Using Analytics to React to Disruptions with Data

by | Apr 6, 2020 | Collaboration, Data Management, Inventory Management, Omnichannel

Earlier this week, I was speaking to a footwear supplier in California who wanted to see how their sales were shifting by week and by state. I also talked to a supplier of fitness products whose sales were spiking and wanted to make sure they had inventory in the right locations.

Like many suppliers, these companies have an urgent need to understand risks and opportunities in their business, especially with all of the fluctuations and uncertainty in today’s market.  

Here are some of the most common questions SPS customers have recently been asking. We hope that they will give you some useful insights into how to react to disruptions with data.

How are sales and inventory results changing from week to week?

Many company’s sales and inventory levels are dramatically shifting based on the current market conditions. You can use sales and inventory data from your retailer customers to track week-over-week sales and inventory in total, by store, by product or by state. 

How do the changes this year compare to sales and inventory trends from last year?

By understanding trend data, you can isolate trends and accurately understand the effects of the COVID-19 situation on your current business. 

Do sales and inventory changes require adjusting future inventory positioning?

Week-over-week trends for sales and inventory can help you understand where sales are declining, accelerating or shifting, so you can react with more or less inventory.

Does a change in sales suggest a need for a promotional event?

Promotions and/or pricing adjustments could be a lever you pull to ensure inventory is balanced by location and by product. Trend data can help you determine which products or regions might benefit from promotional activity or pricing adjustments. If you do choose to use a promotional event or price change, track the impact on sales and see where else you might be able to repeat your success. 

How do trends differ between my eCommerce business versus my brick-and-mortar business?

Because of social distancing measures, many businesses are experiencing rapid eCommerce growth. Sales and inventory data can help you proactively make adjustments and respond to customer demand.   

What were my top-selling items prior to COVID-19 and what are my top items now?

This type of analysis helps you identify which products are trending up and which are trending down because of changing selling patterns. From there, you can adjust your assortment, as well as future order or production quantities. 

What were my top performing states or regions prior to COVID-19 and what are my top states or regions now?

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting regional sales for many businesses. Use sales and inventory to identify changing trends by state so you can mitigate losses and prepare to adapt quickly as specific regions or states recover faster than others.

Which products have too much or too little inventory based on current sales?

For certain products, you may be struggling to maintain inventory flows and keep up with demand. In other cases, you may have excess inventory and will need to adjust your plan based on the current environment.   

Which items with no or low inventory on hand have orders currently placed?

Avoiding stockouts is important, especially for critical items that consumers need. By gaining visibility into inventory by product as well as orders placed, you can mitigate the risk of stockouts. 

Which stores have too much or too little inventory?

Identify which stores have too much or too little inventory, so you can have the appropriate amount of inventory on hand, maintain inventory flows and maximize sales. 

To help our customers answer these questions, my team has created a series of recorded webinars titled How to Use Analytics to Help Your Business in Times of Disruption. Are you an SPS Analytics user today? Check out the full webinar here.

All in all, the key to any of this analysis being useful in a climate that is changing drastically on a day-to-day basis is reacting quickly without delays caused by collecting data, cleansing data or creating dashboards to visualize the data. 

Do you have the ability to react to disruptions with data?

Learn how SPS Analytics and our Retail Intelligence Team can help your business. Schedule a 10 minute demo today.

Joy Spiotta