5 Demand Planning Software Solutions That Can Turn Your Business Around
What is Demand Planning?
An Indian restaurant in the U.S. makes brisk business selling tandoori chicken that tastes as delicious as the chicken sold in the bylanes of old Delhi. However, for all its entrepreneurial nous, the restaurant fails to plan for the demand surge it is about to witness during a Big League game it plans to screen in-house. Not surprisingly, it runs out of stock, having failed to buy enough chicken and other ingredients for its hit dish. This forces it to decline orders. As more and more customers go away disappointed, the restaurant's brand image takes a beating. This embarrassing situation could have been avoided by proper demand planning and forecasting.
Demand planning is a cross-functional process that applies business intelligence tools to collect and analyze historical data of sales, consumer trends, and seasonal data to predict future demand. Based on these predictions, an organization is able to ensure that the right quantity of food and supplies are purchased to meet anticipated demand.
Demand planning, therefore, takes into account sales forecasting, inventory planning, capacity planning, and supply chain management to create a lean supply equilibrium that can minimize excess inventory and avoid supply chain disruptions.
Importance of Demand Planning
While stock-outs resulting from poor demand planning can cause customers to develop a lasting negative impression about a foodservice business, oversupply has its own perils. Although a restaurant will always want to be well-stocked to address customer demands, it must be careful to ensure that food doesn't sit idle on the shelves and get wasted.
Spoilt food is a colossal waste of resources and something that restaurants should look to prevent by all means. The seriousness of food wastage can be gauged by the fact that despite more than 800 million people suffering from hunger globally, one-third of the food produced is wasted.
The UN Environment Programme estimates that in the U.S. alone, 30% of all food amounting to nearly $50 billionis discarded every year. According to a 2014 study by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, close to 85% of unused food in U.S. restaurants is thrown away. Food waste has massive economic and environmental implications.
Over-purchasing and over-estimating demand would also mean overspending. It implies investment in physical space to store useless/unusable materials, heightened inventory carrying costs, and a great deal of financial strain involved in devising temporary and desperate measures like discounts to sell off extra stocks as quickly as possible.
Faulty demand planning is also one of the reasons for the gap between expected and actual utilization of resources. Ordering/purchasing substantially more than what would be required would increase the risk of food wastage and dollar wastage and is bound to hit the organization's profitability. The best demand planning is one that has a high degree of forecast accuracy and is closest to how demand actually plays out.
A restaurant, therefore, would want to execute inventory optimization and supply chain planning. It can do this by analyzing point of sale (POS) data to identify its top-selling menu items and items that only receive a lukewarm response. The restaurant may also be overpaying for out-of-season ingredients without being aware of it.
Knowledge of these issues would allow the restaurant to decide which items to retain, expand, promote, or discontinue in order to maximize profits. Market surveys on consumer demand and preferences also give restaurants enough actionable insights to plan a new product.
Adequate demand sensing and predicting customer footfall allows restaurants to schedule/cross-train their employees accordingly and control labor costs. This is often the biggest cost burden for restaurants, accounting for 30-35% of their revenue.
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Best Demand Planning Software- No. 1 Zip Forecasting
Zip Forecasting is an automated demand planning and forecasting software that is available on the Hubworks restaurant app store. The Zip Forecasting software can be easily integrated with a restaurant's POS system like Hubworks' Plum POS system, and can generate extremely useful sales predictions with just a few clicks.
Zip Forecasting is a cloud-based tool that lets users access, analyze and understand data in real time, from anywhere, and with the help of any device. This software solution allows users to monitor and interpret data daily and forecast sales within 15, 30, and 60-minute intervals.
This Hubworks solution makes use of advanced algorithms to fully automate forecasting on the basis of historical data. Users have the option to select the time period for which they want these projections. Forecasting, therefore, is far more accurate, less tedious, and time-consuming than guesswork. The time saved can instead be utilized to improve customer service.
A restaurant, by flawlessly anticipating demand with the help of the Zip Forecasting software, is able to place exact orders and prevent oversupply, undersupply, or wastage. This software can be used in conjunction with other Hubworks tools like Zip Schedules, Zip Inventory, Zip Ordering, and Zip Supply Chain to reduce over-and under-staffing, reorder quickly when stocks run low, and manage Restaurant Supply chains better.
An organization running multiple stores can take advantage of Zip Forecasting's customized staff forecast matrices to address the unique needs of each store. This software even provides weather forecasts so that it is possible for the business to keep track of all factors that may affect business operations.
