Sunglasses manufacturer Oakley sharpens its focus on retailer sales data

May 4, 2015 10:49 AM

It was a case of a retailer unable to see the potential forest of sunglasses sales for the handful of products that weren’t selling. And it was about to result in the retailer returning more than $100,000 worth of merchandise to the merchant’s high-tech sunglasses supplier, Oakley Inc., Oakley’s U.S. director of sales planning and operations, Michelle McGriff, said in an interview last week at the annual users’ conference of supply chain and business integration software company SPS Commerce Inc.

The retailer, which McGriff declined to name, wanted to return about $125,000 worth of Oakley’s products, asserting that they simply weren’t selling.

But McGriff and her team at Oakley had a hunch that something was amiss, that there must be an explanation for why these usually popular products were still sitting on the merchant’s shelves. And with an Internet or cloud-based software program—SPS Performance Analytics from SPS Commerce Inc.—designed to gather and analyze the sales of individual SKUs at individual store locations, Oakley was able to pull a report that drilled into the retailer’s sales records. McGriff says she and her team were quite pleased with what they found.

The products that weren’t selling at the retailer were a small group of some of Oakley’s newer activewear apparel products, which hadn’t yet built up a following among consumers equal to its primary product line—sunglasses designed to withstand rough use during active sport activities. Oakley specializes in manufacturing eyewear that can withstand extreme conditions, including sunglasses made for the U.S. military.

The report also showed that, while the new apparel products weren’t selling,  the retailer had posted strong sales of sport sunglass products , but when it tried to re-order them, they were out of stock at Oakley’s distribution center. Without the necessary technology, staff or time, the merchant didn’t have access to the same information, McGriff says. “We looked into the data and saw that only about 10 items were bringing down the entire line,” she says. “The merchants was like—‘Oh, wow, I didn’t realize that.’”

Armed with its SKU-level sales data, Oakley worked out an arrangement with the merchant to sell off its remaining apparel and accessories and accept a fresh order of its better-selling sunglasses. Oakley also took steps to ensure the sunglasses would be in stock for re-ordering.

“Instead of it being a $125,000 return request, we went to plus-$75,000” with a new order, McGriff says.

The SPS Performance Analytics software, which users access through a web browser without having to run it on their own infrastructure, has a starting subscription cost of about several hundred dollars per month, depending on a user’s number of trading partners and volume of products, according to SPS Commerce CEO Archie Black.

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