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skuOur largest client has well over twenty-five million sku-store combinations. They manage all those sku’s sales tracking and demand planning with a small team of about 10 people.

Other clients sell hundreds of styles – some with 30 or more size-color combinations each - and rotate them every twelve - sixteen weeks.

Are you getting the picture? –  Or are you just getting dizzy?

The first generation of retail analytics was focused on amassing and cleaning POS data. And on creating and automating best practice reporting.

As such, dealing with large numbers of rapidly changing styles meant focusing on the larger programs, or focusing on the one’s that gut indicated needed tracking. Or rotating attention to different programs.

Or giving up on the process entirely.

This generation of analytic tools, approach and strategy are all about Business intelligence – Using technology to not only amass that data but also to sift through it using filters or exception reporting to find the items that require attention. And enabling the analyst to see that information in a report of their own design. One that fits their business and the way management wants to look at that information.

For example, one can filter by sell through percentage, on hand, weeks of supply, gross margin return on investment or other metrics. Or one can create, save and even automatically email high level charts and graphs. Then with single click drill down to see the detail. Smart tags (like smart playlists in iTunes) to automatically group new items for tracking represents another clever means to attack larges swaths of data.

By the way there are interesting parallels to the way companies want to look at their own businesses’ key performance indicators. Perhaps we will shine a light on that at another time.

So how do you manage tracking all those sku’s?

Please let us know.

Please feel free to email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any comments or questions you wish to share offline.
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Last modified on Friday, 13 January 2012
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