AI Helps Retailers Respond Faster to World Cup Demands

football-world-cup-2018Smart Tech Keeps the Shelves Full, Whatever England’s Fortunes

The World Cup has a strange effect on a whole number of businesses, causing unusual demand patterns. But AI can take it in its stride.

As the World Cup rolls around every four years, it is part of the overall experiences that businesses experience unusual ebbs and flows. When England matches kick off, office productivity slows down as business managers either turn a blind eye to employees watching online or make an occasion of it in the conference room.

The retail sector also sees some interesting variations. The fact that England’s opening match was an evening game fell into the hands of the nation’s pubs and fast food chains, and the pizza delivery drivers will be one set of people who will have to satisfy themselves with listening to the radio commentary.

A unique event

Other sporting events might come close, but there is nothing quite like a football World Cup. The fact that makes it even harder for retailers to prepare for is that interest grows as it reaches the latter stages. More than a billion people around the world watched the 2014 World Cup final four years ago. That’s around 10 times the viewing figures for Super Bowl LII.

UK retailers are hoping that the World Cup will bring a welcome boost to their profits, and in 2014, the World Cup generated an estimated £27.7 million in extra sales of beer and cider alone in the opening week of the tournament.

From thereon in, it really depends on just how far England progress, and that is where the challenge comes. England has been reasonably lucky in its group, in that it and Belgium should progress to the knockout stages with relative ease. After that, it’s a match against one of the top teams from Group H, most likely Colombia or Poland.

In other words, it is a relatively simple path to the quarter finals, but that is when things get hard to predict. There’s every likelihood they will face one of the favourites, either Germany or Brazil, and that might be a challenge too far.

In 2014, retailers saw a £55 million drop in sales after England were bundled out at the Group stage. So knowing just how much they need in stock is going to be critical, as following each game, demand is going to either continue to escalate or fall off a cliff.

Where does data come in?

Customers do not like to be let down at the best of times, but when they are getting supplies in for a once in four years event, the consequences in terms of customer loyalty can be catastrophic. But then again, getting perishables in stock that go to waste can be just as disastrous.

Businesses that have the right data solutions to hand will be in the best position to get it right. AI uses a combination of historic sales data, exterior events like the World Cup, the timing of matches and even factors such as the weather forecast to make the most accurate forecasts relating to what customers will demand and when they will demand it.

This can even take the additional step of not just informing but ordering the necessary supplies to ensure a just in time system that sees neither waste nor disappointed customers. AI helps retailers make sense of the vast amounts of data to make the right purchasing decisions every time.

However, these abnormal patterns can create a challenge for retailers, as abnormal sales spikes deplete their stocks. Fortunately, the world of technology has a solution, and the most tech-savvy companies will be utilising Microsoft big data solutions to ensure the shelves do not run empty and the fans are kept properly fed and hydrated throughout the tournament – however long that might last for England.

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