How to convince your customers to spend more

Increasing the number of visitors to your online shop is not the only way to boost your sales; it’s just as important to increase the average order amount. These 5 sales techniques will inspire you to look at cross-sell opportunities, pricing and perceived discounts.

The sales techniques to trigger your customers to buy something extra existed well before the internet age. Here’s an example: you’re at McDonalds and the cashier asks whether you’d like fries with your burger. And that’s not all. For an extra euro, you can upsize to a large instead of a medium. In addition, it’s no coincidence that chocolate bars are placed right next to the checkout at practically every supermarket. It’s a proven way to get customers to buy a little bit more.

#1 Upselling

The above example is exactly how it works online too. Daniël Markus is the founder and director of ClickValue, an online marketing agency that specialises in conversion optimisation. Upselling is one of the sales techniques that is used most often. “You can entice the customer with a slightly more expensive version of the product that they want to purchase. For example, a camera, telephone or laptop that has just a few extra features”, said Markus.

The moment your visitor clicks on a product is the time to show two more expensive alternatives and to clarify what the differences are. “People have a certain emotion at every price point. One person may think ‘this is exactly what I’m looking for. Another may think that they’re not getting a quality product at that price. By showing the alternatives, you’re giving certain customers a push. They may opt for the more expensive product”, said Markus.

#2 Cross-selling

Cross-selling means bringing that same visitor into contact with a related product. “The goal is that the person may want to buy something extra”, said Markus. “If you sell shoes, chances are that your visitor will also want to include laces or socks with them”. Markus thinks that it’s advisable for anyone who wants to start cross selling for the first time to tackle this step-by-step.

1. Do a shopping cart analysis. Have a look at the fulfilled orders of your customers

2. Interview your clients. They can tell you what they need like no other person can

3. Consider for yourself what good product combinations could be

4. Start testing and see for yourself what items score well

5. If you sell hundreds or thousands of different products, it can quickly pay off to use specialised software. That way, you can scale up cross-selling opportunities faster. There is a lot of choice on the market, so ask a fellow entrepreneur which package they use.

“The software analyses visitor behaviour and automatically creates the best possible combinations. For instance, lace colours that are most often chosen for a pair of shoes”. Nonetheless, Markus advises online shop owners not to blindly rely on these automated solutions. “Software does not evaluate the difference between ordinary and extreme. You have to use your common sense, otherwise you could end up with some strange combinations”.

#3 The shipping costs

You can also use shipping costs to increase the order amount. This can be achieved by setting up an order threshold. “People see shipping costs as a sort of loss”, said Markus. “Suppose your customer has ordered items to the value of €60 with a € 6 shipping charge. Let’s say there are no shipping costs from €80. You can then make an offer at that moment: add an additional €20 of items to your cart for free shipping. The psychological effect appears to be surprisingly effective. Visitors avoid the € 6 and they experience that as a huge saving”.

#4 The perceived discount

The perceived discount is another tried-and-proven method. “You can say ‘spend € 20 and get € 5 back’. But another way to do that is: order something for € 20 and choose a € 5 product for free. It feels almost the same way to the customer, but it’s cheaper for you as an online retailer. You only pay the costs of that extra product and not the whole € 5”.

#5 Use a red herring

Suppose you offer a product for € 10. According to Markus, it can help to show another, much lower quality product that is only a fraction cheaper. In this case, about € 9.50. “There is also a psychological effect at play here. People see the two products and think: for € 0.50 more I can have all of those functionalities. It’s an ‘ugly duckling’ trick, or a red herring”.

Beware, Markus warns: even if you successfully apply all of these five sales techniques, you won’t have the goose with the golden egg. “Successful internet entrepreneurs use these techniques to increase their sales by a few percent. It is not the solution to a bad proposition.”

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