It Was the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Could it Be Again?

A couple of months ago we published an article on how ‘Tis the season … to bring an end to seasonality! (And JIT!) because, while consumer shopping may be seasonal, supply chains no longer support seasonality. The pandemic finally broke globally over-stretched supply chains and with the continued issues (lack of ships, due to scrapping; containers; due to trade imbalances; lack of capacity, due to extended shipping times now that the two major canals are not available and ships have to sail around both capes), the situation is not going to be fixed anytime soon.

In the article we noted that if you didn’t want to seasonally stock out, you needed to stop trying to stock seasonally and start planning for sustained stock up over time. Stock at the rate products are normally produced and able to be shipped. And stock to what you forecast.

But don’t stop there. If, even spacing out the orders and shipments, you can’t reasonably stock to demand, or, if the demand may not be high enough to minimize your logistics costs (via full container shipments), then you need to work on demand shaping as well as demand forecasting. Don’t over market / promote / sell a product you’ll have trouble delivering, and don’t maintain a product that isn’t going to optimize your economic order quantity.

Not everyone needs the newest product, or the top of the line product, some just need a product that works, which can be last year’s product, or the mid-line product. If you shape demand properly, through targeted marketing, targeted selling, or proper account management, you can make sure that you can meet all of your demand and keep each product line you should be maintaining profitable. And while we admit demand shaping can be harder than forecasting, sometimes it needs to be done. But it needs a lot of advance planning, so it’s critical that Procurement work hand in hand with Marketing and Sales to help identify the demands it can safely meet, when, and what demand levels are optimal for each product line. But if you integrate your planning, marketing, forecasting, sales, and supply chain planning, then maybe the holiday season will, in 2024, be the most wonderful time of the year.