COVID-19 has many retailers revisiting their business strategies. Pivots are being made to adapt to the changing market; offering curbside pick-up, free delivery, and adding e-commerce functionality to their websites. Retailers and restaurants have to adapt to social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and other quarantine-related effects. In order to survive, many small businesses are updating their digital presence and entering the world of eCommerce.
For example, a bookstore and café, The Wild Detectives, in Dallas were forced to close but quickly adapted with the help of an agency, Dieste, to take advantage of travel restrictions positioning as a “travel agency” promoting books as trips. Their business model already leveraged information “co-curated by the local literary community and our literary friends around the globe–from writers to readers, from librarians to publishers and booksellers” to gather usable insights to deliver relevant products to their customers. From the data they had about their customer preferences, they were able to quickly adapt their messaging to keep their brand front and center.
Another example, aMuse Toys, in Baltimore, a small toy store entered eCommerce entering “500 SKUs in two days” in order to adapt. Their customers can now shop online and take advantage of curbside pickup. The additional benefit to aMuse is the information that will result from tracking and analyzing the SKUs.
While the crutch of small business is the connection with customers and authentic “personalization.” The law of numbers, visibility of the owner, and consistent interactions create a brand connection. Small business owners can conduct qualitative analysis daily with their day-to-day interactions. COVID-19 adjustments present owners with the opportunity to put their toes into the ‘big data’ waters.
Just as the owner of aMuse Toys entered 500 SKUs in two days, she can now measure the resulting data to better support her business decisions. There are two key metrics to consider when analyzing SKU data, units sold per store and the percentage change in units sold for the comparable prior-year period. Analyzing these two metrics provides better SKU comparisons. Spending some time evaluating sales data and determining which SKUs have the highest contribution to sales, aMuse can focus on improvement in areas that will have the highest impact.
Using SKU data to your advantage offers many benefits for improving performance. Analyzing SKUs helps with out-of-stock analysis and forecasting. However, the most important thing for small businesses is to limit the amount of data analyzed for item and store level planning. Just as in market research, you design with the end in mind, if you don’t have a key objective or key performance indicators defined prior to analysis, the end result will likely be analysis to paralysis.