Holistic Inventory Understanding
Individual SKU Tracking
Convoluted Current System
"We need to track our product's individual effectiveness, and to take the appropriate actions when things aren't going the way they should.”
Problem: Phantom inventory issues are going unnoticed and unresolved creating a loss of revenue and a sense of distrust between us and the client.
For consumer goods companies (and really businesses at large) it's no secret that understanding how your products are performing and how many of them you have allocated to specific projects, promotions, or events is an important piece of data. This tool specifically needed to provide Operations Managers (our primary user role) with 1. Information and insights into their about the status of their products and promotions and 2. Affordances to take necessary actions to level up their products performance.
A Six-Part Endevour
Data Extraction: EPOS is extracted from retailer portals in various formats.
Data Processing: EPOS is transformed into a uniform format and loaded into the database.
Granular Forecasting: A sales forecast is calculated.
Inventory: At a store and SKU level, Inventory is measured and compared against sales forecasts and replenishment profile.
Alerts Generated: Alerts are generated when stores do not have efficient stock to cover sales. These will form exports that will be sent directly to the retailer.
Stock Replenished: Stock is delivered from distribution centers. Sales are tracked against expected and optimal performance.
Having a relatively straightforward deliverable, I wanted to not only develop what our initial ask was, but to push the idea further to generate increased actions, insights, and results using action-based language as a tool.
(For a look at what sparked this line of thinking and direction, you can check out an excellent Automated Insights Case Study study on the power of language to understand data)
This is Linda. She is an Operations Manager overseeing products going in and out of promotions. To do her job well she needs to be able to understand trends within her ecosystem and act on them accordingly when necessary.
Context: Familiar with digital assistance, fast mover, efficient worker, deep diver, likes to see the context of any given situation.
Characteristics: Checks in with clients frequently, peruses data multiple times a day, plans her day ahead of time.
Criteria: Efficiency, filterable data, configurable information not customed builds, everything that can be available should be available.
Considerations: Easy access to actions, ability to be proactive, not reactive.
To aid Operations Managers in their information gathering this tool needed to supply information immediately; reducing click numbers was a top priority. By nesting actions inside of screens and combining a tab-based navigation system inside of an "exoskeleton" of global actions, we built out a system that was intentionally simplistic.
Jumping Off Point
To aid in our venture, the business supplied us with a mockup of some data and content that they wished to be able to view on the main dashboard, as well as several Excel spreadsheets of data. While they were not pretty, they did provide us with a baseline for the ELP (Earliest Lovable Product) and a path moving forward.
Using the UI Toolkit I created for the team, I developed several different passes at how we could present this information.
Only a day after our initial ask had been delivered, I was able to present 5 versions of the main dashboard to the UX and team at large; this got folks very excited, which is always fun in critiques.
There were a lot of good insights, I'll name a few below:
1. The light version was our performing the dark in overall readability.
2. The SKU information needed to be presented like a table, for increased scanability and understanding.
3. We needed to push the "language over data" theme further.
4. Blue = Clickable Green = Good Red = Needs Help
Not that we're excited about the possibility of introducing an updated way of presenting insights to our users, but everywhere we could we used language instead of numbers. We also injected helpful micro-copy when we deemed necessary to provide even more language-based assistance.
This project is currently in the hands of the business stakeholders, and once a few other things fall into line it will go into production. Check back for updates!
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