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Upselling Techniques for Ecommerce Part 1

Posted on January 13, 2011 by Joelle

We all have heard the phrase “would you like fries with that?” which in its most basic form is upselling. For internet retailers upselling must be approached tactfully and create an E-experience that provides avenues as well as encouragement to add value to a final purchase through incentives, bundles, add-ons, or complementary items. The online retailer must not be quick to copy and paste the “would you like fries with that” upselling technique as it is often not effective in e-commerce, even turning your customer away from your entire domain by creating uncertainty. E-commerce upselling requires more planning, more programing, and more stylistic and unique soft selling.

A sample from the top ten internet retailers support this theory:

  • Amazon offers a soft sell incentive through Amazon Prime.
  • Apple offers over 26 possible add-on’s before checkout.
  • Staples offers easy reordering options that encourage customer loyalty.
  • Walmart offers a range of complementary items in more than 4 places before checkout.

For those skeptical or unwilling to practice upselling, the greatest opposition I have come to find is that they fear pushing customers into buying something they do not want. I must clearly state that this is not effective upselling. Effective upselling is quite the opposite, it is capturing value from something the customer does want, but simply needed to be reminded of. An example of this would be when I went to the car wash last week. I have always selected the basic wash and interior clean, but this time I upgraded! The salesman informed me that the difference between the basic and the deluxe (which was one level up) was that it included exterior wax, more detailed interior cleaning, and tire conditioner for about $2 more. He had no way of knowing that I actually would be driving some friends to an event and the extra care was valuable to me, and I was stuck in my routine and did not think to ask for additional treatment. The salesman did not push me into anything I did not want, he offered me an upgrade, and if valued I could accept.

Upselling is one of the best uses of a sales person’s time, it takes seconds to a couple of minutes and historically adds a significant margin increase. You can simply calculate the seconds in dollars that it costs a customer service representative to offer an upsell and discuss benefits, to the dollars it adds to each order that grew in value. This transforms a customer service representative from an order processor to an active sales person. Making upselling a natural part of the conversation will show that your company wants to fill all the needs of the customer and that you have the resources to do so. See my next blog for best practices for upselling!


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