Knowledge about your stock is crucial for the success of your business. As an entrepreneur and/or purchaser you want to know how your products perform. What are the products that sell well and which products are less in demand? An ABC analysis can show what contribution products – and suppliers – make to the revenue of your business. In this blog, we will explain what an ABC analysis is and how this analysis improves your stock management. See how to perform an ABC analysis and in what way inventory optimisation software uses this method to keep your stock balanced.

What is an ABC analysis?

An ABC analysis is a commonly used method to provide insight into the contribution that stock and/or suppliers make to your business. The analysis ranks stock and suppliers in three categories: A, B or C. The foundation of the analysis is the 80/20 rule of the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and works like this: 80% of your business’ revenue is determined by 20% of the stock.

If we take revenue as a performance measure, the A category consists of the twenty per cent of your stock that makes up about eighty per cent of your revenue. Category B consists of thirty per cent of your stock and generates about fifteen per cent of your revenue. Category C consists of fifty per cent of your stock and represents about five per cent of your revenue.

The Pareto principle does not only show how many products you sell, but above all, it provides insight into what these products contribute to the gross revenue of your business.

Do you want to quickly perform an ABC analysis by yourself? Download the free Excel template and categorize your products. Fill in the product types, the number of pieces, the product value and easily apply the 80/20 rule.

Why an ABC analysis in stock management?

The ABC analysis is a method to not only improve your stock management but also make your warehouse distribution more efficient. Which products do you leave on backorder with your supplier and which products do you want to keep physically in your warehouse? Reduce obsolete stock – products that have little or no influence on your revenue – and avoid high inventory holding costs that can negatively affect your cash flow. The analysis shows which products cost you the most and what these same products yield.

Furthermore, the analysis shows which suppliers make the largest contribution to your revenue. This information gives you the opportunity to make better agreements about prices, credit and deliveries. When you take into account that approximately 80% of your revenue comes from category A products then it is important to purchase this part of your stock for the right price and maintain the stock level to avoid lost sales. When you cannot meet customer demand, that will have a negative effect on your service levels and loss of revenue can be the result. The ABC analysis enables you, as an entrepreneur and/or purchaser, to prioritise.

How to perform an ABC analysis?

You can already start an analysis in Excel. Perform the categorisation analysis in five steps with the data from your internal CMS, WMS or ERP system. Below we describe an example analysis for a furniture retailer or wholesaler.

Step 1: Make a list of products you want to analyse and write down the total of sales per product in units. Sum the total of all sold products at the bottom.

Step 2: Then calculate the percentage of sales volume per product.

Step 3: Write down the total sales value per product expressed in euros. This is the unit price multiplied by the total number of sales per product. Sum the total sales value of all products sold at the bottom.

Step 4: Then calculate the percentage of sales value per product.

Step 5: Remember the 80/20 rule and make the classification per category into A, B and C.

abc analysis uk

Do you want to quickly perform an ABC analysis by yourself? Download the free Excel template and categorize your products. Fill in the product types, the number of pieces, the product value and easily apply the 80/20 rule.

How do ABC analysis and inventory optimisation software work together?

A manual analysis is a relatively quick way to get an idea of how your stock is structured and what the points of attention are within your stock management.


The example shows us that an ABC-analysis is a fairly static and one-dimensional method. The analysis does not provide insight when new products are introduced when seasonality plays a part and in situations where customer demand does not move linearly. It can be a time-consuming task if you are constantly updating manual ABC-analyses because of this. Especially if you purchase on instinct, manage a small stock, work with a min-max stock and/or consider all products in your stock equally important – you might question why categorising is useful.

Inventory optimisation software

The utility of ABC-analysis is taken to a next level by the automation of inventory optimisation software. The AI forecasting model of Optiply analyses data directly from your CMS, WMS or ERP system, so you can directly see which products contribute the most to your revenue. With this information, you can make your stock management more efficient and keep your stock level balanced. Do not store stock in your warehouse unnecessarily and keep cash flow free for things that can more immediately generate revenue.

Improves supplier management

With purchasing advice that is updated in real-time, you can take purchasing decisions that lead to better product availability of your most important products. Furthermore, you get insight into the ‘value’ of your suppliers. A supplier of category A products is an important partner and contributes a significant share of the revenue – and success – of your business. This knowledge allows you to improve your supplier management.

The ABC analysis is a method for you as a purchaser and/or entrepreneur to get insight into what contribution products and suppliers have to your business. It enables you to make your inventory management more efficient so that you do not store stock unnecessarily. Cash flow is therefore not lost to inventory costs (either upfront or holding costs). In addition, you can also use the analysis to find out which suppliers supply the most important products. This information about both stock and suppliers enables you to make more targeted purchasing decisions and price products accordingly. While manual ABC analyses are time-consuming, inventory optimisation software provides automated analyses. Optiply’s AI purchasing algorithm provides you with real-time purchasing advice so that you can balance product availability and stock management.


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