Switching Into Overdrive

1 "Best Sellers"

One of the most common and obvious techniques is to provide a list of top sellers on the home page. The reason for showcasing top sellers is that these are the products that the most people are looking for, and nothing can be easier than no clicks away. Also, they are, by definition, the products most likely to attract interest from people who weren't planning to purchase them.

2 Making options easy to buy

Try deploying some "would you like fries with that" style techniques. Accessories are provided as options to the main products using a check box. So, when the buyer selects the main product, they can buy options with it, simply by checking the box.

This provides a double whammy. Clearly the sales of the accessories are higher. But the buyer also saves time in finding the option and saves hassle in working out what goes with what. This assurance that products will match, or be compatible, also impacts the number of customers abandoning their carts before the order is completed.

3 More for more

"Everyday low prices" may work for supermarkets where buyers shop regularly and understand the true cost of their weekly trip. For niche retailers which are less regularly visited, there are better ways of working. This means following one of the most basic rules of price merchandising - only give more for more money. Never provide a straight discount.

The key method is to try to hook the buyer with a solid offer, then once they have decided to buy, entice them to part with more of their cash with a better value offer. An example would be where five roses are half the price per rose of a single rose. The buyer only commits to one rose, but when presented with the right offer they may feel that they would be getting better value if they bought more.

The technique can be used with numbers - the larger the quantity bought, the lower the price. Or try bundles, where the cost of the bundle is less than its constituent parts.

4 Up-selling with "Also Bought"

Another approach, pioneered by Amazon, analyses the previous and current purchasing history of buyers. A new buyer is then offered a list of products that they might be interested in, because similar buyers also bought them. This is particularly likely to work for products like books and CDs, which is of course Amazon's home territory. Depending on what ancillary products are offered alongside yours, it may be more or less applicable to your web site.

Worth a try

Selling online is about offering what the customer wants at a price they like; winning their confidence; and making it easy to purchase. With the careful application of merchandising techniques. there is scope to actually make the process better, at the same time increasing both sales and net margin. It's got to be worth a try.

Written by Chris Barling, CEO of E-Commerce and EPOS systems supplier, Sellerdeck. Orignally published on Fresh business thinking.com.

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