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e-Commerce v Funnels: Which is better?
May 18, 2022

I’m confused between the e-commerce model and the typical online sales funnel model. I run a training company that sells online courses, but I also want to make it clear that I have a large library of products to choose from. A sales funnel would limit my audience’s choices by forcing them to evaluate a course that might not be the best fit for them (given our other offerings). What model should I choose? What are the pros and cons?


Analysis Paralysis

Dear Analysis Paralysis,

Boy, this is a juicy topic. Grab a drink and settle in—we may be here a little while.

It sounds like you already understand this, but it bears mentioning—neither option is better or worse than the other. You’ll hear a lot of e-comm bros talking smack about funnels and a lot of funnel hackers talking shit about e-comm. The reality is that a business model is a business model. If it’s making you money, great!

The pickle you find yourself in is deciding between the benefits and drawbacks of those two models with a business that could fit into both. Don’t get me wrong—I didn’t say should. The trick here is figuring out whether the customers you sell to would rather browse a wide variety of offerings or go deep into solving a specific problem.

A couple years ago, I worked with a lab testing company that sold a HUGE variety of blood tests—everything from tests for your hormone levels to vitamins and everything in between. We embarked on a long journey to building out a funnel for every one of their dozens of lab test categories. And you know what? By the time I shut down my agency two years later, we hadn’t finished. I had to train them up on how to launch new funnels, manage the upsell processes, and so on.

The point is that managing both e-commerce and funnels is a big task. You don’t want to make this decision lightly. My recommendation? If you have more products in your collection than you’d want to sell to one person with a specific challenge or need, odds are e-commerce is the better model for you.

Funnels are extraordinary tools for selling a small handful of products that solve a very specific array of problems (or just one problem). There isn’t much wiggle room in the type of product you can upsell someone to after you sell them, say, a toothbrush. You’re probably gonna sell them toothpaste, dental floss, or mouthwash. You’re not gonna sell them a Crock Pot or a knife block. Yet, when you go onto an ecommerce website, that kind of variety is expected.

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