No. 2 GMDH Streamline Demand Planning Software
GMDH provides supply chain planning and predictive analytics solutions. GMDH solutions handle every aspect of demand planning and inventory planning and provide full transparency across the supply chain. GMDH Streamline is a demand and inventory planning solution that helps businesses maximize the return on their capital investments.
GMDH Streamline's features include automatic demand forecasting by store and product. It allows demand forecasting to factor in new products, seasonal products, holidays and promotions, and price elasticity.
This software solution lets a business avoid overstocking while ensuring there are adequate stocks to take care of future demand on time. It ensures a steady supply of products across the value chain.
GMDH Streamline also allows a business to undertake multi-echelon planning, whereby replenishment can be planned for a system of warehouses, and replenishment plans can be aligned with planograms. Streamline takes into account calendar events like holidays and promo events, and allows businesses to keep safety stocks high for A-listed products. It also enables businesses to send purchase orders to suppliers on the right day of the week. By automating replenishment planning, time and effort can be saved.
No. 3 Forecast Pro Demand Planning Software
Forecast Pro is an off-the-shelf forecasting solution. It allows businesses to create, manage, track, and improve predictions to meet demand. Forecast Pro is accurate and easy to use.
It integrates easily with wider planning platforms so that an organization doesn't have to abandon its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) or any other planning system. Forecast Pro can work with other databases that the organization uses, so one is not stuck with a poorly functioning embedded forecasting module.
The key capabilities of this software solution include automatic statistical forecasting and machine learning models, customized hierarchies and multiple units of measure, forecast adjustments and collaboration, accuracy tracking and reporting, and exception reporting.
It is well-equipped to handle demand planning and sales forecasting and lets organizations manage activities across custom hierarchies, accuracy reporting, sales and operations planning, and so on.
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No. 4 Blue Yonder Demand Planning Software
Blue Yonder makes use of numerous demand-driving variables and machine learning to offer a unique demand projection. This includes calculated business impact and risk assessment. Blue Yonder helps a demand planner build accurate forecasts without having to rely on spreadsheets, and without having to export reports from various sources.
Manual demand management introduces inefficiencies, takes up a lot of time, and yet predictions may be off the mark, leading to stock-outs or oversupply. The Blue Yonder demand management software, on the other hand, enables businesses to cut costs and achieve increased profitability with the help of micro-segmented demand and predictive forecasting.
This software solution drives inventory deployment as well as accurate demand and assortment planning. It allows demand planners to think strategically by factoring in potential risks and growth opportunities.
Blue Yonder's synchronized end-to-end supply chain management solutions let organizations optimize their Business Operations, build more profitable supply chains and deliver high-quality customer experiences.
Blue Yonder also helps businesses eliminate excess inventory and cut obsolescence costs. It allows them to predict and pivot to changes in demand, respond to competitor products, changing material costs, and other supply chain disruptions. Moreover, by analyzing the factors influencing customer demand, more prudent decisions can be taken on pricing. Blue Yonder provides several other solutions like sales and operations planning, labor management, warehouse management, and so on.
No. 5 Predict HQ Demand Planning Solution
Predict HQ allows a business to maintain a lean supply chain and appropriate inventory levels by understanding how events impact demand. Historical data can be analyzed to discover which events do this. A football game, for example, attracts thousands to the stadium and many more to television sets. Restaurants nearby would have to replenish their stocks and schedule more employees in response to this event, and also be ready to deliver food to fans at home. Every day, there are hundreds of eventslike conferences, expos, and severe weatherthat can drive demand up or down.
Predict HQ allows businesses to identify the aggregate impact of historical events so that they can understand the link between events and their historical demand.
Businesses can also get visibility into which event categories are the most impactful. The Predict HQ application programming interface (API) can be used to train inventory forecasting models to predict the stock level the business should always have. It is also possible to get alerts on when events are scheduled/updated.
Anomalies in demand can be quite frequent and businesses end up losing billions of dollars not knowing the cause of those anomalies. Demand intelligence guides a business to make better sense of demand anomalies so that the supply chain strategy can be adjusted and the inventory count can be perfected.
Understanding the potential impact of upcoming events can unlock millions in revenue and savings. Predict HQ's machine learning models verify events, and even rank them in terms of predicted attendance and impact. This helps a business build its predictions on credible intelligence, and tells it which events to prioritize, giving the business a huge competitive advantage.