Blog > Optimizing distribution solutions amidst demand spikes

Green beer. Parades. Corned beef and cabbage.

The US is one of the planet’s largest celebrators of St Patrick’s Day, and it covers a number of on premise and at-home occasions that result in a short-term demand spike in several categories that benefit from optimized distribution solutions. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers in the United States spend more than $4.4 billion on St. Patrick’s Day. It is obviously one of the banner days for alcohol consumption in the US.

There’s more going on with St Patrick’s Day than just green beer in pubs and bars, although that’s a large part of it. There are a number of micro-targeting opportunities, such as in Massachusetts where celebrations include the planting of peas, given it’s the beginning of spring.

Below we consider the major occasions for the day, where they are likely to create demand spikes, and how you can both prepare for and leverage them.

On Premise

Parades offer opportunities for micro-targeting pubs and restaurants along parade routes. The St Patrick’s day parade in New York City is one of the largest in the world. Some of the other cities with big parades are in major cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis, and Washington DC. But smaller cities and towns also have parades that are big deals. Wikipedia among other sources has a useful list of locations with the largest celebrations and parades for targeting purposes if you want to look it up to sense check your own ERP sales data for where you’re seeing spikes in mid-March.

Irish pubs are also a no-brainer for a sales and stock push, wherever they are located. Although there are clusters in the locations with highest Irish backgrounds such as Worcester, Syracuse, Spokane, Naperville Illinois, plus Chicago, Denver, Philly, Pittsburgh, Boston and NYC. This is channel segment targeting, within the pubs segment in general.

At Home

For at-home occasions like dinner parties, consumers celebrate with not only corned beef and cabbage but also potatoes, carrots and desserts with green frosting. Spring lamb also comes into season, and pies (fish, shepherd’s, Guinness and beef) are also popular. Expect to see a run on these categories in supermarkets in similar locations to the Irish pub clusters.

Getting ready, and getting more out of it

All of this happens every March. So how to best prepare for this list of seemingly micro-opportunities?

Start by looking at your sales for previous early to mid-March periods by geographic location. Ideally you use an ERP system for this. This will help you determine likely stock requirements for the week either side of St Patrick’s day so that your local distributors have sufficient stocks.

An order management system (OMS) with mobile platform capabilities can then help you take and place accurate orders using customer and pricing data, better empowering your sales team in the process. It can help you leverage orders by providing complimentary and suggested products to put the right products on your customers’ minds and cut down on order errors with validation capabilities.

Having placed your (accurate) orders, you’re going to need visibility and traceability, particularly if you are doing just-in-time fulfilment so that your customers aren’t hanging onto (potentially perishable) stock for weeks beforehand. This comes in the form of a POD (proof of delivery) and DSD (direct store delivery) systems, which show delivery activity, intra-day and in real time, from warehouse to customer and enable you to see delivery down to case level. They improve on-time and accurate delivery, including digital formats to reduce human error or lost documentation from manual processes and re-keying, to minimize last-minute calls from customers resulting in emergency deliveries if something is missing.

So, starting with analytics of previous years and together with a good warehouse management system (WMS), these elements together help ensure your supply chain management is in good shape, and leveraged to cope with the upticks in demand you see and opportunities you create around St Patrick’s day in quite specific locations.

Are you giving your sales team the correct tools to take the most advantage of these opportunities? By anticipating occasions such St Patrick’s Day you can get prepared with the Ignition by TELUS Consumer Goods suite of solutions. Browse our supply chain management and distribution solutions or reach out to one of our experts for more information and to request a software demonstration.

Ready to get started with Ignition?