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6 minutes read

The e-commerce owner’s guide to a strong product portfolio

Running a strong, profitable retail business is about the art of buying and selling of your product portfolio. This has been true of the nature of retail for the past hundreds of years. The abundance of e-businesses in the post corona world has nothing new to add to this paradigm. 

product segmentation

So it doesn’t matter if you have a shop for furniture, cat accessories, outdoor equipment, or US national memorabilia. You all ultimately face one challenge – to set up a strong vide product range to be attractive to the customer, keep prices competitive, and maintain a profitable flow of your shop. 

A strong portfolio can be (and should be!) calculated. After spending decades working with the largest retailers on the market, we have gained a knack for creating product portfolios that last. Bellow, we share four product segmentation strategies, their pros and cons, and finish with an open window of opportunities that arose from product segmentation.

How to create an ABC analysis

But first. You need to start with the basics, which is creating an ABC analysis. This technique is used to understand better which products in your product portfolio are your cash cows and which products are slowing your business down.

It works like this. Create a complete list of all your products on offer. Each item has to be a unique inventory number with its unique geographical position (or point of sale). So a shirt in 5 sizes, 3 colors and sold in three different branches is a matter of fact, 45 lines in your product list.

Now sort the table by sales, and your ABC analysis is almost ready. Make a line on 80% of sales, and anything above are your top products. Your most frequently sold products, which create the bulk of your business.

Now make a second line above products from the bottom, which are not sold at all, or with very little frequency. Anything below this line is your inventory trash and needs to be delisted from your offering.

Most of your products will be in the middle of these lines, creating the bulk of your offering. These products make the size of your portfolio, which is essential for customer satisfaction. If you would distribute your products on a graph, it would look something like this:

abc analysis

The As (cash cows) are only a few, but create the majority of your cash. These are your top products, keep them available at all times, and put them on the homepage of your site. The Bs (or Chasers how we call them) are only sold every now and then, but as a whole, still play a role in your total sales. The Cs are complete Losers. Get rid of these, stop selling this stuff; it’s only eating your money.

How to find the right product strategy

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And now the story gets interesting. Because there are several ways on how you can sort your products in the table described above. The way you sort the table directly reflects the type of businessperson you are and the values you have. Let’s get into the details of the four most commonly used types of product segmentation and what they mean for the business and the customer. 

Sorting products by sales amount measured in cash

This strategy puts value on products that create the most sales measured by the absolute amount of cash, regardless of their margin. This strategy is suitable for low margin businesses that live on large amounts of sales. Typically this strategy is used by companies that operate in popular product markets. Think of food, for example. This strategy is good for the consumer and not so good for the owner. Businesses, which chose this strategy typically enjoy high popularity among customers.

Sorting products by sales margin

This product segmentation strategy puts the most significant value to products that create the biggest added value. Sorting products by the sum of the sales margin typically puts upfront niche products that are hard to find elsewhere and don’t necessarily sell in large amounts but make a lot of profit. 

Businesses that use this strategy usually have a little extra on the offer, like service, advice, or other added value. The customer chose their stores because they offer goods which are somewhat complicated and unique. Think of a furniture store. 

Sorting products by sales amount measured in pieces 

This strategy focuses on products that sell the most. Regardless of their price or margin, the products which sell in the highest amounts are treated as the most valuable for the business. This strategy is suitable for a company which offers an abundance of goods and services to their customers. It’s the “we always have what you need” philosophy of money-making.

This strategy is cash intensive and inventory intensive, but it set you apart from the competition. Think of a gardening shop.

Sorting products by sales frequency

This portfolio values product which attracts customer often. It doesn’t matter if the customer comes and buys one piece or five pieces. What counts is how often customers come to buy. This strategy is especially helpful for businesses, which checkout shopping baskets with multiple items. The logic is to attract customers on frequently sold goods and sell the other stuff along the way. An electronics merchant would be a typical example of this strategy. You come to by a charging cable and leave with a flat TV.

Putting product segmentation into practice

A strong and healthy product portfolio is the essence of your retail business. You have now learned how to identify what’s essential in your item list, and you know that there are different ways to value your items. So you have now chosen your strategy, you did your sorting, and now what?

Product segmentation is a gateway to an enormous discipline called inventory management. The trick is to keep your products available while maintaining a minimal inventory at the same time. Read our blog on inventory management to find out more.

Inventoro is here to help. With our online app, you can create your product segmentation in a few clicks. Inventoro also helps you to manage your inventory like a professional retailer. Try our 14 day free trial a see for yourself.

Sales forecasting
and inventory optimization

Became a retail mastermind you always wanted to be.

Start 14 day free trial