Helping Business Weather the Storm

Outside the Box

by Dr. Kevin Kloesel, on Nov 14, 2016 10:03:14 AM

Have you ever wondered why umbrellas, ponchos and rain boots show up at the front door of your local Wal-Mart only when it’s raining? Or maybe it’s the snow shovels, ice scrapers and mittens when it’s snowing?


Wal-Mart Weather Supplies (credit: Kevin Kloesel)


For those that frequently shop at the large “box stores” (e.g. Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s), it’s not just the holiday items that relocate, or appear/disappear each day. What you are seeing on your shopping trip is called Just-in-Time delivery.


Just-in-Time is a way for stores to receive goods for sale only as they are needed. This approach significantly lowers inventory and storage costs, makes for a more efficient shopping experience, and increases sales. But Just-in-Time has Just-One-Problem. Who tells the box stores to move the umbrellas from a large distribution center that might be located a state away? Who decides that there is time to transport the snow shovels across large distances to arrive in advance of the snowstorm?


Wal-Mart Distribution Center


That’s where weather forecasters come in!


Retailers have long known that the weather (or a weather forecast) is a primary factor in our buying decisions. Purchases of food items, clothing, accessories, automobiles, homes, etc. are all influenced by weather. Meteorologists, economists, political scientists and social scientists have each studied and confirmed these relationships. The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) and its’ parent agency the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are located in the U.S. Department of Commerce for this reason!

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The meteorologists at Weather Decision Technologies, Inc. are keenly aware of this relationship as well. WeatherOps forecasters provide detailed and customized weather information for box stores to make these important decisions. Therefore, the next time you race into Wal-Mart in front of an approaching rainstorm, and someone has conveniently placed the umbrella at the front door for you? Thank the WDT forecaster for thinking outside the box, so that your shopping experience is efficient inside the box.