4 Ways to Get Customers to Add More to their Shopping Carts

This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated to reflect the state of websites in 2018.

In many ways, just getting more people to your e-commerce site 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 that:

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

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.

Sephora added to cart confirmation message and shopping cart-upsell to free shipping threshold example-tips to increase average order value

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. (Emphasis mine.)

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

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.

Bath & Body Works offers customers a discount if they spend a certain amount. (Emphasis mine.)

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.

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.

Anthropologie allows customers to make installment payments on their purchases. (Emphasis mine)

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.

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