Business Growth, Customer Management, How to

Goodbye Guesstimates! Business Intelligence is your key to the future

BY Vera Lim 22 Dec, "15

As the year draws to a close, it’s common for all of us to look back and evaluate the year that’s gone by. What went well, what needs improvement, and most importantly what’s next?

Deciding on the direction for your business for the coming months is a crucial task and at times it can seem overwhelming. You can set attainable goals by analyzing the data generated by your business. Without these intelligent insights, most decisions you make for your business will most likely be a gamble, rather than an informed decision.  

A best practice is to analyze past performance and combine this information with the variable factors that affect your line of business to forecast what future performance should be. For example, if you’re running a jewelry brand, you will need answers to some of the following questions to shape your business outlook: Should I stock more bracelets or cuffs - which sold better on what channel? What percentage of my sales volume is coming from my foray into B2B? When are my peak periods for sales?

You want to play to your strengths - there’s no question about that.

Decisions

So how do you decide which items have performed well and which haven’t? When you’re looking to forecast the demand for next season, do you go by feel, or do you dig through all your sales orders to tally up the numbers? If you find yourself up to your ears in sales orders and spreadsheets as you mark out what’s hot and what’s not, well, it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2015 and manual number crunching.

One reason why inventory management software exists is to let you focus on your business by doing all the heavy lifting for you. If you are done with all the guesswork around the bestseller specifics of your business, then make analyzing intelligence dashboards on your inventory management software, a recurring task on your calendar for the next year.

Here are the critical sales insights you should be monitoring regularly to boost sales and improve customer experience with your products:

  1. What’s my bestselling product?

    I can hear you saying: Of course I know my bestselling products. I even know my top five bestsellers! So what’s so special about that? Well let me tell you what intelligence reports can do for your business - you’ll be pretty amazed (I sure was!).

    Maybe your jewelry store stocks seasonal products - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. And while you know your seasonal products sell pretty well, you’re probably trying to accurately pinpoint -“When does demand peak?”

    You want to be well prepared when peak demand rolls around so you don’t end up in the awkward position of having to announce that you’re out-of-stock! Backordering during the limited time sales of holiday season just doesn’t work - by the time a new shipment arrives, the holidays have come and gone.

    Having this information on hand gives you added ammunition when negotiating pricing with your suppliers. If you are able to forecast sales per quarter accurately, you can be more confident in ordering the right volume at the right price to improve your margins.

    Seasonal products are only the tip of the iceberg. Do you know what your lowest performing products are? It’s easy to remember what’s selling great - but a little harder to remember what’s not doing well. But once you know your lowest performers, it’s time to figure out what to do with your impending dead stock. You don’t want these items clogging up your inventory, taking up space that could be put to better use!

  2. How are my sales performing according to channel?

    You only want the best for your business and to enjoy maximum returns for your effort. So how do you split your attention among your different sales channels? Maybe you’re selling on Shopify, Amazon, and perhaps you’re even looking to try B2B. Or maybe your business has always been wholesale and now you see retail opportunities for your products.  All these require different marketing tactics and you want to get the best bang for your buck - instead of wasting time and effort.

    And that’s why knowing your highest grossing sales channel helps. Maybe it’d be a better use of your time to pour more effort into your B2B sales now that your Shopify business is coasting along smoothly. That way, you’re building up different elements of your business instead of facing diminishing returns.

    On the other hand, if it seems like one aspect of your business is floundering, it may be a better idea to put it aside for now. Aggressively trying to drive traffic to that underperforming front and leaving your others lying unattended can leave your other customers feeling alienated - especially if your business prides itself on amazing customer service.

    Ultimately, there are many options available to you when considering to re-invest in or divest a sales channel that isn’t performing to expectations. But to make that decision without data-driven insights would be a risky move.

  3. How can I improve my relationship with customers?

    On the topic of amazing customer service, intelligence can help you build a better relationship with your customers by letting you understand them better - especially their purchase patterns. If you’ve already branched off into trying your hand at B2B, intelligence will provide you with invaluable insights into your customers’ sales patterns!

    Besides telling you how much of your revenue comes from individual channels, you’ll know your customers’ buying patterns as well as they do. You may realize that Customer A tends to place orders for a fresh shipment every two months on the first Tuesday of the second month… So what do you do with that knowledge?

    Well, in addition to preparing stock for Customer A in advance to minimize their waiting time, you’ll be able to up your customer service game by customizing the experience. Instead of waiting for their purchase order to come in, drop them a message to say “Hello, we’re about to launch a new collection, and we’d love to offer you a preview to see if anything catches your eye.” Along with providing a polite reminder that it’s about time for Customer A to place a new order, it’s also an opportunity to keep them up to date on new products for your brand.

  4. Where are my customers located?
    Selling global

    To create a better relationship with your customers, knowing where they’re located can be a great help - especially those in other countries.

    Many countries out there charge tax and duty on products purchased from different countries - like the UK. Instead of leaving your customers on the receiving end of unexpected hefty customs charges accompanying their new purchase (I guarantee there’s no faster way to crush the anticipation of receiving a new item in the mail) wouldn’t it be nice if you could offer them a tax calculator?

    Thanks to the wonders of eCommerce, today you are probably selling to customers all over the world. And as your business grows, knowing potential new locations for expansion will be really useful. If you’re an American business and you’re starting to realize you’ve got an influx of orders coming in from South East Asia, knowing this can help you decide if you need to customize your marketing efforts to appeal to a larger audience in that region.

Back to the future...

Business intelligence can show you an easier and better-informed path  for your business by paving your way to better inventory management and taking your business to new heights. Ashley Porter,founder of jewelry brand Porter Lyons certainly finds it to be true with her business.

“My favorite TradeGecko feature would be the intelligence section. We’ve been able to analyze all the data of what our bestsellers were and see it and not go off of ‘I know I sold this Coypu ring and this Backbone cuff and I think those might be the bestsellers’ but to actually see the numbers is really great.”

If you’re already using TradeGecko head to the new and improved Intelligence beta section and set up sales reports that will answer the questions we posed above, for your business. We’ve even made some tasty tweaks to the interface so all your information is easy to derive and absorb.
Sales reports
Just like this!

We’d love to hear from you about how you use intelligence insights in your business, so drop us a message below to tell us all about it!

*Note: Intelligence reports may provide information accurate enough to make a business decision - but if you’re looking to use it for accounting, do try integrating an accounting add-on to TradeGecko instead.

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See also:

7 ways to save on inventory holding costs

Reporting and analysis strategies for fashion brands

Porter Lyons halves inventory management time with TradeGecko

     

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