Ecommerce Product Catalog Management: Are You Overlooking These Value Creation Opportunities?
Growing your ecommerce business can seem like a complex process. There are endless numbers of strategies available at your fingertips. But according to business growth advisor and best-selling author,
Jay Abraham, there are really only 3 ways to grow any business - online or off:
- Get more customers
- Get customers to buy more
- Get customers to buy more often
Many online sellers tend to focus on the first method - expanding into new sales channels or bringing new suppliers on board - or both - to drive growth. Because of this, too little attention is paid to the second and third methods. Not necessarily a smart move as we’ll explain. In this article we’re going to explore the second method: getting customers to buy more at each purchase. Many tips for increasing average order value (AOV) can only be applied if you sell on your own website because you have more control over the checkout process. However, what you’re about to read will also work if you only sell on marketplaces.
Catalog Optimization vs. Catalog Expansion
It comes down to focusing on only one or two suppliers, and your high performing SKUs, instead of adding new suppliers too quickly, which just makes your catalog too large and difficult to manage. You can get big wins on a much smaller percentage of products. The key is to optimize what you already have in your current catalog. You just need to take the time to go really ‘deep’ instead of ‘wide.’ Let me explain.
Let’s say you import a supplier catalog of 10-thousand items, and only 50 sell. Will you consider that a success? When you find out Amazon is also selling 99% of those products, you’d probably skip that catalog altogether. That’s a big oversight. You need to continue to test, to explore the possibilities. You shouldn’t overlook catalog optimization at the expense of catalog expansion. But all too often, this is the case.
Now I must admit that the following ideas are not new but from what we’ve seen, many online sellers are not taking the time to do these things … or they simply can’t because it’s too difficult. To be the best, you need to maximize every opportunity that comes your way. Especially when they’re sitting right under your nose.
The 3 Biggest Benefits of Bundling
This is when you combine different but related products into a single package. One of the biggest benefits of bundling is that it allows you to add new listings to Amazon’s catalog. If you’re the only seller on the listing, you’ll dominate the Buy Box. Plus, bundling increases your average order value, and in many cases, your net profit and profit margins.
Bundling is also a good way to get rid of underperforming products. Simply combine them with a fast mover and you’ll free up working capital without deep discounting.
How to Decide When to Sell Multi-Packs
This is when you sell more than one of the same item. The benefits of multi-packs are similar as bundling. Your average order value - and your chances of being the only seller of the item - increase.
How do you decide which items to sell in packs of two, or three, or six, or twelve? Analyze your sales history and look for items that customers are consistently buying more than one of. Then, make a multi-pack. Just because customers aren’t buying items in multiple quantities doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a good opportunity either. Which 1-packs are selling well? Try a 2-pack.
FBM vs. FBA
Too often merchants approach bundles and multi-packs with the wrong mindset. “If this item sells via FBM, then I’ll sell it via FBA,” they think. Ok, maybe. But just because something isn’t selling via FBM doesn’t mean it won’t sell via FBA. As you already know, when an item is Prime eligible, the conversion rate skyrockets.
That said, selling bundles and multi-packs via FBA carries more risk because they may not sell as fast as your 1-packs … and you could get hit with storage and removal fees. But sometimes you just have to roll the dice. If the individual item is popular, there’s a good chance a 2-pack will also be popular.
What to Watch For When Selling Bundles and Multi-Packs
In order to sell bundles and multi-packs you have to establish value for the customer. In other words, your bundle should be cheaper than each individual item. Your 2-pack should be cheaper than two 1-packs. However, this could cause you to lose some topline revenue so here’s what you need to keep an eye on.
If you take the revenue from the 2-pack and divide it by two, it’s going to be less than your 1-pack. Yes, your fees will potentially be less, but not always. It all depends on how much lower the price of your 2-pack must be to drive demand away from the 1-pack. Also, you need to track how much demand and revenue is diverted from your 1-pack.
While selling a multi-pack increases your average order value you need to monitor profit in dollars - not as a percentage. For example, let’s say your net profit is $3 on your 1-pack and $5.75 on your 2-pack. You just lost $0.25 on that sale. But that’s assuming your customer would have purchased two 1-packs. Then again, maybe they would have bought only one and thought, “I could use a spare.” Now your average order value nearly doubled!
Ideally you want to be able to compare total quantity sold when only 1-packs were offered with total quantity sold when both 1-packs and 2-packs were offered. Then you’ll know for sure if listing a multi-pack had a positive effect or a negative one.
How to Remove the Bottlenecks Bundling and Multi-Packs Create
This is tough to do without some sort of system. You need to create duplicate SKUs: one SKU for a 1-pack, one SKU for a 2-pack, another SKU for a 3-pack, etc. Then, activity reports for each SKU must be generated and manually combined as often as necessary - daily or weekly - to find out which SKUs are selling and where as well as total quantity sold. This primitive process slows down your reporting, inventory publishing and reordering.
You can remove this bottleneck by using a system that does this math for you. Quantities in alternative units of measure (2-pack, 3-pack, etc.) will be automatically converted to the base unit of measure (1-pack) for calculation purposes, making your job as an inventory manager much easier.
Doing Things Differently and Better
As you’ve seen, the use of bundling and multi-packs opens up new opportunities for growth - without having to add new channels or suppliers. Imagine how satisfied you will feel as you discover and capture the hidden value that others overlook. While your competitors focus on getting more customers or struggle to deal with the complexities that come with bundles and multi-packs, you’ll know what it takes to maximize your current catalog, getting customers to buy more at each purchase.
Are you currently struggling with the challenges of handling bundles or multi-packs? Do you need a system that will enable you to take full advantage of them? Our platform automatically performs the unit of measure conversion that must occur when you buy items individually and sell them in different combinations and quantities. What kind of impact would bundles or multi-packs have on your business? Get in touch with us today to find out.
Topics: Etail Vantage Point