Merchant Advance Blog

Blog Article: Preparing for Climate and Weather – The Oldest Kind of Business Analytics?

There’s a saying in Merchant Advance’s home of Vancouver that if you don’t like what the weather is doing, you could wait a few minutes. While this is meant in jest, some people do not have the luxury of being able to wait for the best conditions in which to do business. It turns out that even for businesses with brick-and-mortar locations whose sales are not seasonally dependent (such as a landscaping company for example, which would be unlikely to do significant business in the winter months), weather patterns can have a significant impact on business stability.

A survey conducted by American business lender OnDeck found that upwards of 75% of small businesses were affected in some way by what they termed “extreme” winter weather in the last year. Some of these effects included lag in customer traffic, unexpected closure or changes to business hours, and decreased sales.

Researchers Emek Basker Javier Miranda of the U.S Census Bureau studied the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most damaging natural disasters in the history of the United States, to determine its effect on business financing and survival tactics. Miranda and Basker found that small businesses were especially likely to close permanently in the wake of the disaster.

Interesting correlations between weather and business preparedness go beyond just readying yourself for a potential disaster. For instance, predicting weather is also a great asset in terms of predicting inventory needs and customer behaviours. Being able to adjust to changes in demand before they happen can be an asset to any small business.

You could even use climate conditions to help you target advertising online and on social media. Take a look at areas in which specific promotions might resonate based on isolated weather conditions – and tailor specific offers to them.

The last – and arguably most important – example in which the predictive, analytical approach to weather monitoring can make a significant impact on a small business is in the management of its supply chain. Knowing how to schedule shipments so you receive the right inventory at the right time, and how to predict that your business can keep its promises about shipping, stock and availability, are critical to maintaining your customers’ trust.

Of course, financial preparedness is just as important as a good umbrella when the weather changes. Many businesses look for sources of funding that will keep them working steadily without interruption through unseasonal or inclement periods. Merchant advance funding in particular has been designed with this kind of stability in mind: find out more about it here.

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