InsideOutdoor Magazine

Inside Outdoor | SUMMER 2018 20 S pring always brings wild weather, and this year was no differ- ent. The average temperature in May for the U.S. was 5.2 percent above average, and the warmest in 124 years. There was intense rainfall and flooding in the Northeast and Northwest, drought in the Southwest and even rare 100-degree heat in Minneapolis. All of this followed an especially long winter that brought late season snow and extended cold temperatures to the East. For retailers, these types of weather-related anomalies can be very challenging to work around. Weather impacts all aspects of retail from inventory to consumer behavior to staffing. A dip or increase in tem- perature or prolonged period of pre- cipitation can have a big impact on a business’s bottom line and daily op- erations. And according to one study, 70 percent of businesses experience financial and operational disruptions from weather. Fighting back with smart tech Retailers are now leveraging a variety of highly advanced, intelligent forecasting services to respond more effectively to fluctuating weather conditions. While it’s impossible to predict the weather with total accura- cy, it is possible to strategize by ana- lyzing ongoing patterns and trends — reducing risks and identifying key opportunities in the process. IBM subsidiary The Weather Company, for instance, found that in New York City, in-store sales rise sharply in the summer when temper- atures are average, with below aver- age humidity and no precipitation. In Chicago, online shopping spikes in the spring with above average wind speed and below average tempera- tures. And in Minneapolis, outerwear sales spike in the fall with above av- erage temperatures and below aver- age cloud coverage. The Weather Company offers services such as mobile weather alerts for field workers, custom seasonal and sub-seasonal fore- casts and even a full operations dashboard featuring comprehen- sive weather, location, traffic and safety information, as well as ac- cess to live weather conditions from the company’s satellites and radar systems. IBM also leverages its proprietary Watson technology, which in some cases allows users to locate weather data using natu- ral language queries. It’s also possible to integrate The Weather Company’s data directly into a business app using the com- pany’s application programming in- terface (API), via IBM Cloud. Clients are charged a monthly fee, based on the amount of calls that are made to IBM’s REST API. In one study from The Weather Company, about half of executives surveyed said they thought weather data creates a competitive advantage while 62 percent claimed it could lead to significant revenue growth. Tech Savvy by Gerald Baldino Ahead of theWeather Advanced forecasting can help reduce risks, boost retailer profits