Make the Seasonal SKU Swap

Go big, or go home. Is that how you approach seasonal promotions? After all, a seasonal promotional — like back-to-school — is not only an opportunity to drive incremental sales, it’s an opportunity to launch new SKUs toward a very targeted audience. If you don’t get the product mix right, it can unfortunately be a very public arena in which to learn a few hard POS lessons.

That’s why you have to take a deep dive into POS data following a seasonal promotion — to ferret out the wins and losses. Because seasonal promotions are planned well in advance you have to act fast — reviewing the seasonal data in the days immediately following the promotion. Then take those insights to your retailer so they can plan well in advance of next year’s event.

Where to start? Compare the POS data from this year’s seasonal time frame to the same time frame last year. If you have POS data from years prior to that, then incorporate that POS data into your analysis for a more comprehensive picture.

  • Identify the “duds” in this year’s assortment — underperforming SKUs that can be removed in favor of opening precious shelf space for more enterprising SKUs.
  • Don’t leave the proposed new shelf space “empty.” If you identify duds, then prepare your case for a new SKU to fill that slot, ensuring your brands maintain shelf space.

What can you do if your retailer identifies a dud of its own and proposes a new SKU to replace your brand?

  • Be prepared with historical data of all your SKUs. In this manner, you are prepared to defend a SKUs performance over a larger time period. Providing your retailer with historical context may help you make the case for keeping your SKU on the shelf.
  • Are there multiple locations for any of the seasonal items?  If so, analyze data for each of the locations to determine whether they add incremental sales with the additional locations, or whether they cannibalize sales? This data may help you better assess your underperforming SKU.
  • Examine how your existing SKU performs on an every day basis. Do you see any lifts during the seasonal promotion either from the item itself or from other similar items or brands? If you can prove that your sales during the seasonal time frame will meet or exceed what it’s being replaced with, you have a chance to present your case for maintaining shelf space.
  • Have historical data on hand that illustrates your SKU’s performance in other promotions. By doing so, you may be able to convince your retailer to run a similar promotion during the next back-to-school season that will help drive sales of your SKU (and thus you’re your SKU on the shelf).

Do you have a new SKU you’d like to launch for the next seasonal promotion? Propose running a few limited-store tests before the next promotional seasonal rolls around to get a feel for how the new SKU performs. Doing so will help you better predict potential seasonal sales performances.