Do you have high returns? Learn how to increase your sell-thru!

You have just wrapped up returns and you are starting to focus on next semester. As you finalize adoptions and work through your order decisions I am sure sell-thru is top of mind. You want to make sure that you balance your inventory and your budget so you neither run out nor have extra.

This a difficult balancing act. Whether this is your first term or your 50th here are some tips and tricks to increase your sell-thru.

  1. Know your sell-thru.
    • The first step in improving your sell-thru is knowing what it is now, and what it has been the last few terms. Is it getting better? Staying the same? Getting worse? The only way to accurately answer these questions is by calculating sell-thru the same way each term. While there are many ways to do this calculation if your goal is to reduce returns then your best option is to calculate sell-thru is as follows.
    • Term Sales / (Beginning Inventory + Reorders) = Sell-Thru
  1. Set a goal.
    • Once you know your sell-thru, you can set a realistic goal for the term. The best goals are those that are difficult yet achievable. Since you spent time calculating and familiarizing yourself with your store’s sell-thru, you will know what a realistic goal is. Once you decide what it is, publicize it and hold yourself accountable. Goals are tools, but they only help if you use them.
  1. Getting there.
    • You know where you are and you know where you want to go. Now comes the hard part, the journey. Hitting your sell-thru goal is contingent upon making good order decisions. It requires you to know what is happening on your campus and in your store. You need to think about campuswide initiatives that might affect your traffic, as well as any changes you are planning in store. Have you stepped up your marketing game or gotten more aggressive on pricing? Are there any new professors or student organizations promoting the bookstore this term? These types of changes can result in extra sales.

Now comes the math, for some people it is their favorite part and for others the bane of their existence but it is of equal importance to both groups and by far the most important consideration when completing your order decisions.

Let’s talk quantity to provide (QTP) first. This is the number of units you expect to sell. This number is easiest to predict when you have history. History on that specific book is best but history on the course is helpful as well. A good tip for setting your QTP based on history is to calculate last term’s sales as a percentage of last term’s enrollment. Then multiply this term’s enrollment by that percentage. This will ensure you account for any changes to enrollment when setting your QTP. This is your starting point. Next, you need to make necessary adjustments based on your campus knowledge, which we learned about above. Remember that sometimes there have not been any significant changes within the term and the formula will provide you the final number rather than a starting place.

I imagine this is sounding like a lot of work. Doing a special calculation for each order decision may not be feasible for your location. Maybe you are working thousands of order decisions or maybe you are a single person wearing too many hats. No matter what your circumstances, be sure to prioritize your workload. In courses where you only sell a few units, the extra calculation steps are probably not worth it, last term’s sales is a good starting point.

Now that you are confident in your QTP be sure to complete the rest of your order decision figures. The open to buy calculation relies on them all so any errors will result in an incorrect purchase number. Don’t forget to use the auto-gen feature to create your POs, there is nothing worse than doing all that work to set things up and then ordering the wrong amount because of a bad keystroke.

Lastly, don’t panic during rush and send out large reorders. Keep a cool head and check enrollments before you send in those orders. Students do not read textbooks for fun, if there are only 10 kids in the class you won’t sell more than 10 books.

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