Practical Ecommerce

5 ways to expand your product range for free or little cost

If you’re a small online retailer, you may not want to tie up much – or if things are starting to bite financially, any more – money in purchasing products for your online store. But how can you expand your product selection easily without affecting your bottom line?

Here’s five possible ways.

Co-promotion with another retailer

You probably know a range of people who work in similar, or complementary fields to your own. For example, a marriage celebrant may have a relationship with an upmarket resort which stages weddings. The pair could test a limited-offer promotion where the couple books the marriage celebrant to officiate at the resort which offers a special wedding reception package. This is a win-win-win situation, helping both suppliers to benefit by expanding their customer bases and enabling the couple to simplify the number of companies they need to organise.

Increase your product selection with Photoshop

If you’re keen to test how interested your customers are in a product offering and don’t want to tie up money setting it up, get your graphic designer to Photoshop the additional product/s onto the photos of your existing item/s. For example, I sell gifts. I had spent some time and money organising an interstate photo shoot for my gift baskets to include my gift-boxed gift certificates. Instead of spending thousands on flights, accommodation and photography again, my designer simply Photoshopped my gift certificates onto the new gift baskets. Hey presto! I expanded my range three times for a fraction of the sum.

Create a new product offering through Photoshop

Create a new product offering through Photoshop

Survey your customers for products they want

People are more than happy to give their feedback and genuinely get a kick out of helping to create or improve a product. Ask them what they’d love to see on your website. Send them a survey asking for their feedback on your proposed new product inclusions. You may surprised that a pet project of a particular product you’re hoping to launch, is unpopular or that they’re unwilling to pay very much for it, while they’re super-keen for something you wouldn’t have thought had much appeal.

Test-market a non-existent product

After you’ve surveyed your customers (remember, only the keenest fans will bother to participate so it may not be representative), create a test market product with Photoshop and copy and put it on beta test back order status. Let people know the new product “exists” and by clicking the back order button, their credit card won’t be charged but you’ll contact them as soon as it’s in “stock”. Start promoting it. If you have enough interest, launch it.

Make slight changes to your existing product

It may be that a tiny tweak is all that is required. This could include:

• Colour – change the colour and you could make more sales. For example, some customers may prefer non-gender-specific colours instead of pink and blue for children. Adding baby products in lemon, green or lavender can attract those customers as well as those seeking as a unisex option for mothers-to-be. Fortunately, colour costs no extra in production.

• Size – sell more product by stocking the sizes that sell out fastest (many women get upset that clothing websites are over-stocked with size 6s and 8s but not enough 12s and 14s). Alternatively, they might want a smaller version of your product, say as a travel gift.

• Product quality – those who sell paper products may be able to sell it at a premium by offering higher grade stock which feels good and expensive to touch

What have you done to expand your product selection for minimal cost? Please comment below.


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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Cristina Sierra October 25, 2012 Reply

    Elizabeth – this article could not be more timely for me. I am also a gift giving service (toys, specifically) and currently pouring over a doll catalog trying to figure out how to avoid tying up significant dollars in inventory.

    Your article provides easy, actionable ways to increase my product range with minimal risk. Thanks so much.

    I would love to connect and compare notes! Cristina S @nevermissgift.

  2. Elizabeth Ball January 16, 2013 Reply

    Hi Cristina,
    Thanks , I just saw your response!

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