man-159771_640Whether you operate an online retail store, a brick and mortar shop or a combination, it is crucial to review and reexamine your product line at regular intervals. Don’t wait until you see a dip in sales, and never be satisfied with the status quo. Tweaking your product range just a little can encourage sales, while a deeper consideration of what you sell may reveal fundamental issues about how well you and your staff work with the range you have selected.

Is There Passion For This Range?

New business owners are often counseled to follow their passions when developing their company. This can be a great way to jump start sales as you will know a lot about the products that parallel the passion. However, unless many others share the passion and are in the market to buy the products that align with these interests you may find sales stagnating, or never happening in the first place.

Many new businesses fall prey to the problem that not everyone loves what you love. An old friend of mine used to evaluate new products for the sport fishing industry. His favorite damning-with-faint-praise line was, “Oh, you’ll sell hundreds of those.”

Take a step back to see if you have sourced things that you want, or ones that potential customers are going to want. You may have to be ruthless and pare out some of your personal favorites in deference to what you can actually sell.

Does The Range’s Quality Make Me Proud — Or Cringe?

Once you have some time to work with a new range of products assess how well your customers are liking the items. Are you finding that you are making many adjustments, replacing parts and counseling on how to best use the products if they disappoint? If you are seeking reviews from customers’ experience with your line, what are you hearing? Is the apology to the customer for a “defective’ item your most common interaction with your consumer base?

If you and your staff are frequently responding to disgruntled customers after purchase, perhaps the range of products causing that discontent is inferior. It is better to recognize this sooner rather than later, and take steps to replace that line with products that have higher consumer approval.

Should I Widen Or Restrict My Niche?

To increase sales it’s tempting to just increase the options in your range. It may make more sense in some cases to consider narrowing your focus to specialty or one-of-a-kind items to bolster sales. Particularly if you are targeting luxury or other high cost items, cluttering up you store or website with inferior quality items just in the hopes of making more sales may send the wrong message.

Consider carefully what you are selling and how each item relates to the others. If you are proud to be the place a customer can find “just about anything,” then increasing the line may work. If you are instead a boutique where a customer can find “just the right thing,” limiting inventory to carefully curated “jewels” may be the better approach.

What Do I Have That My Competitors Don’t?

It is hard in today’s crowded marketplace to stand out. Often it is equally hard, even for an independent type, to resist following the crowd. For your business to reach its potential you must find that essence, that certain something that you possess that others don’t, and go in hard with that. This may mean you let a range of products go that, while seemingly successful, you shared with everyone else in your sector.

Instead, find a range of products that is of high quality but not saturated in your market and become that brand’s ambassador. You have more flexibility to set profit margins and to be seen as the expert in that category.

Does My Range Offer Recurring Or Collateral Sales Opportunities?

Selling high quality items has a downside. Your customers may never return because the product was just so good they have no need to replace it. If that’s your passion, make peace with it and find ways to interest new customers. Otherwise, when reevaluating your product line consider ways to augment that big purchase with other sales.

Know that selling the best may mean selling the last, and develop your business plan accordingly. Look for premium products that do require replacement parts or accessories, or fine a range that complements your “forever” product with ongoing sales opportunities.

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