
Finally the sun, and I pray
You sell right

Beer maker, do your sales still feel like its winter?
Beer maker, you need to change and that is clear
Here comes the sun
Finally the sun, and I pray
You sell right

Beer maker, you have many stock out failures
Beer maker, your RTM is very poor, I fear

Here comes the sun
Finally the sun, and I pray
You sell right

beer_rtm_summer sunSun, sun, sup, beer flows
Sun, sun, sup, beer flows
n, sun, sup, beer flows
Sun, sun, sup, beer flows
Sun, sun, sup, beer flows



Beer maker, take a good look at your network
Beer maker, you know its not been done for years                    
Here comes the sun
Finally the sun, and I pray
You sell right

Here comes the sun
Finally the sun, and I pray

You sell right
You sell right

Check out the original Beatles song.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, Traditional Trade, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool

Trouble brewing or has the extended beer Supply Chain lost its fizz?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, May 16, 2013

During the summer months I am partial to a pint of the foaming ale with a solid, woody name like Woods Quaff served from a hand-pulled pump. Add a bag of pork scratchings and a village green cricket match and there you have what would approach the perfect afternoon. However, I live in Romania where there is actually more cricket than you might think and a lot less of the foaming ale. Yes, one or two of the big International Key Accounts have started to sell imported bottled beers from UK but to me it is not the same as watching a creamy froth develop on the top of a dark, mysterious brew drawn from a pump.

I guess it is part of growing up as real ale was not for me as a youngster and it was considered an old man-chunky sweater drink for bearded types, mostly blokes. Cider was the popular drink and then this developed into less fizzy lager where we had the never to be forgotten “Hofmeister – Follow The Bear” advertising. The people who made that advert up had obviously been enjoying far too much Hofmeister although it might just catch on in Romania.

Beer brewing FMCG Supply ChainDuring the widely reported Easter UK trip to see the heiress the weather was far from warm but I looked forward to sampling a few beers. The first place of expectant imbibement was the Horseshoe Inn in Downend near our mortgage where I scanned a small range of ales amongst the fizz. Seeing a new name I ordered a pint only to be told the barrel had “gone” and they did not have any more.

Next stop on tour was Wirral to see my football team lose once more and catch up with family. One dining venue was the Old Quay in Parkgate which is a picturesque “seaside” promenade but with lapping water only twice per year. I think this is the place I saw Old Speckled Hen on draught for the first time and so eagerly ordered one.  After a bout of foamy splitter-splatter the pump packed up and another out of stock was recorded.

Moving on to Birmingham next where the heiress is doing her best to minimise her inheritance and the same thing happened at a pub strangely named Country Girl in Selly Oak.  Finally, even at the fast food end of the market in Frankie & Benny’s my selection of a draft Boddingtons was met with another OOS response. My first and hopefully last "out of Boddies" experience.

In all cases I chose something else as a thirst has to be slaked even in chilly UK. Was I just unlucky or does this reflect a worrying level of forecast accuracy and/or customer service in the UK brewing industry Route To Market (RTM) deployment. The outlets did not lose out financially but ultimately the individual brewers did not receive my hard earned cash.

I know I am a sample of one but let’s hope they get their act together for the arrival of the world’s best drinks salesman, i.e. summer – if UK gets one!

Image courtesy of George Stojkovic at

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, Traditional Trade, Distribution, RTM Assessment Tool