At this point it’s tragic. Believe it or not – many small and medium size CPG’s are still using Excel to manage trade spending.
While the number of SMB CPG manufacturers using Excel has gone down from 2/3 in the mid 2000’s, some estimates have it as still more than 1/3 of the thousands of SMB’s are still on Excel – a 1990’s technology. Here’s the problem: Trade spending is just too complex. If you’re efficient and on top of it you can keep track of what you said you were going to spend by promotion by retailer. But once those deductions start coming in it’s a nightmare. Try to get a big picture perspective and you can’t aggregate anything meaningful. Cross your fingers and hope for the best when all the deductions are in then spend an enormous amount of time trying to find the variances. And that’s just deductions. Trying to do planning or getting reports with different views by retailer, or by brand, or by promotional event, or by region is impossible.
To add insult to injury – it’s no longer a big money issue or being locked into a long term custom solution that gets outdated. With a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution in the cloud it’s a small setup fee and a monthly subscription model. You don’t need to buy the house-renting is more cost effective and flexible. The setup is much quicker than the past – often less than 2 months since the solution is already up and running in the cloud so all your team has to do is log in. It is updated periodically throughout the year so it doesn’t become outdated. Finally, it’s based upon continually evolving and improving best practices so even training is easier because it’s not a custom solution it’s one that all the clients are using.