Can a Sleeping Rabbit get FMCG Moving Even Faster?

When Mike Crosby (MC) joined Schlafender Hase (SH) as Global Sales Director - FMCG in October 2018, some things were new to him and some were not. Selling enterprise software to international companies in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods and Pre-media/Prepress markets was hardly new.

He brought with him more than two decades of experience doing this – at Esko / BLUE Software, for example, and more recently at Informa IT.

However, Schlafender Hase was a new company for him. Schlafender Hase’s TVT (Text Verification Tool) was a software he had certainly known about, but only through reputation. Now he had the opportunity to use this tool and the responsibility to sell it in a market that was more or less new terrain for Schlafender Hase. With TVT, Schlafender Hase had made its mark among the world’s leading pharmaceutical and medical devices companies. Could it do the same in FMCG and Pre‑media? We asked Mike.

SH: What are the key differences between Pharmaceutical / Medical Device and FMCG and Pre-media industries?
To understand the potential differences you must first know what they have in common. All are highly competitive and face growing pressure to cut costs and get to market quickly. And they are all regulated. The pharma industry is more regulated, but with consumer awareness—especially with food and cosmetics—regulations in the FMCG industry are also increasing.

Each of these industries face the risk of a recall if the information they bring to market is not 100% correct. Incorrect information can harm patients and consumers and a recall can very negatively affect a company’s brand and financial results. The bottom line? Both industries need a workflow process that is fast, cost-efficient and gets things right the first time. Anything they can do to improve the workflow process doesn’t just save money – it earns money.

SH: So what do you think the key differences are?
Some of the key differences are already expressed in the names themselves. Compared with pharma, for example, FMCG goods are faster moving and they address the consumer more directly. In addition, more stakeholders are involved across global territories in the supply chain and approval process, packaging and label information is a rich source of value and information.

SH: How is packaging in FMCG different? Why is it more important?
In pharma, inserts, labels and packaging inform consumers or healthcare professionals. In FMCG there is likely to be no insert or label, therefore the packaging itself becomes the motivating factor for the consumer to buy. Packaging acts as a medium to showcase what makes a company different and better than the competition.

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Innovative, creative and colorful packaging is a competitive advantage. According to some studies, approximately 80% of millennials believe packaging to be moderately important to very important in their purchasing decision of retail grocery products. It has to be convenient, environmentally friendly and inexpensive. One key way to reduce the cost of packaging is to optimize the workflow process.

SH: What do you see as the main pain points in the workflow process?
FMCG companies want packaging automation, harmonized processes, global compliance and integration, risk mitigation, multilingual support, KPI reporting and tuning, and overall visibility of the entire packaging supply chain so bottlenecks can be identified and processes can be streamlined. The FMCG industry is increasing in size and competition will increase with it. In this context, packaging will become more complex.

SH: Could you explain?
To successfully deal with this growing complexity, the workflow process must become more automated than ever before. More automation will speed up the process, but the automation must be more user-friendly because if things become too complicated for workers, the likelihood of making mistakes will increase. Simplicity of use has to be coupled with the highest precision to ensure quality and above all protect the Brand.

The ability to track the process from beginning to end is crucial. This helps ensure quality and pinpoints which methods can be further improved upon. In addition, the most valuable solution must be comprehensive: the software must be capable of dealing effectively with text, images, tables and barcodes. And in a globalized market we are also dealing with the simultaneous use of multiple languages – languages that don’t just read left-to-right, but also right-to-left such as Arabic and Hebrew. Braille must also be considered.

The key to an optimized artwork process is to have as few approval cycles as possible: increase right the first time. The later that artwork is rejected in the process, the greater the cost. To understand when in the process to perform an automated proofreading is key.

SH: How can TVT make a difference in the FMCG market?
TVT has already proven its value in the world’s most highly regulated markets. And it has done this with the market leaders. TVT is successful because it knows customers’ processes and meets their needs. It is quick, precise and easy to use. It can verify text in any language, and works well with text in tables. It is simple to learn and can be quickly implemented and integrated across an entire organization. It is excellent at processing notes and annotated PDFs in an artwork project. With our new artwork module, it can not only verify images embedded in text, but also full-page artworks. We will soon be adding modules to further improve functionality for Brand Protection, spelling and barcodes.

In a nutshell: TVT has what it takes to make FMCG get on the shelf faster and error-free. Software developers praise TVT because it is precise and comprehensive. Users like it because it’s easy to use; some even say it’s fun to use. The FMCG packaging market size is expected to reach up to 900 billion US$ by 2025. To understand the value of a tool like TVT, you must see it in relation to the growing value of the market. Above all: you must see it in action.

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