Inventory forecasting is integral to the success of your direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand. The trick is getting those forecasts accurate, where you have the right order quantities to meet demand without filling your warehouse with a bunch of excess inventory.
The best way to achieve forecast accuracy is by teaming up with trusted inventory forecasting software. By incorporating this software into your retail operations, your brand can leverage historical sales data and buying trends to effortlessly make precise predictions again and again.
Inventory forecasting is a type of software that helps businesses predict and manage their inventory levels. It uses advanced algorithms and statistical models to analyze historical sales data, current inventory levels, market trends, and other relevant factors to forecast future demand for products.
Inventory forecasting software improves and stabilizes a company’s supply chain processes by increasing inventory visibility and insight into historical data. This way, inventory forecasting tools facilitate demand planning and help DTC brands optimize their inventory levels.
Inventory forecasting software ensures you have the right products in the right place at the right time. In other words, sales forecasting software helps brands optimize their stock levels, track seasonal trends, minimize lost sales from stockouts, and more.
One of the most basic functions of forecasting software is its ability to optimize your stock levels.
This kind of software keeps track of product movement, previous sales, and the inventory you have on hand. That way, you can achieve greater inventory optimization.
From a retail perspective, optimization is the key to maintaining the right amount of inventory to meet customer demand, avoid inventory shortages, and keep logistics costs low.
The most effective inventory forecasting software looks at each product’s unique life cycle and pays special attention to seasonal trends.
For example, forecasting software can reveal where and how product demand is affected by holiday surges, like those seen on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and the weeks leading up to Christmas.
When you keep an eye on these seasonal trends, you’ll be better positioned to prepare for an influx in demand. For instance, you might increase your order volume or place your orders earlier to ensure you have the inventory you need to fulfill that demand.
When you’re trying to grow your DTC brand, stockouts can keep you from reaching your goals. That’s because stockouts can cause you to miss out on potential revenue generation.
Fortunately, inventory forecasting software helps you determine when to reorder stock and what quantity you need to meet consumer demand.
Forecasting software guides your replenishment and makes sure you order the right amount of inventory at exactly the right time. That way, you can stop worrying about selling out and losing sales.
If your brand works with perishable or time-sensitive products, you know those items have a limited shelf life. The longer your goods go unsold, the greater their risk of expiring.
And if those products do hit their expiration date, they’re no longer sellable, and you’ll need to dispose of them. This contributes to lost profits and a whole lot of waste.
The good news is that forecasting software helps prevent overstocking (and subsequent waste).
This software aligns sales data and historical insights to create accurate forecasts that’ll lower your risk of accumulating expired or excess inventory.
Another major advantage of inventory forecasting software is that it saves you from unnecessary spending.
In other words, this software helps your company order only what you need, right when you need it. So, you’re not overspending on SKUs that might wind up as dead stock.
When you avoid overstocking on goods that will likely go unsold, you’ll also avoid paying surplus carrying costs for storing those items at your warehouse.
And reduced costs mean more free working capital to invest in your brand’s growth or new product development.
If you’re choosing an inventory forecasting software for your own brand, ask yourself the following questions. These questions will direct your decision-making process, so you can find the best inventory forecasting software for your brand.
The first question to consider relates to the size of your business. Are you a small brand that’s just starting out? Or are you running a large retail enterprise?
If your business is still in its early stages, you might not need advanced software. At least until you’ve established a broader customer base or have more monthly sales under your belt.
But you might still opt for advanced forecasting software that will meet your future needs, one that you can comfortably grow into. This could save you money down the road compared to creating faulty forecasts for years or switching your data from one platform to another.
On the other hand, medium to large businesses typically have more complex supply chains. So, they’ll need high-level features and functionality to streamline those operations from the get-go.
A second item to consider is what kind of budget you’re working with. Does your company have unlimited funds at its disposal? Or are your financial resources a bit more limited?
It’s important to choose software that you can afford and that suits your current budget. After all, there’s no need to overextend yourself or get into financial trouble by purchasing the most expensive software available.
Sure, you can easily spend thousands a month on inventory forecasting software. But that isn’t necessary. Some of the best options available (including the top software on this list) have plans starting at only $200/month.
It’s good to think through how many people will be using your inventory forecasting software.
If multiple departments need access to your system, you’ll want to partner with a cloud-based solution. This type of software is accessible from anywhere. Plus, it automatically updates your information in real-time (so everyone is working with the most current data).
As an added bonus, cloud-based programs tend to be more user-friendly. Meaning, your staff can quickly get acquainted with a cloud-based platform and start forecasting in no time.
Every DTC seller will have their own set of challenges to solve.
Does your company want to save time and streamline its operational workflows? Or are you more focused on reducing overhead and increasing your profits?
Whatever you’re up against, you can find an inventory forecasting software that fits the bill when you clearly understand where you’re going and what challenges you need to overcome.
