How to Prepare for an Uncertain Festive Demand

Bakery businesses have started to recover slowly in the current post-COVID world. As businesses come to terms with the new normal, unpredictability and uncertainty remain the biggest challenges to recovery and growth. The festive months of November and December are peak business months for bakers and confectioners who gear up to cater to the increased demand by starting preparations as early as the end of September. However, given the current situation, this year will be a challenging year for business and only those bakers who play it smartly will end up with good business in this festive season.
A brief look at some of the challenges bakers will face this season
Demand Forecasting

Bakers who have been in business for a few years have a fairly good estimate for seasonal demand. They start with ordering ingredients in bulk and start preparing for some specialized products like
Plum cakes and fruit cakes by soaking fruits as early as the end of September. But in the current situation, it is difficult to understand and estimate the demand parameters and prepare accordingly.

The Loss dilemma

When the demand is unknown preparation becomes difficult. Over preparing by ordering excess ingredients can lead to losses in unsold inventory while under preparation will certainly lead to loss of potential business. The one who gets the right balance will make the most out of this festive opportunity.
Wait and watch

Many bakers work on bulk seasonal orders from key retail or institutional sellers. During such times, buyers may play safe and delay their orders until the very end so that they can be assured of their business. Due to this, bakers may be faced with a sudden surge in demand with very short delivery times or risk looking for bulk orders from customers.
Other Challenges

Operating in periods of peak demand requires the availability of operational staff and bakers. Amid the travel limitations and COVID control measures, ensuring the availability and functionality of staff to service the demand will be important. At the same time, customer walk-ins may be reduced as people may choose to limit travel outside and so the opportunity to cross-sell products and influence impulse buying of products will be lost.

Suggestions for bakers to enable better planning and operations in an unpredictable business situation
Monitoring Trends

Observing current customer purchase behaviors and comparing it with those of previous years will give a reasonable estimate of the business that one can expect in the current period. The challenge here could be the availability of data from previous years, however, if available this information can be of great help.
Using instant products (No Preparation Required)

The best way to prepare for unpredictability is to not prepare in advance. There are many options available to bakers today for ingredients that can be used to make products instantly without any advance preparation or extended production times. These premix or complete mix products can be the solution to preparing for unpredictable demand. No need to stock multiple products or soak fruits in advance for specialized products like
plum cakes. Purchase and use products as required and avoid the risks of unsold inventory as well as potential loss due to under preparation.
Communicate with Customers

It’s important to maintain constant and clear communication with key customers and bulk buyers in order to understand their demand forecasts and supply planning. Knowing this information will help bakers to plan their respective production schedules to align with the sudden orders from buyers.
Early order & Combo pack benefits

Most of the festive season demand is loaded in the month of December but this does not mean buyers are undecided on their purchases. Booking orders in advance by offering some cost benefits to customers may certainly help in production planning and preparation. At the same time offering combo pack benefits may help in resolving the issue of cross-selling to some extent and help in increasing sales.
Non-contact home delivery

It's time bakers accept that they are not going to get as many walk-ins as they are used to getting during normal times. Options to book orders online or by phone and offering doorstep delivery is the new business normal. Luckily, the COVID situation has led to a rise in courier services and logistics infrastructure.  Bakers need to tie up with a few hyperlocal delivery service providers to help them get their items directly to end consumers. Also having your own bakery website is absolution critical, with ample of ready e-commerce service provider options available with a ridiculously easy-to-use drag and drop interfaces to create instant online shops, this particular step should not be much of a concern for most bakers.
Offer Perks to Staff

Having all the orders in the world won’t mean anything if there is a staff shortage to deliver the products. Staff may face extra costs just to ensure they are able to travel to the bakery to work. Offering some incentives or economic perks will go a long way in motivating staff to work hard and deliver the required products to customers.
Looking at the overall business situation it is important for bakers to work smart and do their best to reduce unpredictability in their operations if they wish to make the most from this festive season.
SwissBake® offers a wide range of festive products like
Instant Plum Cake mix to professional and commercial bakers looking to bake high-quality bakery and confectionery products quickly and conveniently. For more information visit our product page.