Demand forecasting in supply chain: the impact of demand volatility in the presence of promotion

Mahdi Abolghasemi, Eric Beh, Garth Tarr, Richard Gerlach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


The demand for a particular product or service is typically associated with different uncertainties that can make them volatile and challenging to predict. Demand unpredictability is one of the managers’ concerns in the supply chain that can cause large forecasting errors, issues in the upstream supply chain and impose unnecessary costs. We investigate 843 real demand time series with different values of coefficient of variations (CoV) where promotion causes volatility over the entire demand series. In such a case, forecasting demand for different CoV require different models to capture the underlying behavior of demand series and pose significant challenges due to very different and diverse demand behavior. We decompose demand into baseline and promotional demand and propose a hybrid model to forecast demand. Our results indicate that our proposed hybrid model generates robust and accurate forecast and robust inventory performance across series with different levels of volatilities. We stress the necessity of decomposition for volatile demand series. We also model demand series with a number of well known statistical and machine learning (ML) models to investigate their forecast accuracy and inventory performance empirically. We found that ARIMA with covariate (ARIMAX) works well to forecast volatile demand series, but exponential smoothing with covariate (ETSX) has a poor performance. Support vector regression (SVR) and dynamic linear regression (DLR) models generate robust forecasts across different categories of demands with different CoV values. In terms of inventory performance, ARIMAX and combination models have superior performance to the other presented models. The hybrid algorithm also depicts robust performance across different series with different CoVs and has low inventory costs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106380
Number of pages12
JournalComputers and Industrial Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Demand volatility
  • Forecasting models
  • Inventory performance
  • Promotions
  • Robust forecasts

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