Do You Have Too Many Product Options? Focus On Quality Inventory for Campaign Merch Success

Whether you are a nonprofit organization or a political campaign, a web store is a big step. There’s a lot of foundational work that precedes your entry into the world of eCommerce.

While traditional retailers may stock their shelves with items in every different color or unique, kitschy accessories to increase the average order value, it’s a little bit different for mission-driven organizations like nonprofit organizations and political campaigns.

Traditional retailers have merchandisers and buying departments dedicated to capitalizing on trends and keeping their catalogs full of profitable items. Your catalog is designed as an outlet for your supporters to donate and show their commitment to your cause.

After you open a web store, it’s tempting to fill it with everything under the sun. If you have a wide array of items, you’ll please every potential buyer, right?

Wrong. It’s better to start small and focus on quality over quantity at the outset.

More web store items doesn’t translate to higher sales

The paradox of choice suggests that too many options leave decision makers overwhelmed, fatigued, and unable to feel happy and confident in their choices. Carrying fifteen t-shirt designs, available in a rainbow of colors instinctively seems like a good decision.

But research shows that it’s more conducive to sales to have fewer choices.

A well-curated storefront can incentivize customers to make quicker buying decisions. Narrowing down your web store’s selection of items can not only encourage successful sales, but can help you conserve resources like your staff’s time and your inventory budget.

Consider this: you and your team are stocking the campaign web store. In addition to two t-shirt designs, you include a coffee mug, a baseball cap, and a dog collar. Everyone on your political campaign staff loves dogs, so the addition of a pet-friendly item seems natural.

After the store goes live, orders roll in…but not for the collars. It’s a niche item, and you can’t sell it at the same volume as other, more traditional items. Eventually, you’ll end up left with inventory you can’t move.

That’s not to say you can never get creative. But to save yourself the headache of an item that does flop, an intentional, well-designed, thoroughly considered set of products will serve you best. A little whimsy sprinkled into your inventory can do well, but be sure you haven’t just added to your store without a strategy.

5 ways to make your store high quality

Generally, when political and nonprofit organizations open up a webstore, they have two goals: increasing donations and awareness. A store full of the wrong things won’t serve either of those as well.

The benefits of a store that’s curated and well-designed over a store with lots of items will help your campaign store achieve those goals. Here’s how to do it.

1. Fill your store with quality products

Quality has a different meaning depending on who you ask. Some say it means a durable and long-lasting product. Others may see price as an indicator of quality. But what we mean is a product that just makes sense. A surefire way to make sure your store is full of quality items and not just any old items is to consider the pairing between the product itself and the design or messaging that comes with it. Essentially, quality products should be relevant to your cause and your audience.

This can look different depending on your store.

For instance, a wooden drumstick won’t make any sense for 99% of organizations out there. But firefighters are known for pipes and drums bands. Often these bands perform to honor fallen first responders, and it’s a strong part of firefighter culture. It makes sense to have a set of drumsticks in their eCommerce store.

2. Approach the store as a whole

It’s easy to get overzealous when looking through all the products available for your web store. Especially with solutions like print-on-demand that have almost no overhead cost — providing each shirt design in a rainbow of different colors seems like an excellent idea.

But when you consider your store as a whole, there’s much more to consider than just the item variety.

How does the store look when a consumer views it on a desktop? What about on mobile? If you have 10 different t-shirt designs, they may be scrolling through endless pages, wondering what makes each shirt unique.

A streamlined user interface is one thing, but a streamlined inventory is where you will really be doing yourself and your supporters a favor. It makes choosing easier for supporters, and makes logistics on your side smoother.

3. Optimize your timing

A small inventory allows for something a lot of major retailers don’t have — flexibility. Nonprofit and political campaigns heavily rely on media cycles to inform their strategies.

When current events are in your favor, a small inventory provides the financial flexibility, and the room in your digital storefront to add a new item and quickly get it into production.

Seasonality also plays a role here. Media cycles are harder to plan around, but retail shopping waxes and wanes throughout the year with some predictability. There’s likely patterns you can identify and plan around, like stocking an ornament around Christmas.

4. Be strategic with outliers

There’s a reason plenty of campaign stores stock the same items. They are top performers. People don’t purchase a coffee mug from your eCommerce store because they need a new mug. They purchase because they want to show their support each morning as they drink their caffeinated beverage of choice.

There’s still room for creativity, though. Just be strategic about it. It’s easy to get excited about a product, but make sure it’s desirable to your audience and relevant to your campaign. That ensures you’ll pick a winner.

5. Keep it fresh

With a curated, thoughtful selection of items, you may not feel the need to sunset older items as you add new items.

But maintaining a fresh inventory is a great way to attract repeat business and avoid having dated products filling your web storefront. As items decline in sales or lose relevance, don’t be afraid to move on. Sunsetting items on a regular basis keeps your inventory fresh, and encourages consumers to buy sooner rather than later, lest they miss out on a coveted shirt!

See bigger sales from smaller inventories

It’s a terrible phrase, but it rings true here: A successful store will have everything that it needs, and nothing that it doesn’t. It’s tempting to offer endless variety and different designs in every different color. But keeping it simple will serve you, your goals, and your consumers best.

The paradox of choice at its simplest means that too many choices complicates decision-making. Don’t let your supporters get decision fatigue at your web store. Focus on quality, over quantity for a positive experience. Both for your customers, and your campaign.

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