The Art of the Upsell on eBay

Do you want Fries with That? The Art of the Upsell.

We’ve all heard it before. You’re hungry and you pop into Mickey D’s for a hamburger. You get to the front of the line and place your order for a Big Mac and a chocolate shake. The cashier asks, “Do you want fries with that?” Well, hm, as a matter of fact, you do want fries. Why not? McDonald’s just made another $1.70 with a simple suggestion. As we interact during our day of buying products and services we are met regularly with a suggestion to add onto what we have already decided to buy. This is a common strategy known in the marketing world as up-selling. Just today while I was at Starbucks ordering my tall House Blend the cashier asked if I wanted to make it a grande for only thirty cents more. Ha! No way. I saved my thirty cents. I was on to him since I was thinking about this newsletter topic.

No matter if you sell jeans at a department store, Tupperware at a home party or products online there are several universal marketing laws. Not everything is similar when you cross over to selling online, but in the realm of marketing with a bit of tweaking and some creativity, there are age old strategies that work very well for salespeople. Up-selling is one of them. The definition of up-selling reads:

“Up-selling is a sales technique whereby a salesman attempts to have the customer purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale. Up-selling usually involves marketing more profitable services or products, but up-selling can also be simply exposing the customer to other options he or she may not have considered previously.

Examples of up-sales are adding side dishes to a food order, selling an extended service contract for an appliance, suggesting a customer purchase more RAM or a larger hard drive (whether or not they need it) when servicing his computer, or selling luxury finishing on a vehicle. A common technique for successful up-sellers is becoming aware of a customer’s background and budget, allowing them to better understand what the particular person might need. Many companies teach their employees to up-sell products and services.” — Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia

Keeping the definition in mind *becoming aware of a customer’s background to better understand what the particular person might need* (or want). I know two wonderful eBay sellers who have contributed to this subject. I posed a question to my Yahoo discussion group asking what would be appropriate add ons in different categories of selling at eBay. Thank you Laura and Bettye from eBay_establishings for your thoughtful replies!

1) book restoration/preservation supplies
2) biographies of authors/illustrators
3) artwork of illustrators
4) book jackets and protective items
5) book plates
6) nostalgic toys of similar era
7) collectibles featuring favorite characters of the eras
8) decorative items with artwork similar to the book illustrations
9) modern reprints of nostalgic books for the children and
grandchildren to enjoy (without destroying the original investment)
10) collector’s informational materials
11) stuffed characters from the books
12) reading journals
13) videos of the books, books about the author/illustrator of the books

Trendy clothing for teens
1) Scented dresser drawer liners
2) Cute hangers
3) Scented sachets for closets and drawers
4) Lint roller?
5) Monogrammed garment bag
6) Cute hair accessories
7) Inexpensive trendy jewelry
8) Colorful tights/socks

Certainly thinking about the needs and desires of our buying customers on eBay will set us apart from the folks who are selling stuff garage sale style. There is not a thing wrong with clearing out our closets and dumping stuff on eBay to make a bit of pocket change. However, if we want to make our selling on eBay profitable and long term we are wise to think about buyer’s psychology while perusing our listings. What kind of person is the typical person viewing your auctions? Is she a stay at home mother, a grandmother or a career woman? If she’s a teen, what would appeal to her taste besides the cute blouse she has bid on? Do realize your buyer’s credit card is out. How can you appeal to her to buy more? The likelihood of adding on to her purchase is super high now that she is buying something from you. Offer an incentive if she does add to her purchase. This incentive can be through a combined shipping discount or a free gift if she spends over a certain amount of money.

An example might be: The benefit of adding on a protective cover to her 100 year old book is it is preserved for many more years. Wouldn’t it be prudent for her to protect her investment? This a benefit oriented up-sell.

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