The road (to consumer-packaged goods) less travelled.

There’s no truer testament to expertise than speaking to a consultant who finds himself in the heart of his current project, amongst the tea fields in Taiwan. Richard, a consumer-packaged and fast-moving goods expert is an independent consultant with career highlights that include working with industry greats such as Deloitte and Coca Cola.  His career has seen him travel extensively which has resulted in specialist skill in Distribution Industry, and specifically how that relates to developing countries. 

He shares his journey, and his insight on the distribution and fast-moving consumer goods with us. 


From Jetsetter to MBA to Jetsetter

I started out in Banking – but where I am now has been a journey of discovery,” Richard tells me. And it shows. After 8 years of consulting with Deloitte based in the United States and India, Richard decided to pursue his MBA with the IE Business School in Madrid. “By that time, I’d developed in-depth experience working on international projects throughout Europe and Asia, and my passion to connect with South America, first let me to Spain, where I completed my MBA. It was soon after completion, that I headed to South America and, backed by funding from the Chilean government, developed and ran a start-up incubator”, he adds. It was when Richard decided to pursue independent consulting, through moving to Brazil, that he was connected with Coca Cola Brazil where the passion for the Distribution, specifically within developing markets, developed. “I worked with Coca Cola over the course of the next 3 years within their distribution strategy covering a wide geographical aspect – from Honduras to El Salvador. From Thailand to Egypt and down to Tanzania. That experience led me to realise my potential as an independent consultant and I developed my true love for meeting clients’ needs. There is no greater joy than to be able to see a project through to successful completion – having started on very initial sales efforts, through to understanding the need, implementing that need and finally following up with the advocacy of the project”, he tells me. “Perhaps that was part of my frustration in working with larger consulting firms. You were part of a process – and very seldom did you get to see the final conclusion and results of your hard work”, he says.  

The thing about Distribution…

Richard has worked on both sides of the distribution chain. Having worked in developing markets for so many years, Richard understands the aches and pains of getting products like agricultural and perishable goods, from these markets out to the rest of the world. But he also understands the often treacherous process of getting product in.  So, what challenges are organisations facing in the quest to deliver quicker, cheaper, easier? “I think the critical thing that most organisations involved in the distribution of goods, whether they be Alibaba, Pepsi, Coca Cola or Amazon, is what we call the Last Mile Efforts – the last mile of delivery involved in distribution. Businesses all over the world are desperately trying to find an efficient way to get their products to the consumers and do so efficiently and sustainably. The market may well be there for their products, but many underestimate the complexities surrounding the process it takes to get your product there. And unfortunately, until one works within distribution, it is easy to take these complexities for granted. For example, key things to consider in the distribution to developing markets are safety, vehicle types required for delivery, the condition of roads, the cost factors involved – and how you, as a business, turn all of that into an efficient cost factor”, he says. 
The other challenge which many organisations overlook is classic mobile-readiness of a prospective market – and in particular, the developing regions. One sees it all too often – businesses develop a great new function to be able to make payments by mobile. Their technology is tested on perhaps the latest Apple or Android device, with fibre-optic connectivity and unwavering hiccup. However, what many forget is that in developing countries, not everyone has either the connectivity or the latest smartphone device with the bandwidth and capacity to handle the complexities of the transactions. There develops a disconnect between what has been created and what is in use, in the field. It therefore becomes critical for organisations to go to market, and spend time observing the way prospective consumers engage with your technology and your product”, says Richard.

Why you’d want to work with Richard

Richard believes in being on site. He has the insight, academic and practical foundation, but the hands-on, in-territory experience that gives an edge to any organisation looking to develop their distribution strategy. He is a Entire-Picture consultant which means that he is driven through wanting to get stuck in, and deliver what his clients need. Richard speaks 4 languages, has lived and worked around the world and understands the consumer-goods market intrinsically. 

Need help with your distribution strategy and want to work with someone like Richard? It’s time to give us a call. 

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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