Retailers Harness Weather Predictions To Improve Operations

IBM subsidiary The Weather Company is working with retailers to provide both real-time weather information and predictive weather analytics solutions. The solution helps retailers understand how weather is going to impact shipments coming into warehouses, when products might arrive at stores and the potential impact on in-store traffic.

Unpredictable winter weather can have a particularly large impact on traffic during the holiday season. Retailers need to look at both upcoming weather forecasts and past data to predict shopper patterns, a necessary step in maximizing sales during the busiest time of the year.

“In the era of big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, there is no shortage of data that retailers should use to predict and maintain proper staffing levels,” said Charlie DeWitt, VP of Business Development for Kronos in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “There’s no better indicator than constantly evaluating current and historic sales and schedule accuracy and effectiveness data. Beyond that, retailers should take third-party data like weather, traffic, holidays and special events into account.”

Weather Data Adds A Personal Touch

Real-time promotions also can benefit from weather data. One retailer taking advantage of this potential is SOREL, a premium footwear retailer, which is harnessing digital signage to enhance sales of its fall collection in the UK, according to Digital Signage Connection.


The campaign, which runs from Oct. 8 to Oct. 22, uses real-time weather data to personalize the signage at multiple locations in real time. The advertised footwear on each sign changes with the weather, always tempting shoppers with an item that is appropriate for the current conditions.

Email promotions also can benefit from the addition of local weather-related content, adding a human touch that makes the outreach seem more conversational. Retailers can reference each recipient’s local weather conditions during the campaign to make each message feel personal.

However, retailers should dig through the data to make sure their weather-based promotions are having the desired effect. Dunkin’ Brands sent inclement weather-based promotions through its mobile app, but the results weren’t as profitable as the retailer had hoped.

“We did an email survey to determine what people’s redemption motivations were,” said Paul Murray, Director of Digital Experience, Dunkin’ Brands during a panel at RIC 2018. “The insight we discovered is that the people we were promoting to were going out in the storm anyway. These were plow drivers and first responders, and sometimes a Dunkin’ Donuts was the only place that was open. For others, they were never going to come to a store, because the bad weather broke their usual patterns.”

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