General Merchandise/HBC

New Tools to Help Retailers Navigate COVID-19

IRI's CPG Supply Index tracks weekly changes in availability of CPGs
empty shelves
Photograph: Shutterstock

CHICAGO — IRI has added tools to its website to help retailers and manufacturers navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

The Chicago-based market research firm’s COVID-19 Info Portal and Data Dashboard provides a variety of resources for retailers across all channels, including convenience stores, to manage supply and demand problems and determine how to best handle promotions, out-of-stocks, pricing and assortment to reach the changing needs of consumers.

Its latest tool, the IRI CPG Supply Index, provides a metric for tracking weekly changes in the availability of consumer packaged goods (CPG) in absolute terms and relative measurements compared to pre-pandemic levels.

In recent weeks, the index has shown supply continues to be lower compared to pre-COVID-19 levels but has remained steady in recent weeks, according to IRI.

The spread of the coronavirus is affecting supply chains across the world, making it difficult for CPG businesses to track product availability, Andrew Appel, president and CEO of IRI, said.

“Our new CPG Supply Index provides insight into which products are making it to stores’ shelves and at what levels,” Appel said. “This comprehensive solution uses IRI’s refined proprietary algorithms to model in-stock rates both in absolute terms and against measurements taken just before the COVID disruption—giving CPG retailers and manufacturers a holistic picture of how consumers experience out-of-stock issues.”

IRI calculates the CPG Supply Index from daily point-of-sale and e-commerce transaction data reported from major chains’ macro inputs. IRI applies its proprietary on-shelf availability algorithms to this data, which leverages artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to produce in-stock rates across departments and retail formats, according to IRI.

Users can choose between “In-Stock Percentage” and “Supply Index” metrics. The Supply Index metric allows users to compare current in-stock rates with pre-COVID-19 levels using data collected during the week ending on Feb. 23. Measurements above 100 indicate growth, and measurements below 100 indicate decline compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to IRI.

IRI also offers a CPG Demand Index, which measures consumer purchases, by dollar sales, with the year-ago period.

“As the Demand Index has shown, the pandemic has caused large increases and fluctuations in consumer purchasing, but the out of stocks will impact their overall and by-brand purchasing,” Appel said. “When used together, IRI’s indices allow businesses to understand where they need to focus their efforts to optimize their production and supply chains to meet consumer needs in the rapidly changing environment.”

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