Getting the estimates of future sales is a prerequisite to optimizing your inventory management processes. In the ever-evolving business landscape, the importance of demand forecasting cannot be overstated. It’s a crucial element that employs predictive analytics to recognize what customers will want in the future for a product or service.
By embracing this analytical approach, companies anticipate market trends, consumer behaviors, and product demands with precision.
It helps businesses to make well-informed decisions all through from inventory planning to customer expectations. This article deals with the ins and outs of demand forecasting for inventory control. Let’s delve into it.
What is Demand Forecasting?
Demand forecasting is a systematic process of estimating how much of a product or service customers will purchase in the future. It involves assessing historical sales data, market trends, and various influencing factors to gain valuable insights into demand patterns.
By understanding the importance of demand forecasting, companies improve their operational efficiency and adjust their inventory levels to avoid overstock or stockouts. Demand forecasting plays a primary role in supply chain management, production planning, and business resource allocation. For this, multiple demand forecasting methods are employed.
Why Demand Forecasting is Important
You might be wondering why demand forecasting is important for companies like yours. Understanding the importance of demand forecasting is crucial for businesses looking to stay agile in a dynamic market, allowing them to adopt strategies and allocate resources effectively.
Let's take a look at the importance of demand forecasting in detail:
Cash Flow Optimization
Maintaining a high inventory level ties up capital that could be used elsewhere in the business. By accurately forecasting demand, companies can avoid overstocking and free up cash for strategic investments, marketing efforts, or other operational needs.
Prudent decision-making heavily relies on the accuracy of demand forecasting. It ensures that businesses are well-prepared to meet market demands and navigate uncertainties.
Knowing the expected demand allows businesses to make actionable decisions when purchasing inventory. It prevents the unnecessary accumulation of excess stock and ensures that the inventory aligns with market needs and trends.
Effective demand forecasting allows businesses to allocate resources wisely, including marketing budgets. Knowing the expected demand for specific products or services allows for targeted and efficient marketing efforts. It amplifies the impact of promotional activities.
The importance of demand forecasting has an indispensable role in abridging the risks related to excess inventory or stockouts. Excessive inventory comes with its own set of risks, including storage costs and the potential for unsold items.
By aligning inventory levels with forecasted demand, businesses can alleviate the associated risks and optimize storage costs.
How To Do Demand Planning and Inventory Management?
Demand forecasting plays a pivotal role for businesses seeking to align their efforts with anticipated market demand and consumer trends.
Improving the inventory involves a bunch of maths. Following formulas helps businesses to make prudent decisions about their stock levels.
Simple Inventory Replenishment Formula
Inventory replenishment is ordering items from the supplier to fulfill customer orders while avoiding overstocks and stockouts.
For this, you need to determine the ideal number of weeks of stock to hold. Supply lead time refers to the duration it takes for new inventory to arrive after an order has been placed.
Now, calculate the average amount of stock sold per week based on historical sales data. Also, consider any expected growth in demand and subtract the current stock quantity to account for future needs.
To find out the current stock replenishment required, add the optimal stock weeks plus supply lead time and multiply by the average sales volume per week. Now, add the future growth weight minus the current stock quantity to get the final value.
For example, Suppose you run an e-commerce business selling digital watches. Let’s say your current numbers are as follows:
- Optimal Stock Weeks: 4
- Supply Lead Time: 2 weeks
- Average Sale Volume per Week: 100 units
- Future Growth Weight: 10% (1.1)
- Current Stock Quantity: 300 units
Current stock replenishment required = (Optimal Stock Weeks + Supply Lead Time) x Average Sale Volume per Week + (Future Growth Weight - Current stock quantity)
Current stock replenishment required = (4 + 2) × 100 + (1.1 × 100 − 300) = 510
So, you would need to replenish 510 units to maintain an optimal stock level.
Economic Ordering Quantity
Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) is another valuable concept in inventory management and demand planning. It’s a classic deterministic model that assumes demand is known precisely and stays constant over time within the planning horizon. It focuses on determining the optimal order quantity to minimize the total inventory cost.
Total Costs = Ordering Costs + Storage Costs
Total costs in the EOQ model are the sum of ordering costs and storage costs. Ordering costs include expenses related to placing and receiving orders. While holding costs represent the expenses associated with storing and maintaining inventory.
Anticipating future growth is crucial for dynamic inventory management. To account for this, a growth factor (e.g., 20%) is applied to the expected demand. This adjustment recognizes that the demand for a product may not remain static and allows for a more proactive approach to inventory replenishment.
Suppose you have a retail clothing store where you sell winter jackets. Let’s consider a steady demand for jackets per month is 500. The ordering cost per order is $150, and the holding cost per jacket per year is $10. The current inventory is 100 jackets.
Consider Future Growth
Future Demand = 500 × 1.2 = 600
Adjust for Current Inventory
Units to Replenish = future demand - current inventory = 600 − 100 = 500
In this scenario, the business would aim to replenish approximately 500 jackets to meet the expected demand.
Two Main Costs of Economic Order Quantity
Let's dive into various trade-offs and costs associated with Economic Order Quantity.
Order Quantity and Order Turnover and Average Inventory
There's an inverse relationship between order quantity and order turnover. As the order quantity goes up, the number of orders goes down.
There's a direct relationship between order quantity and average inventory. Increasing the order quantity results in higher average inventory levels.
Annual Inventory Maintenance Cost
Larger order quantities can result in higher annual inventory maintenance costs. This includes expenses related to holding and managing inventory throughout the year.
Cautions when Applying EOQ
When applying the Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) model, it's important to exercise caution and to ensure its suitability and effectiveness.
Where EOQ Is Applicable
- EOQ assumes a constant rate of production and availability of inventory. If there are limitations on production capacity, the assumptions of EOQ may not hold.
- EOQ is most effective in scenarios with stable and predictable demand. If demand fluctuates or is subject to sudden changes, the EOQ model may not provide accurate results.
- Economic Order Quantity relies on accurate and known costs for holding inventory and making orders. If there is uncertainty or variability in holding costs or order costs, the calculated EOQ may not be optimal.
Where EOQ Is Inadequate
- If your business operates on a make-to-order basis, where products are produced only upon customer orders, EOQ might not be applicable.
- EOQ assumes that the entire order can be delivered at once. In situations where partial deliveries or phased deliveries are necessary, adjustments may be needed in the application of EOQ.
- If external constraints such as production capacity, testing facilities, or shipping limitations restrict the size of your order, the calculated EOQ may not be feasible.
Demand Forecasting Considerations
When you are forecasting future demand in order to optimize your inventory, you need to consider the following:
- Account for macroeconomic events, societal trends, and external disruptions that can impact consumer behavior and demand. Incorporate flexible forecasting models that can adapt to unexpected changes in the market environment.
- Complex items may have price and geographical sensitivities. Implement forecasting models that factor in these nuances.
- Employ methods that address price fluctuations, regional demand patterns, and seasonal peaks, ensuring accurate predictions and optimal inventory management.
- Implement submodels within the overarching demand forecasting model to specifically address events.
In short, the importance of demand forecasting extends beyond short-term gains and contributes to long-term sustainability. This strategic approach allows businesses to anticipate, adapt, and thrive in the evolving rhythm of the market. So, if you want to streamline your inventory management, look no further than BoxHero.
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