Catalog space costs you money. A company needs to know which products are paying for their space and which are not. Square Inch Analysis (Sqinch) is an analytical tool used (too infrequently these days) to determine the relative strength of your customers’ demand for each and every product.
This invaluable information is then used to make decisions about the catalog . . . featuring high-demand products and eliminating those with little or no demand. More importantly, it provides a guide for correcting marginal items and shows you how to make them winners. The result is often an increase in total sales per catalog – not just products featured. Why? Because by featuring the products your customers are most interested in, you make the entire catalog more attractive to them.


• Reduces all products in your catalog to a common denominator, square inches of space
II occupied
• Equitably and precisely compares sales per product and the cost associated with the space
II each product occupies
• Ranks your products by sales dollar per inch

Analyzing sales per square inch for each product and product category in your catalog helps you pinpoint the winners, losers, and marginal products. And comparing sales per square inch with the cost per square inch gives you a measure of which products are yielding the best results for the money spent . . . and which aren’t pulling their weight. It tells you how strong or weak each product is relative to the other products in your catalog.

Sqinch can reveal surprising potential for improvement in products that have been selling adequately, but not impressively, in a small amount of space or in a mediocre location in the catalog. If sales per square inch compare very favorably with the figures for other products, featuring the newly discovered winner can increase its sales dramatically – without spending more money.

Perhaps none of the products in a particular category is a best seller. But when you add together the sales for all the products in the category and compare them to the space you have allotted to the category you may discover that the category itself contributes a larger percentage of sales and profit than you realized. An analysis of sales per square inch by product category will tell you which categories yield the best results for the dollar.


The mechanics of producing a square inch analysis are time consuming but not difficult. First, measure every product on every page (image and text). Next measure all editorial and white space so you account for every inch of space on every page. The editorial and white space is weighted back to each product and the total is entered into one column on your spreadsheet.

Sales for each product are put into another column and the calculation of sales per inch is a simple division. Units sold, profit per item, profit per inch, item number and product description each have their own columns.

Finally an index column, where the sales per inch for each product are compared to the average sales per inch for all products, is an instant gage of the relative strength of each product. An index of 1.00 is average.

The goal is to compare the sales per inch for each product to the book average and to breakeven. Items that are above average are candidates for more space in the next catalog and items below average get less space or are deleted entirely. A good rule of thumb is to expand the space and improve the presentation of the top one third of the products, eliminate the bottom third and individually examine each of the products in the middle third; some will get more space and others less.

Along with the basic rank of Sales per inch, the Square Inch Report is re-sorted for further analysis.

• Rank by Item by Profit/inch
• Rank by Category by Sales/inch
• Rank by Category by Profit/inch
• Rank by Page by Sales/inch
• Rank by Page by Profit/inch


Many available programs, especially those that accompany catalog tracking software feature profit per inch analysis but ignore sales per inch. Certainly profit is important, but sales per inch measures the customer demand for each product regardless of its profitability. Armed with this demand data as well as your profit data you are in a position to make better decisions.
If one paginates based solely on profit, low demand/high profit items will be featured in prominent positions. That’s usually a mistake. Conversely high demand/low profit items will be minimized or eliminated. Since the real benefit of Sqinch is to utilize the data to build a catalog that appeals to your customer, profit driven decisions alone can defeat you before you start. Profitability of each product is obviously an important consideration in the catalog pagination process, but demand is equally important.


Resorting your square inch data by category can be an eye-opening experience. All merchants believe they have a good handle on the relative strength of each category and many of them do, but analytically examining the data in terms of sales per inch often reveals previously underappreciated categories. Categories with modest sales and modest space can score near the top in terms of sales per inch. This is an indication that the space allocated to this category can be increased.
In addition to pagination decisions, Sqinch also provides valuable merchandise information. It tells which categories are customer favorites that can cost-justify more SKUs and which should be shrunk or eliminated.
Page rank is the final critical element to examine. The ultimate reason for Sqinch is to provide hard data on which to develop a catalog pagination that appeals to your customer and improves sales. We do this by determining an average sales target per page and then building the pages to meet that target. This means that pages are built with differing product densities determined by the strength of the individual products on the page. Best sellers generate more sales per item so they cost-justify fewer products per page, but weaker sellers require more products per page to generate the same sales. (By the way, this variation in page density, also know as pacing, is aesthetically a good thing. It keeps your catalog fresh and interesting as the shopper flips from spread to spread.) The page ranking lets you know how well your pagination worked page by page.
Sqinch is an important analytical tool that every cataloger should use prior to pagination. It is a guide and not a bible, however, and cannot replace the knowledge or intuition of savvy merchants. It can help merchants and creatives construct a more profitable catalog.