Safeway is investing 300,000 to receive more detailed weather forecasts from the Met Office, improving the supermarket’s ability to predict customer buying patterns.
The deal means Safeway is now the Met Office’s biggest supermarket customer. The supermarket will receive ten-day forecasts every day, replacing a Monday to Friday service looking only five days ahead.
The chain aims to use the scheme for stock control for weather-linked products, such as fresh food items, and less obvious products such as deodorants, charcoal for barbecues and cat litter, which is often used to grit drives in icy weather.
It will help with planning for building projects, and also for sourcing because it will give information on weather conditions overseas which could affect harvests or product quality.
The new initiative includes historical data that will be plotted against product sales to allow Safeway to build a predictive model of customer buying patterns compared with weather conditions.
Safeway director of supply chain operations Jim Drummond says the forecasts can be tailored to specific clusters of stores – the smallest being a group of 11.
He adds: “Better forecasting means less waste and lower costs in store. This will be passed on to customers through increased availability.”
The increased level of forecasting detail means the speed of the supply chain will increase, so suppliers may be called upon to source goods more quickly. Safeway is looking at ways of passing the information on to suppliers.