Sell through (or sell-thru) is a very useful metric for vendors to use in evaluating item performance, because it provides a composite measure of sales and inventory. But like many business measures, there is more than one method of calculating sell through.
The most common calculation is: Sell Thru % = Units Sold / (Units On-Hand + Units Sold). Sell thru is typically evaluated on a daily basis for fast moving products or weekly for slower moving or replenishment based products. A higher value is better, indicating your sales velocity is good and your inventory is appropriately forecasted. If sell thru is low, this indicates either poor sales or too much inventory. In most cases, sell-thru for an item is compared in recent periods like current week and last week, as well as in aggregate across several months or even a year.
When evaluating sell-thru, it is also useful to group together products which have been selling for a similar period of time and/or which are sold into the similar store types. For example, comparing sell-thru for a product with 5 weeks of selling activity against a product with 20 weeks of selling activity most likely will not produce a useful comparison. In the same way, comparing sell-thru for a product in a group of stores in a highly affluent area is not likely to compare favorably to a group of stores with a low income level.
Most retail buyers have a set sell-thru percentage they use to judge vendors based on product category or department. It is important for vendors to discuss the sell-thru expectations with the buyer in order to align with those objectives.
For reference, we’ve compiled sell-thru percentage data that you can use as a benchmark. The complete infographic includes the sell-thru percentage for eight retail categories each at 8, 13, 26 and 52 weeks. To download the complete infographic, simply complete the form below and we will e-mail you the link to download it.