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Optimizing Large SKU Count Retailer vs. Boutique Retailer On The Internet (part 1)

Large SKU Count Retailer vs. Boutique Retailer On The Internet

Recently a broker asked me how I would handle setting up a new Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing position for a large SKU (Smallest Known Unit, or individual parts) count retailer/direct marketer with an existing successful book of business.

This is a different kind of project than someone starting up a website on or A typical Yahoo shopping cart has from 20-200 individual product numbers.  There are many other vendors of shopping carts, but the cart that Yahoo bought years ago was the strongest for many years. A ‘Yahoo’ type cart is someone who is selling 5 or 20 product lines with a half dozen colors of sizes of each. That kind of site allows for a mentality of treating each SKU or product number as a gem. With a small SKU count you are trying to create a relationship with each individual audience. There is a reason why Suzy likes the large blue one and Ryan likes the small burlap one.  The optimization of effort and concentration on solution is different than a large SKU count retailer.

The large SKU count retailer sees the world from the solutions, not individual but multiple solutions he provides his clients by providing a large selection of products.  His value is not his ability to choose the ‘one’ product a client needs, but in anticipating the multiple needs his clients with the proper products at the moment his client needs them. His job is to find, source, stock and share the information on the products his client needs before his client knows what they needed themselves.  While this retailer is:

  • being a mind reader,
  • attending tradeshows,
  • meeting with vendors and
  • separating the flash in the pan products that will haunt him for years with reputation ruining returns or worse from the next wonder product that later will become obvious they are winners,

The retailer has to stock the standards those products his clients count on him to have – the nuts and bolts of the industry. All of this requires a mindset of looking at the bigger picture, but also a process designed to store the data so it can be managed as a whole, as well as individually by item. It needs to be collected, so the addition of new items can be distinguished from current items. A bolt is not a bolt to someone concerned about corrosion on a salt truck holding a snow plow blade or boom on a sailboat crossing the ocean, or a motorcycle on a cross country tour.

The large SKU count retailer needs to 1st understand how he will manage his inventory and back office system before even considering how he will be selling it out the front end whether through a retail store, phone and mail order catalogue or Internet online sales. The back-end management wags the dog, compared to a boutique retailer where the front end store is the dog.

While much can be written about the tying of back end to front end, and working in partnership, I will focus more on a role directed to improving the front end results through marketing.  By marketing I am referring to all activities with new and existing clients to create:

  • greater lifetime value
  • higher referral rates,
  • greater profit per sale
  • reduced cost per acquired customer
  • reduced cost per sale

The next few blogs are some of my thoughts on the process I would take to begin the project.

July 23, 2009 Posted by | How To, SEM Industry, SEO tools | , , , , , | 2 Comments