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eCommerce Crisis Management: The Importance of Forecasting and Agility in Business

eCommerce Crisis Management: The Importance of Forecasting and Agility in Business

When running a business, it can be easy to focus solely on the present and not consider the future. However, as recent years have highlighted, a brand’s success depends on being prepared and agile. In today’s global economy, brands and retailers have to be able to pivot and react when struck by unpredictable circumstances, whether individually or industry-wide. In the current digital age, it is vital that they are able to withstand increased pressure on resources and customer expectations. Accurate forecasting and agility are essential components to making this a reality.

The pandemic in particular dramatically changed consumer behavior, resulting in increased online shopping habits and higher customer expectations. Customers have come to expect fast delivery times regardless of the challenges faced by the brand. In addition to growing consumer expectations, with the growth of online shopping has come more competition. Brands have had to find ways to stand out and capture loyalty through more personalized eCommerce fulfillment operations – and they must be able to provide this at scale.

According to research conducted by PFS, 42% of shoppers in the US and UK stated that they would stop shopping with a retailer or brand altogether if they did not provide good customer service. With the demand for quality service on the rise, it’s crucial that businesses prepare for all eventualities. The looming threat of carrier strikes across the globe is a prime example of circumstances that could have a serious negative impact on brands without proper preparation.

Forecasting and agility

One way businesses can prepare is by forecasting. Forecasting involves calculating cash flow, identifying and estimating recurring costs, budgeting for contingencies, and analyzing the potential of new products and services. Short-range forecasting, in particular, is vital to prepare for an increase in demand, such as during peak season. It is also crucial to use big data to gain insights into customer behavior and tailor marketing strategies accordingly.

The right infrastructure and partnerships

Businesses should also focus on building the right infrastructure and partnerships to prepare for unexpected events. This can involve harnessing a robust infrastructure to ease the level of unpredictability and ensure that the business can still service its customers. A retailer with a brick-and-mortar presence can incorporate store fulfillment technology at retail locations to support online demand without disrupting the in-store experience. Brands can also take advantage of a multi-node fulfillment strategy utilizing multiple distribution sites to locate product closer to customers, overall removing the need to operate from a single warehouse site.

By partnering with a 3PL, brands gain access to existing infrastructure as well as other key operational benefits. For example, a 3PL can typically provide a more extensive carrier network that offers protection from unexpected and uncontrollable capacity and service challenges.

Leverage omnichannel capabilities

A distributed order management (DOM) system is another critical component for ensuring agility in business. Such a setup means they can offer confidence and contingency in all situations, both in European and global fulfillment. Leveraging an order management system (OMS) with advanced omni-channel capabilities gives retailers the power to distribute demand across channels to appeal to customers wherever and whenever.

Stock management

Lastly, stock management is a key element to consider when preparing for any eventuality. Ensuring fast-moving stock can be picked and packed quickly and effortlessly enables brands to create greater warehouse efficiencies and better respond to unprecedented demand. In keeping an accurate picture of stock levels, brands can also ensure that end-of-line or end-of-season stock does not end up sitting around and taking up valuable storage space.

Forecasting and agility are essential for success in today’s unpredictable world. By preparing for any eventuality, brands and retailers can weather any storm that comes their way and deliver customer satisfaction in all circumstances.

Interested in learning more about forecasting? Check out our two previous blog posts on the subject here and here.


As Chief Operating Officer, Zach is responsible for the direction and management of all PFS activities on behalf of our clients. Applying extensive experience with 3PL, end-to-end and omni-channel solutions, he continually drives innovation and process improvements across the organization to ensure we remain the provider of choice for brand-centric eCommerce fulfillment.

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