The opportunities of an online store can feel almost limitless, and sometimes it is hard to make decisions that leave something out. For instance, how many different products should you have for sale in your stone – five, or five hundred?
The number of products differs from online store to online store, and it is influenced by the types of products that are for sale and whether they are directed at consumers or other businesses. There is no absolute right answer. The number of products should depend mainly on customer needs.
A Large Number of Products – Everything Available in One Place
Simply put, if the number of products is high, the customer can order everything from the same place without having to place multiple orders and fetching several parcels.
The more the products are meant to be used together, the more products you should have available for ordering. In a fashion store, a customer purchasing a shirt may well be interested in shoes that are the same color or pants that fit the style. Similarly, a customer purchasing paint is probably also interested in brushes.
A wide range of products benefits the customer that gets everything at once. Furthermore, the selection in a store can be one of its major competitive advantages.
However, quality often trumps quantity. The more limited the group of potential customers is, the lower is the number of products needed. If the owner of an online store wants to focus on the products of a certain brand, having too many products from other brands will just end up confusing the customer.
Fewer Products, Steeper Prices
As stated earlier, the more limited the group of potential customers is, the smaller the number of products will suffice. Some online stores, who may for instance use the dropshipping method to serve manufacturing clients, may only have a handful of products to choose from.
The most expensive online stores are rarely directed at consumers. In B2B, where businesses sell their products to other businesses, the prices can be much higher. For businesses, each purchase is an investment that is expected to pay itself back.
In online stores serving a very specific clientele, such as the users of certain professional machinery, a wide selection probably will not give a competitive advantage. Instead, it may be more fruitful to focus on, for example, the market leader’s products.
Key Words: Sales Margin
Each online store is different, which is why it is impossible to say, on a general level, what the right number of products is.
For the seller, the most important thing about the products is the sales margin – the amount of money that the store makes per each sale. If the sales margins are high, only a few products are needed and making sales every day is not necessary. In fact, an online store can be profitable even when it doesn’t make sales even every week – as long as the margins are high enough and the store makes enough money to cover all the costs.
If the products are small, there are many of them, and the sales margins are low, the store needs a much higher number of sales transactions. For instance, selling products like arts and crafts materials to consumers is likely only profitable if the store makes many sales each day. If that is the case, it is fruitful to offer each customer additional products automatically. This way, not only does the seller get more sales, but the customer also gets better service. Often an important item is left out of the shopping cart, and a reminder by the store is welcome. Also, a special offer may turn into a useful impulse purchase.