Deciding when to pull a product

After a few months of fighting a vole, I’ve given up.

(A vole is a mouse that lives in tunnels underground, also called a field mouse like in that children’s song)

This little pest has been sneaking around eating the bean stalks. It’s killed off a few dozen plants now.

Yesterday it took out most of the surviving edamame plants, leaving bean parts scattered around the yard and stems pulled down into its tunnels.

I could keep trying to fill in and cover its holes to divert it away but that hasn’t been working all that well. I decided it’s best to give up on the edamame and put my attention on growing something else in the limited time left.

So I pulled the last eight plants, threw down some flowers and cover seeds, and went back to the plants that are doing well this year (tomatoes, kale). Maybe next year it’ll have moved on and I can try beans again.

Knowing when to give up or say “not now” is important.

You likely have a number of products that might sell a few units but if you measure them, you’re going to find some that really under-perform.

Not just like a few percentage under-perform.

You probably have products that sell only 1/10th of your average products or drive away customer loyalty.

Keeping these products in your store is doing more harm than good.

The reality is that you should be culling a lot of products and variants each year. Even if you’re a retailer and have “infinite shelf-space”, having a customer buy an inferior product could cause them to not come back and buy again.

Amazon can get away with it because customers won’t blame Amazon if a product sucks. They’ll still come back to Amazon and buy something else.

You don’t have that luxury. A bad product experience can drive a customer away forever.

If you want to find out what products to remove, you have a lot of options. I’d recommend keeping your evaluation simple though by comparing each product’s

  1. total sales for past 2 years
  2. total LTV from customers who bought that product early in their lifecycle
  3. Repeat Purchase Rate

Use Shopify’s reports to find #1 and Repeat Customer Insights for #2 and #3.

Those three metrics will give you a balance of volume and long-term customer performance.

Eric Davis

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