There was an interesting article written in HuffPost Business a while back about nine companies and their stories when their demand exceeded supply. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/23/9-companies-popular-products_n_839596.html#s257026&title=1_BMW Will this problem ever go away? It is argued that if you have brand loyalty then the risk of perishable demand and worried investors is low. This argument holds for Apple where customers are willing to wait. Does the same hold true for BMW when their entire supply of 5 Series was consumed in one month in 2010? Some people just need to get a car. Brand loyalty may not be as influential. Which companies plan for limited supply versus the risk of excess inventory? The article talks about the Kentucky bourbon called Rip Van Winkle. Have you heard of it? Probably not as it is usually hidden behind the counter of the liquor store. They would rather keep production low than risk having inventory. Other companies with short life cycles may do the same. They must get their product to market as soon as possible but cannot risk the bottom line impact of scrapping product when demand is not meeting forecast. There is also the case where limited supply is not planned and can have serious consequences. Canadian company Lululemon faced shortages when their apparel line exceeded expectations and were forced to pay premium freight to accelerate supply. Margin erosion is often a result of demand exceeding supply. So what does this really tell us? For the most part, forecasts are inaccurate. It has been proven that improving forecast accuracy results in higher customer service with the same inventory or the same service level with less inventory. How do you improve forecast accuracy? Companies are finding more innovative ways to address this. Many are recognizing that improving demand response will reduce the cost and error of forecast error. Improved collaboration with trading partners; customers and suppliers also improves forecast accuracy. Duncan Klett has written an interesting white paper http://www.kinaxis.com/campaign/demand-planning-reduce-risk-and-impact on Demand Planning where he is really talking about the value of response management in the demand planning arena. He statistically proves that by focusing on customers with high demand variability, reducing cycle time (more frequent demand updates) will improve service and reduce inventory. Collaboration is another component where the sharing of up-to-date forecast information between trusted partners results in improved accuracy and reduced latency. What are your thoughts?
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