What Is Wide Variety?

The wide variety strategy is a merchandising strategy that relies on an impressive range of goods to draw customers into the store. The old-fashioned five-and-dime store is a classic example of a wide variety strategy. In modern times, the controlled chaos of a dollar store may best illustrate the concept.

Understanding Wide Variety

Generally, a wide variety strategy is best suited to a boutique or small store rather than a big box store. The sheer range of goods is meant to impress. A deep assortment of each category of product is not needed to pull it off.

A variety store may offer miscellaneous food and beverages, personal hygiene products, small home and garden tools, office supplies, holiday decorations, electronics, garden plants, toys, pet supplies, remaindered books, recorded media, sewing supplies, motor oil, and home decor.

Key Takeaways

  • A wide variety merchandising strategy draws customers in with an impressive array of products in a relatively compact space.
  • The deep assortment strategy, by contrast, offers a greater range of sizes, colors, styles, and brands.
  • Wide variety can be most effective in a boutique or small store.
  • A wide variety store can compete with big box stores by offering superior service and a more enjoyable shopping experience.

The retailer who uses a wide variety strategy doesn't have the floor space to stock many different sizes and brands of a specific product, but it usually has what the customer is looking for.

A convenience store, for example, may offer a wide variety of products, but won't stock half a dozen brands of it in multiple sizes. In recent years, even pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreen's have turned to the wide variety strategy, stocking general merchandise well beyond medical necessities.

The Disadvantages of Wide Variety

Carrying a wide variety of products limits the space available for a deep assortment of products. There is a risk that consumers will go to a specialized retailer with a better selection of a specific type of product. Some businesses, such as supermarkets, manage to offer both wide variety and deep assortment.

The sheer range of goods is meant to impress; a deep assortment is not needed to pull it off.

A wide variety business can also rely on convenience, personal service, and a more enjoyable shopping experience to make it a preferred destination for its customers.

Wide Variety vs. Deep Assortment

Retailers face a trade-off when determining whether to pursue a wide variety or a deep assortment merchandising scheme. Trying to do both requires a great deal of space, and these days that means competing with big box retailers.

Retailers with smaller spaces can go with a deep assortment if they choose to specialize in a certain product or products that they can offer in a range of colors, sizes, styles, and brands.

The deep assortment strategy may be most appropriate for serving a clearly defined demographic. For instance, a retailer can cater to new parents with a deep assortment of baby clothes, toys, and bedding. All of those things can be found at a nearby big box store, but many shoppers may prefer the baby boutique.