The new mandate for CPG – Intelligent Trade Planning and Execution

The global annual spends of more than $500 billion by consumer goods companies (CPGs) on trade promotion activities is coming under scrutiny. The sales and distribution landscape is fraught with challenges and every dollar spent on promotions must be justified. Smart and ambitious heads of trade promotions have begun to leverage digital technologies to ensure they extract the maximum ROI and stay on top of their revenue targets.

Dragged down by slow and inflexible planning processes

Today, CPGs are continuously faced with innovative competitor products launches and price competitive private label products. In addition, consumers are more aware and less loyal. Plus, there are increased regulatory, supply side constraints. These require fast and flexible planning capability. But sales and distribution processes are data intensive, disconnected and slow to change. There is an additional challenge on the horizon: direct-to-consumer channels have become popular while trade and promotion planners are still grappling with diverse data to build a 360-degree view of customers. The need is for flexible and connected plans that integrate store assortment plans, sales plans, in-store media plans, customer incentive plans and trade coverage plans.

Our recent client interactions reveal a slew of large scale, digital transformation initiatives being undertaken by global brands. Clients now need to focus on business value driven interventions, an integrated sales and distribution landscape, integrated multi-channel capabilities, universal sales representative flexibility, intelligence at the point of action and higher performance, lower cost analytics platforms.

The new mandate

We see CPGs scrambling to bridge the gaps using holistic digital transformation initiatives. Their focus is around leveraging connected and digitized processes, integrated planning and intelligence at the point of action to transform these functions into competitive and effective modern route-to-market capabilities.

  • Connected & Digitized Processes: We are seeing a shift towards more performance driven objectives with clear goals around Product Distribution, Awareness, Trials, Number/Duration of calls, Call Economics, etc.:
    • Benchmarks are being identified either internally (process benchmarks, internal surveys) or externally (peer reviews, consulting agencies, etc.) and opportunities are assessed at a local market level
    • Detailed process design workshops around Sales Planning, Assortment Planning, Media Planning, Execution Planning, Customer Investment Planning, Retail Execution, Customer Collaboration etc., are being created to establish early ‘business buy-in’ into the digital transformation program
    • L1, L2, L3 processes are being identified across the sales organization and details of process/ sub-process level activities, frequency, decisions, inputs, outputs, data sources etc. are being established
    • Process automation around monthly target allocations/re-allocations between sales representatives is now being done on the fly using a mobile hand-held device and immediately communicated to the team
    • Retailer engagement activities such as displaying promotional video content for a retailer, real-time configuration and processing of retailer incentives are being automated
  • Integrated Planning: Complex planning models for Strategic Planning, Campaign Planning and Execution Planning are being automated to optimize limited sales resources. These plans, sometimes spread over 50 countries and 20,000 sales representatives, cannot be managed any longer by spreadsheets.
    • CPGs are building state-of-the art connected planning solutions which not only integrate internally (within the Sales Function), but also integrate to Finance and Supply Chain functions
  • Intelligence: We see a number of companies connecting internal and external data sources to create a comprehensive diagnostic performance management model that enables quick-discovery of root-cause issues thereby enabling timely decision-making and interventions:
    • Sales teams are being armed with intelligence at the point of action. For example, a sales team member can recommend an increased order quantity to a retailer based on upcoming promotional activity in the area/region
    • CPG organizations are using predictive and prescriptive intelligence, using advanced analytics to support decision-making.  Some of the use cases being applied today are around forecasting out-of-stock and lost sales, assessing the probability of a retailer to enroll in an incentive scheme, relevancy scoring of a product to an outlet, etc.
    • The creation of a centralized repository – a Sales Command Center — to derive valuable insights and manage exceptions with quick interventions is fast becoming the norm

Intelligent Trade Planning and Execution: ITC Infotech has worked extensively with some of the world’s largest CPGs, supporting their sales and distribution digital transformation journey. Today, our extensive capabilities and accelerators in modernizing the sales functions across strategy, planning, execution and monitoring have been turned into an Intelligent Trade Planning and Execution framework.

Our capabilities across the 3 pillars of Connect & Digitized Processes, Integrated Planning and Intelligence have delivered tangible business benefits to our clients.

  • Connected & Digitized Processes: We connect processes to deliver a holistic Sales and Distribution capability using leading CRM & TPM solutions that manage a global salesforce and provide them with actionable intelligence on mobile applications. This leads to maximizing call effectiveness and efficiencies
  • Integrated Planning: Our flexible and agile Integrated Sales Planning model fuses financial planning, demand planning and operational planning and is strategically aligned to chase one single global optimum
  • Intelligence: Our Sales Command Center delivers precise and timely analytics to business

Why Intelligent Trade Planning and Execution?

If you are contemplating an investment in sales and distribution, then ITC Infotech can provide a no-obligation assessment of your sales analytics maturity, process benchmarking, implementation roadmap and an assessment of the value unlock potential. Your business will be able to assess the impact that our intelligent trade planning and execution framework can make, ahead of your investment. To know more read our whitepaper on ‘Changing priorities for sales & distribution’.


Caleb Shireesh Jacobs
Associate Partner, Digital Experience

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