Incentives to increase order sizes when your inventory is limited

Mary Lou emailed asking:

I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here, but I sell vintage products and nearly all have an inventory of only 1. Once it sells, it’s gone.

I’ve been trying to think about how I could create an up sell or cross sell or bundle and I’m hitting a wall.

The first thing to consider is what’s the goal here?

The purpose of upsells, cross-sells, and bundles are tactics to increase the order size. Those three are good for that, but by considering the goal you can see other tactics could work as well or better.

Here’s a few ideas to increase order sizes when you have limited inventory.

  • Cross-selling to complementary products (e.g. products in a series). Might be time-expensive to set all of those relationship up though unless you rely on Shopify collections or tags as the related products.

  • Bundles will work but they too would be time-expensive to create and manage.

  • Up-selling might not work with one-off products, though you could up-sell to a bundle that includes the product. e.g. upsell from a 1910 dime to a 1910 dime and 1910 quarter.

  • Order-size discounts like “take 10% off an order of $250 or more” would push order sizes up. Though you’re giving away profit.

  • The reverse of that discount idea is to give more product for the same price. Adding a gift at a high order level could make sense. e.g. “Get a free whats-it on orders of $250 or more”

  • If you have a lot of repeat buyers, a loyalty perk around the order sizes would work e.g. 1 pt per $1 spent, redeemable for a coupon or bonus gift. Don’t make it based on the number of orders, that’s an incentive for people to place more-frequent, smaller orders (the opposite goal).

  • Vintage products can rely on the store owner’s curation and taste so having a lookbook approach could work well. You’d stage multiple products in a scene and list the products in that scene. That could guide buyers to buy more than one product because they see how well the fit together. You can get inspiration from the fashion industry where it’s common, but the IKEA catalog also does this with household goods and furniture.

By looking at the end goal (larger order sizes), a lot more tactics can become solutions. I think the majority of loyalty and AOV-boosting tactics can apply here as long as they don’t rely on ordering multiple units of a product (like a bulk discount).

A lot of options will hinge on how loyal your repeat customers are too. They are cheaper to market to and more responsive that new customers. If you use Repeat Customer Insights you can see how responsive they are to ordering again and what their later orders look like (larger, smaller, etc).

That’ll give you guidance on what to try with new incentives.

Eric Davis

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