Forecasting Seasonal Demand

Natural and man-made seasons affects practically every consumer purchase decision; the food we eat, the clothes we wear, what car we drive can all be influenced by fluctuations in weather and national holidays. Understanding this relationship can be a recipe for increased engagement for both brands and performance marketers.

Seasonal Demand

  • +90%
    Increase in sales of garden furniture when the temperature is over 18 degrees

Seasonal demand refers to the fluctuations in customer buying habits that occur throughout the year, typically driven by natural and man-made seasons (Hot weather in summer, Cold weather in winter, Christmas, Halloween etc). These fluctuations can therefore be predictable to some extent, allowing businesses to plan ahead and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Seasonal demand effects all kinds of products

BBQ & Garden
Umbrellas
Costumes
Stilisiert dargestellter Kalender und ein Pfeil im Kreis, um zu unterstreichen, dass Huboo auch Fulfillment für wiederkehrende Abo-Box-Modelle übernimmt.
Calendars & Diaries

Impact of seasonal demand on fulfilment and inventory management

Extreme order fluctuations can be difficult to manage from a labour and storage perspective as you are often tied into long term employment or rental contracts that cover the full year. If you sell 10 times the amount of items in the summer for example, you either end up paying for resources that are underutilised throughout 50% of the year and eating into your profit margin or disappointing customers. Either by not being able to meet the demand due to these constraints or providing a bad service where there are long delays between order and delivery while a small team get through the additional volume. All of these effect your ability to scale your business effectively.

Temporary solutions such as seasonal workers or short term storage facilities can also be very expensive and difficult to manage as you are paying for convenience.

In order to maximise sales from seasonal demand it is imperative to have the items available at the right time. Missing the window by just a few weeks due to supplier delays for example, can have huge impacts on your companies performance.

Weather-based Marketing

Weather-based marketing is a form of marketing automation that utilises real-time data to trigger ads based on the current weather of a geographical location. On the most basic level, weather affects what channels consumers use to make purchases. For instance, during warm and sunny days, physical stores and high streets often enjoy more footfall, whereas during periods of inclement weather, traffic to online eCommerce sites increases. However, much is dependent on seasonality, industry and product.

The main principle of converting weather into sales is to adapt your marketing strategy depending on the weather. Cafés, for example, can promote an extra hot latte on a cold day and an iced frappuccino when it’s a hot summer’s day, Uber Eats and Deliveroo can ramp up their advertising spend when the weather is terrible as they hit peak demand.

As weather forecasts data is updated every 15 minutes, you can target local consumers depending on their location and corresponding weather condition. You can also create custom banners for your ad to match the weather. Weather sensitive campaigns can be utilised across all channels, including social media, websites and emails. For example, Weather Unlocked made use of Facebook Ads targeted at residents of a city during its sunny season.

Unlike trends that fluctuate weekly, if not daily, the influence of weather on consumer behaviour is constant. Brands have marketing strategies for different seasons but for daily weather changes, it’s ideal to invest in weather specific marketing campaigns to fully optimise your strategy, and turn weather into sales.

With the flexibility that online sales channels provide, through optimisation and algorithms, eCommerce brands can pivot at pace to meet changing customer demand driven by the weather. So if you sell garden games, spirits or cocktail mixers, or even swimming pool chlorine tablets, you’ll have all the tools at your disposal so you don’t miss out on a sales heatwave.

How to forecast seasonal demand

With such a short buying period for seasonal products, and stock taking months in some cases to arrive, accurately predicting demand is essential to maximising sales, eliminating stockouts and overstock issues which can eat into your profit margins, but how do you do this?

Predicting demand can be broken down into 3 factors:
Historical data
External environment
Marketing

Historical data such as previous years performance can be a great place to start. What are the trends year on year? Did you have loads of units left over last year? How have this years non-peak sales performed compared to the same period last year?

Layer external factors onto this. Political environment, industry trends, weather patterns. What do these tell you about consumer spending? What impact to they have on the audience and product range you are targeting? For example, high interest rates or wars could result in fewer people taking holidays. Regulations and attitudes towards sustainability could reduce demand for items made of certain materials etc.

Finally the impact of your marketing strategy. Has your marketing budget increased or decreased? Did you have any viral videos, pop culture connections or PR that may not take place this year? Have your competitors had any of these events that could drive demand towards their products over yours?

There are many tools available, specifically to help ecommerce sellers to predict this demand and place orders with suppliers at the right time. We are partnered with Inventory planner who help brands do just this but there are many other tools available.

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