Holiday Assortment Turnover: Are You Being Left Behind?

Baxter Roberson

Although several months away, the holiday season is the busiest time for retailers and will be here again before you know it. If you’re ahead of the game, your product assortment is being finalized. But timing is everything: so when (and how often) will your competitors change their assortment over the holidays?

While holiday assortments are planned with meticulous precision each year, the timing of product releases and changes can be an afterthought for many companies. Why? Most merchants don’t know exactly how often their competitors change assortments—until now.

In this post, we’ll summarize assortment trends from 2014 and walk you through how we get answers for our clients.

Trends in 2014

As we showed last year, retailers are mentioning holidays (and changing assortments) earlier in the holiday season. Our team crunched the numbers from the 2014 holiday period and discovered three distinct assortment strategies:

  • Point changes: these retailers move large amounts of products in and out of their assortments at pre-established points in time.
  • Constant change: a portion of retailers add and subtract a few items each week to constantly refresh their assortment.
  • The holiday freeze: some retailers set their assortments before the holidays and leave them unchanged until the new year. Those retailers also tend to add separate categories of products for the holiday period.

Which of those strategies do you follow? Which strategy does your main competitor employ? And most importantly, which one resonates best with your customers? We’re happy to give you the answers to those questions—contact us and we’ll run an analysis to show you what we can do. Want to learn how we get these answers for clients? Read on.

Arriving at the Answers Retailers Need

For the sake of demonstration, we’ll walk you through a single example in this post. However, bear in mind that what we’re doing here is usually done for multiple categories, competitors, and time periods. What matters is that the analysis is customized to your competitors and market.

Below is a “stock” insight from our software showing the weekly SKU (product) count over the 2014 holiday period. In this case, we’re examining multiple distinct categories (ex. coffee makers, wine glasses, comforters, etc.) and several major retailers in the home/kitchen space.

There are two things that stand out immediately:

  1. For many retailers, SKU count is relatively stable between mid-October and December 25th
  2. A few retailers experience drops in SKU counts before or after the holiday period

Based on this alone, we can already see where some merchants are changing their assortments. This is great place to start, but what if a merchant takes away 25 SKUs and adds back 25 others in a single week? The line would stay level in this chart, though the merchant effectively changed their assortment.

Diving deeper, we can use our week-over-week insight to determine exactly how much the assortment changed for each merchant. This chart shows you the numerical changes when you compare two time periods: the assortment changes are the focus here.

If we want to delve into the data, this insight also allows us to compare actual screenshots of the same individual product from two points in time to see what changed:Using these insights, we can determine exactly when each merchant changes their assortment, how often they do so, and what the magnitude of the change is. In this example, Merchant B left their assortment fairly constant while many of their competitors were refreshing their assortment before each major holiday. Using that information allows our clients can make sure that they release their products first, provide the right assortment for their target customers, and differentiate themselves from their competitors with their offerings.

Comparing Assortments

As mentioned, these examples only apply to a narrow segment of the eCommerce marketplace. Want to know when assortment changes are put in place by your competitors, or how your strategy compares within your marketplace? Quad Analytix prides itself on not only delivering the best data but ensuring you get the answers you need. Schedule a demo with us, and we’ll be happy to provide you with an in-depth analysis to show how we can help.

Baxter Roberson