The Pumpkin Season: Tracking Products with Limited Demand Periods

Meagan Douglas
Mon, Sep 28, 2015
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Consumers want pumpkin flavored products in the fall.

Inventory management strategies must account for seasonal demand for products. For example, fall is pumpkin spice season in many retail food stores.

When a customer walks the aisles of a grocery store in October, he or she can expect to see a multitude of pumpkin spice-flavored cakes, cookies, candies, waffles and beers. Consumers can count on the same as they visit cafes and coffee shops. The Register Herald shared the results of Datassentials research that found 6 percent of U.S. restaurants featured pumpkin-flavored options in 2010, that number rose to 14.5 percent in 2015.

Modern manufacturers offer pumpkin spice alternatives to traditional fair to capitalize on current trends. This means company supply chains have to account for items with high demand in a limited timeframe. Whenever businesses offer seasonal items they must ensure merchandise is ready for a specific schedules, prioritized handling and consistent reporting.

Preparing for Certain Sales Periods
A company must sell a seasonal item within a specific time frame or the business could miss out on the demand. Caldwell Partners, an executive search provider, said supply chains should have insight into customer behavior, plan for distribution alterations and be ready to adapt to surprises when offering specialized products.

Manufacturers must know why customers like certain products at specific times. Is it due to weather, seasonal events or other criteria? Having insight into the customer's frame of mind allows companies to create packaging and marketing campaigns that really push the product. Supply chains need to know which locations show the most interest and distribute goods to the top performing areas.

Supply chains planned around seasonal demands have to prioritize certain products. Warehouse management teams should store seasonal items in easy picking locations. Inventory workers must track products as they move through the warehouse to ensure nothing gets left behind. Automated mobile data collection devices speed up picking, storing and receiving processes so employees have the solutions they need to get materials out on time. Complete data visibility also prevents oversight that may lead to seasonal products being left on warehouse shelves.

Sometimes seasons change. Supply chains need automated data collection solutions so they can record real-time performance results. Precise order, shipping and inventory records indicate precisely when a sales season takes place and if there were alterations from previous years.

The Changing Seasons
Not all sales seasons are as intuitive as pumpkins becoming popular around October. A company needs to know when a product is in demand. A manufacturer may use outside data to determine what products it should offer and when; food companies tracked the success of pumpkin lattes at coffee shops and followed suit. One of the best sources of seasonal data, however, is companies analyzing performance that comes from their own records.

Most industries feature a variety of sales seasons. Inbound Logistics explained companies that make and sell sports equipment base supply chain performance around a variety of seasonal metrics. Nice weather means more people partake in outdoor activities, different professional sports are active during unique periods of the year and local companies have to know when school leagues begin.

Demand trends should be visible in an automated data collection record. Past distribution reports indicate when parents search for sports equipment and when runners in town begin training for a community marathon. Businesses also need to keep recording information to stay on top of changes. Bad weather could ruin a summer sales event, so companies need contingencies in place.

An ERP solution allows companies to record information and automated mobile data collection devices makes the processes flexible.

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