Merchandise Forecasting is one part of a larger marketing environment that includes “merchandise assortment planning,” “inventory management,” “promotion and offer management,” and “pricing and markdown planning.” Each of the systems below has its own approach to managing these variables. And virtually all of them give you tools to assess and weigh them in relation to each other.
Merchandise Forecasting is a three-dimensional chess game and Rubic’s Cube rolled into one. But despite the quantitative complexities of managing forecasting, two fundamental elements underline the entire process: (1) the constant need to acquire new customers and analyze their merchandise preferences, and (2) the parallel need to introduce new products on a continuous basis. Yes, you should have some perennial “winners,” but even those winners will lose their profitability over time as competitors offer better assortments, more appealing products, and compelling offers. It’s very much like “The Red Queen” in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, who had to run just to stay in one place, and run twice as fast to move forward at all!
Each system also takes its own approach to guiding you through the process of determining how well your old and your new products will appeal to your current and new customers, based on marketing and sales channels, season, product type, customer segment, and other relevant variables.
The systems below are listed alphabetically.
Advanced Decision Support – This system from Assiduo Solutions, Inc. provides end-to-end decision-support for the distribution systems of major manufacturers. Spanning inventory optimization, demand management, and supply chain intelligence, ADS guides teams of planners in evaluating inventory performance, forecast accuracy, and cost control. ADS supports complex, multi-echelon distribution systems in an easy-to-use, customizable application. An integral data warehouse, based on OLAP technology, enables analysts and senior managers to monitor and analyze numerous supply chain performance metrics. Vertical Industries supported include manufacturing and wholesale distribution, retail, and aerospace. The company is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Aptos – With the Aptos Forecasting, Allocation and Replenishment modules, demand forecasts help determine optimal stock targets, while allocation and replenishment tools help you adapt to changing conditions as the season unfolds. As part of their Merchandise Lifecycle Management solution, the Aptos Forecasting, Allocation and Replenishment module works together with Aptos Merchandise Financial and Assortment Planning and Aptos Supply Chain Management to inform your plans, refine your designs, and fine tune your assortments to deliver your collections for maximum profit. Global headquarters are in Atlanta, GA, with offices world-wide.
DynaSys Demand and Supply Chain Planning (DSCP) – DynaSys provides business decision-making software to businesses of all sizes, including forecasting, planning, optimizing and performance analysis. The customizable solution supports companies in Food & Beverage, Consumer Good, Life Science, Automotive, High Tech, and Distribution & Wholesale operations. The company is located in France.
eBizprise Forecast Suite – This system from eBizprise lets users perform a wide range of tasks including generating forecasts, analyzing forecast results, and making forecast adjustments. Forecast Suite’s features include: statistical forecasting models with advanced capabilities such as event models for incorporating the effect of promotions; capabilities for supporting cross-functional collaborative forecasting processes; a multi-dimensional data modeler; a business process modeler; a worksheet designer; an advanced exception manager; and analytic reports. Vertical industry focuses on Consumer Packaged Goods, Food & Beverage, Consumer Electronics, Machinery, and Pharmaceuticals. The company is located in Taiwan.
Forecasting For Demand – This system is designed for companies in industrial products, retail, Consumer Packaged Goods, apparel, financial, electronics/high tech, energy, automotive, automotive parts, aerospace and aerospace parts, chemicals, process industry, food and beverage, publishing, hardware, household goods, pharmaceuticals, power production, replacement parts, and others. The vendor is McConnell Chase Software Works in Winnetka, IL
ForecastPro – This affordable and easy-to-use solution gives your team the capability to create accurate and credible forecasts, along with the tools for efficiently managing, monitoring and improving your forecast process. Key components include:
- A wide range of forecasting models with an automatic “best pick” option
- Specialized methods for new products, promoted items, and one-time events
- An easy-to-use override grid for making and documenting forecast adjustments
- Tools for forecast collaboration and team forecasting
- Features for working with multiple hierarchies and units of measure
- Flexible reporting formats including one-click, direct-to-Excel
- Forecast vs. actual tracking and extensive exception reporting
- Integration of multiple forecasts for Sales and Order Processing
- Customizable worksheets that can include imported information
- Easy integration with databases and corporate systems
- Native 32-bit and 64-bit support
The system is available in English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish versions and has been formally integrated into several commercially available Partner Solutions—including ERP, DP, SCM and other systems. Company headquarters are located in Belmont, MA.
iPLAN – This system from WebConcepts delivers forecasts from a full range of statistical forecasting models, accommodating the needs of both small/medium businesses and large enterprises. It’s companion solution iRIM is a complete solution for retail inventory management and replenishment, enabling suppliers to manage and replenish inventories across complex multi-location networks efficiently and with an astonishing degree of precision. Vertical industry focuses are Consumer Electronics. Home Entertainment, and Consumer Packaged Goods. The company is located in Irving, TX.
Logility – Their Voyager Demand Sensing (VDS) system leverages artificial intelligence and near real-time information to create an accurate short-term, “sense-and-respond” forecast to increase margins and synchronize inventory deployment. VDS evaluates big data in a structured way to recognize complex patterns and identify actionable demand signals. It captures and analyzes demand signals from internal and external sources, including point of sale (POS), demand signal repositories (DSR), social media, syndicated data and weather, to identify demand trends, provide advanced warning of problems and enable fast and intelligent response to
- Improve short-term forecast accuracy and reduce latency to demand changes
- Reduce the total inventory required to meet customer service requirements
- Optimally deploy and redeploy inventory based on changes in daily demand
- Improve customer fill-rates through agile deployment
- Gain new insights on inventory form and function and analyze partner inventory
- Calculate the ideal stocking location and size of inventory buffers
- Base inventory policies on proven algorithmic optimization and machine learning rather than emotion
- Evaluate multiple “what-if” scenarios to understand cost and service alternatives
Logility is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMSWA). Its headquarters are in Atlanta, GA, with locations across the country and in Brazil.
Mi9 Retail – “JustEnough” Demand Forecasting automates the production of your forecasts, accommodating everything from erratic products to seasonal variations and trends. With smarter forecasts that represent true demand, Mi9 helps you avoid poor forecasting outcomes like overstocks, product obsolescence, and lost sales. JustEnough Demand Forecasting keeps up with trends and seasonality to capture the year-over-year recurring pattern found in weekly or monthly periods. Trends are calculated by removing recurrent and periodic variations so you don’t misinterpret seasonal variations as growth or decay. The company is located in Miami, FL.
Softvision – Softvision’s Inventory Planning solution works seamlessly with NetSuite for a highly scalable and flexible cloud-based solution for Inventory Planning, Forecasting, Purchasing and Allocation to bring the full life-cycle of inventory, from planning to delivery, to help you better manage and optimize your inventory by:
- Increasing sales with expert Planning, Forecasting, Purchasing & Allocation
- Improving cash flow through better Inventory Turnover
- Improving gross margin with better Planning and fewer Markdowns
- Growing and adapting to new business needs as customer demands change and new selling channels emerge
Since 1994, Softvision has been at the forefront of the digital transformation of global enterprise brands, leveraging a network of 2,800 product, design and engineering professionals throughout 27 studios in 11 countries on 5 continents, with US headquarters in Oakland, CA.
Strataview – StrataView is a Collaborative Forecasting and Decision Support System specifically designed for the Corporate Sales, Marketing and Finance environment. Sales, Orders, Profitability, Budgets, Forecasts and Inventory can all be analyzed from every angle via its drill-down reporting system. Strataview is located in Markham, Ontario, Canada.