The Comparison Game
By Jim Lewis, CEO Enhanced Retail Solutions LLC
During the holiday season, the conversations of how business will be this year versus last year are plentiful. One camp says compare this year to 2019. Another camp says forget the past and just compare to your plan. Whatever stick you decide to use, the takeaway is that you learn by comparing.
At ERS we supply many of our clients with a weekly staple of POS reports to help them get a grasp on their business. For suppliers, we do this for each of their retail accounts. Then one rollup of the top 25 or 50 items across all accounts. There are 3 key reports that provide this information at different levels:
- TY vs. LY: Last week vs. the same week last year, month to date this year vs. same month to date last year and year-to-date this year vs. year-to-date last year. By Dept, Brand, Program. You can also add color and breakdown by channel if those are important to your business. Sales units and dollars, average unit retail, store count and SKU count. Simple, but enough to understand and talk intelligently to the buyer.
- Multi Week Tracker: Shows the last 4 weeks, unit and dollar sales, the current week on hand and sell through. By Dept, Brand, Program. This is very important in terms of how to flow your inventory to ensure you have enough to meet peak needs, and not sit on inventory during lulls.
- Filtered Performance: Item level report that shows last week, last 4 weeks, last 8 weeks and year to date. Sales units and dollars, average selling price, store count, sell through. Attributes are important for this report because that’s what enables quick review- category, brand, program, color, size, status, etc. I also include subtotals at the top that change as you filter the report. If the SKU count is high (over 1,000 items) I create a tab for each department or category. Sort by sell through or units sold to see what’s driving the business (and not). Highlight top and bottom sellers.
- Bonus Report: Lost sales: If you have access to store level data it can be eye opening. Reviewing store level rate of sale and counting stock outs help determine true potential. It’s imperative that history be adjusted if it used as the basis for predicting future sales. Also helps with allocating more efficiently and driving sales to the top tier stores.
Even though it’s fun slicing and dicing data, don’t lose sight of the reason for reports in the first place- to take action. A key benefit of data is removing emotion from decision making (at least as it relates to planning). The reports listed here are a great start. Documenting and fixing opportunities and liabilities at store level reduces risk, increases sales, and reduces markdowns. After all, isn’t that really the goal of virtually every supplier and retailer?