Getting more spend and more items per basket, at no extra cost

Topics: Liquor

Or, how bottleshops can drive profits by picking up their game on the different types of persuasive sell, according to ShopAbility, for National Liquor News.

In the last issue I was bemoaning the lack of persuasive selling in bottleshops and how nobody ever seems to bother to sell me anything additional to increase their average basket spend.

Consider that, in supermarkets at least, 85% of shoppers add to their shopping list. In bottleshops whilst 2/3 have planned their category and brand, at least 30% haven’t. This leaves room for influencing purchase (as well as getting an additional item in the basket).

So rather than just whine about what’s not happening, in the interests of being constructive I’ve outlined below some of the key persuasive selling techniques – upsell, cross sell, switch sell and incremental sell – and their application in the bottleshop context.

Forgive me if this all sounds a bit how-to-suck-eggs, but the reality is that it’s not happening in bottleshops – either because the store owners don’t get it, you think that staff turns over too fast to make the training investment, or the staff just don’t care (so why not incentivize them then to MAKE them care?!)

This game is about increasing average weight of purchase (AWOP) and spend (transaction value) irrespective of your store’s shopper frequency or traffic levels.  Let’s have a look at when and how you can get shoppers to spend or buy more.


  • Upsell: is buying a larger, more premium or more expensive item than planned. Results in more $ for 1 item. Example is upselling a Corona 6 pack to a case/carton, or a Johnnie Walker Red Label to Black Label purchase
  • Switch Sell: is getting the shopper to buy a different product, brand (or category) than they planned. You need to switch them to something that’s more profitable (don’t trade them down). Again, results in more $ for 1 item. Example here in NZ sauvignon blancs may be switching a shopper from say a Stoneleigh to an Oyster Bay
  • Cross Sell: is suggesting related products or services to a customer who is considering buying something they already know of or like. This is the Amazon school of ‘If you like X, you might also like Y.’ Results in selling more items. Example may be brand based, eg Stoneleigh sauv blanc plus Stoneleigh Pinot Noir. Or it may be within a product range eg Mexican beers Corona plus Dos Equis, or flavoured Vodkas eg Absolut Citron plus Absolut Kurant
  • Incremental Sell: is getting an additional sale to the one the shopper planned to make. It may be passive (eg by placing impulse beverage fridges near the checkout) or more active (the McDonalds school of ‘would you like a dessert with your meal?’ Results in selling more items. Examples here might include glass spirits plus mixer eg Jim Beam white label plus Schweppes tonic; or a ‘his n hers’ bundle eg Jack Daniels bourbon and Cola 6 pack for him plus a Cruiser 6 pack for her.


Ascertaining what trip type a shopper is on and the occasion they’re buying for provides clues as to how best to sell to them.  For example:

  • Stock up trips: Tend to be (mainstream) beers, and quaffing wines in Big Box stores. The most planned trip type, at roughly 2/3 of trips (depending on channel segment). On this trip, shoppers buy within a fairly narrow repertoire. Opportunity here is upsell or switch sell
  • Entertaining trips: The most browsing of the shopping trip types. Biggest number of items in basket. The most open to suggestion (switch sell, cross sell, upsell and incremental sell) and impulse
  • Destination/Specific Item: Grab and go for ‘the usual’ I normally get (not an opportunity to switch sell, but may be an opportunity to cross sell). Opportunity for ‘while I’m here’ and incremental impulse.


Persuasion selling needs some basic support:

  • Staff: Training – identifying who to approach about what, when. Incentives. Focus … don’t try to do everything at once, start with one persuasion sell type and get the staff used to that before moving onto the next type
  • Stock: No OOS. Need enough stock to cover
  • Visibility Support: Floor displays and counter impulse units; staff t-shirts (drivethrus); occasion based messaging.


  • Improved sales & margin mix: eg $3.00 GP on a 2L bottle of Coke vs <$1.00 on a case of VB on promo
  • Improved GMROI: Better stock turn of non-core items and high margin products
  • Improved ROCE: (Return on capital employed). Making the best use of your investment in staff labour.

It’s all pretty straightforward and can be achieved in a 30 minute staff training session for each of the various selling techniques.

What are you waiting for?!!