Dynamic Forecasting: The Future of Retail Inventory Management

Forecasting used to be fairly routine, and retailers used to manage merchandise in a pretty established rhythm. They’d order holiday inventory from overseas in about June to start arriving in port in September, get unloaded by October and get trucked to distribution centers by the second week of November – in time for the big Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Then they’d replenish the hot items to get through Christmas and replenish again after the holidays. The pandemic upended all that.

Now, the savviest retailers we work with are leveraging predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to forecast more dynamically. It’s the difference between making a good projection and stocking up in advance vs. continually assessing what they need, how much and where, then ordering and having those goods transported when they detect the demand signals.

Connecting your purchase order management to your freight transportation management is a smart play here. Your supply chain is more agile. You have better visibility. You can move smaller amounts of goods more economically, whether that’s by consolidating less urgent products or better planning of air freight and expedited shipping for time-sensitive goods. Not to mention the benefits that come from the deeper data you’ll have. More and better data creates a virtuous cycle of more dynamic forecasting.

Noah Hoffman

VP - Retail Logistics, C.H. Robinson