Order Size Optimization – Can You Get a Little More Cha-ching?

Back when this eBiz writer slaved in retail at a big box electronics store, employees in the departments that sold music and video games were required to carry around accessories like CD cases to upsell shoppers. Why? Video games and CDs have low margins, but the accessories are marked up much higher. Getting the customer to buy the extras adds value to a purchase that is, in many cases, a low or no value sale. At restaurants, the wait staff always tries to entice a dessert order. At fancy boutiques, clerks suggest complementary items for an outfit. At the eye doctor, the optician’s assistant tries to upsell patients on various finishes for lenses. You get the point.

In e-commerce, there aren’t clerks or physical check-outs stocked with quick grab items like magazines, hand sanitizer, candy, gum, batteries, gift cards and other impulse buys to add to the cart while waiting in line. So how does one increase the average order size in e-commerce?

There are various features and business practices that, when implemented on an online retail store, will result in customers adding more items to the cart. Here are some ways to get your customers to buy more.

Item Page Multiple Add-to-Cart

It’s common practice to offer cross-sell and up-sell items on an item page to promote products that either go along with the main item (cross-sell), or more expensive models that can be sold instead of the main item (up-sell). The cross-sell is a great asset to an item page; however, you can take the idea a step further. Rather than have users navigate away from the item page to the item pages of the cross-sell items, a multiple add-to-cart feature allows customers to add the main item and all required/desired accessories to the cart with one click. A multiple add-to-cart feature makes it easy to purchase more at once.

For example, you sell paintball guns. But you don’t want someone to walk away with just the paintball gun, right? You can merchandise your item page by giving customers the option to buy the CO2 tank, paintballs, safety mask, gloves and camo pants all at once. Congrats. You just sold more!

Mini Cart

On a traditional Yahoo! store, when a customer adds an item to the cart, the customer is also taken directly to the checkout process. With a mini cart feature, also referred to as a floating or perpetual cart, the item is added to the cart and the customer stays right on the item page – in buying mode. The contents of the cart and order total are displayed in the header. Allowing users to always see their current purchase total eliminates any sticker shock at the end, and in the meantime, it keeps users out of the checkout lane, which means they continue to browse.

Snap Shop

The “quick shopping” feature is becoming a trend for all the big retailers. In 2007, Solid Cactus innovated the feature for Yahoo! stores. This features allows users to shop right from a store’s section pages, without having to click to an item page, then back to a section page and back to another item page. Because shopping this way is both easy and fun, customers buy more. Snap Shop can work in sync with the Mini Cart feature, and this really maximizes the user experience, totally keeping them shopping by reducing the number of clicks between the customer and the checkout.

Quantity Discounts & Quantity Pricing Table

If you sell a product where people may need multiple quantities, or products they may need replaced or refilled down the line, an effective way to increase average order size is to get people to buy more of that item. This type of practice is common for party favors, promotional items and other merchandise that is usually bought in larger quantities, but other industries could do the same. Rather than buy one item for $10, perhaps you can offer three at $7 each. If people can save a little more now, offer a better price point for buying more. The result is a higher sale– and you move more product. For this to be a successful way to increase order size, the discounts need to be clear and easy to understand. Yahoo! comes standard with a quantity pricing feature, however by default its display leaves a lot to be desired. Solid Cactus offers a visually appealing Quantity Pricing Table which clearly displays discounts.

Free Shipping on Certain Dollar Amount

Another popular way to entice customers to add more to their shopping carts is a free shipping offer at a set dollar amount. Setting a threshold just slightly over your current average order size will help push people over that limit, thus increasing the size of orders. For example, if you see that most orders are coming in at around $40-ish, set the free shipping at $50.

Zvi Dubin, Co-Owner and CTO in
charge of marketing, development and’s web presence, said that when he implemented free shipping along with Yahoo!’s Cross Sell, average order size soared.

“Average order value varies by season and economic conditions, and we are also interested in revenue growth. At the time we implemented the free shipping count-down and Yahoo! cross sells in 2007, the combination increased sales approximately 10 to 15-percent,” said Dubin.

Free Shipping Countdown

This feature goes with the previous suggestion. Setting a free shipping threshold is a no-brainer, however, some customers may need to be reminded of this. Incorporate a free shipping countdown feature into the shopping cart (or within the Mini Cart if you are using that) to do the math for customers and to tell them exactly how much more they need to add to the cart to qualify for free shipping. This is an extra (psychological) reminder at the end of the shopping experience to maybe buy just one more item.

Free Gift with Purchase

Everyone likes free stuff! Department store make-up counters are well-known for this tactic. Customers who buy over a certain dollar amount get something free– like more make-up, a bag, a purse or perfume. Advertise that any customer who buys a certain product or a certain dollar amount gets a free gift along with his/her purchase. This builds value and entices shoppers to make a higher value purchase to get the free gift.

Discount on Certain Dollar Amount

Coupon codes are another way to entice people to buy more. Offer a coupon code to take a percentage off orders of a certain dollar amount.

Display of Promos with Flash Sequence Banner

Promotions such as free shipping on a certain dollar amount, free gift with purchase, or percentage off a certain dollar amount with use of coupon code, can all increase average order size, but how can you make these promos evident without cluttering your header or homepage? Promotional messages can be tastefully displayed within a site’s header, and it’s common practice to use that area for a feature such as free shipping. If you have multiple promotions, using a flash sequence banner can relay multiple messages without taking up lots of real estate.

By increasing average order size, you grow your business. People are buying, but you can persuade them to buy more. Take a step back and analyze your current average order size. Is it where you want it to be? If not, where would you like it to be? Read over this list again and determine what strategies you can implement to your own e-commerce business to earn a little more cha-ching.

2 Responses to “Order Size Optimization – Can You Get a Little More Cha-ching?”

  1. [...] an article about how e-commerce business owners can increase average order size.  You can read it here. ← Next post Previous post [...]

  2. tippmann paintball gun says:

    This is some really useful information, than you for providing this to us…

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