Moreover, our rant continued, retailing also is having the right product at the right price at the right place at the right time for the right customer. If that 'right customer' wants to buy online instead of in-store, kudos to the retailers who figure that out! But then we paused. Maybe there IS something to be considered here. Something about the focus on that “right customer.” Easy – and Free – In-House Study So, here’s a simple, free project to try . Choose a short period of time, like one month, to try it out. Just gather your sales data for that past month. A. Make a simple tally sheet of two columns. One column is for In-Store sales , the other is for Online sales . Then, for each sale over the past month, enter these bits of info into the appropriate column on your tally sheet: Total dollar amount of the sale What they bought (by major merchandise category) B . Next, add it up . Get a total dollar amount for each column. And, maybe a total dollar amount for each merchandise category in each column. C. Look for the patterns . And the surprises (yes, there WILL be surprises!) D. Then, consider what that might mean for your stores. ( This is a great time to involve your key staff people as well.) For instance, it may confirm the purposefulness of your shoppers. Do they seem to have a clear idea of what to buy from you online, and what they prefer to buy in-store? Or, maybe it will illustrate how you have two very different kinds of shoppers . One group likes to shop in-store; another likes to shop online. Hmm. Would that make any difference in your operation? Should it? For instance, Does each group demand/deserve different merchandise mixes? What will it take to grow sales from each group? Should one group have priority over the other? Will you need other vendors? Different marketing programs? Or…? Or…? Or, maybe it's telling you about your merchandise mix. Some merchandise might be better suited to online shopping. And, how might the merchandise your customers seem to prefer to buy in-store be presented more effectively? Fun, isn't it? We think this exercise will stimulate the merchant thinking for you and your people. Is 'Cannibalizing' a Concern? Should you be concerned about “cannibalizing” your business by offering products online? We doubt it, but you should find out for yourself! Here's how. Quickly gather the data. (It's free, remember?) Serve it up as some great food for though t. And then, ahem, feast on it!