Apothecary jars on a blue set of shelves

What to do with products that aren’t selling in your online store

6 min read
Jayson DeMers

When you started your online store, you probably envisioned a potential future in which your products sold consistently and predictably, generating a steady and reliable stream of revenue for you, the entrepreneur. It was also probably a matter of weeks before you realized things are more complicated. If you're like most business owners, your online store has at least some products that simply aren't selling. What do you do with products that aren’t selling and what can you learn from them?

What is selling and what isn’t?

The first thing you need to do is figure out what products are selling and what products are not. Ideally, your website hosting provider or website builder will provide a backend analytics platform you can use to calculate the number of products sold, the amount of revenue you generate and other metrics.

For example, through GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing Ecommerce platform, you can create product pages, sell products and analyze how those products are selling with interactive data analytics. You also can evaluate the product sales and revenue generated from each product.

But what constitutes a product “not selling”? That's open to interpretation.

If you've sold zero copies of “x” product in the past year, that product is clearly not selling.

Otherwise, comparison is your best too. If your most popular products sell in quantities of thousands per month and your least popular products sell in quantities of tens per month, 100 might be the threshold that divides “sufficiently selling” and “not sufficiently selling.”

What to do with products that aren’t selling

Once you’ve determined that some of your products aren't selling, what can you do?

The lack of sales may not be due to the nature of the product, but rather how it's positioned and how it's marketed.

That's why your first step should be adjusting the product page to try to spark new interest in the product itself. You can do that with one of these six steps:

1. Take new photos

Woman taking picture of shopping bag

One of the best things you can do is take new photos and videos of the product itself. Showcasing the product from a more flattering angle, showing off more variations or demonstrating how the product can be used can all make it seem more appealing to prospective buyers.

2. Try new keywords

Have you optimized the product page for specific keywords? If so, you may want to try adjusting your targeting.

A different set of keywords could allow you to capitalize on a different market segment or could make it easier for you to climb the rankings of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Just make sure you optimize the headlines, descriptions and body content of the page in question.

3. Experiment with new copy

Similarly, you can experiment with the copy you've used to persuade visitors to buy the product. Try listing a different set of benefits or describing the product in new ways. A/B testing is going to be your best friend here, allowing you to compare the impact of two different sets of copy directly. If your product page improvements don't work, or aren't satisfactory, you'll need to take more drastic action.

4. Cut the price

If you cut the price of anything low enough, it will eventually sell.

You may not like the idea of cutting into your profit margins, but lowering the price even slightly could help you move that inventory.

Consider slashing the price at least temporarily to see what kind of effect it has on your sales.

Shopping bags with sale tags5. Use sales and special offers

You also can use temporary sales to drive interest in the product. Holiday sales, flash sales and clearance may be enough to get your product moving.

Once the product gets in the hands of more customers, they may leave more positive reviews and make more referrals, helping you build momentum where there wasn't any before.

6. Bundle your products

It's also possible to increase sales of a product by bundling it with other products. It puts the product in front of consumers who may otherwise ignore it and makes the offer more attractive from an economic standpoint. You can even bundle the product with itself, offering a package of several copies of a specific item for a slightly reduced price.

If all of these strategies fail, you might resort to one of the following tactics:

  • Return or exchange. Where did you purchase these products initially? Can you return or exchange them for something else?
  • Donate. Are these products totally useless to you? If so, you could donate them to a good cause — and claim a tax deduction in the process.

How to improve sales

As you consider what to do with products that aren’t selling, you could take it as an opportunity to improve your website sales, including (but not limited to) the sales of your least popular products by trying one of these tips:

Analyze the “why”

You know that some of your products aren't selling, but do you know why? You can use a combination of website analytics, ratings and reviews, and direct customer surveys to find an answer to this question. Is the price too high? Do people think it's ugly? There are many possibilities here, and each one requires a different approach to improve the business.

Better understand your target audience

In this course of action, you'll have a critical opportunity to better understand your target audience. Who are you trying to reach and how are you trying to reach them? The more you learn, the better you'll be able to position all your future products and marketing.

Apply these new lessons to the rest of your store

Don't look exclusively at your underperforming products.

You can use these lessons to improve how you position top sellers as well, boosting your best revenue generators to be even more valuable.

Underperforming products aren't a death sentence. Oftentimes, a tweak to the product page or a flash sale is all it takes to turn things around. Even if you can't revive a failing product, you can learn something valuable about your audience and make positive changes to your website.

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