Retail companies have a “goldilocks” drawback with regards to stock: do not inventory an excessive amount of, however do not inventory too little. With doubtlessly tens of millions of merchandise, for a knowledge science and engineering staff to create multi-millions of forecasts is one factor, however to acquire and handle the infrastructure to deal with steady mannequin coaching and forecasting, this may shortly develop into overwhelming, particularly for giant companies.

With BigQuery ML, you possibly can practice and deploy machine studying fashions utilizing SQL. With the absolutely managed, scalable infrastructure of BigQuery, this implies lowering complexity whereas accelerating time to manufacturing, so you possibly can spend extra time utilizing the forecasts to enhance what you are promoting.

So how will you construct demand forecasting fashions at scale with BigQuery ML, for 1000’s to tens of millions of merchandise like for this liquor product beneath?

On this blogpost, I am going to present you find out how to construct a time collection mannequin to forecast the demand of a number of merchandise utilizing BigQuery ML. Utilizing Iowa Liquor Gross sales knowledge, I am going to use 18 months of historic transactional knowledge to forecast the following 30 days.

You may learn to:

  • pre-process knowledge into the right format wanted to create a requirement forecasting mannequin utilizing BigQuery ML
  • practice an ARIMA-based time-series mannequin in BigQuery ML
  • consider the mannequin
  • predict the long run demand of every product over the following n days
  • take motion on the forecasted predictions:
  • create a dashboard to visualise the forecasted demand utilizing Information Studio
  • setup scheduled queries to robotically re-train the mannequin frequently

The information: Iowa Liquor Gross sales

The Iowa Liquor Sales data, which is hosted publicly on BigQuery, is a dataset that “incorporates the spirits buy data of Iowa Class “E” liquor licensees by product and date of buy from January 1, 2012 to present” (from the official documentation by the State of Iowa).

The uncooked dataset appears to be like like this:


As on any given date, there could also be a number of orders of the identical product, we have to:

  • Calculate the entire # of merchandise offered grouped by the date and the product

Cleaned coaching knowledge

Within the cleaned coaching knowledge, we now have one row per date per item_name, the entire quantity offered on that day. This may be saved as a desk or view. On this instance, that is saved as bqmlforecast.training_data utilizing CREATE TABLE.


Prepare the time collection mannequin utilizing BigQuery ML

Coaching the time-series mannequin is straight-forward. 

How does time-series modeling work in BigQuery ML?

Once you practice a time collection mannequin with BigQuery ML, a number of fashions/elements are used within the mannequin creation pipeline. ARIMA, is among the core algorithms. Different elements are additionally used, as listed roughly within the order the steps they’re run:

  1. Pre-processing: Automated cleansing changes to the enter time collection, together with lacking values, duplicated timestamps, spike anomalies, and accounting for abrupt stage adjustments within the time collection historical past.
  2. Vacation results: Time collection modeling in BigQuery ML can even account for vacation results. By default, vacation results modeling is disabled. However since this knowledge is from the US, and the information features a minimal one yr of every day knowledge, you may also specify an elective HOLIDAY_REGION. With vacation results enabled, spike and dip anomalies that seem throughout holidays will not be handled as anomalies. A full record of the vacation areas will be discovered within the HOLIDAY_REGION documentation.
  3. Seasonal and development decomposition utilizing the Seasonal and Trend decomposition using Loess (STL) algorithm. Seasonality extrapolation utilizing the double exponential smoothing (ETS) algorithm.
  4. Pattern modeling utilizing the ARIMA mannequin and the auto.ARIMA algorithm for automated hyper-parameter tuning. In auto.ARIMA, dozens of candidate fashions are educated and evaluated in parallel, which embody p,d,q and drift. One of the best mannequin comes with the bottom Akaike information criterion (AIC).

Forecasting a number of merchandise in parallel with BigQuery ML

You may practice a time collection mannequin to forecast a single product, or forecast a number of merchandise on the identical time (which is admittedly handy if in case you have 1000’s or tens of millions of merchandise to forecast). To forecast a number of merchandise on the identical time, totally different pipelines are run in parallel. 

