Expanding Your Product Line

by Aaron Turpen of Aaronz Auction Newsletter


Once you've got your "core" product line, you'll want to begin slowly expanding that line of products to increase sales and build cross-promoting items (items that sell other items as well as themselves).

While this sounds easy, it's not really a simple task. There are many things to consider; chief among them whether the new items you want to sell are available and realistic. Will others purchase them and will these items significantly ad to your product line, or will they merely be distractions? Can you get the items and, if so, are sales of them truly viable or just a pipe dream?

Answering each of these questions is important to your business' success.

Will The Item Ad Significantly to Your Product Line?

Is the item related to the other items you sell? For instance, lately I've been working on a new personal and home security products store. I have a group of core products I will be selling there, but recently was given access to a new vendor who sells body armor (Kevlar vests, flak jackets, etc.). These are an obvious improvement and add-on to the defensive products I am already selling and, in addition, provide another supplier of some of the core products I am selling already.

If, however, I were to decide to ad in a new group of items such as camping gear, I would obviously be stepping out of the core arena of "security" and into a whole new category: sporting goods. Probably not a good idea, as it would distract heavily from my store's core mission: to sell personal and home security products.

You'll have to answer these same questions for your own business as you find new sources and products. Most of the time, the answer is obvious, but sometimes it will take a little more in-depth consideration. Bring your family, friends, and business associates into the discussion and find out their opinion. You'll find that the general consensus among them is usually the right answer.

It's important to consider the question of the new product's compatibility with your current product line, as this is a core marketing and business focus issue.

Can You Get The Items?

This is a pretty obvious and straight-forward question. Obviously you wouldn't be considering adding an item to your product line if you didn't think you could find a source for it. Make sure that your source is reliable and, if possible, find other sources as well. If you can't find a reliable source, you may want to consider just adding the item as a temporary sales booster (a "bonus" upon purchase of another item or a "limited time offer").

Finding vendors for the products you want to sell is only part of the problem, however. You must also find products at prices low enough that you can be competitive selling themů

Are Sales of This Item Truly Viable or Just a Pipe Dream?

This question, more than any other, is what usually makes or breaks an item when being considered for inclusion in your store. The answer to this question is the very core of your business' efforts: making money.

Many times, the item would be a perfect addition to your current product line, but the costs associated with selling it (wholesale price, shipping, availability in common brick-and-mortar stores, etc.) make it prohibitive. Often you'll find that in order to be competitive, you'll have to market the item at break-even pricing, lose money, or otherwise cut your own throat.

Don't always assume that just because you're not making money with the item it's automatically out of the running as an addition to your current inventory, though. Some items, despite their lack of revenue, can significantly increase the revenue of another item when packaged together.

For instance, in my security products catalog, I sell various types and models of stun guns, pepper sprays and MACE, etc. When shipping is added in, some of the lower-end models turn little or no profit. I can't raise the prices because then I'd be out of line with current market value at common retail stores around the country that also sell those items. So I've improvised.

When combined together with other products as a "package," these items suddenly become profitable. The shipping is combined, which means I don't "eat" all of it on one product, and the packages are easier for some people to digest since it removes a lot of the required thinking when considering personal security. Items that they would otherwise have to compare individually suddenly jump in their perceived value because they are combined with other items that the buyer was likely to purchase anyway.

These combinations have the added bonus of appeal because I can list them at a lower price than buying each item individually would cost while still making money.

So remember to ask the right questions when looking at new products to sell. Whether or not you can sell them is not the key issue, but rather whether or not these items will ad to your current sales and marketing scheme.


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