Summary: Make every visitor to your e-commerce website count. You can increase the average order value through personalization and other techniques.  

In many ways, just getting more people to your e-commerce website already represents some small wins. Just getting more visitors over time means your SEO program is chugging along, your referrals are holding steady, and your content is delivering on the acquisitions front.

Because just getting the right number, and the right type, of visitors is already a challenge, you need to …

  • present customers with what they set out to find,
  • present them with related products that complement those primary items, and
  • maximize how they use your cart.

Here are a few ideas that can help you do these and increase your site’s average order value in the process:

1. Show related products

Personalization is all the rage, and one of the core uses of that technology, “You might also be interested in … “ is not a novel play. There’s a good reason for that – assuming you have the data and the technology savvy to make it work the right way, showing related products can provide huge lifts. To get it right, though, you need to test pretty thoroughly.

Experiment with placement. The related items can show up in the areas below:

  • Product page
  • Cart-add confirmation popup
  • Fixed cart-add confirmation page
  • Cart
  • During checkout
ways to increase average order value - showing related products example - target.com product detail page grayed out with added-to-cart pop-up. below the "added to cart" message are a "continue shopping" ghost button and a red "view cart & checkout" button. under the buttons is a "more to consider" section with a carousel of recommended products

Aside from making recommendations on the product detail page, Target cross-sells too on the added to cart confirmation popup.

You’d do well not to rely on automation completely. Watch out for poor cross-sell selection or off-target cross-sell that’s based on too little information. Cross-sells should be reasonable. Showing random stuff will only take away from the customer experience.

Also, decide if cross-sell, upsell, or a combination of both is appropriate. Cross-sell if you’re selling one main item that has a bunch of accessories. On the other hand, if you’re selling comparable items in different price ranges, you might want to upsell the customer to a different item, or maybe combine the two.

2. Upsell to free shipping threshold

Irrational as it may be, free shipping is a powerful motivator to get people to spend more (although shipping might not cost them that much in the first place).

Make sure you’re maximizing your free shipping offer by reminding customers how much more they need to spend to get free shipping. Do this intelligently, however. Only offer if the customer is within a certain percentage threshold or dollar amount of your free shipping. If the customer only has 5 dollars worth of products in their cart, it doesn’t make sense to ask them to spend 45 dollars more, just so they can take advantage of your $50-minimum free shipping.

upselling to free shipping threshold example - sephora.com's added-to-cart confirmation message and shopping cart. at the bottom of the added-to-cart message, it indicates "free shipping. you're only $24.00 away from free shipping". this message is repeated in the shopping cart

Sephora reminds customers how much more they need to spend to qualify for free shipping in the added to cart confirmation message and in the cart. 

Here are some best practices for upselling to free shipping:

  • Clearly indicate the free shipping threshold
  • Set threshold based on your economics
  • Reward additional sales by setting prices properly – increase average order value by setting the threshold just above the most commonly bought product or price point

Learn how to make prices appear less painful for shoppers.

Read ” 10 Techniques to Make Pricing More Appealing”

3. Offer a discount on certain price threshold

Nudge customers to check out more stuff by offering a discount if they spend a certain amount. You can either offer dollars or a percentage off if a customer buys X worth of items.

This tactic is very useful especially when you’re trying to move inventory faster in a specific department since you can also limit the coupon to apply only to certain products.

ways to increase average order value - offering a discount on certain price threshold example - a version of bathandbodyworks.com's homepage with a promotional message at the top that says "$10 off $30 purchase"

Bath & Body Works offers customers a discount if they spend a certain amount. 

4. Bundle Products

You can also persuade customers to checkout a set of related items by grouping them into a cheaper package. A Harvard Business School research reveals, however, that such deals are only effective if customers are also given the choice to purchase the items individually.

tips to increase average order value - bundling products example - gopole.com's bundle category page has a collage of products for each bundle. each bundle indicates the total savings as a percentage. the original price has a strikethrough and the new discounted price is beside it

GoPole sells GoPro accessories individually and also groups the items into cheaper packages.

Bonus: Allow Customers to Make Installment Payments

How you present the price has an effect on the likelihood of the customers buying. The bigger the number, the more the customer associates the price with losing finite resources or pricing pain.

One way to make pricing more appealing to customers is to divide the price. You can do this by offering installment payment options. By breaking down the price into smaller units, you can make an otherwise overwhelming amount seem less expensive.

allow installment payments example - anthropologie.com's product detail page offers afterpay - below the price in the action block on the left side, it says "Or 4 installments of $44.50 by afterpay"

Anthropologie allows customers to make installment payments on their purchases. 

Increase Average Order Value

You work arduously to get customers to your site and to convince them that you’re the best company to do business with. So, aside from presenting them with what they initially wanted to buy, leverage the customers’ buying mindset by showing them related products. Also, give them compelling reasons not to postpone their purchases by offering some sort of incentive if they check more items out in a single transaction.