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A Retailer’s Guide To Retail Assortment Strategies
Darren GilbertSep 4, 2023 5:40:00 PM8 min read

A Retailer’s Guide To Retail Assortment Strategies

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of consumer preferences can be daunting. But that doesn't mean you can't find success. Strategic assortment planning allows you to meet consumer demand while building loyalty and maximizing your product assortment. By mastering retail assortment strategies, you have the tools you need to thrive in a competitive market.

Quote On Effective Assortment Planning

That answers why it's so critical for you to get it right. When executed correctly, your assortment strategy becomes a powerful tool for differentiation, setting your store apart in a sea of options. It influences shopping behaviors, encourages repeat visits, and can turn casual shoppers into brand advocates. The stakes are high, but so are the rewards.

So, how do you navigate the complexities to hit that sweet spot in retail assortment strategies? It starts with recognizing that one size doesn't fit all. Whether you're focusing on localized assortments to capture regional tastes or broadening your range for mass appeal, the right approach is multifaceted. In this article, we'll delve into various strategies you can use to tailor your assortment planning to meet diverse consumer needs effectively.

Strategies For Implementing A Wide Retail Assortment

Strategies for implementing a wide retail assortment

A wide retail assortment strategy involves offering a diverse range of product categories in a retail environment. 

Unlike a deep assortment strategy, which focuses on a narrow set of categories but offers an in-depth selection within those categories, a wide assortment aims to provide something for everyone. You can often see this in big-box retailers like Walmart and Target, where you can find everything from groceries and electronics to clothing and home goods.

The significance of adopting a wide assortment strategy lies in its ability to attract a diverse customer base. By offering a broad spectrum of products, you're essentially converting your retail space into a one-stop shop, making it convenient for customers to fulfill a wide range of shopping needs in one trip. 

It can result in higher footfall and, by extension, greater sales volume. Moreover, the variety can be a draw, encouraging customers to explore and spend more time - and money - in your store.

Of course, implementing a wide assortment strategy comes with its own set of challenges. Inventory management, for example, becomes crucial as you'll need to handle a myriad of SKUs. 

To effectively manage a wide retail assortment, consider the following best practices:

  • Prioritize categories: While you're offering a wide range, some of your product groupings will be more profitable. Focus on these. You can analyze sales data to identify high-performing items and allocate more shelf space to them.
  • Inventory turnover: Keep a close eye on how quickly items sell. You should display your high turnover items prominently. You can use specific metrics like Days of Supply and inventory management software for real-time tracking.
  • Customer feedback: Always keep the lines of communication with your customers open. With their input, you can fine-tune your retail assortment.
  • Seasonal adjustments: A wide assortment allows you to make seasonal changes. You can rotate inventory based on the seasons or holidays to keep your product selection fresh.

Strategies For Implementing A Deep Retail Assortment

Strategies for implementing a deep retail assortment

A deep assortment strategy involves offering a narrow range of product categories but providing an exhaustive product assortment within each category. This approach is common among specialized retailers like beauty stores or bookshops, where you might find an exhaustive list of products catering to specific consumer interests.

The deep assortment strategy holds significant advantages for building customer loyalty and attracting a specialized market segment. 

By offering a comprehensive selection, you can become a go-to destination for consumers seeking variety and specialization. It cultivates repeat business and turns occasional shoppers into loyal customers. In a marketplace filled with generalist stores, depth in assortment offers you a competitive advantage that you can replicate easily.

Implementing a deep retail assortment strategy also comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. Here are some guidelines:

  • Category selection: Choose the categories where you can provide the most value and stand out in the market. You can't offer depth in every product group, so focus on your strengths. You can achieve that through market research, past sales performance, and customer feedback.
  • Supplier relations: Build strong, long-term partnerships with suppliers to ensure a consistent and diverse product range. It allows for better negotiation of rates and access to unique items that competitors may not have, strengthening your competitive advantage.
  • Inventory management: A deep assortment means more SKUs within each category. Use data analytics to understand what's selling and what isn't, allowing you to optimize your stock levels. You can also use machine learning or demand forecasting to manage your SKUs and reduce any unnecessary costs associated with inventory turn.
  • Customer engagement: Use in-store signage, online descriptions, and knowledgeable staff to guide customers through the many choices within each category. You can also personalize your promotions or recommendations based on any customer data analytics you collect.

Strategies For Implementing A Scrambled Retail Assortment

Strategies for implementing a scrambled retail assortment

A scrambled retail assortment strategy involves offering a diverse mix of unrelated products or product categories within a single retail environment. While this may seem counterintuitive, this approach can engage customers by offering unexpected, non-traditional combinations of products. 

