The challenge of forecasting sales, stock and staff during COVID-19

27 January 2021

There is no tougher challenge than seismic environmental unpredictability for retailers, restaurateurs and the hospitality trade, who are left to manage and make a best guess for labour scheduling, sales forecasting and stock forecasting, just to survive.

Analytics, business intelligence, forecasting – these are the tools which organisations rely on when looking to make strategic decisions that impact the business and bottom line. Now more than ever, these insights can support stability and even unpack potential and opportunity in markets heavily impacted by uncertainty, lockdown levels and second waves. According to Neil Rankin, CEO of Predictive Insights, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can cut forecast errors by up to half and significantly change how organisations adapt and pivot. But, he adds, you need to combine this with current economic data and behavioural insights.

"In July 2019, we cut forecasting errors by up to a half. Since COVID-19 hit, we've seen an increase in forecasting errors and our models now reduce these by two thirds. Traditional methods have not been able to change fast enough to adapt to the changes we have seen," explains Neil Rankin, CEO at Predictive Insights.

Read the full paper here.


Neil Rankin

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South Africa