Chances are good that forecasting software isn’t the only operational tool you’ll be using. So, look for a forecasting partner that integrates with your existing tech stack.
For instance, does your brand already rely on an omnichannel logistics platform, production management service, or even sales channels like Amazon? Then, you’ll want your inventory forecasting system to integrate seamlessly with those tools.
Together, these software integrations will optimize your demand forecasting processes while reducing costs and bottlenecks. And as a result, they’ll serve as the foundation for your company’s growth and continued success.
Choosing the right inventory forecasting software is definitely an art form. Even after asking yourself the above questions, you’ll still need to compare features and pricing on all your different options.
Luckily, we’ve rounded up the 10 best inventory forecasting solutions (and ranked them) to make this task a bit easier.
Cogsy is an action-taking solution that fuels the success of DTC brands. The Cogsy platform tracks all your inventory data in real time, then uses this data — plus historical insights — to deliver the most accurate ecommerce forecasts for your business.
With that said, Cogsy understands your forecasts are never going to be 100% accurate (especially given today’s supply chains). So, the cloud-based software helps retailers seamlessly transition to a backorder model, to keep revenue flowing if slash when things don’t go as planned.
Cogsy works to bring your inventory operations into clear view (and even considers upcoming marketing events). This way, you can achieve greater agility, alignment, and control throughout your brand. This way, your team is empowered to take actions that will ignite your growth and maximize your available working capital.
In addition, Cogsy is tech stack agnostic. The tool integrates with the ops tools you’re already using (or their team will build the integration you need if it doesn’t already exist).
If you’re a DTC brand who struggles to keep products in stock, Cogsy can also help you stay ahead of supply chain disruptions. That way, you can maintain optimal stock levels and revenue flowing at all times.
|Forecasting, inventory planning, accuracy tracking, replenishment planning, purchase orders, backorders
|Starts at $49/month after a 14-day free trial
RELEX Solutions is an operations software that enables autonomous demand planning and inventory forecasting. This solution is designed to help retailers stay competitive and easily optimize their inventory planning.
RELEX is equipped with a cloud-native, Living Retail Platform that offers speed, adaptability, and accuracy. Through this platform, retail brands can take advantage of in-memory computing and efficient AI across all retail functions (at scale).
These features help RELEX users plan better, sell more, and create less waste.
|Demand planning, merchandising, retail operations, supply chain collaboration
|Contact RELEX Solutions for current pricing structures
Megaventory is a cloud-based software that assists with online inventory management, order fulfillment, and manufacturing processes. The Megaventory platform is designed for retailers of all sizes and focuses on streamlining common inventory needs.
Thanks to the software’s robust reporting features, retailers have access to valuable data they can leverage for inventory planning and demand forecasting. These reporting features cover gross profit, inventory value, and product availability.
On top of that, Megaventory is equipped to handle: invoicing, inventory tracking, purchase orders to suppliers, and more.
|Inventory management, order fulfillment, manufacturing tracking, reporting
|Starts at $135/month
Smart IP&O’s software integrates demand planning, forecasting, and inventory optimization modules. This integrated system provides a single, scalable, and easy-to-use environment to improve the accuracy of your demand predictions.
Smart IP&O helps retailers track relevant business metrics to create better forecasts. In particular, the optimization module lets you track the impact of your inventory planning, replenishment policies, and reorder point quantity.
Plus, Smart IP&O users can move away from spreadsheets (and functional silos) and get on board with cloud-based collaboration among their entire team.
|Demand planning, inventory management, ERP & ecommerce integrations
|Starts at $1,000/month
NETSTOCK supports inventory optimization and inventory planning for your ERP. This software uses real-time data to provide accurate forecasting recommendations and help you maximize your inventory investment.
In addition to simplifying demand planning, NETSTOCK helps streamline the procurement and distribution of products. With NETSTOCK’s centralized dashboard, retailers can track their stock levels, manage POs, and receive automated alerts about potential stockouts.
What’s more, this platform can help classify your products into several different categories (high demand, low demand, and so on). Demand planners can use this information to create forecasts that reflect seasonal fluctuations and market trends.
|Forecasting, order tracking, supply chain management
|Available on a monthly subscription, with pricing based on inventory value
Thrive Technologies’ demand forecasting and replenishment software helps brands maximize their inventory performance. Their cloud-based solutions support retailers and wholesalers alike by ensuring they get the greatest return on their inventory investment.
Thrive’s systems use machine learning to analyze and monitor more than 40 supply and demand variables. More specifically, Thrive identifies the root cause of inventory issues — like lost sales and dead stock — so you can make meaningful changes to impact your profitability.
