Create an admin dashboard for Buyer in Retail to help in analyzing & forecasting trends to determine consumer demand and potential sales volumes.
Understanding the task
A buyer is a person who does the selecting, planning and purchasing for a store. The buyer can be associated with a big brand and also to small business. The job involves a lot of studying the customers i.e people who are associated with the job are well experienced. In terms of small businesses, the buyer is more inclined to gathering feedback from the customer and in planning the outlet stocks in terms of size, color or the style, etc. Customer feedback help in driving their decisions to purchase products. So ideally the role of a buyer can be:
Defining the audiance
Before jumping off to solutions, it is better to understand current contexts on when/why the dashboard will be used by the users.
- Understand how sales and margins are helping the business based on his buying decisions.
- Monitor the performance of SKUs in different categories.
- View purchase orders from different vendors.
- Have an idea on his meetings or trade shows that would help in expanding a product category.
- If certain SKUs are selling fast and the retail store does not have enough inventory, it can lead to low sales due to improper planning.
- Keeping track of vendor performance.
- Issues in purchase orders or SKUs that need to be tackled quickly before it can hurt the retail store.
- Keeping a close eye on new trends and consumer interests in SKUs to generate more sales.
I collected all the contexts and put in a mind-map so that when I am making design decisions I can always refer back to the chart that identifies what contexts will make a good dashboard experience.
A dashboard is mostly a glance preview of crucial information important for the user at the moment. It allows them to navigate directly to various areas of the application that require users attention. Since we are dealing with analytical dashboards, it should provide the user with at-a-glance information used for analysis and decision making. It is less time-sensitive and not focused on immediate action.
Taking in the considerations I now proceeded with the wire-framing of the widgets in the dashboard since they form an integral part. In terms of widgets, its best considered to keep at max 5–7 different widgets to create a view. The idea is to display the core information to users so they can analyse & forecast. The widgets that would make sense to the users are:
- Sales Overview
- Purchase Orders
- Categorywise Sales Performance
- SKUwise Performance
- Vendor Sales
The widget is broken down into 3 segments i.e, Total Sales, Gross Margin and Fill Rate. So total sales give a brief on the sales performance of different SKUs present at the store. While the gross margin allows the buyer to see if the planning and forecasting by his team is reflecting in either profit or loss to the retail store. Fill rate gives an overview of the inventory performance supplied by different vendors. The data is dynamic and changes based on the performance.
From this widget, we get an overview of the procurements from different vendors. The orders can be either Confirmed, Received or Late. Based on the situation the buyer can drill it down further to view details on those orders.
Categorywise Sales Performance
Based on the categories the retail store is serving, the buyers can view its performance. The performance is compared to last years date to make him understand the periods where certain categories sell the most or sell the least. To further enhance his experience the widget drills down to day-wise units sold for a month selected. At each peak point the users get to know the sales done and the no of SKUs sold in that category. This widget helps in stocking inventory for the future.
From this widget, the buyer understands how SKUs that are stocked up are selling among the customers that visit the stores. They get an idea based on gender so that it can help them plan their inventory accordingly. The numbers show the popularity among the customers and the blocks show how much inventory is available.
The idea was to keep things simple and functional. In this situation, the dashboard was used by a buyer who sold 2 categories (T-Shirts, Jeans) and the SKUs under them were different styles. Now, before I jumped into designing the actual screens I wanted to create a style guide that would help me in simplifying my dashboard creation process.
Now since I had most of the things aligned it was time to design the actual dashboard. The screen resolution considered was 1440 x 1024. To make things a bit more interesting I went ahead and created the prototype with few micro-interactions and drill-downs that were mentioned above.
This design exercise was both fun and challenging. I am certain that I have just touched the surface of merchandising in retail but it was a pleasure working on the above problem.