Online Product Assortment

An assortment strategy in retailing involves the number and type of products that stores display for purchase by consumers. Also called a “product assortment strategy,” it is a strategic tool that retailers use to manage and increase sales. The strategy is made up of two major components:

The depth of products offered, or how many variations of a particular product a store carries (e.g. how many sizes or flavors of the same product).

The width (breadth) of the product variety, or how many different types of products a store carries.

Essentially, a product assortment strategy is a retail industry sales tool with the concepts of depth and breadth at its core. However, not all retailers will be able to use both components of this strategy at the same time.

An assortment strategy can have many layers of sub- and related strategies, as each store will need to tailor the strategy to address its own particular needs and goals.

A deep assortment the opposite of a narrow assortment of products means that a retailer carries a number of variations of a single product. A wide variety the opposite of a narrow variety of products means that a retailer carries a large number of different kinds of products.


Different online promotions may have different effects. Therefore, it’s important to define eCommerce promotion’s objectives. Some examples are:

  • Promotions can help move products to the top of a search page. Presence on the special offers page gives similar visibility. Bear in mind, that depth of a promotion is not as important as getting your promotion to the top of the page. For example, when you are considering a 10% or 20% price promotion, both will get you to the top of the search page. The 20% price promo will probably lead to somewhat more consumers but will cost you more money as well. In general, we see that higher price promotions are not worth the money.
  • Online shopping is often more “habitual” than offline shopping, and habitual behaviours are hard to disrupt. eCommerce tools like marking ‘favourites’ or online shopping lists reinforce this habitual behaviour. A brand’s challenge is to interrupt the pattern and encourage product/brand switching or impulse buying. Promotions will help with this.
  • Online promotions also allow brands to offer targeted promotions to individuals. Promotions can be tailored and designed with offers specifically for lapsed or non-buyers: it’s easier to identify these shoppers online than it would be in a physical store, although data and good retailer relationships are key.


Understanding eCommerce search habits such as sorting/filtering helps understand consumers’ “willingness to pay” online.

First, it’s important to understand these behaviours specific to your category. In complex categories, consumers filter more. In simpler categories, they hardly use any filters (even when there are many SKUs). Of the filters applied, brand is the most popular. Surprisingly, many consumers don’t filter or sort on price.

Filtering/sorting products affects their position on the results page. Online, where shoppers can’t see the whole store, it’s vital to be at the top of the page to have the best chance of being found.

On some sites, consumers can filter by reviews as well. Good reviews can usually command a better price. This is a question well worth investigating further for your own category.

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