One of the keys to success for business to business (B2B) ecommerce is reliable demand forecasting.
Sometimes it might feel as though a crystal ball is the only solution. Now there’s a new way to reduce the risks associated with demand forecasting and at the same time generate interest and improve buyer satisfaction.
Why it needs to be right
Where user satisfaction is an important differentiator in the market, it’s essential to hold enough stock to meet buyer’s expectations for fast delivery. If you hold too much stock you can be faced with storage costs. You might have to reduce your prices or consider special promotions that affect your profitability.
You can review historic sales figures to help predict demand, but products and markets can change dramatically and leave you holding unwanted stock. Nor are previous sales patterns a reliable way to forecast the demand for new products.
Data quality is important, so integrating business systems and effective analysis can give you an accurate picture of your current business and possible future trends.
Modelling future demand can be very sophisticated and time-consuming, but its effectiveness can only be judged in retrospect, so there’s always a level of risk.
You’ll also want to be sure that you’re optimizing your marketing investment. If you successfully bring customers to your ecommerce site, you won’t want them to find that the products they want are ‘out of stock’.
A new solution is now available that could radically change these conventional approaches to B2B demand forecasting.
A new dimension to the ‘crowd’
Although the idea of crowd-funding has been around for a long time, the internet allowed artists and entrepreneurs to invite people from around the world to ‘invest’ in a project or product while minimizing the risk. Only when the target level of investment was promised by a cut-off date would an idea be progressed.
Now Cloudfy has taken an innovative approach to the concept of the worldwide online ‘crowd’ and applied it to demand forecasting in a thoroughly customer-centric way.
The crowd-ordering solution
Cloudfy offers a crowd-ordering function that allows customers to ‘pre-order’ products in advance of production. When the target volume is reached the production process is triggered.
Cloudfy CEO, Robert Williams, says: “This is a truly exciting new piece of functionality being introduced by the team. Allowing businesses to fully understand product demand before investing is a key opportunity to help accelerate a product to market, with less risk.”
How it works
Registered buyers can pre-order 10 or 100 items, for example, and watch the total rise towards the target volume of orders.
The business owner can view a progress bar, showing when the pre-set target is reached. The fully managed process means that customers are also kept up to date with progress and have a direct input into the decision to produce a product.
Once the target number of units has been requested, the manufacturer or distributor has the confidence to go ahead with production. The pre-orders can then be confirmed to buyers, along with a delivery date.
This innovative approach gives business owners an early indication of demand. It’s also an ideal way to generate interest in new products before investing in equipment and materials. It can also be used to test interest in new products or additions to product ranges and to investigate new trends.
Because Cloudfy is Cloud-based and optimized for mobile devices too, buyers can interact with this new function anywhere and at any time. It provides a real-time measure of interest that results in actual orders. It is also a valuable tool to manage buyer expectations and deliver that all-important level of satisfaction that will keep you ahead of your competitors.
Get in touch to find out how you can use this new approach to optimize production and improve buyer satisfaction.