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What Is an Assortment Strategy in Retail, and How Does It Work?

PHOTO: What is an assortment strategy PHOTO: What is an assortment strategy

What is an assortment strategy?

In retailing, an assortment strategy refers to the quantity and variety of goods available for customer purchase. Merchants use this strategic tactic, also called a “product assortment strategy,” to manage and increase sales.

There are two main parts to the strategy:

  • The breadth of items available, or the number of versions of a specific product a business carries (for example, the number of sizes or flavors),
  • How many things a business offers, or the breadth (width) of its product diversity

Work of Assortment Strategies

A product assortment plan is essentially a sales technique for the retail sector built on the ideas of depth and breadth. Meanwhile, few merchants can employ both elements of this tactic at once.

Each shop must customize the strategy to fit its demands and objectives. Hence, an assortment strategy may contain multiple layers of related and subordinate plans.

A store that carries a wide variety of a particular product is said to have a deep array of items, which is the opposite of a limited assortment. Contrary to a narrow variety, a wide variety of items signifies that a merchant carries a sizable number of various product types.

A Problem for Little Stores

When choosing an assortment approach, retailers must make a decision. Big-box shops are often the only places to choose from a broad range of comprehensive items at once.

One reason a 7-Eleven (private since 2005) might only carry one brand of canned cat food, for example, while a Kroger (NYSE: KR) probably would have the space to stock 12 brands of canned cat food, if it chose to, is that smaller stores may decide to specialize in a particular type of product and offer customers a variety of colors and styles.

The term “brick and mortar” Since the depth and breadth of the strategy’s components have much to do with physical space and the visual and tactile contact between the consumer and the product, the assortment strategy was first primarily used to describe brick-and-mortar retailers. However, in recent years, brick-and-mortar, online, and offline sales channels have applied this method in various ways to obtain a competitive edge.

Taking Demographics into Account

Retailers may fine-tune their selection tactics to target specific consumer demographics by assembling goods they think would appeal to particular customers. For instance, if a business wants to draw in new parents, it may stock the shelves with popular brands of infant clothing and toys, beds, and other necessities for new parents. Customers looking for items that brought them to the store might be upsold supplementary goods by a carefully prepared product variety.

Whether or not they are requirements, deliberately grouping similar things might encourage impulsive buying:

  • A merchant may encourage greater purchases by positioning garden hoses near sprinklers and other lawn-care supplies. Placing an opulent patio dining set with elegant outdoor dishware and bar accessories in the center of the more useful yard-care items may even cause some shoppers to flee to the store’s housewares department.
  • A display showing the batteries required to utilize the product might be displayed beside a display of flashlights or other battery-powered items. Or a store manager may place the batteries next to the cash register to alert consumers before they leave that the flashlight needs batteries to function.

Assortment strategies’ potential drawbacks

There are several drawbacks to depending only on an assortment approach, notwithstanding the possibility that the breadth of the product selection may aid in luring buyers. The demand for these products may change significantly if items in an assortment are positioned incorrectly.

For instance, mixing in less well-liked things might detract from the attractiveness of the more well-liked ones. Or, if the selection is too big, shoppers can have trouble discovering what they want. Providing customers with excessive purchasing alternatives might backfire and reduce consumer interest.


  • An assortment plan is a tactical sales approach used in the retail sector to maximize the product range.
  • This approach is based on “a deep assortment” and “a wide variety.”
  • Product selection tactics were first used in the context of physical stores but have since been effectively transferred to e-commerce platforms.

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