Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Web Hints – Merchandising your Virtual Space

chris black and white for blog This is one I promised to write some time ago but seemed to get sidelined, and which to me is of extreme importance particularly to smaller retailers.

Those who have a huge number of SKUs will probably not be interested as long as they’re covering all the bases – they’re going to be far more concerned right now about offloading all that extra spring/summer stock and if in fashion particularly anything in lime green, dusty pink or pale coral – colours which never sell and which always get left on the sale rails.  Don’t ask me why they keep reappearing – I really have no idea.  The 80/20 rule applies everywhere but so many seem to ignore it.

Offline the serious discounts are well away – having been in the retail business and knowing just how much margin is left once 70%+ is reached as a discount it hurts to see how much there is still to shift both online and off.  The online sales are soooooo much better in my opinion than those in the stores – no messy rails, no fag-ends (or if they are you don’t know that) and no crowds of people.  The original pics still show the pristine products and you just check to see what’s left.  Bliss………………

When building a website or managing an existing one, it’s too easy to think that you have to cover all the categories and to forget that range and choice will be major drivers affecting sales.  When I’m reviewing individual websites I will always say if you have very few products in a category don’t just leave it like that – take the category down and cross reference the products elsewhere.

One of the things you always have to remember is the incredibly short amount of time people are going to be spending on your website – a gnat’s blink and they’ll be gone if they don’t see what they like.  A decent number of products to browse and you may get them to hang around, provided you’ve got them past your home page, of course.

So the answer is consolidate your product categories if necessary and never offer a category with a very sparse range however much you want to, it simply won’t work and you’ll end up putting prospective customers off your site.  Ideally you’ll have a good range within every category with a good mix of products and prices.  Choice choice choice is the name of the game here – and what customers want to see.  It will make your website more ‘sticky’ – and browsers will be more likely to buy.

Coming up next…………………….Returns – the bane of every online and catalogue retailer.  Biting the Bullet!


Aaaaaaaand………………the younger son goes off to Ghana on Friday.  The older son gets back from the US tomorrow.  The daughter goes to Cornwall next week.  Some time in the middle of all of this there may be a few days of peace and fewer loads of laundry.  I do hope so.

Dined with my famous journo friend yesterday evening at the Sir Charles Napier, in Chinnor, one of the nicest restaurants for miles around.  Great food in a tranquil atmosphere away from the crowds.  Bring it on.

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