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    RaceTrac Fine-Tunes Its Forecasting Process

    C-store retailer seeks flexibility in predicting market trends.

    ATLANTA — RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. has implemented advanced analytics in an effort to get a leg up on the competition.

    According to Convenience Store News sister publication Retail Info Systems News, RaceTrac wanted to improve its business forecasts for effective inventory management, and needed a solution that could make sense of vast amounts of information.

    “The products we sell inside our stores are an important source of our revenue and profits," said Brad Galland, RaceTrac's director of financial planning and analysis.“We wanted to be more strategic in our evaluation of in-store sales trends and subsequent inventory planning, as these decisions impact our margins."

    RaceTrac identified accurate forecasting as a critical component of its financial planning strategy.

    “The previous process lacked a lot of flexibility,” Dayna Reed, director of reporting and insights, told the news source. “For example, we would build an annual forecast in the fall for the upcoming year and essentially lock it in after that. Building 13-plus category-level forecasts in Excel doesn’t allow for much manipulation throughout the year if we needed to revise it.”

    In an effort to make the proper forecasting decisions, RaceTrac implemented Prevedere’s big data and predictive analytics solution, which helps the convenience store retailer identify key external factors that directly affect market demand and make predictions based upon real-time data analysis.

    “We see that things like new home construction, the unemployment rate and the Consumer Price Index are good leading indicators for our customer counts,” Reed said. “The solution allows us to identify those leading indicators on a market-specific basis to assist with our forecasting accuracy.”

    RaceTrac’s efforts have worked, allowing it to change its mindset from, “This is what happened and this why we believed it happened” to, “We believe this is what is going to happen and this is why,” Retail Info Systems News concluded.

    Atlanta-based RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. operates more than 420 c-stores in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas.

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