Five Upselling Techniques to Increase Your Website Sales

Nikole Haiar - April 17, 2014

upsellingonlineAnyone who has ordered fast food at a drive-thru window has been exposed to upselling and cross-selling: “Would you like fries with that?” and “Would you like to make that a value meal?” It’s a slightly different process for online marketing, but the intent is the same: Get customers who are already engaged in the buying process on your website to increase the amount of money they are spending – not only during that purchase, but on future purchases as well.

One of the most effective ways to increase online sales is to encourage buyers to purchase other items that may be of interest to them based on what they’re viewing on your site. Another proven method is to encourage shoppers to consider the next higher priced item if it in fact could better meet their needs. Done correctly, upselling and cross-selling can help significantly increase online sales, maximize the ROI per customer, and reduce individual cost per acquisition.

Let’s take a look at five ways to upsell customers that can really help increase your sales:

  1. Display complementary offerings on the product’s main page and order confirmation pages. “People who bought this item also bought…” and “if you like this item, you may also like…” are now common on many sites because they work. If you’ve ever been tempted by the accessories shown below your intended purchase on Amazon.com – who pioneered these techniques – you know it’s a strategy that pays dividends. Your web programmer can easily add a section that suggests products based on what the customer is buying. For example, if the customer is buying a book in a series, you might suggest the next book in that series, or a package that includes that book plus others by the same author or in the same series.
  2. Offer free shipping on purchases exceeding a certain value. This technique encourages shoppers to reach a certain dollar amount and works well when your shipping prices would already put them over this amount anyway. A good rule of thumb is to understand the average order value of your sales, and set the minimum spend just above this amount. It encourages customers to purchase an additional item just to reach that free-shipping level.
  3. Offer a bundle of items at checkout for a lower price. If the customer is purchasing a toy at checkout, you can offer the entire series of toys at a discounted rate, but only if they purchase the bundle immediately. This is a good way to entice customers to think about the discount they will receive rather than the overall purchase price.
  4. Offer a small discount for adding something to their order. If the customer’s order totals to $43.22, for example, offer them a 10 percent discount on orders above $50. This will encourage a customer to add another product to take advantage of the discount.
  5. Offer a discount for multiples of an item. This works incredibly well when you’re selling something that is consumed regularly, such as vitamins, toothpaste or ink cartridges. By discounting multiples of the same item, you’re not only keeping inventory fresh; you’re also increasing your average sale.

When implementing any upsell strategy, be sure to track which items are being sold to better understand what is working best for your company. Discontinue any strategies that are not working after a few months. Remember, you can also cross-sell well after the sale via email based on what the customer purchased.

Upselling, when done well, can be a terrific tool to help you increase your average sales and the overall profitability of your company. It’s also a great way for customers to discover new product lines and the breadth of products your company offers. Following the five tips above is a great way to get started.

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