According to the Centre for Retail Research[i], eCommerce is the fastest growing market for retail in Europe. Online sales in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Spain are expected to grow from £132.05 billion in 2014 to £156.67 billion in 2015, reaching £185.44 billion in 2016.
This rapid growth in online shopping marks a seismic shift in consumer behaviour and dramatically puts pressure on the overall supply chain process. Add to this the immediacy of social media and it soon becomes clear that organisations need to get smarter with their marketing and even smarter when it comes to demand planning and forecasting.
So how do retailers predict demand levels for their products and services? As many supply chain professionals will concur, the secret to successful demand planning is a three-pronged approach combining data, process and technology. In particular, technology has an important role to play in demand planning but there is no magical solution.
We recently interviewed Melissa Cupis, Managing Director AGR-UK Ltd who reveals her six top tips for maximising the latest forecasting and planning tools:
1) Look to automation to build speed and agility into your organisation’s supply chain framework
2) Make sure forecasting and planning tools integrate seamlessly with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Utilising supply chain functionality within ERP means demand changes can be quickly responded to and managed to lower inventory levels, reduce stock-outs and reduce workload through automation
3) Consolidate your organisation’s supply chain management knowledge and promote shared learning across the organisation (even to Board level)
4) Collect good quality sales data in a systematic way within a basic set of parameters to enable effective optimisation of stock levels. These parameters might include lead time, order frequency, minimum quantity and unit quantity data. Understanding sales by geography further enables stock to be placed as close as possible to demand
5) Define and implement clear processes around demand planning and replenishment that utilise your underlying supply chain management tools
6) Tap into the powerful functionality of today’s forecasting engines to spot trends, predict future and seasonal demand changes, such as Black Friday, and balance demand with supply.
In summary, good demand planning is critical to success. Get it right and your organisation will benefit from better deployment of people, money and materials, plus accurate product availability and delivery dates leading to increased customer satisfaction; and ultimately profitability.
About Melissa Cupis
Melissa Cupis is Managing Director of supply chain planning specialists AGR-UK Ltd headquartered in Guildford, Surrey. Melissa has worked in the Supply Chain field for the past 17 years alongside retail, wholesale and distribution companies around the world such as Asda, Pets at Home, Le Creuset, and American Stores. After selling her web application business in 2008, Melissa consulted for a period before joining AGR UK in 2010. AGR UK provides Demand Planning, Forecasting and Inventory Optimisation software and consulting to range of large to small retail, wholesale and distribution companies.
For more information visit www.agrinventory.com