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Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Direct Tech, Inc.

Return on Inventory

By Joe Palzkill

About Joe

Joe is vice president of sales and business development at Direct Tech, Inc., a company which helps catalog and e-commerce retailers drive profitability, increase demand and optimize inventory investment by providing best-in-class applications and services. Joe is a member of Direct Tech’s seasoned management team, which has more than 150 years experience with demand planning, inventory optimization and merchandise planning in the multichannel retail industry. For more than two decades, Direct Tech’s applications and services have enabled leading multichannel brands to grow their businesses.

Joe is a 28-year veteran of the direct merchandising industry with hands-on experience in marketing, merchandising, inventory management and business development at multichannel retail companies including Lands’ End,, and Duluth Trading Company. At Direct Tech, Joe uses his experience to help customers and prospects understand how to improve sales and profits through applying industry best practices in merchandise planning and inventory management systems and processes.

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How Product Profiling Increases Sales and Profits


An accepted best practice in inventory planning is to adhere to the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. For inventory planners, this is also often referred to as product profiling, or ABC profiling. This makes intuitive sense. It's natural to spend relatively more time in planning, analysis and management of the top-selling items, but what does it mean in financial terms?

As our Direct Tech consultants often remind their customers, it means a great deal!  

Below are two examples of the financial impact product profiling can have on your business. Both represent a $50 million business with 1,000 products separated into quartiles. Each quartile includes a disproportionate percentage of the sales volume, representing the 80/20 rule. The results show the company's total incremental financial gain based on improved performance in the top-selling quartile  even accepting reduced performance in the third and fourth quartiles due to less attention given to those products.

This first example shows the incremental sales potential with focus on delivering a higher fulfillment rate on the first quartile, accepting that it may result in lower fill rate in the third and fourth quartile. The incremental sales gain is $825,000 with the fulfillment assumptions shown in this example.  Plus, these are very profitable sales, considering all advertising and fixed costs are sunk at this point.

Incremental Sales Potential - Chart 1
[+] click to enlarge

The same concept applies with cash flow management. This second example shows the cash flow impact of focusing attention on improving inventory turnover on the highest volume quartile  again, accepting that it might yield lesser results in the third and fourth quartiles. With the assumptions shown here, cash flow improves by $294,000.

Incremental Sales Gain - Chart 2
[+] click to enlarge

This same concept works in virtually all metrics: sales, gross margin, returns, overstock liquidations, etc.  Each business has its own set of facts, but adherence to product profiling with inventory management will deliver incremental sales, profit and cash flow gains for all businesses.



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