Top 10 best practices for suggestive selling

Guest blog post by Elad Halperin, VP Global Marketing for Odysii. Odysii is the world leader in software solutions for marketing intelligence at the point of sale, offering software solutions that enable retailers to communicate more effectively with on-site customers by using targeted and dynamic messages in real time.

The concept of suggestive selling is nothing new to C-stores: the practice usually involves a cashier asking patrons whether they want to add an additional item to their basket, perhaps a muffin to go with their coffee in the morning or a lighter for those purchasing cigarettes.   However, real-time marketing, often referred to as transaction-driven marketing, is changing the way suggestive selling can be carried out. With the growing sophistication of point-of-sale displays and new technologies in suggestive selling, you can automate the suggestive selling process and ensure consistent and accurate predictions of the most probable upsell opportunity for any given customer and market basket.
Behavioral modeling of customer purchase behavior can increase the average ticket, educate consumers about available products and services, and improve marketing and operational efficiency for C-stores.
We have gathered a Top 10 list of suggestive selling best practices to help you be successful in communicating timely, customer-relevant upsell opportunities and reinforce your brand experience.

1. Consistency — to successfully implement suggestive selling, you need to have clear guidelines that are used consistently with all of your customers. Rules can include not only what but also when to make a product recommendation. Automated systems can help take out the guesswork and keep a suggestive-selling program on track.
2. Relevance — suggestions should be based on current selections. You should think twice before suggesting a certain non-complementary item, regardless of how profitable it is. No one wants to be asked to buy fries with a low-calorie salad. You need to make sure that the offer matches your customers’ tastes – otherwise it be classified as “white noise” and your customer will ignore it.
3. Local and global — Promotions should further corporate goals and — at the same time — reflect local habits and preferences. Every chain has specific products that it wants to promote, but certain neighborhoods may be a more appropriate cultural fit for certain types of upsell items (e.g. gourmet coffees). Make sure that your promotions are in line with regional tastes and culinary preferences.
4. Adaptive — as the old saying goes; those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Promotions need to be thoroughly studied to understand what works and why. Failed promotions often provide better lessons than successful ones, and these lessons need to be taken seriously and implemented as quickly as possible. If you have a solution that offers automatic adaption and self-tweaking, you are in a much better position to adapt quickly and make successful recommendations.
5. Price sensitive — typically when people receive recommendations to purchase an additional item, they expect that item to be offered to them at a heavy discount. Research shows that 58 percent of successful upsell offers cost less than 20 percent of the original price, and 31 percent of them are 12 percent or less than the cost of the original item.
6. Visual — in today’s attention-deficit society, promotions need to be presented in a visually compelling manner to capture and hold a customer’s attention. By combining wide exposure to colorful animations and video, with appealing and creative ways to visually depict food items, you can greatly increase the likelihood that your customer will make an additional purchase.
7. Timely — as with most good things in life, timing is everything. Present your promotions prematurely, and they will not register on your customers’ culinary radar, while promotions that appear later than they should tend to be ignored. Promotions need to be presented shortly before or while a customer is placing an order for maximum impact on purchasing decisions.
8. Seasonal — Promotions that match the time of year or upcoming holidays are typically well received. For example, during Thanksgiving, you can promote your seasonal pumpkin pie as the perfect dessert product for the holiday season.
9. Repeated Offers — nobody likes to feel bombarded with promotions, but experience shows that repetition of relevant targeted offers really works. Your best shot at implementing successful upsell offers is by displaying your top three most relevant offers in multiple sequences vs. showing the same one over and over.
10. Availability — targeting your promotions on the basis of product availability provides more inventory control. You can heavily promote well-stocked items or promote similar products of an item that is running low. This way, you prevent excess food waste of products near expiration and ensure all of your products are as fresh as possible.

Suggestive selling can deliver the most relevant and effective messages to each customer by factoring in data about local business goals, previous customer choices, business rules, time of day and other environmental considerations. A sophisticated and disciplined approach will enable C-stores to maximize the value-per-customer.

Gilbarco Veeder-Root and Odysii have recently announced an exclusive partnership and the launch of the Impulse upselling platform. You can learn more about it here.

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