7 Must-Have Demand Planning Software Features For Better Inventory Planning

Demand forecasting software is a vital tool for modern retail brands, allowing them to accurately forecast future customer demand to maximize revenue, save time and lower costs.

The best inventory planning tools, like Inventory Planner, use your sales history (factoring in fluctuations like seasonality or promotions) to help you purchase the exact right amount of stock of the right items, so you can boost profit and avoid disappointing customers.

However, advanced demand forecasting software like ours also offers a range of other nifty features that you probably didn’t know about – until now…

1. Cut Shipping costs

Since 2020, surging e-commerce demand and global lockdowns have caused supply chains to crumble and shipping costs to skyrocket. According to a study by our sister company Brightpearl, 80% of US retailers have been impacted in the last 12 months (or are currently impacted) by supply chain issues. In the UK, average shipping costs have increased by 21%, with large brands (£50-100m turnover) suffering a 55% jump in rates.

The challenging circumstances have seen demand forecasting software come into its own, providing retail and wholesale brands with a smart way to mitigate rising container prices (which drive up overall shipping costs). With supply chain issues predicted to continue into 2023 and beyond, and retailers expecting up to a 25% further increase in shipping costs, inventory planning software is now considered an essential tool for businesses keen to protect their bottom line.

With Inventory Planner, it’s easy to improve efficiency by filling every last square inch of your shipping containers. All retailers need to do is add a CBM (cubic meters) measurement or the individual weight of each item and enable it on purchase orders – Inventory Planner does the rest.

2. Get advance warning that you’ll run out of stock

Having demand planning data to hand is one thing – being able to interpret it is another. With Inventory Planner, you’ll get intuitive analysis and automatic alerts so that you can know exactly when, where and what to order.

It means out-of-stock events – which, according to our study, have impacted 23% of brands in the UK in the last year, and frustrated 35% of shoppers in the US – can become a thing of the past. Even if you have historical out-of-stock events in your data, the software can be tweaked so that it only calculates forecasts based on when an item was available, excluding any days when it was out of stock.

As Blake Heiner, Owner of Cruiser Gear, reports: “I love that Inventory Planner helps me know when to order new inventory and prevents me ordering too much. It’s truly changed our buying power in a matter of weeks.”

3. Sync with Shopify and Amazon

Any demand forecast is only as good as the data that’s fed into it, which is why Inventory Planner is so easy to integrate with third party apps including Shopify and Amazon.

This results in a reliable transfer of data so that you can count on an accurate prediction of the inventory you need at any given moment. It also cuts the amount of time spent on manually managing inventory, and on inputting the necessary data during set-up.

Monxi Garza from Sauvs Shoes reports: “Inventory Planner is the best forecasting and purchasing app out there. It connects directly to our Shopify and it literally takes me 15 minutes to create a new PO. Saves so much time and money!”

By syncing with Shopify or Amazon, Inventory Planner instantly registers all product information, sales orders, and shipments. You can then easily create POs based on replenishment recommendations – and when the stock arrives, you can automatically update your inventory levels across all sales channels.

4. Easily create POs

If your retail business has tens or even hundreds of SKUs, staying on top of everything that needs restocking can quickly become a challenge. With Inventory Planner, you get regular Replenishment Reports, which provide you with an at-a-glance view of all the items that need to be reordered.

Best of all, in just a couple of clicks you can create purchase orders in bulk, directly from the report, with the flexibility and freedom to choose the vendor and the date you want items to be received. For many retailers, this prevents the hire of additional staff and saves hours every week.

5. Manage stock shortages

A shortage of goods impacted a whopping 68% of retailers in the UK, and 67% of their US counterparts, in the last 12 months. And it’s having a clear impact on consumer behavior – and loyalty. In fact, research has shown that around a third of all consumers chose to shop with a new online store in the last year simply because they had an item in stock.

When stock is running short, retailers may need to carefully plan the release of stock to keep customers happy and cash flow steady. Our best-in-class demand planning software makes this surprisingly simple – it tells retailers exactly when to order to mitigate long lead times and even suggests when to release stock to make it last.

6. Eliminate clunky workflows

Managing inventory can be a labor intensive and time consuming process. Demand planning software can remove the heavy lifting and make it faster and more efficient. Workflows that previously required input from a member of staff, such as creating reports, can be automated and streamlined.

This is a game-changing feature for retail brands, such as Bells of Steel. Owner Bryan Chu reports that Inventory Planner has ‘revolutionized’ its approach to stock management.

He said: “With Inventory Planner, we can stay one step ahead of our inventory needs. Out-of-stock events are kept really low, so our growth rate is higher”

7. Free up cash

It’s great to be prepared, but having mountains of stock sitting in a warehouse for long periods doesn’t make good business sense. With Inventory Planner, you can gain an intuitive, 360º view of your business – including which items aren’t selling well at any given time.

With accurate data at hand, you can make informed decisions about which items to discount or promote in order to free up cash (and make room in your warehouse). Releasing cash tied up in slow-moving or overstocked items gives you the available funds to reinvest in your most popular products and maximize profit margins.

Check out the full range of Inventory Planner features with a interactive demo!