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Ending a product line

... best practice advice wanted

     
10:46 am on Jul 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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One of our suppliers was taken over by a large company a few years ago. Slowly but surely they've squeezed our margins over the years so that it really isn't worth the hassle any more.

The products are not reliable so we end up with a lot of replacements with all of the messing about that implies. We've had products that have a near 100% failure rate. In addition, the manufacturer is really slow about deliveries as well, around 6 weeks if we're lucky. All told not very good. So we've decided to stop selling this particular type of widget. It just isn't worth the effort any more. We've got other areas that are worth us putting effort into.

What I'd like to know is what is the best way to discontinue a line of products?
11:30 am on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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best way to discontinue a line of products?

With a "near 100% failure rate" I would do so quickly and completely.

End it. Delete it. Any association with a product that bad can come back to haunt you.

I'd get as far away from it as I could. After sufficient time had passed I'd probably deny ever having been associated with it to begin with.
5:56 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You could leave the page up and say you have discontinued it due to quality issues, which is true and which people should know. Then put links to similar products on your site, if there are any.
6:14 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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say you have discontinued it due to quality issues

Just be careful the way you word it- you don't want the manufacturer coming after you with a libel lawsuit. Maybe say something more like, "Due to the high number of customer returns and complaints we've received, ...""
8:19 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I would discontinue it and put something similiar up on the same url's. That way the manufacturer can not do a thing about it and when people who come to your site can find a similar product.
9:03 am on July 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The problem with replacing the product line with another manufacturer is that the industry is dominated by just one big player. We just can't get the margin on their stuff to make it worthwhile. The recession has also knocked the market for six too as it was dependent upon office being built and office moves. Can't see that market coming back for quite a while.
12:26 am on July 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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My experience with this type of thing in the past suggests that the manufacturer is slowly going out of business. So, it's better to be forced to change not then to wait.

Many of them like to announce these things just days before hand, or even the same day.
4:39 am on Aug 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The problem with replacing the product line with another manufacturer is that the industry is dominated by just one big player.

Other suggestion: notify visitors that you no longer carry it - put up ads to related (high paying) urls.
5:26 pm on Aug 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Several here have already given the best advice IMO. I have discontinued several lines for various reasons and the way I do it is.

Leave the pages up as is expept I take anyway for the item to be purchased, and right under the title I add something like this.

This Line has been discontinued. I highly recommend this product/line as a replacement and link to the recommend product.

Don't want to delete the pages because you could be getting traffic from the product pages and some will buy the recommend brand some will move on. there is no need to add anything about the product line being a problem just send them to a like product in hopes of completing a sale.
8:24 am on Aug 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@bwnbwn - good advice something we pretty much do when a single product is being discontinued. We're effectively getting out of a whole product line so we've got 30-40 products that are being discontinued including several major categories on the site. What do you do when you are completely removing a top level category? Is it better to delete or retain? My suspicion is that even if we say on the site we don't deal with a bunch of products we'll still be asked about them. People do not read web sites!
9:58 am on Aug 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Retain if at all posssible if not then 301 it to a close line. If your asked then you have a very good % that if done right could make a sale on another line.

If there isn't another line you carry that will fill in for the deleted line then your best option is 301 that back to the home page the major categories and product pages. Some may say let them go 404 but me I just ddon't like to have link rot on my site.