Making the most of Retail Link Data

Making the most of Retail Link Data
Wal-Mart vendors have access to a wealth of sales and inventory data through Wal-Mart’s Retail Link portal. The challenge for many vendors is that Retail Link can provide access to extremely detailed data which increases the quantity and difficulty of analyzing the data and making fast business decisions. Without the right tools the process can be very time consuming and difficult.

If you are a Wal-Mart vendor invest in a set of tools that will allow you to store and quickly analyze Retail Link data. The tool should allow storage of multiple years of store and item level detail and it should provide filtering and sorting to narrow the focus of your decision making. The focus your fist analysis efforts should be sales velocity and inventory in-stock. The tool should automatically filter the top 50 and bottom 50 stores by unit sales volume. This allows the vendor to quickly identify which stores are driving the most volume, as well as the stores that need immediate attention. Next it is critical to identify on a daily or weekly basis the stores that are out of stock. Fixing the inventory out of stock in these stores will directly increase your sales.

Become proactive in dealing with out of stock at a store level by reviewing the unit sales volume for all of your out of stock stores for the 8 periods prior to the out of stock. Determine an average period units sold and then identify for each store how many periods it takes to get new inventory to the store. So for example, if a store is averaging 6 units per week and it takes 14 days to get inventory to the store then the minimum inventory level that store should maintain at all times is 12 units. This provides two weeks of inventory on-hand and will allow for proactive replenishment to avoid stock-out exposure. As a Wal-Mart vendor you may be selling into over 3,500 Wal-Mart stores but if you complete this analysis for the top 70 or 80% of your stores based on units sold velocity, you will have gone a long way toward reducing out of stock situations and increasing sales.

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