Typically, convenience stores and online marketplaces use a scrambled assortment strategy, where you might find health products alongside stationery and snacks.

The key advantage of a scrambled assortment strategy is its element of surprise, which can engage customers and increase the time they spend in-store or online. If you offer an eclectic mix of items, you can capitalize on impulse buys and cross-selling opportunities. 

For example, someone coming in for a specific item might purchase other unrelated items out of curiosity or convenience.

Managing a scrambled product assortment is a complex task, requiring meticulous assortment planning and organization. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Customer behavior analysis: Understanding customer shopping habits can give insights into which product combinations might generate impulse buys.
  • Merchandising: Effective in-store or online layouts can guide the customer journey, subtly directing them towards varied product combinations. A well-designed layout places complementary and surprising items near high-traffic areas or checkout counters and encourages your customers to add last-minute purchases.
  • Inventory management: With a wide variety, keeping track of multiple SKUs is crucial. Use advanced inventory systems to monitor sales and stock levels so that you can restock and make any changes when necessary.
  • Dynamic pricing: You can leverage pricing strategies to promote lesser-known or slower-moving items in combination with popular ones. In a scrambled assortment setup, dynamic pricing algorithms can automatically adjust the price of slower-moving items when purchased with popular products, helping you maximize your overall profitability.

Strategies For Implementing A Localized Retail Assortment

Strategies for implementing a localized retail assortment

A localized retail assortment strategy involves tailoring your product assortment to meet the specific needs, culture, and preferences of the local community you serve. 

Unlike a one-size-fits-all approach, this strategy considers regional differences to provide a more personalized shopping experience.

The localized assortment strategy is increasingly critical today since consumer preferences can vary widely from one location to another. Customizing your product range to meet local demands leads to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and higher sales. Additionally, this approach can create a competitive advantage, allowing you to meet your customer's needs head-on when compared to generic stores.

Implementing a localized assortment strategy requires an in-depth understanding of your customers and the capability to adapt your offerings. Here are some steps:

  • Market research: Conduct thorough research to understand local customer preferences, seasonal trends, and cultural inclinations. You can employ various methods for conducting market research, such as customer surveys, hiring local consultants, or forming partnerships with local organizations.
  • Local partnerships: Collaborate with local suppliers to offer regional products that may not be available elsewhere. By creating local partnerships, you can also provide suppliers with a broader distribution platform and increased sales opportunities.
  • Flexible supply chain: Ensure your supply chain is agile enough to adapt to different product assortments in various locations. An agile supply chain may include responsive logistics, real-time tracking, and easy scalability.
  • Data analytics: Use data analytics tools and software to monitor sales performance and customer feedback in real-time so that you can adjust your offerings when necessary. You can also monitor specific metrics to ensure you tweak your product range when necessary.

Strategies For Implementing A Mass Retail Market Assortment

Strategies for implementing a mass retail market assortment

A mass-market retail assortment strategy aims to appeal to a diverse audience by offering a retail assortment that has universal demand. 

Unlike specialized or localized strategies, the focus here is on providing items that have broad appeal across various demographic and psychographic segments.

The mass market assortment strategy is crucial for you if you want to scale your operations or enter diverse markets where consumer preferences can be varied. The appeal of the products allows you to reach a wider customer base, potentially increasing sales volume. It is a worthwhile approach for online retailers and chain stores that aim for consistency and brand recognition across multiple locations.

Implementing a mass market assortment requires careful planning and execution. Here are some guidelines:

  • Market analysis: Understand the broader consumer market to identify the products with a universal appeal. Market surveys and data analytics can be valuable tools here. You can also use metrics like customer retention and look at sales trends or market share to understand mass-market appeal and product performance.
  • Product selection: Choose popular products but not so niche that they exclude certain customer groups. The idea is to be as inclusive as possible. That could include staple or basic merchandise or seasonal favorites.
  • Price competitiveness: Given the broad nature of the market, price becomes a key differentiator. Ensure your pricing strategy is competitive. Examples could include bulk purchasing or optimizing supply chain efficiencies. Being price-competitive in a mass market often requires upfront and ongoing analysis to ensure your pricing remains competitive as market conditions change.
  • Promotion and placement: Use aggressive marketing strategies to reach the widest audience. Also, focus on the store layout and online user interface to make it easy for customers to find what they want.


Navigating retail assortment strategies can make or break your success in today's competitive marketplace. Turn this challenge into your edge with effective assortment planning. To unlock revenue-boosting tactics and elevate your retail game, download our assortment planning ebook today. Turn challenges into profits by mastering retail assortment strategies.


Darren Gilbert

Darren Gilbert joined in 2017 and is the content manager. He has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Stellenbosch.