Tuesday, Sep 8, 2020

Strategic Channel Planning

As a team in these challenging times we find ourselves reviewing the accounts we manage and the channels they supply and the choices that we made. Are we best placed to take advantage of the future and what it brings? A question most suppliers are probably asking themselves right now.


Having a business that’s reliant on just one route to market can either be a blessing or a curse. From a retail and supermarket perspective its currently a blessing but even within this sector there are challenges around supply of essential products and those seen as luxury as a potential recession looms and large store formats versus convenience, where recent Kantar data* detailed that 18% of customers plan to keep shopping more locally even after lockdown.


Having online channels in place has helped to switch demand more easily to a sector that is growing. This growth may last, it may return to previous levels but by having the necessary internal structures and capabilities, it has helped us take advantage of the accelerating change in demand. Most significantly export and food service have impacted our accounts the most, as social distancing and lockdown measures were implemented resulting in many new business conversations within export being put on hold, as distributors around the world focus on their survival and maintaining supply of their current portfolio.


However, we have used the balance of time on export productively taking the time to continue ongoing product registrations and offering above and beyond support to both current and potential export customers where we are already gaining the benefits of this strategy, seeing initial orders come through. In response to the complete shutdown of social gatherings we have been working with our food service colleagues to review their business models with the aim of diversifying into new channels, which can help spread the risk and increase future sales.


So, to take advantage of the future and be best placed we are reviewing all our accounts and working through the costs, resource, infrastructure and capability to identify new channels and segments within these. There will be some that are more painful than others to achieve but by working through all possibilities and identifying what it takes we will be better placed to make informed decisions that are shared across the wider business, prioritising those that are not just urgent and important but necessary.


From a management perspective there will of course need to be ownership, believe, leadership and a level of high achievement in place to make it happen, but if the last few weeks are to go by then that’s not the real challenge its making the time for it to happen and having a robust plan in place.


As a team we have started by making a plan of our accounts and who we supply and those channels and customers we would like to supply and its blue sky thinking, reaching further than we have before to make sure we learn from the past and are better placed for the future. Suppliers may need larger teams in place, a bigger more capable site, more product tiering and a wider range of products to build a stronger brand and to develop better relationships with buyers, but by capturing it all on a plan and working through what it will take is a start and the beginning of something not the end. 


What is you’re learning from the last few months and what steps are you taking as a business that others can learn from? We would love to hear from you and share your actions.


For more information about Food2Market and support that’s available please get in touch at www.food2market.co.uk

*Daily Worldpanel Plus and LinkQ Data [1]   

Andy Maclachlan - Food2Market
Andy Maclachlan - Food2Market
Food & Drink | Preparing To Meet A Buyer | NPD Management |

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