Blog, Amazon Vendors, Reporting
How delayed reporting is hurting your business

(AND HOW REAL-TIME DATA CAN HELP)


The times are changing. Just a few years ago, in 2022, manufacturers across the globe were riding the wave of the pandemic's ecommerce glow-up. Strong performance led numerous companies to embrace a mindset of "growth at all costs" and prioritize expansion over immediate profitability.

2 minutes read

Author:

Ann Imke

2 minutes read

Author:

Ann Imke

Related Content:

These companies planned to springboard off their success and achieve substantial returns in the next three to four years, hoping to double or triple in size. Expecting a robust 30% year-on-year growth, many companies strategized by investing heavily, expanding inventory, and diversifying their e-commerce efforts. Looking at the market today, we know that's not how things turned out.

In this article, we'll explore how classic budget reporting cycles from finance departments further crippled these companies amidst economic difficulties, providing delayed data that led to poor budgeting decisions. 

 

But we're not just evaluating the past – we'll also outline how real-time data reporting can help every company dynamically respond to market shifts. Plus, we'll give you seven tips that you can implement to leverage real-time reporting and overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

In this article:

Review

How 2023 upended business strategy

Case Study

How delayed reporting hurts Amazon Vendor businesses

Solution

How real-time data could have reduced budget overspend in 2023

Actionable Insights

7 tips for leveraging real-time reporting

Schedule a personalized demo of CATAPULT & watch it action

How 2023 upended business plans across the globe

Looking back at 2023, we know that unforeseen challenges caught much of the market by surprise, such as war, inflation and supply chain issues. These surprises rocked businesses that were heavily reliant on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, flipping their growth and investment strategies upside down. 

 

The gradual increase in interest rates added complexity, causing money to become more expensive. In turn, this development resulted in reduced margins and prompting a short-term prioritization of cash flow over long-term investments. Additionally, customers also returned to offline channels, which had repercussions on business plans, with activities like entering new platforms and building T2C initiatives either cancelled or overinvested in due to uncertain growth assumptions. 

 

Determining the impact of these combined factors on customer demands, production costs, and inflation became difficult given the uncertainty surrounding the frequency and magnitude of rate hikes. In the face of overwhelming market uncertainty, strategic planning became a formidable task. 

[Case Study] How delayed reporting hurts Amazon vendors

So where does real-time reporting come in? As companies reached the middle of 2023, it became evident for many of them that they were not going to be able to meet their projected sales goals. Some companies chose to compensate by increasing investments. Unfortunately, this strategy backfired, leading to a decline in ROI and, ultimately, severe budget cuts. 

 

The consequences of falling short on sales targets had direct repercussions in short-term budget cuts. Let's walk through an example based on what we've seen through our agency business:

Initial expectation:

A company goes into 2023 with a sales goal of €10 million in Amazon revenue, reflecting a 30% growth target. That company's previous year's sales were €7.5 million, so they plan a marketing budget at 5% of revenue, or €375,000.

Change of plans:

At of the end of July, the company's finance department does its quarterly calculation, and the company realizes that it won't meet the initial sales goal. The sales goals is adjusted, with the new target at €8.5 million. Faced with profitability concerns, the company also reduces the marketing budget to 4%.

Consequences of these changes:

Like many other companies in 2023, the one in our example realized the need for changes too late. Because many finance departments operate on quarterly cycles rather than real-time reporting. For the first half of the year, the company was making ongoing spending decisions with a much larger budget. By the time the sales goal and marketing budget have been adjusted, a substantial portion of the marketing budget—originally set at €500,000—has already been spent.

For the remaining months of 2024, the company has only a fraction of budget to work with, which is particularly devastating for companies that do the bulk of their sales in Q4 or the Christmas season.

Potential Outcome with Real-Time Reporting

Budget Spent by End of April: €160,000

Remaining Marketing Budget May to December: €180,000

Remaining Budget for the Rest of the Year: approx. €22,000 per month

The ability to react to market changes and adapt strategy directly depends on stakeholders’ access to real-time market insights. Businesses must be acutely aware of their costs, and rigorously measure the impact of their actions so they can align growth with sustainable profitability.

How you can leverage real-time measurement

To thrive in 2024, you need to be able to effectively measure your investments. Relying on periodic budget evaluations, such as once per quarter, can lead to missed opportunities and delayed responses to emerging trends.

   

While predicting exact outcomes is challenging, real-time reporting allows for continuous measurement and adaptation. This flexibility is crucial, especially in dealing with dynamic variables. By embracing a data-driven, real-time approach, you position your business to be agile and responsive to the evolving landscape.

Tip

For effective decision-making, it's crucial to evaluate performance not only on a year-to-date basis but also on a monthly level. This granularity enables swift responses to changing trends. 

 

For example, if September's sales fall below target, real-time data analysis identifies areas for improvement so the improvements can already impact performance in October. With this information, you can implement strategic adjustments, like increasing media investments, and monitor the immediate impact on metrics such as media contribution and media ROAS. 

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7 ways to leverage real-time reporting for better results

Set Profitable Growth Targets

Analyzing cost structure and understanding the true profit margin allows you to make informed investment decisions and shift focus from just increasing revenue to achieving profitable growth.

Break Data Silos for Holistic Action

To help foster collaboration between key teams, it's best to view real-time insight into retail and marketing activities in a single dashboard. This way, all teams have access to the same insights for more effective marketing, optimized inventory, and fewer missed opportunities.

Adjust Promotions On-the-Go

Make sure you are monitoring marketing performance and evaluating promotions in real time so you can adjust quickly for maximum impact.

Analyze Sponsored Ads Holistically

Don't rely on ACoS metrics alone. Take a holistic approach, considering variable costs and ad incrementality to measure the true ROI of sponsored ads so you can make effective data-driven decisions.

Evaluate Retail Promotions in Context

Look beyond sales metrics when analyzing your retail promotions. Evaluate them based on traffic, conversion rate, and unit uplift. To make profitable adjustments, establish a baseline using historical data.

Don't Forget Customer Returns

High return rates hurt your profits. Identify outliers, address root causes, and avoid advertising products with a history of returns.

Leverage Deal Pages

Use your real-time insights into your traffic and conversion rates to optimize product placement and boost sales quickly, so you are more likely to get featured on the deal page for more visibility.

Putting the pieces together

Interested in putting your data insights into action? If your current tool stack doesn't provide you with a real-time overview that bridges departments to ensure seamless alignment of advertising, key account, and retail data, you may be interested in Catapult. Our tool, designed using insights from Amazon vendors, provides a centralized dashboard that automatically transforms Amazon data into an actionable view of your performance. 

  

This is particularly crucial for manufacturers whose operations span multiple countries and have diverse product categories. Here, you need to combine seamless global integration with a system that facilitates easy categorization and comparison. And of course, you need your insights in real time. Catapult can help with all of that.

 

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