7 Awesome Things You Didn’t Know Demand Planning Software Could Do

Demand planning software is a vital tool for modern retail brands, allowing them to accurately forecast future customer demand to maximize revenue, save time and lower costs. 

The best inventory planning tools, like Brightpearl’s Demand Planner, use your sales history (factoring in fluctuations like seasonality or promotions) to ensure you always have the optimum amount of stock of the best items to hit your revenue targets.

However, advanced demand planning software like ours also offers a range of other nifty features that you probably didn’t know about – until now…

  1. Cut Shipping costs

Since 2020, surging e-commerce demand and global lockdowns have caused supply chains to crumble and shipping costs to skyrocket. According to a Brightpearl study, 80% of US retailers have been impacted in the last 12 months (or are currently impacted) by supply chain issues. In the UK, average shipping costs have increased by 21%, with large brands (£50-100m turnover) suffering a 55% jump in rates.

The challenging circumstances have seen demand planning software come into its own, providing retail and wholesale brands with a smart way to mitigate rising container prices (which drive up overall shipping costs). With supply chain issues predicted to continue into 2023 and beyond, and retailers expecting up to a 25% further increase in shipping costs, demand planning software is now considered an essential tool for businesses keen to protect their bottom line.

With Brightpearl’s Demand Planner, it’s easy to improve efficiency by filling every last square inch of your shipping containers. All retailers need to do is add a CBM (cubic meters) measurement or the individual weight of each item and enable it on purchase orders – Demand Planner does the rest.

2. Get advance warning that you’ll run out of stock

Having demand planning data to hand is one thing – being able to interpret it is another. With Brightpearl’s Premium Demand Planner, you’ll get intuitive analysis and automatic alerts so that you can know exactly when, where and what to order.

It means stockouts – which, according to our study, have impacted 23% of brands in the UK in the last year, and frustrated 35% of shoppers in the US – can become a thing of the past. Even if you have historical stockouts in your data, the software can be tweaked so that it only calculates forecasts based on when an item was available, excluding any days when it was out of stock.

As Trevor Martin, VP Operations at oral cosmetics brand Snow reports: The Demand Planner has been phenomenal for us. It factors in seasonality so that we can look at the data and instantly say ‘ok, we need to order 100,000 of that item, not 10,000 – otherwise we’re going to run out in two months’.”

3. Sync with Shopify and Amazon

Any demand forecast is only as good as the data that’s fed into it, which is why Brightpearl’s Premium Demand Planner is so easy to integrate with third party apps including Shopify and Amazon. 

This results in a real-time transfer of data so that you can count on an accurate prediction of the inventory you need at any given moment. It also cuts the amount of time spent on manually managing inventory, and on inputting the necessary data during set-up. 

By syncing with Shopify or Amazon, Demand Planner instantly registers all product information, sales orders, and shipments. You can then easily create POs based on replenishment recommendations – and when the stock arrives, you can automatically update your inventory levels across all sales channels.

4. Easily create POs

If your retail business has tens or even hundreds of SKUs, staying on top of everything that needs restocking can quickly become a challenge. With Demand Planner, you get regular Replenishment Reports, which provide you with an at-a-glance view of all the items that need to be reordered.

Best of all, in just a couple of clicks you can create purchase orders in bulk, directly from the report, with the flexibility and freedom to choose the vendor and the date you want items to be received. For many retailers, this prevents the hire of additional staff and saves hours every week.

5. Manage stock shortages

A shortage of goods impacted a whopping 68% of retailers in the UK, and 67% of their US counterparts, in the last 12 months. And it’s having a clear impact on consumer behavior – and loyalty. Our research has shown that around a third of all consumers chose to shop with a new online store in the last year simply because they had an item in stock 

When stock is running short, retailers may need to carefully plan the release of stock to keep customers happy and cash flow steady. The best demand planning software makes this surprisingly simple – it tells retailers exactly when to order to mitigate long lead times and even suggests when to release stock to make it last. 

As James Ewens, Head of E-Commerce at online furniture retailer FurnitureBox, reports: “Thanks to Brightpearl’s Demand Planner, we knew when to push stock and when to hold back, so we were able to make our stock last. We couldn’t have managed the pandemic and achieved such growth without it.”

6. Eliminate manual workflows

Manually managing inventory can be a labor intensive and time consuming process. Demand planning software can remove the heavy lifting and make it faster and more efficient. Workflows that previously required input from a member of staff, such as rerouting orders to alternative warehouses depending on stock availability, can be automated and streamlined.

This is a game-changing feature for retail brands, such as the creators of ‘emotional wearable tech’, Bond Touch. The company’s COO, Jorge Henriques, reports that Demand Planner has ‘revolutionized’ its approach to stock management and saved an astonishing amount of time.

“The risk of stockouts before was previously huge, but now it’s non-existent. We can accurately forecast demand, even factoring in promotions and peak periods,” he said.

“It’s hard to quantify the impact it has had on our business, but it’s been incredible. Thanks to Demand Planner alone, I’d say we’ve saved two full time members of staff, or 320 hours a month – at the very least.”

7. Free up cash

It’s great to be prepared, but having mountains of stock sitting in a warehouse for long periods doesn’t make good business sense. With Demand Planner, you can gain an intuitive, 360º view of your business – including which items aren’t selling well at any given time.

With accurate data at hand, you can make informed decisions about which items to discount or promote in order to free up cash (and make room in your warehouse). Releasing cash tied up in slow-moving or overstocked items gives you the available funds to reinvest in your most popular products and maximize profit margins.

Sounds good, right? Learn more about Brightpearl’s Premium Demand Planner and arrange a free, customized demo here