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Why Suppliers Need to Focus on Data


April 26, 2022

Key Largo, FL--Having consulted some of the largest manufacturers throughout the world we see a consistent issue with the supplier side of our industry not capitalizing or seeing the importance of data. For us at Crabtree Consulting, this is the first place we start when analyzing our clients to see where the opportunities are for growth. In most cases there is a lack of accuracy, completeness, and consistency within the data therefore the supplier not only cannot clearly see where the opportunities lie but it’s costing them to lose business by the day.

So let us walk you through the common mistakes we see within the data and why this should be of importance to you.

As a supplier, you should have the capability and knowledge to run reports based on the specifics of your product sales. Most software used by suppliers should have the ability for you to choose four to five dropdown categories specific to the piece of jewelry when initializing entering the product. Five common drop-down categories for a bridal supplier could be collection name, the type of jewelry, the stone type/shape, halo shape, and center diamond size. It is vital not only to have all the options specific to your products within these dropdowns to choose from, but also that the product is allocated within the correct dropdowns to ensure your reporting is giving you accurate data to make decisions with.

For those of you who are utilizing the data sharing platforms, the product not allocated within dropdowns are listed as unmapped. So, if you have a collection called “True” and you want to analyze its performance, but you have five thousand unmapped SKUs there’s no sense in looking at the report because you’re not getting the full picture. You may ask why is this important to have all your products mapped? Once all your product is mapped these reports will be valuable to run prior to doing any new product development. If you have the accurate data that shares 50 percent of your engagement rings sold have a round center and a cushion halo, you will then know when creating new engagement ring styles that 50 percent of them should have a round center and cushion halo based on past sales.  

These reports will also provide more highly educated talking points when sitting with retailers and doing suggestive selling. For example, if you know a specific collection sold 11,000 units last year and made-up 40 percent of your sales, what buyer would not consider buying into that collection once you make this statement? What we hear often is vendors rummaging through trays of product and after 10 minutes pulling out three rings and stating to the buyer that these are top sellers. This is not only frustrating for the buyer but also for the supplier your selling one-offs that don’t generate a large order or tell a story in the case. We recommend our suppliers to build packages based on past sell-through and specific collections. Building the packages has proven to increase initial buy-ins, make it easy for the rep to sell, and the buyer to say yes quicker.

Another issue we typically see within the data is a lack of formulas being in place for product style numbers and product descriptions. Having a formula in place will ensure consistency, accuracy, and make your retail buyer and sales associate lives easier. I recently was speaking to a supplier that shared his frustration with the retailers not entering the accurate style numbers into their POS system. Want to know why this was? Because the style numbers had no formula, reason, or rhyme and each SKU had almost 25 characters. Of course, with 25 characters there’s a much higher chance of them making a mistake when entering in the POS system.

So, you may ask why is having a formula in place important? The first reason is obvious the shorter the number of characters, the easier to enter with fewer errors. But it also makes the special-order process easier for the sales associate when they know your formula and when wanting to order a stock ring with a larger center, they don’t need to walk away from their customer to call you to get a new style number. Also, we all know in the retail world case counts are done daily. If the sales associate has the style number of a missing product that’s causing case counts to be off and they know all your company’s engagement ring styles start with ER, they know what type of product is missing based on the style number.

So, if you want to have a better lean inventory, make your rep's and buyer's lives easier, and increase sales you must get your house in order in terms of data to do that. 


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