HomeOPINIONUnderstanding product demand in the face of the pandemic

Understanding product demand in the face of the pandemic

The pandemic has changed the way people shop, making it critical for retailers to better understand the change in product demand and to move merchandise accordingly.

Lara Livgard, senior director of merchandising, analytics, and enterprise at Oracle Retail comments “the past year has been one of the most challenging in retail history. Retailers had to throw out the playbook and adapt to everything from complete in-person shutdowns to unexpected surges in certain products.”

A key challenge in retail is how to efficiently and effectively review available information in a usable and consumable format to make product decisions. With the explosion of social media and omnichannel shopping, this has never been more important.

Retailers need to make the connections between items, locations, and suppliers, track purchase orders, monitor deal income, manage replenishment settings, understand customer ordering, and aggregate transaction information into stock ledger reporting levels. As the central source of all information, merchandising solutions provide a simplified and accurate view across an entire retail organisation.

“Modern merchandise operations management solutions are purpose built for the analytical and experiential requirements of today and have the flexibility to expand on and enhance those capabilities in the future,” says Jon Duke, vice president of research for IDC Retail Insights.

One solution for effective analysis and solutions for retailers is the Oracle Merchandising Cloud Service, providing retailers with a foundation to manage and control critical merchandising activities, such as purchasing and distributing goods, fulfilling orders, and processing and closing out invoices to help ensure accurate financial data. 

Importantly, Oracle uses artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to drive automated merchandising. Because its methodology can identify situations that require attention, this vastly reduces the amount of time merchandising professionals spend on nonproductive tasks.

As retailers continue to face pandemic-related uncertainties, it’s important to invest in systems like Oracle that help to identify fluctuations in demand and supply challenges.

Humans aren’t necessarily the best in predicting demand due to our inherent biases, and in a complicated and unpredictable retail environment, data-driven decisions are possibly the best tool available for forecasting.

How do you make product decisions and how has this helped throughout the pandemic? Drop us a line at editor@theregister.co.nz.

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