Using upselling to boost eCommerce sales

Before getting into this topic, it’s important to understand the difference between upselling and cross-selling. While both are suitably effective when properly employed, upselling typically refers to the practice of offering a customer a more expensive version of their intended purchase. Meanwhile, cross-selling is offering complementary items once they’ve made their intended purchase. Done well, using upselling to boost e-commerce sales can have benefits for both you and your customer.

To be successful with either method, you need to have a good understanding of the motivations of your customer. Let’s say your shopper is looking at a pair of binoculars for bird watching and settles on a fairly heavy pair with mid-level optics and magnification. If you have a good understanding of their planned usage, when they click on the mid-level pair, you can also show them a few offerings with more power, sharper optics and less weight.

Odds are, they’ll purchase the better ones.

The key is making sure the alternative products you offer are better suited to their primary purpose. When you present the higher-quality binoculars, you’ll want to make sure they are equally suited for bird watching, with the added attribute of improving the customer’s usage experience.

Unfortunately, this has been done so poorly so often that it has something of an unsavory reputation. How many of us have had a car salesman trying to add “paint protection” to our new car purchase, when we know all the dealership is going to do is charge $1,500 extra to wax the car? If you truly take your customer’s needs into consideration and show them a genuinely useful upgrade upselling can be a win-win for both the buyer and the seller.

You have to have a sincere desire to make things better for the consumer. As you’re considering how to set up an ecommerce site, it’s important to ensure every aspect of your site is considered from the perspective of improving your users’ experience.

Going back to our binocular example, along with your suggested offerings you should demonstrate how a lighter set would decrease their potential for fatigue and be easier to hold steady. Show them how sharper optics will render clearer images and added magnification will make the subject appear larger. Offering advice of this nature demonstrates an interest in building a relationship with the customer, as opposed to just selling them on a more expensive item. People appreciate it when someone has truly considered their needs and offered them useful advice.

Along with the better binoculars, you can offer information such as how many pairs of the better binoculars are left (if there are only a few) to create a sense of urgency in the customer. When people get turned on to something better and it looks like it might be about to get away, they’ll often make a purchase right away to avoid missing out.

Anther method building upon the same principle is to offer a special price for a limited time only. “If you purchase within ‘X’ number of minutes you’ll get a discounted price.” By and large, people are predisposed to place a higher value on things that seem more difficult to obtain. If we think there’s a possibility we might not be able to get a particular thing in a certain way we tend to want it more.

Again, and this cannot be overstated, the key is to make sure everything you do is designed to make your customer’s total experience better. When you demonstrate you have their best interests in mind, rather than a one-time sale, you’ll earn a loyal patron whose repeat business will sustain your enterprise.

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