If you’re not getting the sales that you want, there are a couple thoughts that immediately come to mind. Like: "Am I getting enough traffic?" Or, "Is my stuff is too expensive?"
Low sales numbers can happen for any number of reasons. But there are a few simple improvements you can make in your listings themselves that will allow you to basically sell anything you have at any price you want.
Most of what a customer is willing to pay really comes down to the IMAGES, DESCRIPTION, and POSITIONING of your products. And a few simple enhancements can be the difference between selling $a lot or $a little.
We’re going to talk about some easy changes you can make to your online products so they can sell better without having to do any discounting or sales.
Or: Making customers think your prices are a steal (without discounts)
If an item is truly out of your target’s price range, there’s not much to be done. You can’t sell a $100 toaster to a person with only 20 bucks in their pocket.
But we can position your product in a way that overcomes the “too-much” sensor in the brains of people who do have the cash to buy your products.
One way to sell high-dollar items is to make them look like a steal in comparison. And you can easily make your product look like a bargain by putting a more expensive option next to it.
This is marketing 101 stuff. And it’s actually a documented phenomenon called the contrast effect. There’s a famous study about it that was published in the Journal of Marketing Research. It goes like this:
Nobody was buying Williams-Sonoma’s $275 bread maker … until they put a $429 one right next to it. Basically, the same product, just WAY more expensive. Guess what happened?
Sales on the $275 bread maker doubled. Which is awesome. Williams-Sonoma sells more breadmakers at $275... which is what they wanted to do anyway. And if anyone was fool enough to buy Liberace’s Golden Bread Maker, hey. That’s another 400 clams in their pocket. There’s basically no downside here.
So how might this apply to your sales?
If you’re struggling to sell a $1000 service, try introducing a more expensive luxury option to sit next to it. Don’t worry if nobody buys the ultra-luxe version, that’s not why it's there. You’re simply using the expensive item to make the $1000 price tag more palatable.
Another strategy is something called price anchoring. It’s a tactic that I’m sure you’ve experienced firsthand… for example, a fundraiser calls and asks for a huge donation. Maybe $500. You obviously decline (which, honestly, they’re expecting you to).
But the reason they ask for such a high number up front is to make their next offer sound very reasonable… just $50. That’s way better, right? If they let the donor decide how much to give, they’d get a trickle of $5 and $10 donations. But by leading with a high number, we now think a measly $50 is a bargain and they see higher profits come in.
You can try this tactic by reordering your store to show expensive items first. After a $2000 service, $1000 looks like a steal. Have all your same products, just sort them from top dollar to bottom.
Notice that none of this involved cutting your prices or discounting products. You’re simply creating a perception of value by arranging your products in a more appealing way.
Whether you’re selling waffle irons or luxury cars, the images you choose can make or break the sale. Without a number of high-quality images to represent your product, a customer will turn away for one that looks more appealing.
- National Retail Federation
Take a look at your images and see if they represent your product at its best.
Is the lighting good? Do you show the product from multiple angles? Do you get up close and show details? Do you show the product in action? Are your products in perfect condition?
Remember: your shopper can’t hold the item and inspect it themselves before buying. You want to include lots of different angles for the customer to see how the item will actually look when used in their daily life.
So if you’re selling dresses, you’ll ideally want to show your dress on an actual body. Perhaps several bodies, so the customer can visualize how it will look on their body type. Take photos of every color, don’t just leave it up to their imagination.
I know. Writing product descriptions can feel hard and boring. But think about it from the customer’s perspective. They need to know what they’re buying.
How long should your description be? What does it need inside? A lot matters on what kind of product you’re selling.
Here’s another bit of science: The Nielson Group did a study about how customers look at photos of products online. They compared what customers looked at more when shopping for bookshelves and TVs. Would they read the descriptions or rely on the images?
They found that customers really intensely studied the photos of bookcases, but basically ignored pictures of TVs. In fact, when looking at TVs on Amazon, customers spent 82% of their time READING instead of looking.
Why? Well, let’s think about it.
When you’re shopping for a bookcase, you know it’s going to hold books. The big difference is how the product looks. Is it an oak finish or pine? How tall or wide is it? How would it look in your living room?
But we know all flat-screen TVs basically look the same. The difference is in the detailed specs. Is it a smart tv? Is it plasma? How many HDMI ports does it have?
So think about your product and consider the thought process behind your customer’s buying decision. If it’s a visual decision, you have the freedom to write a shorter, more “emotional” description. If it’s a capability description, spend the time to detail all the reasons your customer should buy it.
Too often we forget that a real person is going to buy your product. So when writing descriptions, it helps to imagine that person and talk directly to them.
Who is it? How old are they? How do they talk? Do they have a sense of humor?
Write your description like you were actually talking to them in the store. Address any questions they might have about the product and write in plain English.
Consider the benefit of each of your product’s features. How does it make your client happier? What problems does it solve?
If you can force a client to imagine the product in their home. How happy they’ll feel looking at their purchase. Suddenly, it’s no longer a simple purchase, it’s an investment.
Don’t sell just a product, sell an experience.
“Your handbag is made with the highest quality material.”
Yeah, okay. But what does that mean? Talk about the reasons WHY your product is great instead of just saying it is. If it really is the best, back it up with facts!
“Your handbag is made with premium leather, 100% organic fibers, hand-made by local artisans... ”
Don’t be afraid to use seductive, sensory words, especially if your product is meant to be experienced by the senses. The more you describe the EXPERIENCE, the more luxurious your products become and the more a customer will pay for them.
“This blend of South American coffees has a rich fragrance of nuts with a buttery smooth body to match. It plays across the tongue with acidity as brisk as mountain air and leaves a well-rounded aftertaste that’s never bitter or sour.”
Similarly, telling a story or showing a vignette of someone using the product will help the customer connect to your product and image themselves enjoying it, too. It doesn’t have to be real, it just has to be inspiring.
It’s basically all the J Peterman Company does… but OH BOY does it paint a picture of the EMOTION and STORY of the clothes.
“Barnum Bros. Pharmacy is where everyone gathered to watch the local soda jerk (yes they were actually called jerks) shake, rattle, scoop, and dollop our favorite treats.
You were there, all wide-eyed and smitten, watching Jimmy (who was anything but a jerk) conduct the crowd like a big-band maestro and work up maddeningly delicious confections from an endless array of flavored sodas, egg creams, French pot ice creams, and malted milks.
Always the charmer. King of the soda fountain. King of your heart.”
Holy Storytelling, Batman. I don’t know about you, but I just went from a 4 to a 8 on the “gotta-have-this-dress-o-meter.”
A good way to start your little story is to start with “Imagine... ” or “Do you remember when?” And then write down everything else that comes next.
Confused yet? It’s OK. If all else fails, just make your description easy to read and easy to scan.
A short-ish description with some scannable bullet points and a few high-quality photos.
Done and done.
The cool thing about your online store is that you’re not printing a catalog. You’re working online, where things can change with the click of a mouse. Trying out a new technique or positioning idea is really easy and low-risk.
Would you sell more more of a product if you feature it on your homepage banner? Would reorganizing your product categories make any difference? Do touchy-feely product descriptions work better than factual ones?
No way to know but to give it the old college try. Monitor your results and see what works best for your products and customers.
If you’re not afraid to experiment with your positioning, imagery, and site content, you can uncover some tactics that really work for your market and your brand.