05th August 2021

Are We In or Are We Out? How To Forecast Demand During Lockdown Uncertainty

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Running a successful business demands careful planning to balance projected income against expenditure. By forecasting uptake for products and services in various demand scenarios, you can learn about how your customers interact with your brand and how you can work with their needs to grow your business along the way.

When the global pandemic began in early 2020, it was clear that some things were going to have to change for businesses to keep going. However, nobody could have predicted just how radically the world would have to adapt to keep up with the developing situation. Business strategies that were previously the standard (such as Just in Time supply chain models) had to be thrown out, forcing companies to create new methods to running a successful business during a global pandemic. Over the course of 2020, companies became accustomed to doing business under lockdown conditions. Lockdowns were, at least, predictable.

However, the partial lifting of restrictions in some countries, travel restrictions, severe regional outbreaks in supply hubs (e.g. India), and now the postponement of ‘Freedom Day’ from 21st June, have created a volatile atmosphere of uncertainty that is hard to plan for. To help you make sure you’re considering the right things while forecasting demand in these turbulent times, keep your eye on the following factors.

Maintain a realistic attitude

The most important thing to understand is that business in summer 2021 will not be the same as it was before the pandemic, or even as it was when the pandemic was at its peak last winter. If you approach forecasting demand with the expectation of things getting back to normal (as many clothing retailers have done) or expect consumers to follow the same trends as they did during full lockdown (as some computer game manufacturers and video streaming services have), you will only be disappointed.

During the late-stage pandemic, you should limit your forecasting to just a few months in advance, with a wide margin for uncertainty. Even seasonal uplift should not be taken for granted – many businesses are still reeling from the cancelled Christmas of 2020. By maintaining a realistic attitude, you can prepare yourself for any outcome, and be equipped to take advantage of any opportunities that arise as the situation develops.

Expect the unexpected

The nature of the ongoing pandemic is unpredictable and affects different areas of the economy in different ways. This is likely to continue as we progress through the summer and into the autumn, when there may be an uplift in Covid cases as well as a return of the usual seasonal illnesses. So, while it is important to adapt to your current lockdown situation, it’s also important to remember that it can change at any time, often with very little notice. By making your resource management and forecasting flexible, you can expect the unexpected.

Scenario models are essential

One of the best ways to expect the unexpected is by using scenario models. Scenario models allow you to work through different demand situations so there are no surprises later down the line. Lockdown can change at any time, so it is important to have multiple plans in case there are abrupt changes.

Use a demand forecasting platform

Running a business during lockdown means constantly keeping track of moving parts of your supply chain. Forecasting demand is more unpredictable than ever, with many factors affecting which businesses will be able to open and how they are allowed to function.

If you want to have accurate results and multiple forecasts in case things abruptly change, you should consider working with a responsive demand forecasting platform. Demand forecasting platforms, such as Reflex Planning, employ multiple vectors and prediction tools to help you analyse your business from every possible angle, reducing the risk of surprises getting the best of you.

Reflex Business Planning is a demand forecasting platform that uses world-class techniques to provide you with sufficient information on the demand of your customers. During the ongoing pandemic, hawse have helped businesses plan for multiple lockdown-easing scenarios, managing promotional activity and using an alerts system in case something changes.

Find out more

No matter how lockdown is affecting your normal means of managing resources and demand, Reflex Planning is here to help you and your customers get through this tumultuous time. To find out more, or to speak with one of our demand forecasting experts, please give us a call today.


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