In an effort to improve trade spending, integrate forecasting and promotion plans, and create a more effective reconciliation of deductions and payments, MEI Computer Technology Group, Inc. – a developer of trade promotion management and retail execution solutions for the Consumer Packaged Goods industry - announced its customers have created a regional best practices consortium. A group of MEI clients that include Kettle Foods, Pacific Natural Foods, American Licorice and Annie’s Home Grown, decided to truly “reach across the aisle” and meet not only to share ideas on how to extend the use of the MEI Trade Promotion Management (TPM) platform, but to actually establish best practices.
“For small to medium sized business that may not have the resources to have a TPM expert on staff, the consortium is a great way to fill that void and learn from other like companies,” said Joelle Simmons, Director of Sales at Kettle Foods. “The common bond of using the MEI TPM platform was the catalyst that brought us together but once we started the discussions, it was as if we were sister companies. The bottom line is that collectively, we stretched the boundaries of the solution right out of the gate.”
Aside from MEI’s trade promotion management technology, the companies had other similarities, including geographic location, distribution channels, company size, growth rates and most importantly did not have competing products. However, it was these common bonds that brought them together and spawned more valuable discussions about forecasting, deduction clearing, accruals and how to better adapt MEI’s tool to meet their respective organizational needs.
Trista Awtrey, Business Analyst at Pacific Natural Foods commented, “It’s like the old adage, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. So, one company might be discussing a particular aspect of the solution that I may not have even considered. For instance, Kettle uses the MEI solution in ways that we don’t currently explore, such as forecast management and operating plans so we hope to add those topics to the next agenda.”
While some of the participating organizations gained insight into specific issues, others were happy to share lessons learned and confirm best practices. Lonn Whitmill, Director of Trade Marketing at Pacific Natural Foods commented, “When you operate in your own world you tend to think that some of the challenges are universal and are meaningful to the bottom line with trade promotions. Being able to openly share experiences outside of a large user group scenario allowed us to confirm that we have been doing the right things all along.”
One of the more significant results of the recent consortium meeting was that some of the companies might possibly work together on co-promotions and distribution. “The fact that our customers are collaborating outside of the MEI realm is a clear example of how small to medium sized business are coming together to become more competitive against the larger food manufacturers,” said Lorne Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of MEI. “SMBs with very high growth rates can lose track of the financial aspect, and I think the consortium allows them to get a better handle on the financials and plan profitable promotions.”
For more information on MEI, visit www.meicpg.com or call 1-800-INFO-MEI.