Retailers have faced many tough challenges during the pandemic. Perhaps most noticeable among them all were the widespread out-of-stocks of cleaning products and pantry staples, like bleach wipes, toilet paper, flour, eggs, frozen meat and vegetables. It took manufacturers and supply chains several weeks to catch up with the erratic demand shifts – and by then it was almost too late to avoid the consequences. Many once-loyal customers had started shopping at other retailers with more-reliable inventory – retailers who got a head start on allocating manufacturers’ existing inventories because they sensed the demand shift and acted on it immediately.
As flu season approaches, no one is quite sure if a second wave of COVID-19 – and heightened demand for certain goods – will resurge. A cure or vaccine remains ambiguous. Retailers can’t afford another situation like the beginning of the lockdown, when panic buying wiped out stocks and left them scrambling to keep up. Retailers must prepare now for the possibility of another wave of COVID-19 (and by extension, a resurgence of panic buying).
How? By arming themselves with advanced technology that provides full visibility into the current situation within their stores’ specific geographical areas and allows them to prepare their (now more resilient) supply chains.
Retailers Have to Be Able to Act Fast. But First They Have to Know When and How to Act. That’s Where Zebra Prescriptive Analytics Comes In.
Retailers spend a lot of time every day collecting data across the web, bringing it to their data centers and reporting on it to management. But there is a lot of information (and misinformation) circulating right now about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, and retailers don’t have time to sift through it all in order to separate fact from fiction. Plus, statistics, ordinances and public health guidance seem to change by the day in almost every city, county and country around the world! This can make it very difficult to plan. Yet, the best way to mitigate repeat out-of-stocks and sudden store closures is to proactively communicate anticipated changes to suppliers, staff and customers.
That is why Zebra Analytics just launched a brand-new (free!) mapping prescription tool as part of the Zebra Prescriptive Analytics solution.
We want to ensure retailers have access to a single source of truth that automatically collects all the information they need about the latest COVID-19 statistics. The new way will allow them to identify if and when an outbreak is likely to occur in proximity to their stores and fulfillment networks and plan accordingly.
How does it work?
This solution is using the Harvard University’s Global Health Institute (GHI) paper, combined with the John Hopkins map, which keeps one of the most accurate and timely databases of COVID-19 cases. All that data (which is updated frequently) gets fed into the Zebra Prescriptive Analytics solution, which continuously analyzes it to look for very specific trends that could indicate a significant outbreak is coming to one or more of a retailer’s stores.
The solution (which is free to all our customers and other retailers) is configured with a map showing a given retailer’s store locations across the country. It assigns each store a color based on the current risk of a potential outbreak:
- Red = High risk
- Orange = Medium-high risk
- Yellow = Medium risk
- Green =Low/no risk
Here are some samples of what the dashboard might look like: