Different Channels / Different Merchandise Assortments

Our industry has been wounded by a lot of bad advice over the years - particularly advice coming from folks who don't work at our companies but instead provide ancillary products and services.

A key area of damage surrounds an "omnichannel merchandise assortment" supported by "same look and feel across channels". You're told you "have" to do this or your business is "dead".

Your business is most certainly not "dead" if you don't follow the advice of somebody who doesn't actually work in your industry.

And you most certainly don't have to have the same omnichannel merchandise assortment with the same look and feel across all channels.

Why?

Because each channel, even when everything is the "same", possesses different customers with different merchandising preferences.

The table above is actual data for an actual client. I ranked the top 30 best selling items in the past year. Then I indexed sales in each channel ... a -20% means that the item sold in that channel 20% worse than the company average ... a +20% means that the item sold in that channel 20% better than the company average.

Look down the five channel-based columns, and it quickly becomes obvious that different stuff sells in different channels.

So what is better for your business?
  • Same look and feel and same merchandise in all channels, sub-optimizing each channel?
  • Same assortment, featured differently by channel so that each channel can achieve sales gains?
We all know the answer is same assortment featured differently by channel.

But that's not the way we execute.

Catalogers struggle with this concept all the time - the catalog and the website must be "fully integrated". No! Use a comparable merchandise assortment, sure, but the catalog features items that rural older Americans like ... while the website features items that younger suburban Americans like. How hard is that to execute?

You can do this!

Run the report.

Look at the differences.

Then merchandise your catalogs and website appropriately.

P.S.: In e-commerce, the same rules apply between your desktop/laptop experience, search, email, and mobile/social. Same concept.