The immediate benefits of this software are reduced stockouts, greater adaptability to changes in supply and demand, and initiating conversations between sales and operations teams.
|Forecasting, replenishment planning, supply chain collaboration
|Contact Thrive Technologies for current pricing structures
GMDH Streamline is a leader in supply chain planning and predictive analytics. This company has developed proprietary technology to provide transparency across the entire supply chain.
Streamline users can integrate their demand forecasting and inventory planning to inform future demand planning processes.
If your inventory information is not uploaded into Streamline’s database, this software will operate solely as a demand forecasting tool. However, if you provide your inventory data, this program can assemble a just-in-time purchase plan and execute reordering on the spot.
|Forecasting, replenishment planning, reporting
|Contact GMDH Streamline for current pricing structures
Forecast Pro is off-the-shelf software that creates statistical inventory forecasts. This program helps retailers manage their forecasts via custom product hierarchies and comes with built-in support for your sales and operations planning (S&OP).
Forecast Pro’s automatic algorithm allows you to produce forecasts for thousands of items in seconds. In addition, this software accounts for seasonality, buying trends, business cycles, and promotional activity — all of which can impact your future demand.
Lastly, Forecast Pro keeps an archive of all your previous forecasts, so you can compare and contrast these estimates to your actual sales and buyer behavior.
|Forecasting, accuracy tracking, reporting
|One-time payment of $1,495/user
EazyStock makes it “easy” to improve your forecasting accuracy and order exactly the right amount of stock. The EazyStock platform automates your inventory calculations to ensure you have the most current (and correct) data for all your purchasing decisions.
This software uses advanced statistical algorithms to reflect your forecasts’ trends, seasonality, and product life cycle profiles.
EazyStock is best suited for small businesses or midsize brands looking to optimize their inventory management via automation. And who want to connect with their enterprise retail planning (ERP) systems to digitize every component of their operations.
|Forecasting, replenishment planning, supplier management
|Starts at $750/month
FashionBoard by BZIMPLE is a demand planning software specifically designed for the fashion industry. This platform helps clothing retailers optimize their purchase orders and inventory levels for never-out-of-stock (NOOS) and seasonal products.
Because most fashion brands store their data among several Excel sheets, the forecasting process is often complex. But with FashionBoard, companies can enjoy a simpler forecasting process and spend less time searching for relevant data.
This software also makes it easy to break down the needs of a product into SKU variabilities (like colors, sizes, and lengths). In turn, these categories create a smoother reordering process and give retailers a visual overview of potential future stockouts.
|Forecasting, demand planning, purchase orders
|Starts at ~$1,300 (€ 1200)/month
After weighing your options and choosing a forecasting software that best suits your business needs, you’ll be ready to begin implementing it into your retail operations.
The following are a few tips to get your new software up and running ASAP.
If you’ve been on the retail scene for a while, you likely have some historical sales data from selling your products, fulfilling orders, and more.
These historical insights play an important role in your inventory forecasting. So, you’ll need to upload this data to your inventory software as soon as possible.
Once this information is synced with your preferred forecasting software, you’ll have much greater inventory visibility (that’ll lay the groundwork for your forecasting estimates).
The next step in your software implementation is configuring and validating your data.
More simply, you’ll need to organize your data logically (by price, product category, or however makes sense to you). Then, confirm the accuracy of this data to ensure its quality and usability.
Essentially, you’ll be arranging your historical information in a way that:
Whoever will use your forecasting software needs to be trained on the system’s ins and outs.
By prioritizing this training, you can feel confident your team knows exactly what they’re doing. And each team member can work independently to create the most accurate forecasts possible.
As an added bonus, investing in proper training leaves less room for your employees to introduce human errors into the data. So, you’ll get the most accurate forecasts possible.
Lastly, document all your different processes as you go along — like how you validate your data, what questions were raised during team training, and so on.
With proper documentation, you’ll have an easier time understanding what’s going well with your forecasting software versus where adjustments need to be made.
Analytics inventory forecasting uses metrics like turnover rate and stock-to-sales ratio to gauge inventory performance and inform forecasting estimates. This type of forecasting relies on operations software to evaluate product movement and provide the insights needed for inventory optimization.
One of the best ways to forecast future demand is with the help of inventory forecasting software. These systems are designed to automate tasks like inventory tracking and calculating your optimal stock levels. That way, you can formulate the most accurate forecasts for your brand in a fraction of the time.
Inventory forecasting can be improved by accounting for seasonality (such as increased traffic around the holidays) and revising your demand forecasts as new information is introduced. These extra steps are small yet powerful ways to improve your forecasting accuracy.
Cogsy is, by and large, the best software for inventory forecasting. The Cogsy platform tracks all your inventory data in real time. It then uses this data (coupled with historical insights) to deliver the most accurate forecasts for your business. Plus, the tool automatically updates these forecasts as new information is introduced, further increasing your brand’s forecasting accuracy over time.