Despite being an annual event, Valentine’s Day seems to catch many of us off guard. And come February 14th I’m sure we’ll see a number of gentlemen suitors in a panic as they search, at the last minute, for suitable gift for their significant other.
However, it’s not just forgetful men who seem to stumble over Valentine’s Day. Regardless of its regularity, businesses also have difficulty taking advantage of the short term selling opportunity, with many being left with surplus stock thanks to overly optimistic sales forecasting or else fail to accommodate all customer orders and suffer costly reputational damage.
When you consider how the planning process works within many businesses, this recurring yearly struggle is a surprise to no one. Today’s market moves faster than ever before; trends and fashions are changing at breakneck pace – and what is considered important in November can be consigned to irrelevance by February. Yet many organisations still insist on a single, yearly planning period.
To be blunt, it’s simply not enough. Organisations need constant, immediate access to the latest customer and market data in order to make properly informed decisions on sales and resourcing strategies in order to take advantage of seasonal peaks.
Tweaking the Magic Formula
Unfortunately for businesses, there is no magic formula or sure-fire solution. Business plans need to be built and, most importantly, maintained.
Giving constant attention to planning can, for some organisations, be near impossible. Thanks to outdated and overloaded legacy tools, simply crunching the numbers to provide a business forecast can be so time-consuming as to make the resulting data obsolete by the time it is delivered. To take advantage of the best selling opportunities, businesses have to move quickly – at the moment. Many have to choose between acting slowly and going into markets blind. Neither option can offer a sustainable growth strategy.
Real-time information is vital, not simply to make better, more strategic decisions but just to keep a check on the general health of your business. Visibility is crucial; you can’t properly understand a market without knowing your own position within it.
Building in Resilience
Additionally, the shortened timeframes of seasonal selling mean that businesses must invest time and resource in keeping tabs on the rest of the market, as well as their own supply chain. Any disruption, delays or supplier outage can have a catastrophic effect an organisation’s ability to do business. Plans go out the window and the businesses that will recover fastest will be those who have a flexible and malleable planning process in place.
Please don’t mistake this as a call to forego the planning process, or move to an entirely ad hoc and reactive model. Quite the opposite: planning needs to be given a more prominent role within the organisation becoming part of daily efforts. Thought should be given to any number of potential scenarios before they occur. This means equipping your staff with the tools that can offer a comprehensive, real-time view of the organisation. Tools that can demonstrate how economic and global events might affect your business and that can provide your organisation with the flexibility needed to move quickly into new markets with new opportunities.
The bottom line is that seasonal selling can directly create business revenues – you’d be foolish to continue making the same old mistakes.
By Ian Stone, Managing Director – UK and Ireland, Anaplan