Taking Back Control of High SKU Sites With A Small Team

From books to makeup and alcohol, having a high number of SKUs can bring loads of benefits like broader audience reach, increased revenue potential, more ranking opportunities, and a competitive customer experience. However, we probably don’t need to tell you that it also brings its own set of problems.

Recently, we’ve been talking to many clients who are struggling to balance resources, tight margins, and high SKU sites. As online shopping continues to grow, the pressure to offer the most products at the best price can become overwhelming.

If you’re a team with a high SKU site, it can feel like a losing battle trying to juggle thousands of products, CMS limitations, and seemingly endless firefighting. We chatted about common problems our clients bring to us and how to make a plan of action that brings real value in a recent podcast.

Resource Isn’t Actually The Problem

When clients come to us, the most common complaint is that there just aren’t sufficient resources to get things done. No matter how many people they have on staff, the site is just too big to make meaningful changes across the whole thing.

You’ll be surprised to hear that we disagree.

“For the vast majority, it’s not necessarily a resourcing issue, it’s a decision-making issue. This is the same principle you can apply not just in marketing but literally in most areas of your life. You always have a limited amount of resource, right? Whatever that is, whether it’s physical energy, whether it’s time. So, the real gains you can get are on decision-making skills and sticking with that decision.”

We’ve found that the real problem arises from what people are trying to do rather than the time they have to do it. Realistically, there will always be more work, so worrying about doing it all is the best way to get very little done. With our clients, we’ve seen that making small tweaks on a global scale very rarely tips performance, which can feel frustrating.

“You’re overwhelmed, and you’re like, fuck me, I’ve only got one person in the team.”

Instead, focus.

You could be optimising “fiction” for the rest of time, but optimising a specific author that your users love? That’s doable and valuable. Now, you don’t have a whole site’s worth of issues. Just one contained category that you know brings in revenue.

Identifying High-Yield Areas To Beat Decision Paralysis

So, how do you make this decision? The first step is understanding that a decision needs to be made. Recognise that the global scrambling isn’t working and isn’t bringing out the best in your team – not making a decision is as much a choice.

“You’re ignoring the stuff, but you were gonna ignore the stuff anyway because you were stuck on that idea of it being a resource issue.”

When you have a huge site, a lot of issues go ignored or unnoticed simply because it’s impossible to monitor and fix everything constantly. That’s okay. It can feel wrong to decide to work only on one area, but consciously focusing your energy will bring way better results than jumping from section to section without really changing anything. Sometimes, it just feels better. Especially when it’s someone else’s decision, if you don’t have the final say on how your campaign looks, then it can be daunting to suggest you just ignore 99% of the site. This is where knowing your site and your audience inside-out is crucial. We need to hone in on a high-yield area and create a vision full of evidence and confidence.

When it comes to any decision, there is one thing you need to give you direction:


You probably already know your hero categories and products, so you can start there, but it’s always best to really get into your reporting to discover the real numbers. There is unlimited data out there that can point you toward a high-yield area to make your focus.

  • Paid media
  • Sales data
  • Industry trends
  • Customer feedback
  • Social media engagement
  • Team interests

We’re big advocates for following your team’s interests and drawing on the knowledge base they already have. You can get things done quicker if you’re not learning as you go – plus, it gets people excited about their day.

“If the logic that you’ve applied to pulling that data in and making that decision is sound, like, you should be selling shed loads more Philip Pullman books in that instance. So let’s roll onto the next one, and maybe you could apply it to a bigger cluster.”

If you’re able to pull together a compelling narrative that builds upon success and shows a collective vision everyone can get behind, you’re in. The strategic use of data not only supports decision-making but also gives you easy metrics against which to measure your success. When it comes to moving on to your next goal, you can look back and see the impact your changes have made, which makes it even easier to apply them elsewhere.

How To Optimise For Your Audience

In the fast-moving consumer goods space, it’s important to know who you’re marketing to and why users are coming to your site.

“They’ve made all their decisions, they’re quite far down their intent path, and they just want the product, and then they’re selecting who to get it from. That’s the battlegrounds that a lot of these high SKU sites are competing on.”

For these customers, user experience is at the top of their list. Whether they’re looking for a deal, quick turnaround, or easy returns, there’s a reason they’re not going straight to the manufacturer brand. Providing the product isn’t enough to earn their repeat business, you have to make it an experience they’ll remember.

“Brand loyalty is a golden goose. It would be lovely to have it, but more often than not customers are coming in at something like perceived price and value.”

Knowing why users are actually coming to your site makes it so much easier to identify what you need to focus on. Whether it’s price, variety, or delivery, ensure this is front and centre of the user experience.

Are your USPs in your title tags?

Do your page headings make sense?

Is delivery information easily accessible?

Are you proving that your prices are competitive?

These are pretty simple things, but you’d be surprised at how many high SKUs brands we work on that just don’t have these down because they’ve been working too globally.

When looking at things that will make the biggest impact, think of navigation and topic clustering. You want users to easily find what they want, showcase relevant pages, and provide a unique experience in some way. The easiest way to start this process is to focus on a small area and really understand how to improve the journey of that user intent.

“All of a sudden, all of that, that big kind of scale issue goes away, right? And you’ve got a crack squad of people that’s going, how can we make this cluster, this area and this topic, this entity, the best version of what we can?

How can we make it better than everyone else?”

With limited resources, you can make a huge difference if there’s a singular vision. If your aim is to increase sales of Phillip Pullman novels, then you only need to enrich one user journey to make a positive impact on business objectives. Another issue with big online retailers is that users get decision paralysis, so you need to put in the work so they decide to commit on your site.

Engage users with relevant content like interviews and reviews, unique offerings (do you have different versions of each novel?), and related recommendations to increase the likelihood of conversions and repeat customers.

We might go on about it, but helpful content is one of the most important qualities a site can have, so putting your user first will always give good results.

Check out our deep dive into how World of Books has claimed its niche to learn more about honing in on your audience.

Making The Most of Omni-Channel Strategies

When it comes to user retention and engagement, you want to use all the tools at your disposal to capture people at all points in their buying journey. As we’ve mentioned, brand loyalty can be scarce, so staying at the front of people’s minds is the next best thing. When competing on a huge scale across hundreds or thousands of products, you have to give users a reason to remember you.

“What sort of stuff can [you] be talking about and try and unify that across your channels to gain interest, to capture that audience and keep them there.”

While organic or PPC is the foundation for getting your products seen in search results, a focused approach with your SEO will also lend itself to a social media campaign and an email campaign. All are targeted towards a high-yield area that you’ve already identified and are aligned with. Again, make the most out of the resources that you do have instead of stretching your team thin, trying to cover everything all the time. A consistent stream of relevant content, targeted offers, and directed engagement with your audience means you become the place they think of when they’re next shopping.

Not sure how to create an effective content strategy? Check out our review of how the discount retailers are keeping users on the hook. From how to learn what your users want to read to finding keywords and building backlinks, this is how you create helpful content that will take your online visibility to the next level.

Ultimately, managing a high SKU website involves more than just dealing with a large inventory. It’s about making strategic decisions, leveraging data, optimising key areas, and engaging effectively with your target audience. By focusing on these areas, any size team can navigate the challenges of high SKU websites and drive significant growth. Remember, it’s not about doing everything at once but about doing the right things well.