TT Talk - Consumer goods moving too fast

In the high pressure world of FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) consignments are often switched to new delivery points at the last minute, as the sales organisation tries to take advantage of sudden fluctuations in demand. Very often everything is done by phone, with very little written confirmation. Thus it was no surprise for a member of the Club when he received a phone call from a customer asking for a shipment of fashion goods to be delivered to an address in the north of England. Equally he was not alarmed when, an hour later, he got another call countermanding the first delivery instruction and asking for the load to be taken to an address in London instead. The driver was given the new instructions but, when he arrived at the street in question, he could not find the exact address. While he was looking for it, he was approached by a man with a clipboard who asked if he had the consignment of fashion goods, which the man identified in some detail. The man then explained that the company's unloading bays were fully occupied with other deliveries and that therefore the consignee would unload the urgently-needed shipment right there on the street. This was duly done . and it was not until an hour or so later, when the member received yet another call from his customer, asking why the delivery to the north of England was overdue, that everybody realised they had been the victims of a carefully-organised theft. The fast-moving goods had, by that time, moved even faster and have never been recovered.

Confirmation in writing of instructions given over the telephone may be irksome in a world of tight deadlines and quick responses, but you should try to persuade your client that it really is his interest that he confirms his requirements by fax or email. If the client will not confirm his instructions to you, you should send him a note setting out the details. Not only can you avoid small operational misunderstandings on dates, times and addresses but you may well also thwart the efforts of well-organised thieves who are maybe operating with "inside information". Once again, the Club's message is "know your customer".