I've been wanting to make some changes in my jewelry offerings, but I've been feeling stuck. More necklaces? Fewer rings? Should I stop making bracelets altogether? What do my customers really want?
While I could go with my gut instincts on those questions, I wanted to base my decisions on something more solid. I pulled the last six months of sales data from Etsy, but I felt a little overwhelmed by the long rows and columns of numbers. Luckily, before I passed out from spreadsheet overload, I had a brainstorm: pie charts!
I love looking at data in graphical form. Like many creative folks, I'm very visual and seeing the data this way not only made it easier to grasp, but I found it easier to remember and use.
What I Learned
For my first pie chart, I pulled the raw sales numbers for the last six months of online jewelry sales. I sold more earrings than anything else. Great! I enjoy making earrings the most. These numbers matched my gut instincts about what I'd been selling.
This second pie chart with my current jewelry listings proved more surprising. Earrings and rings looked to be on target as far as the numbers of items for sale being close to the percent I'd expect to sell. But look at necklaces and bracelets! Necklaces make up about a third of my current listings, but only 9% of my number of sales. Similarly, the data on bracelets is mismatched. Bracelets account for a little more than 20% my sales, but only 10% of my current stock. It's clear that I should spend a little more time thinking about bracelets since those sell well for me. As for the necklaces, it might be helpful to pull data on the amount these earned. Even though necklaces account for a small percentage of sales, it's possible that dollar-wise they bring in more money.
How to Pull and Graph Your Sales Data
- To pull your data from Etsy, log into your account and go to Shop Settings / Options / Download Data. I chose "Order Items" as the type of file for this particular set of data. You can choose to download each month or a single year. Unfortunately, there is no automatic way to collect a span of data over a specific period (such as last six months). I've found it works best for me to pull a whole year and then eliminate the months I don't want, rather than try to cobble together several months individually.
- The CSV file you download can be opened in Excel. Depending upon what information you hope to gather, you may need to add columns to the data you've downloaded. (Etsy does not track everything.) For example, I had to add a column for jewelry type (bracelet, necklace, earrings, rings). That data was easy for me to pick from the titles of each piece of jewelry. For other information, such as the kind of metal used for a particular piece (copper, sterling silver, etc.), I would need to go into each sales record individually and make a note of it if I wanted to graph it.
- Delete or hide any columns you don't need.
- Sort the data by jewelry type or whatever you're tracking.
- If you know how to use formulas in Excel, you can insert those to get a count of each jewelry type. You can always count them manually, assuming you don't have huge amounts of data. If you're only doing analysis for an hour or two once a year, it may or may not be worth it to you to learn the specific details of a spreadsheet program. If you do want to learn, there are lots of free tutorials online like this one on Excel Formulas from How-To Geek.
- Once you have your data, use Excel or PowerPoint to make charts (pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, etc.). There are also some cool online programs. I found Online Chart Tool easy and fun with options for chart colors, fonts, and other formatting details. One thing I didn't do with my first charts that I'll do with future ones is plan my colors a little more carefully to make comparisons easier. (If you look closely at my two charts, you'll see that the different types of jewelry are different colors in the two charts. A little confusing!)
- Analyzing your sales data is not meant to cramp your creativity, but focus it. If it's clear that necklaces are flying out of your shop, you can consider making more. If you have enough sales, you can drill down further to see if there are other patterns. Do you sell more simple pendants or big statement necklaces? Are there certain colors that are more popular than others? It's up to you how far you want to take your analysis. Personally, I find the big picture trends more helpful than the small details. Remember that you're the boss of your data not the other way around!
- It's worth mentioning that it's possible that your online sales data may look completely different from your in-person sales at craft shows or in galleries or shops. For example, I know from my own experience that necklaces sell much better for me in person than online.
- Don't forget that there are many other questions you can answer with your own data: Do customers prefer using PayPal or credit cards? Does their payment preference matter if they are in the U.S. or international? Do you have any seasonal spikes in certain items? What's your average sale amount? How many customers order multiple items? Is this number trending up or down?
Even if you only spend a couple of hours a year looking at your sales figures, you're sure to find it time well spent.