Why smarter ecommerce brands have made the shift from cataloging to curating

I want you to be your brand less ordinary’s Chief Curation Officer.

Let me explain.

I see two directions for Ecommerce growth strategy right now. The cataloger and the curator.

The cataloger pursues the SKU. Bigger is better. They believe the greater depth of product range on offer, the greater the revenue shall be. If sales are stagnating you throw more products into the mix. That’s what people desire. Choice. Catalogers have been Amazoned.

Then there’s the curator.

The curator is a highly selective soul. The products they sell. The audience they reach. The marketplace they work within.

The curator drives growth by launching feet first into the shoes of their customer. They focus on marketing the products they stock. They ask questions and gather data on their customers to better understand ways to improve conversion. They introduce better technology to improve the customer experience. They’re tasked with advancing site categorisation and product theming. They make sure what ‘Customers Also Like’ relates to what customers WILL also like (not what they want to sell more of).

The curator bundles products.

They theme their site by product over price.

Product categories and collections are thought through and actively reviewed based upon user flow analysis and feedback.

Then there’s the product page itself.

User reviews relate directly to the product.

Product upsells are based on logic rather than some random product generator.

The curator bundles customers.

Similarly, the curator ensures their existing customers are grouped with fellow likeminded customers. That cold marketing term we reference as ‘customer segments’. Emails are delivered that are meaningful and relevant. ‘What’s new’ vs ‘Here’s what we know you’ll love’.

The curator lives and breathes empathy.

They get why people buy what they do. It’s a first-hand education from talking to and learning from customers, not ‘best-practice’ blog posts.

Both the cataloger and the curator are as keen as each other to sell more products. They have very different ways about meeting their task.

Both, may well, believe in strategy-led, tactic-driven approaches.

The advantage, however, is well and truly in the court of the curator.

The curator sells through learning. Insight over blanket coverage.

The curator will win as their approach meets the needs of the modern customer.

Their sales copy focuses in upon the reasons people buy products compared with the generic ‘check out this features’ copy we become so accustomed to ignoring.

They also know that price isn’t the only reason people buy. Availability is critical. So is trust. It’s far easier to trust a company that sells with me, the customer, in mind.

The curator will also focus on building their own brand. They know that customer retention is just as important to the success of their business as customer acquisition. They maintain consistency in how they communicate through their website and email.

I could go on, but I won’t. You get the idea.

Ask yourself, how you stock the products you sell, how you market the products you sell, are you a cataloger or a curator?

For every Amazon-esque success story there are hundreds more thriving ecommerce businesses focusing in on their niche. Using their market expertise to motivate people to buy what they sell. Choice isn’t always a competitive advantage. Curated product selections can and will work for your business. For retailers as well as makers.

Written By:

Ian Rhodes


Growing fashion brands (without trashing prices). Delivering growth consultancy, training and strategy workshops for clothing & lifestyle brands all over the world.

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