by Jackie Biallas

So, now what?  As many states are planning for their reopening, what does it look like for the average business?  Will consumers return to their previous shopping habits?  It seems unlikely.  Different states and areas of the country emerge from their Shelter in Place orders at different times.  Undoubtedly, it will not be “business as usual” for quite awhile.  So, how do we plan?  What kind of forecasting process do we use?

E-Commerce will continue to grow

Even after this disruption is over, e-commerce will continue to grow.  Consumers who rarely shopped online in the past now have grown more accustomed to it.  Even when stores reopen, will consumers be comfortable shopping in close quarters with other people?  Buying online and picking up in store will continue to be a big part of the retail landscape.

If your business has not moved online, or if there are kinks in the process, it is time to figure these out.  Sales and inventory information may be stored in separate locations.  You will want to have a way to bring all of your vital data together in one location to create a forecasting process that shows what is selling, how much is available to sell and what you need to order.

Reputation Matters

As these times of disruption continue, consumers are eager to support companies that care and treat their employees and customers well.  The companies that are able to connect with their customers and exhibit their empathetic values will rise to the top.

It is also important to stay relevant.  This can be a challenge when revenue and cash flow are uncertain.  It is the time to be creative with marketing campaigns that connect with customers.  Social media platforms can provide a launchpad for creative and heartfelt campaigns.

Even companies that have seen a surge in business during these times will want to keep the momentum going.  Perhaps they have gained market share because consumers are not as brand loyal and are looking for availability.  What can you do that is “extra” to create loyal customers? Brain storm and be creative!  However, you don’t want to be seen as capitalizing on a crisis.

With so much uncertainty, how can I plan?

In our previous blogs, we’ve talked about being ready for when business does reopen.  Have processes in place now so that your business can be stronger than ever.  Here are some basic tips:

  • It is extremely important that your data is clean and that you have visibility to all your sales and inventory data, especially if it is coming from multiple locations and systems. The inability to see sales and inventory leads to a multitude of problems including stock-outs and buying too much inventory.
  • By organizing your product assortment in a hierarchy, you will be able to more easily determine the winners and the losers within categories. Inventory carrying costs are often 25% of the inventory value.  By optimizing your inventory, you can invest in profitable merchandise or other business assets.
  • Continue to stay on top of supply chain issues. Consider diversifying by using alternate manufacturing facilities and suppliers, but continue to maintain current relationships.
  • Analyze your accounts and channels of distribution. What changes can be made to increase sales and profitability?  It may take creativity to develop new ways of doing business.

As the country reopens its doors for business, you will want to be prepared.  SAFIO Solutions is here to help you emerge stronger than ever.  We make the forecasting process efficient and effective by gathering all your data into one location and providing a user interface and custom dashboards that give you the vision into your business.  You gain the confidence needed to take the actions that will optimize your inventory, enhance profitability and increase operational performance.

Contact the industry experts at SAFIO Solutions today!  We’ll be happy to help!