On this instance, since you’re coaching the mannequin on a number of merchandise in a single mannequin creation assertion, you’ll need to specify the parameter TIME_SERIES_ID_COL as item_name. Notice that in the event you had been solely forecasting a single merchandise, then you wouldn’t have to specify TIME_SERIES_ID_COL. For extra data, see the BigQuery ML time series model creation documentation.

Consider the time collection mannequin

You should utilize the ML.EVALUATE operate (documentation) to see the analysis metrics of all of the created fashions (one per merchandise):

evaluate model

As you possibly can see, on this instance, there have been 5 fashions educated, one for every of the merchandise in item_name. The primary 4 columns (non_seasonal_p,d,q and has_drift) outline the ARIMA mannequin. The following three metrics (log_likelihood, AIC, and variance) are related to the ARIMA mannequin becoming course of. The becoming course of determines the perfect ARIMA mannequin through the use of the auto.ARIMA algorithm, one for every time collection. Of those metrics, AIC is usually the go-to metric to judge how effectively a time collection mannequin matches the information whereas penalizing overly advanced fashions. As a rule-of-thumb, the decrease the AIC rating, the higher. Lastly, the seasonal_periods detected for every of the 5 objects occurred to be the identical: WEEKLY.

Make predictions utilizing the mannequin

Make predictions utilizing ML.FORECAST (syntax documentation), which forecasts the following n values, as set in horizon. You may also change the confidence_level, the proportion that the forecasted values fall throughout the prediction interval.

The code beneath exhibits a forecast horizon of “30”, which suggests to make predictions on the following 30 days, because the coaching knowledge was every day.


Because the horizon was set to 30, the consequence incorporates rows equal to 30 forecasted worth * (variety of objects).

Every forecasted worth additionally exhibits the higher and decrease sure of the prediction_interval, given the confidence_level.

As chances are you’ll discover, the SQL script makes use of DECLARE and EXECUTE IMMEDIATE to assist parameterize the inputs for horizon and confidence_level. As these HORIZON and CONFIDENCE_LEVEL variables make it simpler to regulate the values later, this may enhance code readability and maintainability. To find out about how this syntax works, you possibly can learn the documentation on scripting in Standard SQL.

Plot the forecasted predictions 

You should utilize your favorite knowledge visualization software, or use some template code here on Github for matplotlib and Information Studio, as proven beneath:

Black Velvet

How do you robotically re-train the mannequin frequently?

If you happen to’re like many retail companies that have to create recent time-series forecasts primarily based on the latest knowledge, you should utilize scheduled queries to robotically re-run your SQL queries, which incorporates your CREATE MODEL, ML.EVALUATE or ML.FORECAST queries.

1. Create a brand new scheduled question within the BigQuery UI

Chances are you’ll have to first “Allow Scheduled Queries” earlier than you possibly can create your first one.


2. Enter your necessities (e.g., repeats Weekly) and choose “Schedule”


3. Monitor your scheduled queries on the BigQuery Scheduled Queries page


Additional recommendations on utilizing time collection with BigQuery ML

Examine the ARIMA mannequin coefficients

If you wish to know the precise coefficients for every of your ARIMA fashions, you possibly can examine them utilizing ML.ARIMA_COEFFICIENTS (documentation).

For every of the fashions, ar_coefficients exhibits the mannequin coefficients of the autoregressive (AR) a part of the ARIMA mannequin. Equally, ma_coefficients exhibits the mannequin coefficients of moving-average (MA) half. They’re each arrays, whose lengths are equal to non_seasonal_p and non_seasonal_q, respectively. The intercept_or_drift is the fixed time period within the ARIMA mannequin.


Congratulations! You now know find out how to practice your time collection fashions utilizing BigQuery ML, consider your mannequin, and use the ends in manufacturing. 

Code on Github

Yow will discover the total code on this Jupyter pocket book on Github:

Join me on February four for a reside walkthrough of find out how to practice, consider and forecast stock demand on retail gross sales knowledge with BigQuery ML. I’ll additionally reveal find out how to schedule mannequin retraining frequently so your forecast fashions can keep up-to-date. You’ll have an opportunity to have their questions answered by Google Cloud consultants through chat.

Need extra?

I’m Polong Lin, a Developer Advocate for Google Cloud. Observe me on @polonglin or join with me on Linkedin at

Please go away me your feedback with any ideas or suggestions.

Because of reviewers: Abhishek Kashyap, Karl Weinmeister


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