How CPG Companies Can Stay Ahead of the COVID-19 Curve

How CPG Companies Can Stay Ahead of the COVID-19 Curve

Think of how different things were a year ago. If you could travel back to early 2019, meet your friends for a beer and describe the current state of the world, your story would sound more like a horror movie than the not so distant future. 

Hypothetical time travel aside, there is no question that we are sailing in uncharted waters, especially when it comes to the economy. That’s why CPG companies must look ahead and continue to prepare for what’s coming next. Not only regarding the continuation of the crisis but for what comes after when the supply chain begins to normalize. Here are a few thoughts on how to do that.

Carefully analyze your current situation

First, you need to know where things stand today. It is critical to review and quantify the availability of your products across stores and identify any distribution gaps that exist, especially among your Core Brands and SKUs. With supply chains shifting to keep up with crisis driven shopping behavior, your products may not be easy to find at some retail locations.

Many manufacturers have increased production of their core products and reduced output of secondary items to meet the unusual surges in demand. For example, producing more standard cleaners and reducing production of specialty scented cleaners. If this is the case for your organization, you need to track the effect this is having on your in-store shelf space.

If you are reducing the production of some products, you will need to expand the supply of others enough to occupy all of the space your items would typically fill. Otherwise, you risk losing valuable turf to competing brands.

Plan your course of action now and in the future

In addition to mapping out your plan to maintain shelf space while the current situation continues, you also need to plan how you will transition back to normal once the crisis begins to wane. 

It is hard to predict precisely when that will happen, but it is almost certainly going to be the wild-west when it comes to protecting your turf in stores. Retailers will need to keep their shelves full, and if you aren’t ready with the SKUs they need, they will backfill with other brands. On the flip-side, make sure there is shelf space available before your items show up at retailers. 

Partner with retailers as a best in class vendor

Retailers are strapped trying to keep up with shifts in demand and additional safety requirements. This presents a fantastic opportunity for CPG companies to build stronger long-term relationships by helping out as much as possible during the crisis and recovery. 

Brands with visibility into product availability across stores can advise retailers on where to move items and can even help get deliveries on the shelves. In return, retailers may help get your best-performing products placed or given additional space. 

Not only can being proactive improve your standing with retailers, but it will help you build a reputation as a Best in Class vendor who can deliver. Once the supply chain catches up, and stocking levels go back to normal, you’ll be in a strong position to continue growing.

Evaluate your in-house capabilities

All of this requires that you know what is selling and what inventory levels are like across regions and individual stores. If you lack the capabilities to collect this data on your own, we can help. 

RW3 has years of experience collecting and analyzing information from a host of disparate sources, including POS, Syndicated, Self-Reported, ERP, Promotional, and other relevant data streams. We can help you track product availability, and know when and how to respond.

These are challenging times, but they also present opportunities for brands who can look ahead and prepare for whatever is coming next.

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Bruce is the founder and CEO of RW3 Technologies. Having spent more than 35 years in the consumer goods and grocer space Bruce has experienced the industry disruption first hand and understands how artificial intelligence, POS data, and mobile technology can transform a good organization into a great one.

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