October 12, 2006, 12:00 AM

Sell more with less, Shop.org keynoter says

Offering thousands of SKUs on a retail web site can make it more difficult for shoppers to choose and result in lost sales, Barry Schwartz, author of “The Paradox of Choice,” said during the keynote address at the Shop.org Annual Summit Wednesday.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Offering thousands of SKUs on a retail web site can be counter-productive, making it more difficult for shoppers to choose and resulting in lost sales, Barry Schwartz, author of “The Paradox of Choice,” said during the opening day keynote address at Shop.org Annual Summit in New York Wednesday.

“It’s a universal problem, getting it right with fewer things,” Schwartz said. Limiting product selection runs the risk of merchandising the wrong products, but offering too many often confuses the shopper, he added. “The trick is to get it both ways.” One option, he suggested, is to feature only a few popular products on a home page, but also “hiding” other products that shoppers can find through navigation and site search.

Phil Terry, CEO of Creative Good, a customer experience consulting firm, backed Schwartz’ contentions as he joined Schwartz in a discussion capping the keynote address. “Customers are time-starved, they’re trying to make a decision. If retailers offer a long tail of products, they have to figure out how to offer a million SKUs without overwhelming the customer.”

Joseph Meisel, a manager for Amazon Enterprise Solutions who works with retailers including the Amazon-hosted Target.com, confirmed that perspective, telling InternetRetailer.com after the keynote address that Amazon realizes it needs to continue perfecting its personalization technology to refine buying choices for shoppers.

“We need to narrow our focus,” added Mary Fisher, director of e-commerce at Hottopic.com, an apparel retailer catering to young adults.

 

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