What's driving your Sales? SNAP?

SNAP is the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (formerly known as “Food Stamps”) in the United States.  . “We put healthy food on the table for more than 46 million people each month.” http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/

Could this be driving spikes in your sales?  If you are involved with food/beverage sales in the United States, very possibly, it could.  

SNAP sales spikes can be large and short-lived.  Ignore SNAP and your product may not be available on the shelf when it's needed, losing sales opportunities.

Balancing safety-stocks across DCs

Earlier today I saw and responded to a question posted on the IBF (Institute of Business Forecasting & Planning) LinkedIn Group.  It's a question I come across often so I thought I would repost it here (with a few edits).

How do I go about preparing an aged inventory analysis? I need to show fast moving,slow moving item, then I want to transfer product with in DC's that are slow so that the amount of SS is balance

Clustering with a destination in mind

I've posted before on Cluster Analysis, in an attempt to demystify one of the more accessible and useful analytical approaches for CPG/Retail teams (see Cluster Analysis - 101) .

Finding groups of similar stores (for example) can be a very effective way to manage the complexity of offering each store group what they really need without having to deal with each one individually, a mammoth task.   Whether you are looking to find groups of stores, shoppers, regions, products or even sales patterns a very similar approach can work for you.

Clustering is part of the journey it's not a destination.  If you don't know and understand what decisions your analytic work should enable  (your destination) how can you build a good model?

Better Business Reporting in Excel - XLReportGrids beta released

In my last Blog entry, I talked about reporting in Excel, some of the reasons I choose to make heavy use of  them, and some of the issues that stop me using them even more. (see Better Business Reporting in Excel)
  • Pivot-tables can only show you data (although lots of it)
  • Pivot-charts show you a chart, but only 1 per pivot-table
  • If you want the same report for multiple grouping (e.g months, years, brands or locations) you add these groups to your pivot-table and select them one at a time to print.
XLReportGrids is a free Excel add-in, now available in beta test, that builds grids of reports with multiple copies of a template sized to fit the page.   Templates are just a range of cells in a worksheet that are driven by a pivot-table.  Build templates with: charts, formulas, images, pivot-tables, text boxes, anything that can be added to a worksheet.

Better Business Reporting in Excel

What do you think is the most-used reporting tool in the world?  There are a lot of them available, at times it can be hard to move without running into a new Business Intelligence (BI) tool, but I'm going to hazard a guess with a high degree of confidence that the most used tool is still Excel.

Excel may not be where the data originated from and there may well have been a database involved to crunch numbers and aggregate to the point that the data would fit comfortably in Excel, but I do believe that it's still the most widely used tool for final 'analysis' and presentation of data.

This is not because Excel is the best tool for the job as almost every feature of Excel is handled better by another tool.  Joining separate tables of data with Lookup functions is a very pale shadow of using a properly defined database and the SQL language.  There are substantially better graphics, charting and visualization tools available.  The analysis tools (Correlation, Regression, ANOVA, Linear-programming) are the poor relation to more industrial strength packages.