June 21, 2010

Use Your Sales Data to Make Business Decisions

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 6:29 am

When we talk about analytics in the ecommerce world, most of the lip service goes to web analytics. You absolutely should monitor your website stats. You need to know where referring traffic comes from and how many visits and page views you’re getting. All of that is valuable decision-making fodder. That said, those stats are primarily about visitors, not buyers. For the real goods, it’s important to run reports on your sales data too.

Here are some patterns you’ll want to look for:

What are my best sellers?
The things you sell the most of are a good indicator of what your customers want. (Duh) But it’s important to think about WHY it’s a best seller. Is it vastly cheaper than your other items? Does it have a superior design? Is it more functional than your other items? The features that cause things to sell well should guide future decisions about product offerings.

What are my worst sellers?
While best sellers tell you what people want, worst sellers tell you what they don’t want. If something isn’t selling it’s good to think about why.

You may also want to think about ridding your shop of loser products. These items that no one wants may be making your overall store less appealing.

Is there a particular size or color I sell the most/least of?
If your products vary by size and color, be sure to take note of which sizes/colors sell best. This will help you stock your shop appropriately and make decisions about product development.

Is there a particular type of product I sell the most/least of?
For example, if you sell jewelry, meaning necklaces bracelets and earrings, take note of what kind of jewelry you’re selling the most of. Are you selling three times more bracelets than necklaces? These patterns can help direct the development of your product offerings.

Are there days of the week when sales peak or drop?
Noticing when you sell products is just as important as noticing what you sell. If you know your traffic converts best on Fridays, you might start sending out your newsletter on Fridays to support this popular buying day.

If you know Tuesdays are slow, maybe you want to run special promotion codes on Tuesdays via Facebook to buoy sales for that day.

It’s also important to notice if sales pick up or drop off at certain times of the month. You may want to adjust your marketing efforts to boost slow periods or supercharge active periods.

Are there certain months where sales increase/decrease?
Being prepared for slow or busy months is extremely important. If you know certain months are busy you’ll want to make sure your stock levels are high for those times. You may also want to plan special PR or marketing efforts around those periods.

For example, if you know you do really well around Mother’s Day think about what you can do to make that holiday even more profitable. Can you plan a special PR push for that holiday? Should you be running additional advertisements?

If you know certain periods are slow, for example if you sell knits and you know summer is dead for you, think about how you want to handle that. Do you want to introduce a line of summer knits made of lighter materials? Can you survive on slow sales in the summer because your winter is so busy? If so, what do you need to do to adjust your budget accordingly?

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