How Grocers Can Avoid Supply Shortages During Seasonal Spikes

This year’s Super Bowl showcasing the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers drew nearly 100 million viewers. Analysis of this year’s event found some interesting buyer behaviors for grocers and suppliers to consider.

Seventy-five percent of consumers claimed to purchase their Super Bowl groceries and supplies in-store compared to 15% who did so both in-store and online and 10% who shopped only online, according to research from Valassis. Unfortunately, poor resource planning and slow-moving partner and supplier interactions create popular snack shortages for some local and major grocers year after year.

So how can grocers better prepare for big events? Here are a few key best practices for resource and demand planning that will help grocers remain competitive and meet the needs of their customers during big events, holidays, and even natural disasters.

1. Have a Holistic Understanding of Product Sales and Buyer Trends

Excellence in customer experience comes down to exhibiting a firm understanding of each sales touch point, whether it be online or from your cash registers. Each point of sale generates data that leads back to insightful trends, that is if you can aggregate these data points into one place that highlights those trends.

For example, each year around the Super Bowl, there tends to be an uptick in sales both online and in-store for products like Frank’s Buffalo sauce, chicken wings, tortilla chips, and other popular game day snacks.

When you have a holistic understanding of those trends before they lead to shortages, you can order the appropriate amount of stock leading up to a big event or holiday. This will ultimately lead to satisfied and loyal customers.

2. Foster a Transparent Digital Relationship with Your Suppliers

It’s one thing to possess a holistic understanding of sales trends, but your data will be rendered moot if you don’t have the agility and transparency with your supplier network to act on that data. We often see companies with spotless data integration, but who lack the ability to leverage supplier networks during a spike in sales or in preparation of an anticipated surge.

For instance, a grocery store can maximize its agility by connecting with multiple suppliers for the same product. If Supplier A has only 50 bottles of Frank’s Red Hot for $150, but Supplier B has 25 bottles for $65, the grocer can purchase all 25 from Supplier B, and then source the rest of from Supplier A based on buyer trends.

By maintaining a holistic view of the supplier ecosystem and expanding beyond just one supplier, the grocer can see who is selling what product at the best price at any point in time and can rapidly refactor supplier integrations accordingly.

3. Learn to Quickly Onboard New Suppliers as Needed

Even the best data integration can’t predict factors like natural disasters or weather-related issues that can cause a shortage in supply. Having a supplier network that is also impaired by weather-related issues will likely not be the best ally in times of crisis.

Because of this, it’s critical to be able to onboard new suppliers in a timely and effective manner. For example, if a hurricane is about to hit Miami, it’s likely Atlanta would be less prone to the same damage. Quickly onboarding a new supplier from Atlanta for essential supplies like water and canned goods could mean the difference between having the necessary goods for your customers or not.

Not only will this type of agility relieve the internal stress that comes with stock supplies, it’ll also create an ongoing sense of customer loyalty and trust.

Whether it’s the next big game party or a major storm, grocers can leverage these tactics to either proactively prepare or quickly address supply needs as they come up. The proper supply stock will not only lead to happier customers, it’ll lead to efficient revenue streams as well.