Identifying the Scale of Your Product Range
Episode #3 of the course eCommerce fundamentals by Chloë Thomas
Welcome to the third lesson of this course. Having taken you through the eCommerce Business Structures, it’s now time to talk product.
As well as fitting into one of the seven eCommerce Business Structures, the strongest eCommerce performers usually have a product range that is at one end of the Product Range Scale (PRS).
The PRS isn’t anything to do with the number of products you sell; it’s about how varied those products are.
At the Niche End of the Scale
Niche sellers focus on a single product category—tea towels, sailing holidays, ladies’ shoes—and create and edit the perfect range of that product in such a way that, if you want that product, people know they are the seller to go to.
At the Department Store End of the Scale
Department store sellers stock EVERYTHING. The aim of firms at this end of the scale is to become their customers’ go-to destination every time those customers think of buying online.
In the Middle of the PRS
The businesses in the middle, therefore, are not the obvious place for the consumer to go for what they want. They are neither the default “I bet Amazon has it” choice, nor are they likely to come up when someone searches for their product.
To be successful here, you need to build and retain a good loyal customer base and a strong brand that ties all the product types together.
Why I Love Niche
It is so much easier to be successful at the niche end. Having a select group of products:
• makes it easy for customers to understand your business—if they understand you, they’ll remember you, recommend you, and come back again
• makes it easy for you to build great internal skills in buying that product type
• spreads your cash less far—if you only stock X, then you don’t have to fund so many product lines
• makes your marketing easier—one consistent message
• makes it easier to build up lots of content and PR because you can easily be seen as the experts in that area
• sometimes streamlines pick and pack operations; similar sized and weighted products are really easy
• and much more…
However many products you choose to stock, you should edit those products for your customers—have a basic, better, and best of each thing—and nothing more. Consumers really appreciate being helped to find the right option. Plus, it will help you to keep inventory down.
Tomorrow I’m going to cover differentiation and the USPs (unique selling points) that really work in eCommerce.
Catch up tomorrow,
“The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” by Brad Stone
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