Many small businesses are in the dark right now. No one knows what the future holds because of COVID-19. Forecasting demand and sales post pandemic is something many people are concerned about, and this guide will help.
Understanding the Challenge
The reality is the world hasn’t seen a pandemic like this in decades. If you weren’t prepared, this is normal. Businesses are being put under stress that no one could have predicted. Every country got hit in its own way, and developed a unique set of problems as a result (for example, situation in the UK was already tense due to Brexit uncertainties)
Your company’s agility has never been tested like this. Retailers and consumer packaged goods companies are doing their best to keep up while others are trying to catch up. One helpful thing is today’s technology, which has been making it easier to connect customers to businesses even while social distancing.
Still, consumers are a little unpredictable right now. Demand continues to go up and down, but data technology might be able to find patterns. These patterns could end up predicting sales once the pandemic is under control.
How to Predict Demand and Sales
Everyone wants to wake up to a post-pandemic world. Predicting when that might happen is as difficult as predicting your company’s place in that world. Still, there are a few steps you can take to see your potential like the following:
One way to analyze and predict demand is to use POS data. Companies can get their hands on so much information today that it can feel overwhelming. POS data is collected all the time, and it’s up to you to analyze it frequently. Ideally, you’ll do this once a week.
The data could be used to determine which products have the highest demand velocity. These products may work well for the post-pandemic world. Be sure to use trustworthy modern statistical analysis tools to help you analyze this type of data along with some of the others, like what type of marketing is effective during this pandemic to help you plan for the future.
Incorporating Social Media
It seems like social media is in everything because it is. The way social media allows small businesses to have their fingers on the pulse is incredible. You’ll have to find a way to incorporate the data from your social media accounts into this goal of yours.
You can plan what your business might look like after the pandemic by understanding consumer sentiment. Consumer sentiment is indeed a little strange, but there are patterns you can use to help you see what might trend later. Social media allows you to see what consumers think of your business, what they want, and some of the things they purchase.
It’s important to first gather a large sample of your customer’s conversations. This should give you a good idea of what the average person is thinking about or worried about. The pandemic might be taking up a lot of your customer’s time, but they are still going to talk about what they need.
You should check out conversations on your competitors’ social media accounts as well. You can find out what your competitors are doing right and what they are doing wrong. This should help you figure out what to do next with your business.
Those who serve more than one market should be sure to separate the data to get more precise findings. Each market has its own needs and wants. This might take a little longer, but you’ll end up learning about your customers much better.
One thing that is going to make things a little more challenging is all of the data you are collecting now. The patterns you are seeing are linked to the pandemic. There’s no way around that, and that is going to make things a little difficult for you later.
The numbers you see later on once the pandemic starts to slow down are going to be skewed. That data might throw your numbers off as you continue to try to predict the future. Some people might try to manually remove some of the data linked to the pandemic. This could be effective, but it’s also draining. Removing everything manually is going to take too long, and you’ve got better things to do.
The best thing you can do with these abnormal numbers is add outlier variables to all your models. Doing this allows you to keep all of that information, which is still valuable. It gives you a chance to understand how your customers might react during a crisis. Hopefully, this is the kind of data you never have to use again, but it’s good to be prepared.
Hopefully, this information makes it easier for you to forecast demand and sales, especially after all this is over. There’s no telling when that might happen, but it’s good to be optimistic and plan for better days.