10 ways to increase your average order size

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ebayingWe all want to sell more. There are two ways to do it: get more customers, or sell more to the ones we’ve got. For most of us, the latter option is much, much easier: traffic costs, one way or another, so whether you’re paying eBay or Google or just your own time for online marketing, increasing the value of the customers you’ve already got, saves you something in the end.

Here are some ways I’ve used to increase the number of items bought in the average shopping basket both in my eBay stores and on my websites. I’ll say up front: this is based on what I sold (crafty things, jewellery, clothing), so your mileage, particularly if you sell cars or whirlpool baths, may vary. Mostly, it’s about price and convenience:

  1. Discount postage. Most eBayers already know this: if you sell two, you don’t charge double the postage. Give buyers a reward for keeping all their purchases with you.
  2. Target order size. Especially if you sell small, low-cost things, encourage buyers to buy a lot by giving them a target: free shipping or 10% off with orders over £xx or for more than xx items, for example. Personal experience: when I changed from free P&P over £20 to free P&P over £50, it more than doubled my average order size, AND cut the number of times I had to give away free P&P. Pick an amount that’s healthily above your average order size currently, and you should see an increase.
  3. Time-limited special offers. Here’s how it works. Your buyer wants three things, but they really only intend to buy one today. Except they’ve got a 10% off coupon that runs out TOMORROW. They’re going to buy all three today.
  4. Bundle. This can be as simple as selling the batteries with the gadget, but it needn’t be: “starter kits”, for example, do well in many areas. You might combine this with a discount, but don’t assume you have to. Sometimes you can charge more because the purchase is less effort: if you don’t believe me, go look at some of the “Christmas gift sets” the big stores are stocking.
  5. Cross-promotions. You know what goes with what in your shop. Make it easy for your customers to find it: most ecommerce packages will let you do this easily. Experiment too: if someone’s bought a pair of strappy heels, are they more likely to want another pair of strappy heels, or a matching bag? Find out what works with your customers, and do more of it.
  6. Organisation, organisation, organisation. (or taxonomy, for the information architects among us). Think about how your products are categorised. Too many sellers get this really wrong. If I’m looking at your shoe or clothes shop, I want things in my size: make it easy for me to find them. A category stuffed full of “heels” or “dresses” makes me work to find what I’m looking for: just give me a link to click! Better still, use subcategories so I can find size 6 heels really easily. If you’re doing this in your eBay Shop, make sure it’s set to show level 2 and 3 categories, not just top level.
  7. Keep your produce fresh. New stuff sells quicker. New stuff gives people a reason to come back more often, but it also gives them an excuse to fill their baskets with lovely new stuff. If you’re just selling the same old same old, people will buy the one thing they came for, and checkout without looking at the dull, tired stuff they’ve seen a hundred times before.
  8. What people want. Make it easy for people. This can be as simple as highlighting “best sellers” or “people who bought this thing also bought another thing”: again, this is straightforward with most ecommerce packages. If you’ve got something cleverer, you can start to profile your customers and show them what you think they’ll like based on what they’ve looked at before. Amazon (curse them and their cunning suggestions for books I want) are masters at this.
  9. Supersize me. Doing retail and genuine wholesale together is difficult, particularly if you’re a small business with limited cashflow. But don’t underestimate the “small bulk” order: the jewellery maker who wants more than the normal number of beads, or the boutique owner who’d like to trial a dozen of your t-shirts. Overt pricing for these people can increase turnover quickly with no real extra effort.
  10. Tell ’em! Sometimes all it takes is a reminder: “check out my eBay Shop for more great [what it is you sell]”.

Anyone got more tips they’d like to share? Leave us a comment.

Creative Commons License photo credit: psd

21 Responses

  1. Interesting info. I know this sounds obvious, but have the items that you have in stock actually live . Managing inventory is in my opinion the hardest job and is often overlooked. It’s the weakest part of eBay’s tool offering. There are no (cost effective and simple to use) solutions that I know of that integrate with eBay. There are some tools on the .com site, but they don’t work with Uk sellers.

  2. All good info.

    I just wish eBay would focus on improving this front facing side of their website rather than wasting time on their backside!

    (ie:- the recent dsr policy shift and the feedback side generally)

    After all what matters to eBay more?

    Maximising sales or feedback?

  3. Aside from combined shipping discounts what other multi purchase incentives is it possible to offer through eBay on a fully automated hands off basis?

    Remember that “free” shipping does not permit a hands off multi purchase offer. And from memory eBay rules prevent the offer of freebies or incentives in listings so eBay actively discourage this!

    So again massive Blue Sky rethinking required on the part of eBay. They really are well behind the times with this aspect of online sales marketing.

  4. Great article Sue and a timely reminder. It is so easy to get tangled in the daily minutiae and overlook the obvious opportunity to upsell.

  5. If you sell a mix of big and small ticket items you could offer free shipping if you spend more than £60 (or whatever works for you) on a minimum of 3 items. You then sell 2 small ticket items with that big ticket sale or 3 x £25 items rather than 1.

    Buyers of single big ticket items beyond the limit still then pay shipping.

  6. It’s a pity that ebay can’t begin to match the easy to set up incentives to be found even in something as simple as a bog-standard EKM website. They’re missing out on a lot of business by being so limited.

  7. It may be worth reminding ourselves of the eBay rules in connection with bonuses.

    eBay bonus rules state:-


    It is generally permissible for sellers to offer a bonus item to bidders within their listing as long as the following requirements are met:

    In all bonus listings the seller must state the exact price at which the bonus will apply. For example, it is not permissible to state, “I will throw in a state-of-the-art black and white TV if bidding reaches a high enough amount.” It is permissible to state, “I will throw in a state-of-the-art black and white TV if bidding reaches £150.”

    In Multiple Item Listings the seller must offer the same bonus item to all buyers. Multiple Item Listing rules require that all buyers receive identical items.

    Conditional bonuses, free gifts, and other items that do not significantly affect the value of the item for sale may not be included in the title of the listing.”

    Looking at the rules further, multiple item listings can either be offered as a multiple item multiple quantity BIN or as a multiple item single auction.

    Pointing to “bonus buys” within your eBay store through the use of links within listings, as long as it is not a redirect, is acceptable.

  8. Its worth bearing in mind that the any “buy 2 get 1 free” offer listing does not have to be at double the price of a single item. It could be at 2.5 times the price of a single item.

    How this would go down with buyers is another matter however it is still a saving on buying 3 seperate items.

    The links might refer to “Click here for multiple purchase savings” rather than referring to a specific offer.


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