Drive Higher FBA Sales with the Inventory Planning Dashboard
- September 29, 2015 | Marcus DeHart
There’s something exciting about driving in a new car. I get mesmerized by the readouts on the dashboard and am thrilled by the energy as I accelerate and watch the speedometer and tachometer needles leap into action.
That’s not unlike the feeling I get when I look at the new Inventory Planning tools dashboard that Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) launched earlier this month. This dashboard takes the data we’ve been mining from Amazon’s inventory reports and puts it in a slick card-based presentation that helps you identify opportunities and potential risks with your inventory. From the dashboard you can click most of the cards and link to a full report that will prime you to take action.
By the way, if you don’t have a professional selling plan, you won’t see the Inventory Planning option in the Inventory drop-down menu. But if you’re selling as an individual, you probably don’t have the volume of inventory that would require this type of reporting.
The dashboard consists of eight cards that bubble up summaries from inventory reports. The dashboard includes the following cards:
- Estimated lost sales
- Out-of-stock SKUs
- Excess units
- Days in inventory
- Manage excess inventory
- FBA inventory age
- Restock low inventory items
Key Performance Indicators
The first four are smaller cards called key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPIs have only a number showing either a dollar amount or a count of inventory or days. They give you a quick and easy way to measure the health of your inventory based on out of stock, excessive stock, and aging inventory.
Each has a pop-over bubble that explains how the numbers are calculated. If you click the cards you’ll be taken to a corresponding report that will help you identify the SKUs that are out of stock or in excess. The only card that doesn’t include a linked report is Days in Inventory, which serves as a summary of the other three and shows you how many days your current inventory is expected to last based on your sales rate. These four cards display across the top of your dashboard for a quick glance at your inventory health.
The four larger cards are called feature cards and go into greater detail on specific areas of inventory performance. My favorite so far is the Manage Excess Inventory card. If you have any inventory that’s been sitting in the fulfillment centers for more than 90 days, you will see the top three SKUs by volume. Each SKU includes an image and title for easy reference and the total number of units, the total excess, how many units have sold, and the days of supply.
Clicking the View all button in this card will take you to the full report and provide valuable information including low-traffic and low-conversion alerts. You can see the days of supply -- how long before you run out -- and you can set the desired maximum days of supply for each SKU. The default is 90 days, but you can shorten or lengthen that time span based on your expectations for each SKU. And to help you improve sales, on these products the report shows you the lowest price offered (+shipping) and enables you to match that price with the click of a button or set your price manually.
My second favorite is the Restock Inventory card. This includes products that are out of stock and at risk of going out of stock. Clicking the View All button in this card will take you to a complete report that includes your sales in the last 90 days, an estimate of how many days your inventory will last, and the recommended order quantity and date. You can select the SKUs you want to restock and create a shipping plan or you can select the SKUs you no longer want to offer and tell the report to ignore the recommendation.
The Notifications card will tell you if something needs your attention, such as stranded inventory or products with low traffic or low conversion. You can click through to take action on those issues. The FBA Inventory Age shows you the number of inventory units in different age tiers. I recommend keeping an eye on this throughout the year to avoid that last minute scramble in February or August to figure out how to avoid the Long-Term Storage fee.
Inventory Dashboard is still in beta so it’s fully functional but you might run into a few misbehaving elements. I noticed an inconsistency in whether links opened in the same tab or a new one -- a minor inconvenience, but one I hope they correct soon.
If you see any bugs or have ideas on how FBA can make it even better, you can provide feedback by clicking the "Tell us how we’re doing" link next to the dashboard title. Check it out and take the tour while you're there. The tour highlights the different cards and explains how to use them in greater detail.