Using Retail data for Forecasting Demand and Merchandising Planning

Many vendors have started to using EDI 852 data or retailer portal data for sales and retail merchandising but so far only a few are using EDI 852 data for forecasting of demand. But the reality is that vendor inventory at stores is often too low to meet demand and the rates of out of stocks have been increasing. It’s not a big surprise that retailers are maintaining less inventory in stores in this retail environment, the cost of excess inventory is simply too high and open to buy dollars are at an all time low. But with proper forecasting of demand a vendor can help the retailer to better manage inventory and avoid out of stocks. The great benefit of EDI 852 for merchandising planning is that it is store/SKU level data. Since a typical retailer is forecasting demand at a category and market level the variability in the rate of sales among stores in a market can be large.

A more accurate model for forecasting of demand is to start at the store/SKU level calculating an average rate of sale for the store/SKU and then based on the inventory on hand at that store a weeks of supply. When the weeks of supply for a store/SKU has been calculated the vendor can compare against the lead time to replenish the store and work to put a true demand driven supply chain in place. This model, while more intensive for the vendor to manage usually creates a far different picture of inventory needs than simply market level min/max replenishment.

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