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Navigating Demand Peak Pitfalls in 5 Easy Steps

By Jacky Marolleau,
Navigating Demand Peak Pitfalls in 5 Easy Steps

Demand peaks happen across the year and the industry has learnt to accommodate these as they occur: occurrences such as Black Friday or the New Year’s Sales. But what happens when these peaks happen unexpectedly, or they continue over a prolonged period of time as we’ve seen during 2020?

As the grocery industry considers a leaner, more efficient post-pandemic future, one of the topics high on the agenda for board members and supply chain teams alike, is how best to manage these unpredictable demand peaks.

With the use of flexible, cloud-native solutions powered by near real-time data, technology can provide grocery retailers with the information they need to make more agile and informed decisions: in the process, positioning the grocery industry at the vanguard of innovation for not just cost efficiency, but also sustainability and creativity.

With demand for online shopping more than doubling for many grocery retailers over the last six months, and the popularity of home delivery and other such methods like buy online pickup in store (BOPIS), set to continue for the foreseeable future, there has never been a better time to consider future-proofing your retail supply chain against demand peaks with these five approaches:

  1. Flexible and agile solutions – make sure that you have solutions in place that allow you to scale up to meet the potential highs of your demand peaks, but also provide the agility to allow you to creatively pivot and deliver new solutions such as curbside pickup or BOPIS. As consumer behaviour changes during these peaks, so must your ability to meet these new demands.
  2. Omnichannel fulfilment – omnichannel order fulfillment requires moving away from legacy technology and toward solutions specifically designed to leverage both DCs and stores. Doing so can help maintain your customer-brand promise and maintain profitability through the smarter use of inventory – critical to meeting the demands of consumers during demand peaks.
  3. Order streaming – powered by machine learning, with the intelligence and flexibility of Order Streaming, distribution centers can dynamically scale to accommodate any quantity of any type of workflow in real-time, simultaneously, allowing you to fulfil every type of order, in the fastest, smartest way possible – a key to maintaining great customer experience even during demand peaks.
  4. Use the power of AI when it comes to informed decision-making, AI can provide far more accurate prediction modelling and orchestrate more effective man and machine interactions. It can also provide implication-based forecasts across various scenarios in terms of time, cost and revenue, and by acting autonomously over time, it can continuously improve recommendations as conditions and variables change – ideal for effectively managing demand peaks across entire supply chain networks.
  5. A single pane of glass with a unified and transparent approach to enterprise-wide command and control systems, teams and individuals can more easily take actions at every level of the enterprise confident in the knowledge that they have the latest and most reliable data to hand – critical when making decisions during situations like demand peaks.

In reality, there is no silver bullet that will solve all the supply chain challenges associated with demand peaks, or any amount of AI that can 100 percent accurately predict when the next peak will occur. However, by following these five recommendations and optimizing key areas of the supply chain network, grocery retailers can feel confident of being able to meet consumer demand, no matter what that might look like or when the next rush might occur.

Whether it’s cloud-native warehouse management solutions, more efficient inventory management and order steaming or true omnichannel capabilities, Manhattan Associates’ industry leading solutions and teams of experts (recognised by Gartner for more than a decade) are here to help you navigate the challenges of demand peaks in a post-pandemic grocery industry.

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