The Bunzl Blog

Enhancing Retail Supply Chains: A Proactive Approach to Retail Demand Planning

For retailers, accurate demand planning can be the difference between maximizing profitability and facing unnecessary costs, or effectively managing resources and experiencing supply chain disruptions. 

 Retailers rely on demand planning to optimize inventory levels, avoid stockouts, and operate more efficiently. Previously, we shared 5 Tips for Effective Demand Planning for Peak Season where you find tips specifically about maximizing demand planning for a successful holiday season.  

 Below we will dive into the details of our approach to retail demand planning, which includes:  

  • Segmented expertise 
  • Consolidated point of contact 
  • Risk mitigation and avoiding delays 
  • Continuous improvement

Segmented Expertise

Our approach starts with demand planners segmented to support shared commodity categories, complemented by demand planners focused on retailer-specific items.  

 This specialized approach allows subject matter experts to focus on commodity categories while other planners partner closely with customers on packaging, merchandising and retailer-driven products. The result is a comprehensive understanding of business dynamics and demand supporting day-to-day store operations. 

Consolidated Point of Conduct

In the maze of retail operations, simplicity is key. We act as a single consolidated point of contact, bridging the gap between retailers and vendors.  

 Our industry expertise and strong relationships with both retailers and vendors allow us to work successfully as a source point and deliver high-profile projects on time. For small and large retailers alike, we streamline the process by consolidating all needs into one critical delivery on the customer’s timeline.  

Risk Mitigation and Avoiding Delays

Retail supply chain disruption continues to be a concern across the retail industry, even post-pandemic. Understanding the demand fluctuations allows us to have contingency plans to meet needs in-store.  

 Leveraging our extensive network and the backing by Bunzl plc, we have alternative sources of supply ready to cover retailer needs. From unforeseen market shifts to logistical setbacks, having a contingency plan is key.  

Continuous Improvement

Demand planning for retail supply is not a one-time exercise, but an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement and adaption. Aim to regularly review data, refine forecasting, and adjust strategy based on performance and results.  

 By embracing a culture of continuous learning and innovation, retailers can stay agile and responsive in the face of evolving market dynamics. 

How have we evolved our process for demanding planning for retail? 

Last year we revamped processes supporting store growth programs like new stores and remodels, establishing best-in-class practices across Bunzl functions. 

“By focusing on earlier and consistent communication, BRS exceeded a 99% fill rate with thousands of store projects delivered in 2023,” shares Senior Director of Demand Planning Jessica Haycraft.  

 In closing, demand planning is a multifaceted discipline that requires a combination of strategic foresight, data-driven insights, and collaborative partnerships. By adopting these essential strategies, retailers can enhance their demand planning capabilities, optimize inventory management, and position themselves for long-term success in the competitive retail landscape. 


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Mary Flenner

Mary is a creative marketing writer with a passion for making brands shine. With an agency background in consumer goods, B2B and beyond, she brings a unique blend of creativity and strategic insight to our content development. Mary seeks out interesting retail news, patterns, and ideas to help our partners operate more efficiently and stay informed. When she's not writing and creating meticulous lists, you may find her attempting a plant-based pasta recipe or reading.

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