The Internet provides merchants with the ability to offer customers thousand if not millions of additional product options than could ever be offered within a store. This is the entire rational give by Jeff Bezos for starting Amazon, he wanted to offer customers millions of book options rather than at best hundred thousand.
It can be very temping to offer your customers more and more choice. I would like to suggest that more is not always good for most merchants, the road to online business success may come from offering fewer products.
I agree with a former colleague who once said there is an inverse relationship between the number of products a new merchant says they are going to sell and their online business success. Those merchants setting out to sell only few products often do well, while those envisioning selling hundreds of thousands of products fail.
There is money to be made in the long tail but unless you have the operation processes correctly setup to deal with the complexity of large numbers it can quickly become overwhelming.
Many merchants take a similar approach when designing their website homepages. They try to cram as many products and offer as possible onto page, making their sites look more like a Jackson Pollock painting. Customers are left dased and confused about what the company is offering and the call to action.
The site lingscars.com would have to be the most confusing site I have found, to date. Some merchants like to emphasize “badness” as a personality trait. I think you will find they lose a lot more customers than they gain from this strategy.
People aspire to the design and quality philosophy of Apple and Steve Jobs but few come close to reach their heights. They are easily temped down the path of complexity opting to add additional features to satisfy a few vocal customers and push products out early before minimum quality levels have been reached.
What is your the minimum standard and functionality you need to get your product or service out to market?
Less is more
I am a strong believer in the Lean Startup philosophy that less is more, keep your product range small, measure everything and only grow in areas where you see sales.
Most businesses have a small number of products that generate a large percentage of their revenues and profits. Focus on these star products and forget about the rest.
The Internet provides the opportunity to access large number of customers and present them with a vast array of products, if you want to generate large sales start by focusing on small number of products.