Walk down a row of shelves in a supermarket, and you’ll see brands like Dettol, Clearasil, and Lysol. Next to the cashiers, Durex boxes peek out next to mints and chocolates.
That’s the work of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company Reckitt Benckiser Group, which manufactures and distributes a variety of health, hygiene and home products in convenience stores, supermarkets and other retail outlets.
The root of their success is simply in making customers happy. A network of salespeople build relationships with places where consumers shop by visiting regularly, and stocking products that are in-demand or trendy.
The big challenge? A shape-shifting version of the classic travelling salesman problem. First, the company had to create the shortest possible route for each salesman to visit stores. Next, changes in demographics, sales regions, and store locations mean there is continually a need to replan schedules.
Here’s how the Reckitt Benckiser Group manages to do it all.