Unleashing Seasonal Success With Data-Driven Supply Planning

January 24, 2024

min read

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Effective supply planning leverages the growth of e-commerce brands like yours in their seasonal strategies by ensuring a well-organized alignment between customer demand and product availability. By accurately forecasting and analyzing historical sales data, you can determine the optimal quantity and variety of products you need for each season. Data-driven supply planning will support your business to optimize inventory levels, reduce stockouts, minimize excess inventory, also improve your cash flow and capital utilization. Furthermore, with effective supply planning, you will be able to align your marketing campaigns with available stock, ensuring that you can meet the expected surge in demand during peak seasons.

In this blog, we will explore essential steps for organizing supply planning in seasonal strategies, providing insights to help your e-commerce brand to achieve your potential growth.

Preparing for the Season

To lay a strong foundation for your seasonal supply planning, here are the points you need to go over:

Analyze the Previous Season's Sales Data:

Examining which products were popular and which ones struggled can help you determine how to adjust your inventory for the upcoming season. This can include making decisions about how many products to order, what variants to offer, and how to price them to maximize revenue. Additionally, analyzing sales data can help you identify trends in customer preferences and behaviors, which can inform future product development and marketing strategies. By taking the time to review and analyze sales data, you can make informed decisions that will help your business thrive in the long term.

When creating a seasonal sales report, it is important to provide a comprehensive overview of the sales history for a given time range. This information can be used to identify trends and forecast future sales. Here’s an example from our solution partner Fabrikatör's seasonal sales report:

Fabrikatör's seasonal sales report

1. Evaluate Lead Times:

Now that you know which products were in demand in terms of variety and quantity, it's important to consider the lead times for those products. You can set a buffer time to account for unforeseen delays, and make sure that you have enough time to receive the products before they are needed. Once you have this information, it's time to start planning your orders. It's important to carefully consider which products to order, how much to order, and when to place the orders. Finally, once you have finalized this insight, it's time to align it with your marketing campaign in the next step. By doing this, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are targeting the right products at the right time and that your customers are receiving the products they want and need.

2. Aligning Inventory with Marketing Campaigns:

If you are planning to run a marketing campaign for some of your products, it's important to ensure that the stocks align with the expected sales coming from those campaigns. To do this, you’ll need a data-driven sales expectation from your marketing team to get an accurate estimate of how much stock you will need to meet the demand generated by your campaign.

Once you have launched your campaign, it's important to monitor its performance closely. This will help you to determine whether or not it is meeting your expectations. If the campaign is not performing as well as you had hoped, you may need to make adjustments to your next PO to ensure that you don't end up with excess inventory.

In the table below, you can see an example of a 4-week seasonal marketing campaign and its effect on the stock needed.

4-week seasonal marketing campaign stock planning

Now, you know when and how much of an inventory to hold in your stocks to not face out-of-stock. You can create or schedule your POs considering your lead times and the required stock. 

3. Bundle Up!

You can offer bundled products to increase your average order value (AOV). Bundling products allows you to offer multiple items at a higher value, simplifying the decision-making process for your customers and increasing the value they receive with their purchases.

Some seasonal bundles for inspiration: A summer holiday bundle including a towel, a hat, and a beach bag; a back-to-school bundle could include a pencil, highlighters, and an eraser. Similarly, a Christmas bundle could include a Christmas tree, ornaments, and yellow lights.
✨Inventory-driven bundling tip: By identifying which products are not selling well, you can bundle them with your fast-selling products. This not only helps you to generate revenue from your slow-moving inventory but also increases the overall value of the purchase for your buyers.

 To detect dead stocks, you can use our solution partner Fabrikatör’s dead stocks report: 

Fabrikatör’s dead stocks report

During Season 

1. Set Stock Alerts:

To make sure you don't run out of stock, it's important to set a stock alert from your supply planning tool. By doing so, you receive notifications when inventory levels are getting low and take action to replenish stock before your stocks end. 

To see how to decide at which level you’ll set your stock alerts, you can use this formula:

Inventory level formula for the stock alert

Let’s go over an example based on the formula: If you’re selling 10 quantities on average from an item daily and the lead time is 15 days, setting a stock alert for the quantity of 180 will save you from running out of stock. 

[10 (avg. sold quantity) X 15 (lead days) + 30 (3-day buffer for PO creation and delivery errors or selling more than expected) = 180]

2. Utilize Replenishment:

By automating the restocking process, you can free up staff time that would otherwise be spent on repetitive tasks.  By automating inventory management processes, you can increase efficiency and productivity, because you will have more time to focus on other critical aspects of your business.

3. Activate Backorders & Back In Stock Alerts:

Backorders provide an opportunity to turn your in-transit products into revenue. It’s also a safety net for fest selling products because it maximizes the sales potential of your products. 

Recommended use case: 

⭐️ Activate backorders if there are less than 14 days for the restock.

⭐️ Collect emails or use notify back-in-stock apps if there are more than 14 days for the restock. 

As a last tip for backorders, make sure your customers are well-informed about the shipment for a better user experience and a decrease in returns. 

4. Analyze Sales and Adjust Stock Levels:

Regularly compare expected sales with real-time sales data to make informed decisions about stock levels and marketing campaigns. Here are some reports you can use to make the analysis:

  • Seasonal Sales Report: Analyzes sales data over the season to identify demand fluctuations and the impact of promotions or marketing campaigns. This report assists in adjusting stock levels and marketing strategies accordingly.
  • Product Performance Report: Focuses on individual product performance, showcasing sales volume and revenue generated This report helps identify best-selling products and underperforming items in your seasonal strategy. 
  • Seasonal Sales Report: Analyzes sales data over specific seasons or time periods to identify seasonal trends, demand fluctuations, and the impact of promotions or marketing campaigns. This report assists in adjusting stock levels and marketing strategies accordingly.
  • Inventory Stock Report: Provides an overview of inventory levels, including available stock, backorders, and stockouts. It helps in identifying stock shortages, excess inventory, and potential stockouts to ensure optimal inventory management.
  • Marketing Campaign Performance Report: Evaluates the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, including metrics such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and return on investment. You can compare this report with the product performance report to understand the success of your campaign better. 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, effective supply planning supported by data-driven insights is crucial for the success of e-commerce brands like yours in their seasonal strategies. By laying a strong foundation through thorough preparation, such as analyzing previous seasons' sales data and evaluating lead times, you can make informed decisions about your inventory needs. Aligning inventory with marketing campaigns ensures sufficient stock availability to meet the expected surge in demand for your seasonal strategy. Optimizing inventory through dead stock identification and bundling strategies helps improve capital utilization and profitability. Regularly analyzing sales data and adjusting stock levels based on real-time insights allows for agile decision-making and optimized marketing campaigns. 

By leveraging the power of data-driven supply planning, you can minimize stockouts and excess inventory, and enhance your overall performance in seasonal strategies to increase your revenue through your potential growth. 

Meet Author.
Andrey Gadashevich

In 2010, Andrey founded MakeBeCool initially as a website development agency, but a discovery of the e-commerce world led to a complete retraining. With a newfound passion, he started collecting brand stories and case studies to empower e-commerce success. Beyond work, Andrey is a Lego Technic collector, a passionate snowboarder, runner, and fitness enthusiast. His active lifestyle extends to family time, where he shares his hobbies with his daughters.

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