Amongst my observations I wrote:
… all that STL’s warehouse sales data can tell us is what’s going into the shops they supply. It can’t tell us what’s going out: it can’t tell us what our own and our fellow retailers’ customers are buying; and it can’t tell us what ends up stuck on retailers’ shelves, languishing quietly until the only thing that shifts it is a drastic price cut, probably to less than we bought it in for.
The thing that can tell us that is Nielsen Bookscan, and we urgently need more Christian retailers to supply their sales data to Nielsen. Every month Christian Marketplace provides us with a bestseller chart taken from Nielsen’s data — but how many of us are contributing to that? Until we reach the point where it’s most of us, we’re inevitably — to steal St Paul’s phrase — “seeing through a glass darkly”, just seeing a part-picture.
If you’re not contributing data, why not? If you are, please tell us something of your story: was it easy or difficult to set up? Has it caused any problems or brought any benefits?
I’m delighted, therefore, to have received the response below from Nielsen BookScan; thanks to Sara Mulryan for this:
As Nielsen BookScan, we’d like to add to Phil Groom’s comments that – if you are not participating – why not?
Nielsen BookScan is the definitive market measure for the book industry. Only participating retailers are eligible to receive data and that data is a weekly Top 5,000 Total Consumer Market (TCM) titles – FREE. The data can be analysed in a variety of ways, including verifying best selling titles by categories – such as Religion or Mind, Body, Spirit. From this you can build up a core stock list.
Data must be sent from your scanned EPOS till systems on a regular schedule (simply put, a copy of your day end transactions) and all individual retailer data is held in total confidence. It is best selling market titles that are released. Where public opinion polls are often based on a poll of less than 0.01% of the population, BookScan data is not just a sample of sales taken from a few outlets then multiplied up to create a guesstimate – it is the actual sales, from over 90% of all retail book purchases made in the UK. Make yours count.
St Andrew’s and Wesley Owen are both participants, as well as some religious Independents. As outlined by Phil, the more who contribute, the more relevant to your needs the data is. We welcome inquiries from each and every independent bookseller and hope to hear from you soon.
Any further queries should be addressed to the BookScan Retail Team:
- Sara Mulryan on +44 (0) 1483 712 229 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or
- Carol Brownlee on +44 (0) 1483 712 226 or by email at email@example.com
At LST we’ve been submitting our sales data since 2004. I wrote about the experience of setting up the LST Bookshop database for that in Christian Marketplace back in 2004. Ours is a custom-built Filemaker Pro EPoS system running in Mac OS X, something of an anomaly for Nielsen who were more used to shops running Windows based commercial systems, but it all proved quite painless and straightforward.
If you’re running any of the standard packages you should have no problems at all… and you’ll have access to all that wonderful data direct from the tills of your fellow retailers: no more guesswork based on STL’s limited and screened data on what’s leaving their warehouse…
To close, another question for STL now: how do you decide which publishers you’re going to feature each month? Is the decision based on whose products are selling the most? Or are there other criteria? Please do tell: thank you.