Is it just me…or has upselling got a bit lazy?


I’ve had one or two point of sale experiences recently that have got me thinking (as always). 

Have you experienced the situation where, upon approaching the till point with your product (today it was new refills for our moisture trap at home) you are flatly asked, without any degree of animation, emotion or, indeed, expectation whether you would like some completely unrelated product (in this case some sweets)?

I cannot overstate how  much is pains me to hear it. For some reason the art of upselling or linked selling in these particular retailers has been lost to the soulless peddling of, mostly, discounted confectionery, that the assistants clearly realise and understand most people do not want. I even had to witness the embarrassment of the assistant on the next till blurt out the scripted sales pitch to someone who had already come to the till with bags of the very sweets they were trying to sell. The look on the face of the customer was a strange mix of confusion and sympathy.

When did it all go wrong?

When I was a lowly shop assistant in my local Victoria Wine back in the 90’s, driving average customer value by suggesting extra products or ‘upgrades’ was a central point of customer service. You had to understand the customer’s purchasing decisions, have a really good knowledge of the price points of products, the offers that were available and also understand what the value was to the customer. You had to work at it, and you felt a certain level of satisfaction every time someone said, ‘That’s a great idea.’ and went for it. The pay off was that these extra items were usually higher price point and, crucially, higher margin products.

If someone bought Gin, you always asked if they needed tonic or ice. Multipack of beer meant a night in watching the footie so crisps and confectionery were always offered. Someone bought a bottle of brandy, you pointed out that the litre bottle was far better value. Someone bought one bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, you pointed out that another of equal quality was on offer, and presented better value if they bought two.

Rose coloured glasses?

Maybe I’m being overly romantic and nostalgic, but I am sure that great customer service and a bit more thought over how you can sell full price, related items to customers rather than relying on the strategy of scatter-gunning Cadbury’s Caramel bars at everyone would leverage far greater value in the long term, and build credibility in their customer base.

So please, high street retailers, train your staff on great customer service, build their product knowledge and if you have to take this approach, help them to understand how to engage with their customers and ask in a way that doesn’t sound like they are asking someone whether they would like to eat their own arm. Not only will it help sell more product, but they’ll feel better about it too.

Or is it just me…?

Please note: The image used with this post does not represent any retailer referred to in the content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *