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When a retailer begins the sale process, the first step is to decide what to sell. Many people believe that this stage is simple and that anyone can think of something that might sell well. However, if you want to build up a successful retail business, it is not that straightforward. It is critical to have an effective product assortment strategy to match merchandise offerings with business goals while still optimizing floor space. Therefore, it is time to carefully study product assortment and ways to optimize your product mix.

What is product assortment?

product assortment

Product assortment refers to the whole catalog of products that a retailer carries on their shelves to offer for sales. Product assortment consists of 4 components including breadth, length, depth, and consistency. However, breadth and depth are the 2 most important characteristics. The choice between the depth and breadth of your assortment is one of the most critical considerations to make when developing a retail product assortment plan. 

Product breadth

Product breadth refers to the number of product lines within the assortment that the retailer provides. It shows how wide and diverse an assortment is. If a retailer sells many different types of products, they are considered to have a large product breadth.

Product depth

The number of variations within a product line is referred to as product depth. This time, it’s all about how large a category’s assortment is. The majority of specialty retailers have a deep product assortment to provide a variety of choices for customers. However, some retailers still choose to limit the product depth with their reasons. According to clx.com, there was one study about the adverse effect of choice in 2000. A display of 24 jams and jellies was set up on a retail floor. The result is that it attracted many customers, but only 3% of them bought the products. The following week, only six jams and jellies were displayed on the shelves. This time, fewer customers were attracted, but 30% of them converted. Therefore, sometimes too many options can cause customers to move on without making a decision.

7 recommended product assortment tips

what is product assortment

Choosing a product mix is not a random task, retailers have to consider many factors to decide which products they should sell and whether a deep assortment or wide assortment should be applied to sell successfully. There are some recommended tips to achieve the best product assortment strategy that you many consider as below:

Understand your business goal and images

Recognize who you are and what your brand represents to your target clients as the first step in having an effective product assortment. Besides, you also have to define who your clients are, how they know about you, and for what purpose. These questions will assist you in determining the appropriate product breadth and depth to deploy.

Analyze your inventory data carefully

While sales and inventory statistics are most useful for determining how many units to order and stock, they can also contain other information that might help you create your product assortment strategy. Examine your sales data and pay particular attention to what’s selling, then utilize that information to determine whether your assortments need to be expanded or deepened.

Observe shopping habits and patterns

Consumer shopping habits and patterns can have a huge impact on how you decide your product assortment strategies. For example, during the covid-19 outbreak in 2020, purchasing habits completely changed. People were more cautious with their spending. During this time, according to mckinsey.com, demand for necessary products such as groceries and household supplies increased significantly around 40% compared to the previous years. As a result, the company that sold those necessary things grew quickly. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to customers’ shopping habits both online and offline since it can help you realize which product line should be expanded. By looking at customer shopping habits, you will know which products they are looking for, which products they are purchasing together. Just by actively observing, you can gain an advantage over your competitors with a wider product range and belonging to customers’ demands.

Observe market trends

Not just observe customer purchasing habits, you also need to look at market trends that can influence purchasing behavior. Consumers’ fashion preferences also shift with the seasons, and where they shop shifts with time. Failure to incorporate changing consumer tastes into your assortment could damage your business in the long run. Retailers who can modify and create wide or deep assortments based on customer demands will easily stand out in the competition.

Identify the right suppliers

Product quality will become increasingly important as you start to make consistent sales. The higher the quality of your products, the fewer returns you will get and the more trust your business will get. Customers will desert you quickly if your products are inconsistent, defective, or otherwise undesirable. When deciding on a vendor, make sure to look over a complete batch of products they’ve supplied you. It is also needed to consider how long demand fulfillment will take for vendors outside your country. It doesn’t matter how long or short it is, but how consistent it is. You can sell without fear if you use a normal demand time.

Build your assortment with product families

product assortment

Families are composed of mutually substitutive products that compete against one another because they have a set of similar characteristics that a client seeks. To put it another way, a product family should reflect how shoppers see your assortment.

When buying a specific item, customers often had something ready in their mind regarding the product type, style, and prices. This means that the customer will only be looking at a limited number of products that meet his or her criteria out of the whole variety. The assortment of things that meet the above criteria is what matters to the individual buyer, not the entire assortment. If you have too few products in this family, you may lose the sale. Therefore, by building your assortment with product families, it will be easier for you to manage and track assortment to avoid lacking products or overstocking.

Use some specialized tools for assortment planning

Almost all retailers are using an inventory management system to manage stock, including stock in and stock out. This is also considered an effective inventory tool to help the business maintain its stock level and effective inventory management. However, to support the assortment plan, you have to apply a specialized assortment planning tool to streamline this process.

Other things to know about product assortment

What is a product assortment example?

A product assortment would be something like different types of toothpaste (such as PS, Colgate, Sensodyne, etc…) that a store would carry.

A variety would be the different products that the stores carry. Selling cosmetics, clothes, electronics, etc… is a variety of products.

Why is product assortment important?

Your merchandise mix is both a source of financial success and a cause of company risk. Assortment decisions will influence the purchasing plan and also the following sale plan for a long period. Many things can be changed and fixed later except the purchased product mix. So it is better to spend time creating a great product assortment strategy from the start. It can help maximize revenue and reduce the risk for retailers.  

What are variety and assortment?

People sometimes think that variety and assortment are the same terms. However, it is used differently in retail. The major distinction between variety and assortment is that variety relates to the number of different product categories sold by a retailer, whereas assortment refers to the number of different items or SKUs in a product category.

Conclusion

In general, product assortment is critical in the retail industry. To establish a successful product assortment, you should integrate your inventory data with a thorough grasp of the market and customer purchasing habits. The way you define your product assortment strategy can influence your business’s success or failure. We hope that all provided information can be helpful to you to achieve business success.

Kate N.

Author Kate N.

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