Picking and merchandising new products

Merchants live and die based on their ability to select and sell the right products and goods for their target audience. If retailers don't have full inventories of the products that consumers crave, they are not going to make it in a hyper competitive eCommerce landscape.

Choosing the right goods for the audience

As merchants strive to update their product selection with the latest and greatest goods, they need to always keep their customers in mind. It's easy to get swept away in the hype of conferences and other retail events where professionals talk about the big items for the upcoming year. But ultimately, each eCommerce website has their own customer base and each product selected to be sold must make sense in the context of that audience.

When retailers move toward a new product line, they need to remember their shoppers.

“Merchants live and die based on their ability to select and sell the right products and goods for their target audience.”

For instance, a luxury product doesn't make sense – regardless of profit margins – if the rest of the inventory revolves around budget items. Or if the primary audience is men, selling a pink version of the latest iPhone likely won't result in success.

"Most small eCommerce stores develop a niche," retail consultant Dale Traxler writes for Practical eCommerce. "You may not think of yourself as a niche store, but it's likely that you sell consistently to a similar demographic. Check that for yourself. Ask your customers why they buy from you. Find out what other products they would like to see you sell. Learn as much about them as you can and sell them what they are looking for. You will be less likely to add a dud to your product mix if you really understand your customers."

Actually selling the new items

Selecting the right products to carry can be a challenge, but it's only half the battle. ECommerce success is not a "if you carry it, they will come" scenario – merchants actively must sell and merchandise their products. For instance, they should be updating product descriptions to make them more attractive and include product photos that show off items in a good light.

Additionally, merchants could use transactional data to identify customers who previously purchased similar products. With this information in hand, they could produce email campaigns or promotional deals designed to get these customers to possibly make a repeat purchase. There are dozens of options available to retailers.

The important thing is to ensure that new items don't get lost in the shuffle. This is particularly the case when retailers are adding a variety of fresh products. For customers to buy a product, they must first know it exists. If retailers aren't fulfilling their end of the bargain in merchandising new items, then they are actively working against their own eCommerce operations and preventing success.