If you read my post yesterday about how there are too many Po Campo products in my line, you might be wondering how I found myself in this predicament. I was wondering the same thing! Upon introspection, I believe this is how I get to a point where I have 40 SKUs in a business four years old with a hard time retaining customers:
- I like designing bags. I would design a new bag every day if I could. I would introduce a new bag every month if I could. It’s fun!
Lesson: It takes a lot of money and time to support every SKU. I’m seriously lacking in both so these so having the freedom to design my brains out will be something to shoot for: grow the business so there is enough $ and manpower to support that activity. Until then – stop it.
- Women like to have options. This is pretty well documented and the reason I would tell myself that designing so many bags was a good thing. Again, I’m too small to have the options that Fossil and Le Sportsac have.
Lesson: Have patience and wait until you’re closer to being a multimillion dollar company before you start acting like one.
- I was reactionary. A customer would say, “Oh, if you had this or that bag, I would buy it.” I would think, “Oh – that’s a good idea!” and would design this or that bag. And said customer would order 8 of them and I would be stuck with marketing the other 292.
Lesson: Only design this or that if they are going to order at least 500 of them.
- I was chasing instead of leading. Po Campo started off with two bags (the Clutch and the Satchel) and sales were “meh”. In using the bags ourselves and talking to others, the consensus was that neither were good for “everyday” use. The clutch was way too small and the Satchel was too big. So we did an in-between-sized bag, the Pilsen Bungee. Sales continued to be “meh” so we did some more digging and learned that the price was too high. So, the Wristlet and Logan Tote were introduced as cost-reduced versions of the other bags. Sales continued to be “meh”. You get the idea. Pattern is too polarizing? What about these? Bags are too feminine? Let’s try this. Function is too complicated? How about this? Before I knew it, I had 40 SKUs to support.
- Lesson: Going forward, I am going to take all of those requests but stop throwing darts at the wall to see what sticks. I am going to choose my best darts and stand a foot from the wall to make sure they stick.
All along, the real problem was that the bags weren’t selling well in stores. I should be able to solve this with a few SKUs, and then go from there. Wish me luck!