Crisp’s VP of Sales shares advice from a recent workshop with Emerge to help brands grow smarter with data, which is just as important — if not more important — in the early years.
Why data, and why now?
At Crisp, we know data is key to unlocking growth opportunities in a brand’s early years. But for many entrepreneurs, data can seem elusive, intimidating, and even low priority when you’re just trying to get your business off the ground. That’s why we teamed up with our partners at Emerge to host a webinar on how brands can implement a data-driven sales strategy from day one.
Data is everything in today’s retail environment: the days of simply dropping by to see a buyer with samples of a delicious product are long gone. Whether you’re trying to get your foot in the door or expand your current distribution, you need data to find where you’ll be successful, gain confidence with retail buyers, and get products selling faster. In this post, we’ll outline four ways brands can use data for a winning sales strategy.
For a growing brand, gaining distribution is a top priority. But it’s not about growing just anywhere: it’s about finding the areas where your brand has the greatest opportunity and highest chance of success.
To find those opportunities, you’ll need data. With a clear picture of your existing distribution and sales trends across retail locations, you can identify hotspots where you have clear momentum to build on. From there, you can identify the next retailer, geographic area, or even store that is similar to where you’re seeing that strong product-market fit.
Once you’ve identified your next targets, leveraging data will help you make a compelling case to retail buyers, demonstrating that you’re thinking strategically about distribution that will drive growth for both your brand and the retailer. When you can say, for instance, that a particular product is a huge hit in the Pacific Northwest, and you provide zip codes where you have strong sales and even suggest specific store locations where you’d like to go next – well, it’s unlikely buyers have ever received such tangible recommendations from an emerging brand. This gives you a major leg up in a crowded market.
Your overall sales as a brand is a combination of the number of stores you’re in, and how fast your product is selling in those stores. So the quality of your distribution is important, and the measure of that quality is velocity, or units of product sold per store per week.
Velocity is also a fundamental metric for retailers, who must allocate precious shelf space by considering how quickly products will move off the shelf. Having a strong handle on velocity helps you drive sales and set the stage for expanded shelf space down the line.
As an emerging brand, a good first step is to identify your velocity hotspots: the mix of products and locations where you fly off the shelves. Next, you can apply the same product assortment and promotions that have led to success in other locations. For example, Crisp customer Zest Tea found that a typically slow seller nationwide actually had strong velocity numbers in the Northeast. With this information, they optimized their product assortment regionally, and as a result, velocity increased across the board.
Analyzing velocity can also help you identify stores that need more support, so you can drive sales to retain those locations with promotional offers, in-store demos, or marketing programs. Velocity data can also help you measure the success of those efforts – for instance, checking the sales lift after a promotion, which helps you evaluate the strategy that works best for particular products, regions, and retailers.
Launch new products
As an emerging brand, you probably have plans to expand your product line. Data will help you identify the top stores to expand offerings based on sales of similar products in your portfolio.
Once you’re set to launch in those stores, timely data from retailers will help you understand what is hitting the shelves and when. This is often a key challenge we hear from brands – they may launch in 100 stores, but they don’t actually know when that rollout is happening, which makes it hard to manage operations and promotion. But with daily data to track your product as it rolls out, you can target advertising efforts to raise brand awareness about the new SKU. After the launch, use data to stay on top of orders and shipments at each store to drive re-orders of your new product and keep shelves stocked.
Underlying a strong sales strategy are streamlined operations that ensure your retailers are happy and consumers can find your product on the shelves – and to do that without chipping away at your bottom line.
Many of the brands we work with report that having a reliable, timely picture of top-line sales helps with demand planning and production planning. For example, Crisp customer RxSugar used accurate sales projections across retailers to go from one-day to 12-week lead times on raw materials and packaging.
Transparency into where your product is sitting across distribution centers and retail stores also helps you run a more cost effective business. If you know inventory on hand and weeks of supply across retail partners, you can proactively replenish products before you get that frantic call from a retail buyer and avoid an out of stock. Or if your product is moving slowly and you’re heavy in inventory, you can reduce shipments to free up cash and stay lean. Finally, retailer chargebacks can chip away at your bottom line, so keeping an eye on chargebacks frequently will help you spot any areas for dispute and retain your margins.
At Crisp, we know it’s never too soon to start using data to drive your business forward. Crisp makes up-to-date retailer data quick to access and easy to understand, so that brands of any size can start using data to make the right decisions and unlock new opportunities.