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In publishing, sell-through refers to a percentage of units shipped which are actually sold. In the case of books, the rest is returned to the publisher. Other items, such as software, are usually discounted.
Sell-through is always expressed as a percentage. Net sales essentially refers to the same thing, in absolute numbers.
Sell through refers to sales made directly (Direct sales). Sell in, on the other hand, refers to sales made through a channel.
Home video sell-through
In the home video industry, sell-through simply refers to consumer sales. That is, units which are sold directly to consumers, rather than to stores that rent them out. Sell-through priced videocassettes were generally under $30 in the United States, as contrasted with full-priced titles, generally priced at over $80 retail. With the coming of movies on DVD, sell-through pricing became the norm for DVDs in the United States.
"Sell-thru" is also used as an alternative nomenclature and is generally accepted terminology even though the term "thru" is usually used more informally.
Sell-through is a percentage of units sold during a period (usually 1 month).
It is calculated by dividing the number of units sold by the beginning on-hand inventory (for that same time period).
During the month of May you sell 100 units. You received 300 units in receipts. You returned 600 units to your supplier. You end May with 900 units of stock (EOM, End of Month stock). What was your Beginning On-Hand units and what was your Sell-through?
Beginning of Month stock (BOM) = EOM 900 units + Sales 100 units - Received 300 units + Returned 600 units = 1300 units
Sell-through = Sales 100 units / Beginning Inventory (BOM) 1300 = 7.69% Sell-through in May.
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