The Art of the Upsell

I grabbed pizza at Sbarro during a shopping trip with my sister, and at the end of the meal, I mentioned that Sbarro had started doing what Papa John’s has been doing for the last 10 years: garlic sauce. However, Sbarro is offering garlic sauce as an upsell for $0.65 per container. After finishing my pizza and barely making a dent in the container of garlic sauce, I told my sister that I was pretty disappointed with my decision to purchase the garlic sauce because I didn’t eat enough to warrant buying it. I know it’s only $0.65, but relative to the enjoyment and the total ticket price, that’s a decent upsell. Maybe it’s just me and my Marketing mind, but I had a few thoughts on how they might improve this upsell.

First, I felt they needed to offer two different size containers, one for single slices, and the other for whole pizzas. Since I don’t know their margins, I suggested a price of $0.25 for the single-serve container, and $1.00 for the larger container. I figured that a $0.25 is a no-brainer, and that every customer who likes garlic sauce would be happy to make the purchase. After their meal, they would feel satisfied and compelled to order garlic sauce each time they ate at Sbarro. The same logic applies to those purchasing an entire pizza. An additional $1.00 on a $12+ sale takes very little thought, and increases their satisfaction enough to compel them to purchase garlic sauce as well.

The art of the upsell can be tricky. You don’t want customers walking away feeling uneasy or dissatisfied about their purchase. Instead, you want them feeling that they made a great impulse decision, and due to their satisfaction with that decision, make the upsell part of their regular purchase. When you attempt to upsell, you need to consider how it benefits the customer, not just how it benefits the bottom line. If customers feel cheated or tricked by the upsell, you hurt the possibilities for future purchases. So, how have you made upsells work for you?

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