B-to-B Cataloging An Introduction to Merchandise Analysis
By George Hague
Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series on analytics and measurement. The first article appeared in Catalog Success, May 2006, pg. 91, and covered circulation essentials. Part II covers merchandise analytics.
Regardless of what you sell, your merchandise is the reason people purchase from your catalog. Appealing product can give your catalog a 20 percent to 30 percent lift in sales with no additional marketing expenses.
Since merchandise is the driving force behind your catalog's success, product development and selection should receive the most attention in terms of strategic planning and analysis.
The state-of-the-art tool for merchandise analysis for both business-to-business and consumer mailers remains the square inch (squinch) report. Few spreadsheet reports will return as many tangible, bottom-line driven results as your squinch analysis. Your investment in preparing one will be well rewarded.
If you create your squinch report as described below, you're among the few catalog merchants and marketers who have a real handle on their products' performance. According to the Direct Marketing Association's 2004 Statistical Fact Book, just 5 percent of the catalogers surveyed conduct a square inch analysis. That's an alarming statistic.
Without a squinch report to guide your decision-making process, you're relying on incomplete information for your most important decisions. On the other hand, with this report, you confidently can plan your merchandise selection beyond the immediate needs of your next catalog.
All raw data metrics represent a column heading from left to right on your spreadsheet. Each product will occupy one row of your sheet.
SKU number: The unique stock keeping unit (SKU) number represents each product in your catalog. If you use "lookup" formulae in Microsoft Excel, the SKU will drive those lookups and make updating your sheets with the latest sales information quick and easy.