Predict the unpredictable in supply chain management

Aug 26, 2015 2 min

There is nowt so odd as folk – Now that may not mean too much to a lot of people in Europe or even in the South of England but it is a Yorkshire statement that is very true. People are fickle, they are not wholly rational and make different decisions at different times. That is what makes working in the supply chain so much fun, provided you are a masochist!

However, people are also quite predictable in most of their buying decisions, it is why it is possible to forecast demand quite accurately and as everyone in this industry knows if you can improve the accuracy of your forecast, you can improve the performance of your supply chain, the on shelf availability and customer satisfaction. What is more difficult is to get this right at every store if you do not have the ability to forecast individual store customer demand. Retailers often still run on central warehouse forecasting and basic replenishment at store level. In today’s modern world of ultra-competitive retailing and attacks from online retailers that is not good enough. The return on investment of getting to the detail of forecasting accurately at every store is enormous and will justify the investment in weeks not months or years.

To be able to forecast store level demand and then utilise this to manage the whole supply chain is the ultimate capability for the supply chain professional. It provides the ability to truly understand where your priorities lie and how to get the most out of the inventory in your business. Get rid of those pockets of dead stock in some stores while others are out of stock, prevent log jams in the supply chain through bull whip effects on demand and ensure a smooth flow of product to the point it is most valuable. Add to this scenario planning capability that enables you to really plan and understand the implications of major seasons, promotional drives or dare I say even Black Friday the US phenomena that has taken Europe by storm and caused havoc in the UK last year.

If you can gain all these benefits from a premium state of the art solution like RELEX, why would you sub optimise the most vital part of your retail business by implementing a second class solution.

Written by

Andrew Blatherwick

Chairman Emeritus and Advisor