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Ecommerce Forum

Is it possible to have too many products?

 1:07 am on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hello Everyone...

We run a successful Internet store that has a little bit over 1000 products in the catalog.

To help people find what they're looking for, we have them broken down into ~27 categories. Several products overlap to 2+ categories.

Does anyone have non-opinion data that suggests it is possible to simply have "too much" stuff in a store?

Opinions are also welcome, but real world experience is obviously better. =)




 8:08 am on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the more products you have the merrier.

You just have to organise them in a very clear structure and display the products without any confusion.


 10:30 am on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't think you can have too many products.

But the more you get, the more of a problem you have with categories. 27 sounds a bit much, unless some of those are sub-cats.


 11:20 am on Mar 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Makes the site search more important to get right, maybe?

Jakob Nielsen has some research on this.

hth, a.

Kevin French

 12:44 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)


I don't think its possible to have too many products, however, organization and relational proximity of those items is of the utmost importance.

You have 1000 products in 27 categories and Amazon has gazillions of products in 32 categories.

I would see if you can streamline your categories, experiment with your merchandising and as others have said, utilize a *good* site search utility.


 12:57 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> organization and relational proximity

I totally agree Kevin

Consider a store that sells one product. It's pretty quick and easy for seller to get the buyer into the sales funnel.

Products of similar ilk - say... widgets in blue or widgets in red - requires choice. Any time you offer the user choice, the possibility they may decide to leave exists. But these choices here are simply defining the first choice and if kept to a reasonable number appeal to the buyer.

Dissimilar products... I think it's an advantage as long as there's a common thread. If your niche market is books ala Amazon - there doesn't seem to be an upper limit. People will keep coming to you if your search tools and categorization work well to help them find what they're looking for.

If you go for the target store theme (many dissimilar products with little or no common theme) then I think it's a losing proposition. Too many choices equal too many decisions which may include the decision to go elsewhere.


 1:38 pm on Mar 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>Amazon has gazillions of products in 32 categories.

this is not exactly true, there may be a small number of top level categories but amazon has many, many 'sub' categories ... it depends what you mean by a category i guess


 4:24 am on Mar 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you dropship, its better to have several websites, with each website selling a line of products per vendor.

If some of your products are real dogs, you may want to prune the website, for the stuff that people rarely buys.


 8:40 am on Mar 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

YOu cant have to many products from a customers point of view if you lay everything out correctly, but you can have to many products in terms of your time it takes up keep track of every thing.

I.e you may have some very slow moving products/ver low margin products that take a disproportionate amount of your time and as a result money.


 2:11 pm on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you go for the target store theme (many dissimilar products with little or no common theme) then I think it's a losing proposition. Too many choices equal too many decisions which may include the decision to go elsewhere.

not if you rank for or advertise for each product section independantly. The advantage of not splitting into smaller sites could be things like branding and trust


 6:08 pm on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Our own online warehouse has over 100,000 individual product variations listed in 18 parent categories.

So long as your systems (web server) and database can handle the load of search and service, the number of your products isn't really an issue.

Classifying those products well and presenting them to your customer in a way that they would think to look for the item they want, that is the trick.

Suggest you make your search very visible, and ensure your search engine is optimized well. Do you rely on a keyword search or all text search? (ie. Keyword field vs. everything). Depending on how your search is configured will determine how fast your pages are served... we found that out the hard way... :)


 8:12 pm on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Is it certainly possible, I think, but only if you don't have a way of searching for them within your site, or alternatively ensuring that the right kind of customer comes to your site, i.e. the kind who buys.

It doesn't matter about other products if the customer finds straight away what they are looking for.

I've been trying to sell ecommerce shops for a while within a direct sales model. So the product of the shop is itself available. Iteration, I believe it's called, in the language of programming.


 8:52 pm on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

this is an interesting thread...

My store currently has 328 products and I have been thinking about adding more. I rank really high for some major keywords but I'm not doing so great in sales because I think that I don't have enough products. Some of my competitors have 2,000 - 3,000 products and I'm thinking that probably makes a big difference in sales.


 12:36 am on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've found that by associating products with each other (ie., paint with brushes, easels with canvases, etc.) helps to boost the bottom line. Something along the lines of "If you are getting this, you might like that!" sort of thing. Hit on the impulse-buy relfex... ;)


 7:42 am on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

very interesting replies so far... would love to have more people weigh in on this


 10:12 am on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)



 7:28 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

The more the merrier as long as you put some SERIOUS thought into usabilty and navigation.

None of us are Wal-Mart/Amazon so I'd stick with a theme.

But PURELY non-opinion data:

We started out with about 2500 sku's (fragrance products if that isn't too f'n specific for mr.tabke...) and by increasing our inventory to 8000 skus we dramatically our conversion rate as well as attracted more SE traffic, have the most appealling affiliate program, increased our multiproduct buys, and thus our average order value.

But this is 8000 skus in essentially the same category. We are now over 10000 sku's. More is definately better.

That being said, we warehouse very little and mostly use a series of dropshippers and suppliers that ship direct just for us because we drive significant volume. If you warehouse your own crap you have to find that balance between what sells and is worth the cost of holding inventory. Excepting that variable I'd say bigger, faster, wider, and in more colors is best.

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