by Peter Zaballos, SPS Commerce
Without a doubt, the holidays can – and will – provide a critical stress test and opportunity for today's leading retailers and suppliers to capture the hearts and wallets of consumers. Websites must stay up-to-date with the latest product details. Shipping needs to sail smoothly. And retailers' shelves, both in-store and online, need to stay stocked.
With consumers using multiple shopping channels 24/7, the increasingly rapid pace of consumer demand is affecting retailers across the board. Not only do consumers want more ways to shop, they want more choices, and their merchandise faster and cheaper than ever before.
As retailers and vendors prepare themselves for a profitable holiday season, they must plan now to best feature their products to engage the consumer online and monitor sales across all channels. They also need to know when products are shipped to the consumer, what items are flying off shelves and what merchandise they can do without.
Analytics Boosts Sales: Return Becomes $75,000 Opportunity
To deal with the breakneck pace of omni-channel sales, retailers are looking to advance their analytics and improve vendor collaboration by sharing sales data that can reveal insights to boost performance in time to capture sales.
One example that deftly demonstrates the importance of analytics and collaborating with suppliers – and how such insight can increase retail sales – is a recent occurrence between a retailer and sunglasses maker Oakley.1
When one of its retailers requested to return more than $100,000 worth of popular merchandise due to lagging sales, the team at Oakley knew it had a problem. The question was: What? They believed there was more to the story than what met the eye. Luckily the retailer provided Oakley with point-of-sale (POS) data, empowering this vendor to team with the retailer to discover what went wrong, and better yet, how to fix it to garner more sales.
From these insights, the Oakley team discovered two key facts: First, of the 40 items sold by the retailer, only about 10 – mostly newer apparel products that had yet to gain a following – were responsible for a dip in sales across the entire line. Second, Oakley's sunglasses sales were strong, but Oakley's distribution center had been out of stock when the retailer last reordered.
"That information becomes so vital when buyers call and say that the product isn't selling," said Michele McGriff, Oakley's director of U.S. sales and planning operations. "It shows that we understand their business and that we're looking at and leveraging their sales data in a way that will help them drive their business."
Oakley and the retailer arranged to sell the remaining apparel and accessories, while the retailer placed a $75,000 order for Oakley sunglasses. Oakley also took steps to ensure that its distribution center would have these sunglasses in stock.
Such strong collaboration shows the power of analytics, which led to a solid win for both the supplier and the retailer – and ultimately the consumer.
Assortment Garners Sales: Collaboration Grows Online Revenue to 40%
And it's not just analytics offering a boost. Enhancing how products look online and in-store, including comprehensive product details and availability can be tremendously beneficial for companies looking to make a marked improvement in their omni-channel presence.
Today's leading retailers and distributors are looking to suppliers to easily share their latest product attributes, including detailed item information, pricing, images and video, and marketing content. Consumers are looking for an increasing amount of information before purchasing an item, and they'll shop whichever retailer provides it.
One North American retail organization automated their assortment and item management to become a leader in their market.
Over the past decade, the company gradually transitioned from relying on its old school print catalog to becoming a robust e-commerce retailer with rich, dynamic item data and search capabilities. The overhaul in its strategy has made the experience much easier for its shoppers, and today web sales account for about 40 percent of the company's sales, which continues to grow thanks to efforts to re-engineer its web presence through an assortment strategy fueled by shared product information from its vendors.
Bottom line: Retailers, distributors, and suppliers can benefit handsomely by deploying assortment and analytic strategies, especially with the holiday season almost upon us along with increasing demands from consumers. Employing assortment and analytic initiatives will not only help suppliers and retailers stay relevant, but ahead of the pack.
Peter Zaballos is Vice President of Marketing and Product at SPS Commerce, which perfects the power of trading partner relationships with the industry's most broadly adopted, retail cloud services platform. Share your omni-channel insight with Peter at @peterzaballos.
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