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The New Normal for Covid-19: Resolving Product Imbalances

Published on 12 August 2020
Resolving Product Imbalances: Analysis, Planning and Execution
Shelley Schwartz
Retail Practice Lead

Shelley Schwartz is SAP Solution Architect for Applexus.  She has 20+ years of experience in software supporting retail and supply chain. A retail solutions leader, she has over 13 years of experience leading teams of SAP Retail solution experts--helping SAP’s customers transform their processes into Best Run businesses. Shelley has worked with customers from the retail, apparel/footwear, telecommunications, automotive industries in North America.

The “old” Retail adage of having the RIGHT product at the RIGHT time in the RIGHT place is being turned on its head due to COVID-19.

In the “new normal” with and after COVID-19, consumers are moving away from purchasing many product lines (fashion) and switching to purchasing products that were never before in high demand. These changes in the balance of supply and demand for retailers and fashion companies are significant and can cause even more erosion of revenues and profitability than COVID-19 has already caused with shutdowns.

You may have severe shortages in some products or full product lines and significant excesses in others. Those imbalances may be caused by a variety of factors including shutdowns, reduced manufacturing or warehouse capacity, or disruptions in transportation.

Already in a very difficult position because of COVID-19, these imbalances leave retailers and fashion companies in a deteriorating situation of having the WRONG product at the WRONG time in the WRONG place (and maybe WRONG price)

Resolving these imbalances requires better analysis, planning and execution across your enterprise, from finance, sales and all the way through your supply chain.


Analytics capabilities are the foundation for the resolution of these imbalances. You need to know what’s selling well and what’s not, simple, right? 

Well, no, not really – there are many questions to “ask” your data.  These are just a few

  • What if you could get similar products from other suppliers not as severely affected by COVID-19?
  • What if you could move around the products that you do have, what would happen?
  • What if you can change the transportation methods to get scarce products quicker – is it worth the cost?
  • What if I change pricing, will that help without heavily impacting my profitability?

Analytics that give you these types of insights will help with the planning and execution of the solution.  Applexus is positioned to assist with analyzing these imbalances and links into outside data like COVID-19 hot spots to drive better predictive analysis.


Once you have a handle on your analytics, good planning is necessary.  Do you have the ability in your ERP to integrate to RFQ (Request for Quote) processes to assess if new suppliers can give you what you need for critical products? Can your ERP already allow you to manage and communicate with your suppliers regarding different transportation possibilities?  Can you right now fine-tune and optimize your distribution network to move products around?

Standing up some of the ERP best practices takes planning and the right people having the time and ability to execute the changes in your solutions.


SAP’s solution portfolio including S/4 Retail, S/4 Fashion & Vertical Business / Fashion Management System, IS-Retail and Apparel & Fashion Solution all have the ability to execute many of the processes to manage to product excesses and shortages within best practices and can be activated now.   But without the Analytics and Planning, execution would be more haphazard and not necessarily fully-functional.

Applexus has ready-for-use analytics and a team of consultants, that can assist with all three phases of balancing your shortages and excesses quickly and as effectively as possible.

In the longer term, these solutions can be used on-going and in any type of critical inventory imbalances and follow SAP best practices.

About Applexus

Applexus Technologies (Applexus) is the global technology leader offering business consulting and SAP services to transform customers through digital innovation. We specialize in advisory, migration, implementation, and management of SAP S/4HANA and BW/4HANA solutions. Applexus delivers transformational business solutions for a marquee list of clients spanning retail, fashion, and consumer products industries. Applexus operates out of centers in North America, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and India. 

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