Increase Average Order Value in 5 Easy Steps

Brands selling direct-to-consumer via ecommerce face an unprecedented challenge these days: increased ad spend and competition make it critically important to optimize their sites. In other words, if you only have a single impression to make – it must be memorable and high-converting by design.

Increasing average order value (AOV) is an important touchstone for brands to consider beyond their MVP stage. Merchandising is one effective way to do this, but I’d like to focus on some lower hanging fruit that brands can explore. The goal here is to make it tempting and easy for customers to add items to their cart, without too much fuss or additional friction.

Loyalty and repeat visits will come with time, but what are some quick wins you can make to make the shopping experience meaningful to the customer? Here are a few action items that you can experiment with:

Strategic Merchandising & Completing the Look

Beyond the “You May Also Like” grid that adorns the product pages of many ecommerce sites, I’d like to highlight a few brands that take things a step further by encouraging customers to round out their cart with complementary products.

Once again, it can be helpful to step back from the digital medium and think about an in-store shopping experience – browsing items, and also seeing how items are paired together in order to “complete” the experience. In the case of beauty counters, consider how imagery is used in order to help us envisage the product offering MAC delivers versus Clinique. In the case of a department store, consider how items are merchandised and mannequins are used to showcase complete outfits.

Showcasing a curated selection of pieces – such as jewelry or hair accessories to tie the look together can provide customers an insight into how they can mix and match your pieces while increasing their cart value. What’s more, consider using both up-close imagery and styled images, so customers can see the details as well as how to style the pieces they’ll wear.

We enabled Hill House Home to pair editorial imagery with related products to increase average order value and make it easy for customers to complete the look from a single page.

What’s more, consider expanding the “You May Also Like” grid into more relevant queries. If you have a product offering large enough to support it, including “Recent Searches” or related categories in addition to the “You May Also Like” is a great way to showcase more of your products at this stage in the customer’s journey.

With Hill House Home, we take the “You May Also Like” a step further by introducing relevant videos and user-generated content.

Free Shipping Threshold

One of the simplest ways to increase average order value is to include a shipping threshold. Showing rather than telling customers how much more they should add in order to qualify for free shipping can be a quick win in terms of upping the basket size.

With Goodles, we made it easy for customers to see how close they are to the free shipping threshold.

This shipping threshold should update dynamically when customers add new products to the cart. You could also consider adding a celebratory message when an order qualifies, letting them know they’ve earned free shipping.

When exploring this feature, consider pairing it with Cart Up-Sell and Cross-Sell so that customers can view complementary products without ever leaving the cart.

Cart Up-Sell and Cross-Sell

Suggesting relevant products as an upsell is a key component to successfully increase AOV. At this point in the customer’s journey, you already have a certain level of commitment from them and it’s your job to thoughtfully pair items that will help complete their shopping experience. Arguably, as a DTC brand with a thoughtfully curated assortment, you’re in a great position to be able to do that.

Each of Hill House’s collections are designed to be mixed and matched, so we showcase relevant items that customers can easily add to cart.

In this case, it can be helpful to step back from the digital medium a nd think about an in-store shopping experience – consider how successfully Sephora has created a set of products for customers to browse and easily add to their basket.

Encourage shoppers to make additional purchases by considering how they can complete their purchase experience by way of a complementary product or with relatively lower-cost, novel merchandise. Consider A/B testing these strategies to see what resonates most with your customer base.

Special Discounts in Cart

Instead of anticipating a shopper's impulses, anticipate their needs and provide useful solutions. Once a customer adds item(s) to cart, you could set a price threshold to serve up complementary products at a slightly discounted rate.

Pehr selects a product that is relevant with most of their customers as an up-sell opportunity.

Consider showcasing products that customers don’t always think about buying, but may need or want. What you choose to strategically place at the checkout experience depends on your unique product assortment and offering, but consider the following questions to help identify what your customers need:

  1. What purchases do returning customers frequently purchase after buying this item?

  2. What items do customers frequently contact CX teams about?

  3. What does your ideal, target customer often need, but may not think to buy?

Post-Purchase / Limited Time Offers

To borrow parlance from the infomercial world, limited time offers can be an interesting way to increase AOV without compromising your brand integrity.

Chord Post-Purchase Discount

Employ the same considerations as above, but create a sense of urgency and timeliness around a limited-time offer once a purchase has been effectuated. Using tried-and-true patterns like a countdown and strategic discounting can encourage customers to add to their recently completed purchase in a way that feels fun and frictionless.

Glossier typically offers a number of products in trial sizes at the cart level.

Bonus: Introduce a Sampling Program

If your product line supports it, consider adding a sampling program so customers can try before they buy. Glossier typically offers a number of products in trial sizes at the cart level, while paint company Clare offers sample stick-ons so you can pick colors before committing. Clare’s sampling program is also interesting from the perspective that it’s more useful to the customer than those measly paint swatches you’ll typically find in a Sherwin Williams – covering more surface area so that customers can make an informed choice.

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