Forecasting Consumer Demand: Weather Drives Sales

Forecasting Consumer Demand: Weather Drives Sales

December 15, 2019

From Pop Tarts to snow blowers, consumer product sales are being driven by the weather and predicted with increasing accuracy by IBM.

AI-driven analytics pair with detailed weather forecasting to help merchants know what specific items shoppers will want to purchase, when and where they will shop, and how much they will buy.  IBM has fine-tuned its forecasting models so they can provide store-level forecasts for specific products (SKU’s).

Interestingly, the most important drivers in the models are not economic but weather related.


Video Spotlight: How to Improve Retail Demand Forecasting with Cognitive


This post is based on the Forbes article, The Science of IBM’s Holiday Retail Forecast—and Why Companies Count On IT, by Matt Hunter, November 27, 2019, and the YouTube video, How to Improve Retail Demand Forecasting with Cognitive, by IBM Services, January 12, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock/ra2studio

Discussion Questions:

1. How do weather related forecasts predict buyer behavior?

Guidance: Current weather conditions can affect buying behavior, driving up demand for umbrellas or hot coffee, for instance.  However, forecasts of longer range patterns tend to have a greater influence. For instance, this year much of the United States faced an early cold Continue reading

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UPS’s Brown Friday

UPS’s Brown Friday

November 19, 2018

On October 19, 2018, UPS held job fairs at over 170 locations to attract seasonal hires. In anticipation of the holiday buying season, UPS plans to hire 100,000 seasonal workers.   In what UPS is calling “Brown Friday,” they hope to hire 40,000 seasonal workers in one day.


Video Spotlight: UPS’s ‘Brown Friday’ national hiring day


This post is based on the WFSB news story, ‘Brown Friday’ Underway As UPS Looks To Hire Thousands of Seasonal Employees, by Rob Polansky, October 19, 2018, and the YouTube video, UPS’s ‘Brown Friday’ national hiring day, by WTHR, October 19, 2018 Image source: Stockbyte/Superstock.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is the best way for UPS to manage the national hiring day event?

Guidance: Project management would be the best approach to handle this event.  It is complicated by having over 170 locations.  It’s a good opportunity to discuss how to plan such an event using project management techniques.

2. What processes must be in place for this event?

Guidance: Although UPS hires seasonal workers every year, processing over 40,000 applications efficiently will take some planning.  Applications need to be completed correctly, information Continue reading

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