I know I should not have gone there. It was Sunday and well before the live Premier League football on the TV. The weather was cold, the air was full of drizzle and as I turned off the overgrown roundabout the scale of my folly dawned; the IKEA car park in Baneasa was bursting at the seams. Every available legal and illegal space was taken.
There were families pouring out of cars and into the store and equal numbers trying to squash brown flat-packs of “destroy it yourself” furniture and fittings called Grunt, Splat and Twong into impossibly small cars. What do these people do about their Sunday outing passengers after they have loaded up? Do they give Granny and Granddad a few coins to take the bus home? There is no way you can fit all the passengers and the flat-pack must-haves back into some of these cars. Maybe that is why they provide rope at the IKEA loading bay; it is actually to tie Granny and Granddad onto the roof of the car.
Oh well, I am committed so might as well join the hoards of people unable to control shopping trolleys, with absolutely no sense of direction and with varying levels of short-term memory loss. I hooked a yellow bag over my shoulder and I too became an IKEA shopper!
I know there is a science in store layout design whether it is a supermarket, a DIY store or an M&S type outlet. The store wants everyone to see everything they have available and they want it to be just at the right time when, for example, the shopper has been subliminally convinced that the bright pink Plobo stool would look really nice in their kitchen.
Oh, but the chaos this causes in an IKEA store. Being a supply chain chap I would make the whole store strictly one-way with nobody allowed to double back to soft furnishings or for a forgotten low energy light bulb. In fact, if I had my way I would make the floors with a defined downhill gradient and ensure trolley wheels were oiled hourly to help people on their way, through the broken furniture bargain section, past the cheap but strangely filling fast food and out into the car park. What about a small battery pack on each trolley which delivered a persuasive tingle of current if you tried to push the trolley against the traffic? Too extreme, possibly!
Think of all the wasted hours and wasted effort of moving all the way through the store then insisting on reversing the route and getting in the way of everybody else. Then it struck me. I realised where I had seen this before and why I perversely enjoyed dodging the trolleys in the IKEA shopping maze. This is what many FMCG companies suffer in their distribution route planning in Romania every single day. Wasted miles, wasted fuel, wasted time and in all that time there are customers not being served.
If your FMCG sales are struggling along and the stream of excuses for monthly gaps appears endless, you might take a close look at how much time your sales people spend selling to and guiding distributors in the traditional trade. If they have adopted the IKEA system then you may just have spotted a huge opportunity to improve your Route To Market performance.
Go and have a closer look. Get some IKEA rope, tie yourself to the roof a salesman’s car and see what some simple thought and routing logic can add to your bottom line.
By Dave Jordan, guest writer
(photo source: IKEA)