chilled food

These days, many people are looking for bargains and for value, so for retailers looking to bolster sales of more expensive or premium products, finding the right way to do so can be difficult. Retailers need to find the right balance of products that will provide upselling opportunities and then present them in a manner that will encourage those sales.

For Jeet Bansi, from Meon Vale Londis in Stratford-upon-Avon, there is a balancing act to be performed between making sure his best products are available and that they are perceived as good value. Positioning your upsell options more prominently – whether it’s at the till, placed at eye level or in specialist displays – can draw customers’ attention to something they might want for a special treat. “We make sure the displays are attractive so it doesn’t draw attention to the cheap stuff,” says Jenny Owens, from Trunch Corner Stores in North Walsham, Norfolk.

Lowering prices short-term on higher-value products is another good way to bring them to wider attention. Customers are unlikely to spend more on a product they haven’t tried yet, but if they have previously enjoyed it then there is a real decision to be made. Sasi Patel, who runs four stores in Manchester, will sometimes put his premium beers and wines on promotion – a “downsell” – to show his customers what they missing.

“You’re driving future sales,” he says. “If I have a nice Malbec that’s normally £10 on offer for £7.99, then people will try it to save a couple of quid compared to another nice wine. But then when it’s off the promotion, they have a decision to make. It’s not good for my wallet now, but I can win every week after that.”

Lastly, while upselling is about encouraging customers to buy the more expensive item, retailers shouldn’t forget the fact that sometimes, the cheaper option will bring in a better margin.

It’s all about positioning

Impulse purchases are major upselling opportunities, so Sasi Patel, who runs four stores in Manchester, makes sure that any products he wants to upsell are placed next to the till. That way, every customer will see it and his staff can recommend it.

“I have Cadbury Caramilk on my counter and we charge a little premium on it,” he says. “Once it’s got that traction, we’ll slide it into the main range and people will then go looking for it. Having it on the counter gives it presence. We’re doing the same with American Airheads, an American equivalent of the chew bar. The American one is more expensive, though.”

Patel places expensive wines on gondola ends next to wines on promotion. He says: “I have this genuine Italian Pinot Grigio alongside my promotion wines. People will come for the promotion, but also look at this wine.”

It’s how you sell it

For Jeet Bansi, from Meon Vale Londis in Stratford-upon-Avon, the way his staff talk to customers about something is paramount to making the sale. He sells Cadbury Chocolate Pots for 89p or two-for-£1. But rather than tell people that they can buy two for £1, his staff say ‘you can buy another one for 11p’.

“It makes the trade up choice easy,” he says. “It’s how the deal is dressed up and communicated to customers.”

While promotions can draw customers in, steady, value prices all year round are more fondly remembered. By communicating that message, it sticks in customers’ minds when they are thinking of buying the same product again. “We sell Andrex 16-roll for less than Sainsbury’s – which sells it at £8.50 – but we’re still making a 53% margin. It’s right by the entrance, so when people need toilet roll, they remember they can get it on offer with us,” he says.

Find out what customers want

Avtar Sidhu noticed a lot of prospective customers were coming into his St John’s Budgens in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, and leaving empty handed as they couldn’t find what they were after, and would usually prefer to visit a competitor rather than bother his staff. To remedy this, he has a member of staff at the front of his store whose responsibility is to talk to them.

“It’s about approaching these people, engaging with them, and nine times out of 10 we stock the product they’re looking for, and we go from zero to hero,” he says.

“Based on that conversation, they then might end up getting a £15-20 basket because they’ve found the product and thought, ‘I’ll get x, y and z while I’m here.’”

Premium products are more prominent than cheaper lines, to give people looking for a budget purchase a chance to consider trading up.

Shop for yourself

It’s not easy to make recommendations for products you haven’t tried yourself, but by monitoring what sells well, Jenny Owen, of Trunch Corner Stores in North Walsham, Norfolk, can give informed advice to her customers.

“With spirits and wine, especially, people ask, ‘What’s this like?’” she says. “I’m more of a flavoured gin person, so I can give good comments, but I’m not a wine drinker, so I’ll say, ‘Lots of people buy this.’”

Her wine range doesn’t generally exceed £7.69 for still wine or £10 for sparkling, which suits her customer base well. Those decisions are made by Owen considering what she would purchase herself. She says: “We shop as if for ourselves. I ask myself, ‘Would I pay that for that? And, if not, why would I expect the customer to pay it?’ It has to be a reasonable price to stop people deciding to nip to Sainsbury’s instead.”

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