May 24, 2018
The British summer is a somewhat strange affair, just over a month and half ago we all worried whether we’d make it through the snow in the morning to get to work and now, seemingly out of nowhere, we’ve had two consecutive weekends of blistering sunshine. The British summer is, very suddenly, already here and it’s taken more than the individual consumer by surprise. We’ve been hearing stories lately of manufacturers and retailers struggling to keep pace with the very sudden uptick in demand for seasonal products which is understandable, but avoidable. So the question is, how do you predict the unpredictable British summer time?
First of all, take a look at the calendar and gauge which events are upcoming, because things like the royal wedding or the world cup draw people together. No one BBQs by themselves, but get a group of people together for say, Portugal Vs Spain on the 15th June, and suddenly you have a large group of potentially hungry people raiding their local retailer straight after work, so they can eat before kick-off at 7pm. All it takes is a final ingredient of sun shine to change what they purchase from a pizza to seasonal goods like BBQ packs, burgers, hot dogs and kebabs.
This summer, most of the main fixtures are world cup games which make them very predictable in the short term; a game is won and confirms the teams for the next. Fixtures for the first stage have already been set.
Of course, weather is harder to predict than the game times scheduled above. However, the forecast is relatively accurate 2-4 days in advance and the trick then becomes how fast you can react to that information.
Our partners have some advantages in this area;
1. We have ~200,000 pallet spaces across our four cold stores so our partners have the ability to ramp up production of their seasonal goods when they predict high sales, safe in the knowledge that we can store the extra stock.
2. With a 4500 pallets per week capacity we can blast freeze that product almost immediately to maximise its shelf life. That way, if the weather misses the mark, the product can remain on the shelf for an extra couple of days of potential sales.
3. As soon as a weather report comes in and we receive our partner’s request we can have their product microwave up-tempered. Bringing the core temperature from -18⁰C to -3⁰C in 60 seconds, which adds days to shelf life and grants an unparalleled logistical flexibility.
So how do you predict the unpredictable? Simple, you plan ahead for the things you know are coming and have processes in place for the things you don’t.