Rough Weather? Search Engines Can Help

Unseasonal weather patterns keep supply chain experts busy tracking changes throughout the country, and sometimes around the world. The weather patterns at the end of 2010 and in the beginning of 2011 made front-page news. This past weekend Southern California experienced highs in the 70s, but just recently record rainfall caused mud slides and closed roads. That's nothing compared to what the rest of the US experienced.

Supply chain teams often must find alternative routes or change shipping instructions to deliver more shovels or snow gear to a store that has been sold out for days. It's during this type of scenario that companies could benefit from supply chain departments working more closely with online marketers specializing in paid search marketing — the text ad to the right of search engine query results. {complink 2294|Google} provides the paid search service through a tool called AdWord; and {complink 3426|Microsoft Corp.}, adCenter.

Relaying this information to marketers — in-house or outsourced agencies — would allow marketers to adjust paid search marketing campaigns based on changing weather patterns. Not having that dialogue between supply chain and marketing could cost the company revenues and a more prominent place in the market and search engine rankings. The advertising industry and those supporting online marketing through technology have begun to follow the lead of supply chain experts and tech companies that have been integrating and automating enterprise software and Web services for years.

Major retailers that spent years tying inventory replenishment systems into financial and enterprise resource planning platforms have begun to integrate paid search with inventory systems. There are a few companies like Google and Kenshoo that offer this at various stages in the marketing process. Kenshoo's platform not only deactivates the ad in real-time when inventory runs out, but changes prices and descriptions as copy is entered and updated in the system. Supply chain experts that take the time can update marketers on timing and keywords that might attract consumers to products. Pull research-and-development into the fold and the company has a team made of gold.

Although I've written sparsely about the importance of this collaboration in the past, it's important to note the influence supply chain experts can have on marketing decisions and strategies. And you should. Who better than they would know the raw materials sourced, the products built and sold, and the warehouses and how to get products in and out?

Seasonal changes in the weather should give supply chain managers a clue as to how to keep updated on patterns throughout the country, and sometimes the world. Relaying this information to marketers — internal or outsourced — would allow marketers to adjust paid search marketing campaigns based on changing weather patterns.

It's useful for supply chain experts to understand the fundamentals of search engine marketing, especially for startups that have small or practically non-existent marketing budgets. Many of the available tools from Google and others are free. Take advantage of them.

7 comments on “Rough Weather? Search Engines Can Help

  1. Anand
    January 21, 2011

    Laurie, Thanks for the article. Learnt something new today :).  Didnt knew changing weather pattern has so many other impacts. With weather pattern changing so drastically offlate I think these tools will definitely help companies to manage their profits.

    Just like private business entities it can help governments as well. Take for example in India, untimely rains affected onion crops and the rate of onions shot up by 400% from .5$ to 2$. I think tools like this can easily help the governments to track the commodity market as well.

  2. hwong
    January 21, 2011

    Not only will it affect the transportation of goods, it will also affect the generation and distribution of energy from Power Plant to households. It is very likely that energy companies will have to either produce or buy more energy during rough weather. Buying extra capacities will cost energy company more money because this extra cost cannot be passed to the customers. So search engines can help to determine when harsh weather will cause severe impact of the supply and demand of the Energy market as well.

  3. prabhakar_deosthali
    January 22, 2011

    The international supply chains especially for commodity items , heavily depend upon the individual government's import and export regulations. Whenever there is a shortage of a commodity in a country , the local goverment will ban export of that commodity from that country to contain the resultant shortage and price rise faced by the consumers in that country.

    But as it usually happens , governments are always slow to react to such  situations and as a result of this the imposing of export restriction to contain the shortage or  allowing imports to increase the availability  are so much skewed that many times they affect the  supply chain adversely. So by the time a govt makes a decision to allow import of some goods, the shortage situation of that goods has already passed over and now there will be actually a surplus of that particular commodity which in turn results in the prices crashing and importers suffering heavy losses.


    This requires that the governments need to be agile to quickly respond to disruptions in the demand supply patterns because of reasons such as unruly weather. Technology can only help those decison makers to make the decisions at the right time.



  4. Laurie Sullivan
    January 23, 2011

    Thank you, Anandvy, for taking the time to comment and adding the information about India. I learned something new, too, from you. 🙂

  5. Laurie Sullivan
    January 23, 2011

    Maybe that explains why Google took a stake in energy consumption. A little off track here, but one of Google'a philanthropic projects include monitoring energy consumption. A blog post last year talks about offering a widget that can help consumers save power and money. At the time the post was written, the company only offered the service through local utility companies in the United Kingdom, San Diego, and Germany. You can find the sign-up page here:


  6. Eldredge
    January 24, 2011


    Do you see this approach as a reactive one, or can it (or is it) used in a predictive fashion? In other words, do you see a possibilty that the supply chain could make early decisions based on significant weather predictions, or is that too risky?


  7. SP
    January 25, 2011

    So true online marketing startegies are really less expensives and more productive, especially in case of electronics. Good amounts can be saved if someone carefully analyzes the search patteren and product interest. Now a days most of us likes to buy online rather than driving in cold weather.

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