Since consumer buying behavior is non-specific, it is nearly impossible to project. While forecasting sales is a very useful technique for eCommerce businesses, it is not an exact science. Despite the progress of technology, statistics, and artificial intelligence, forecasting is still not as accurate as we may like it to be.
eCommerce businesses face new challenges forecasting challenges, but luckily there are key solutions. Read on to learn more about the biggest eCommerce demand forecasting challenges and how to overcome them.
What is demand forecasting?
Forecasting is the process that you use to determine future demand. The goal of forecasting is to help you prepare for more than just your current period. For example, restaurants would use demand forecasting to place orders for ingredients for the next quarter. Instead of just ordering standardized amounts of different foods, the restaurant would use demand forecasting to try to order what they need for different categories.
Proper demand forecasting helps you prepare and improve your bottom line. The key advantages of forecasting include:
- Improve your supply chain.
- Plan better marketing strategy based on the different cycles of your sales.
- Create a more accurate, flexible budget.
- Determine your staffing needs at different points in the year based on fluctuating demand.
- Track overall performance by comparing expected demand to the actual sales.
Obstacles to Forecasting
While forecasting is incredibly important and beneficial, it is not free of challenges. Some obstacles that eCommerce businesses face when it comes to forecasting include:
- Emphasis on historical data. Forecasting relies on what happened in the past. While past activity is a good benchmark for future sales, it is not the only factor. Unfortunately, forecasting strategies often fail to consider the many other factors that will affect your demand in the future. This problem is exacerbated for eCommerce stores, where you need SKU-level data to forecast online sales.
- Fragmented business actions. eCommerce business implements several initiatives that may impact demand, and all of these different business actions are not always visible to every member of the company. Short term cycles that include new products, sales, discounts, advertising, and social media marketing can impact demand immensely, but they are not considered in traditional forecasting plans.
- It is very hard to forecast sales of items at the SKU level, even though this type of forecasting would provide the most accurate and useful information. Online shopping behavior relies on numerous factors that cannot necessarily be calculated scientifically.
- The eCommerce market is rapidly growing and changing. Standard forecasting relies on monthly processes, but to keep up with the digital world, you must track stock-flow planning weekly and with two to four-week cycles.
These challenges make it very difficult for eCommerce businesses to forecast demand. Selling on multiple platforms only exacerbates the complexity of the issue. The key to proper forecasting for eCommerce is to closely monitor online sales.
The Solution to eCommerce Forecasting
Fortunately, there are a few ways to address the major challenges associated with forecasting. Your eCommerce business must address both the process and the technology associated with sales predictions.
The easiest way to improve your forecasting is with the best tool available, Listing Mirror. Listing Mirror understands both the importance and complexity of demand forecasting, and our #1 multichannel software makes the process much simpler and more effective.
In addition to listing management, order fulfillment, and inventory syncing, we offer warehouse management. With our helpful Inventory Forecasting feature, you can track previous sales data and trends to determine how much inventory you should order from vendors. Our powerful software ensures more accurate forecasts, so you can avoid being under or overstocked. Use our incredible software to simplify daily operations, including demand forecasting. To learn more about our forecasting feature, try it for yourself. Sign up today to try our 14-day risk-free trial!