How to find and fix under-performing products in your online store

It’s a fairly common question that online retailers ask themselves whenever they are reviewing the their product sales reports. Why are some of the products on my website performing so poorly? Well, analyzing the right set of metrics can give you the answers you’re looking for.

Every product matters

First off, you need to know that every product you’re offering on your store matters. If you care about improving conversions on your store and maximizing your sales, you’ll need to care about how each product in your store performs. Not just your “New In Store” items and not just your bestsellers. The key to seeing incremental sales to your e-commerce business while lowering costs, is to ensure that EVERY product in your store sells well.

So this means when products perform poorly, you’ll need to quickly diagnose what the problem is and find ways to fix it.

A few possible reasons why some products don’t sell

There are a number of possible reasons for why products perform more poorly than others. Here are a few of the common ones:

  1. Low visibility: Are you driving enough traffic to your product?
  2. Low or No stock: Is it an inventory issue?
  3. Poor Product Descriptions: Are your product names, images and descriptions resonating with customers?

All of these reasons sound like common sense. But with the right metrics, you will be able to conclusively determine which of these reasons are the cause of poor sales for some of your products.

1. Low visibility

It’s important to ensure that your site has been optimized to allow your visitors to easily discover the products you have to offer them. Logical category groupings, robust search function and good linking strategies (like product recommendations, or personalization techniques) within your site itself are some common strategies used. But even then, some products could have ended up being missed when you were setting up your internal links or was just simply unlucky to be located on the 10th page of one of your popular categories.

The average number of pages that visitors view in e-commerce websites is 5.4 pages according to Wolfgang Digital. So if your visitors need to take more than 6 clicks to get to your products, its a small wonder why its visibility is so low.


  • Product pageviews or unique visitor count showing low counts or 0.
  • Product is not visible on any of the high traffic pages in the store.
  • Product is not featured in any marketing campaign and has no inbound sources

Proposed fixes

  • Try featuring these products in special curated categories (eg. Back to School Specials, Party Dresses for under $50 etc) that you can promote on the high traffic pages in your store. Limit the number of products you’re adding to these special categories so visitors won’t have to click through too many pages to view them all.
  • Create marketing campaigns that directly link to your curated categories or the products that you wish to drive traffic to.

2. Low or No Stock

Customers not being able to buy your products because it ran out is one of the most wasted opportunities for your business. It not only results in a missed conversion today, but it can leave a negative impression on first time visitors and very well result in missed future sales too. That’s a lot of lost potential revenue.

But not all retailers are ready for a full fledged inventory management solution (which can cost a lost) and simply rely on the in built inventory management features in their e-commerce platform. That’s fine too, except you’ll need to be closely monitoring your products and making sure to keep a check on your inventory levels, looking out for products that are likely to run out soon or have run out of stock.


  • Product inventory levels show low counts or 0.
  • Product pageviews or unique visitors show high counts.
  • Product show high add to cart counts but 0 conversions. (this metric will only apply if you don’t disable the “add to cart” button when your product runs out of stock)

Proposed fixes

  • Set a “low stock” alarm for each of your products, especially those that tend to sell out faster than others. If a product typically sells at a rate of 3 units a day and it takes you 5 days to restock, then you should set your “low stock” alarm to alert you when the inventory levels hit 15.
  • Replace sold-out products in marketing campaigns or prominent high traffic pages, so you don’t waste great real estate space and you don’t waste leads with customers abandoning the purchase because you’re out of stock.
  • State clearly on your product page when you will be restocking if it is out of stock and encourage customers to sign up for restock alerts.

3. Poor Product Descriptions

People rarely buy things without understanding what they are buying or how it will benefit them. To help them get there, high quality product images and clear relevant information that your customers look for are important to include in your product descriptions. But when products perform poorly due to their descriptions, it’s usually caused by poor copyrighting, unattractive or few images or even irrelevant information being included.

There is no clear metric that you that would tell you conclusively whether it’s your product descriptions or images that are causing poor performance. But there are some indicators.


  • Products are visible on category pages, have stock but pageviews or unique visitors counts are still low.
  • Average time spent on page is low. Customers don’t usually spend a lot of time on the product page if the descriptions are too short or not helpful.
  • Product add to cart counts are high. If you have sufficient stock, your overall site conversion rate is healthy, product visibility is good and yet you see zero or very low add to cart counts for these under performing products, it can be a very strong sign of poor images and descriptions.

Proposed fixes

  • Improve product photography. Light your products well before shooting (natural daylight is best). Instagram filters are great for making images look romantic, but people prefer accurate colors when they are viewing product photos.
  • Include sufficient photos to show different angles or color variations of the product you’re selling
  • Use descriptive and emotional words when describing products. Remember, customers need to be emotionally vested in your product before they will buy. Good product photography allows them to visualize how the product will suit them, while a good description tells the story of how the product will change them.

Test and change and test and change

After you’ve identified the possible causes for poor performance in your products and made the necessary adjustments, you’ll need to track and monitor these products over a period of time to see how the changes have affected them. Were there improvements? Or did things remain the same? If things don’t work out the way you expect them to the first time around, you’ll need to keep experimenting to see what else you can do to help your products make those sales.

Effective data analysis is key to driving strong product performance

To be able to continually monitor and track your products, ensuring peak performance is hard work. The data you’ll need to continually collect, compile and analyze accurately is key to driving strong performance in all your products. The downside however is that the manual process of having to collect, compile and analyze all this information is tedious, time consuming and may leave you to discovering problems too late.

Inncee understands this and was designed to help automate the collection of vital information about products from all over your online store. The information is then quickly compiled and reported in the dashboards to allow our users to easily track and monitor products, categories and brands.

In addition, Inncee also helps to analyze all the information and scan for under performing products. Once such products are detected, we alerts users to take actions. All this allows our users to become more agile in responding to potential problems early on and address them head on before it has a bigger impact on sales.

Give Inncee a try today

Inncee had released a Shopify app this month which allows any retailer using Shopify to connect their store to our analytics service. This allows us to collect the necessary information to run our analysis for you and monitor for changes in your store’s products.

If you’re a Shopify user and you’d like to see how Inncee can help you save time and effort while boosting your store’s product performance, sign up now for a 30 day free trial. No credit card required.

A version of this article was first published on Inncee’s blog How to find and fix under performing products on your online store

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