Variety may be the spice of life, but as shoppers rein in their spending, many retailers now find their overstuffed inventories just a bit too spicy. However, stores' efforts to whittle down their bloated roster of products could ultimately do more harm than good.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores
That abundance of often needless choice now seems like a relic of our former economic heyday. Starbucks
Still, shareholders in conventional retailers probably won't approve if stores cut too deep, for fear that too few choices could alienate consumers. Pruning too aggressively could also pinch suppliers, who may already fear that smaller inventories will shut them out of huge retailers like Wal-Mart.
Internet rivals pose yet another danger for stores slashing their selection. Online, the amazing amount of choice that Netflix
Offline retailers now face a difficult balancing act, trying to trade cost savings against customer satisfaction. And beneath their tightrope, hungry Web-based companies wait, salivating at the thought that they can provide more of the items increasingly missing from skimpier shelves.
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