Upselling & Cross Selling Best Practices For Convenience Stores

December 13, 2021 | Bounteous x Accolite

The nuance of the upsell and cross sell is important: the right offer, to the right person, at the right time. Getting it right is a big opportunity for c-stores, but it isn’t always easy. However, advances in technology and the automation it enables can make it easier for convenience operators to deliver a consistent selling approach to customers.

Context Matters for Upselling and Cross Selling

Upselling and cross selling can offer additional value to customers, but without appropriate context, retailers can also risk alienating them because the offers aren’t relevant or engaging enough. For example, when a customer who stops for a morning coffee as part of their daily commute receives an upsell offer for a made-to-order sandwich, the retailer loses an upsell in the breakfast day part by hoping for a return trip at lunchtime.  This can be frustrating for a customer who anticipates additional value, but is not able to take advantage of it because they don’t work close by.

The consumer seeks value and convenience from each trip, and an offer for a breakfast sandwich, pastry, or even weekend coffee would deliver more relevance and convey that the retailer understands and values their customer. However, it can be difficult to support this level of customization consistently.

Challenges Engaging C-Store Staff

Given how fast-paced the in-store experience is, and how many priorities c-store staff have to juggle, it can be challenging to get employees to consistently remember to offer customers a combo deal or upgrade. How can retail operators support their staff while providing the customer with a more personalized transaction or overall experience? Upsells, particularly beverage upsells, can drive substantial additional profit across the chain of stores. Yet employees, who are likely to be inexperienced and faced with several competing tasks, struggle to reach corporate targets to increase upsell and cross-sell.

Bonuses, gamification, and promotions fail because they are not supported and delivered in an automated and efficient manner. There’s just too much going on in the store to consistently remember to also offer an item to the customer. When employees are able to take the opportunity to offer an item to a customer, it often lacks context or relevance to the customer – which can lead to the opposite of the intended customer reaction. This negative customer feedback is more powerful than any bonus program, and employees over time make fewer offers to avoid this reaction.

Digital: Always-On Upselling & Cross Selling

Software algorithms never forget, and never take offense to being turned down. In the digital world, an app will offer the right upsell or cross-sell 100% of the time. Through automation, a well-programmed app will choose the right time to offer related products to the consumer.

Software algorithms also have the power to consider large sets of customer data to draw out individual patterns and shopping behaviors that make each customer unique. Through sophisticated programming and ongoing machine learning, the app will offer the right product to each consumer at the right place and time.  Customizing these offers for the consumer, place and time ensures that upsell and cross-sell offers always delight consumers and never frustrate them (e.g., breakfast sandwich with coffee instead of lunch offer with coffee).

Bounteous has vast expertise in implementing effective upsell and cross-sell methodologies in the restaurant channel—which can also be applied to the convenience industry as more brands build their go-to-market strategy around a foodservice offer. Through extensive restaurant, QSR and foodservice experience, we’ve developed an Upsell + Cross Sell Framework that applies equally well in c-stores, particularly when integrated into their digital customer experience. 

Upsell + Cross Sell Framework For C-Stores

This framework helps retailers think through what is being sold, where, how and why to ensure that product offers always reach the right consumer, in the right place, at the right time – that is to say while the consumer is making a mobile or in-app purchase.

What is Being Sold?

Upsells and cross sells start with identifying what products are being sold. Product offers fall into three categories:

  1. Classic Upsells – add to or enhance a core product already in the cart (e.g., extra guacamole on a burrito)
  2. Combo Cross Sells – complete a meal by adding sides and/or drinks to your entree
  3. Product Cross Sells – add additional related items to those already in your cart (e.g., another entree)
Where is The Upsell/Cross Selling Occurring?

A great, frictionless digital sales process inserts upsells cross sells exactly when a customer is open to consideration for additional items. Much like a great server at a high-end restaurant, the offers feel like part of a natural conversation about what’s happening at that moment. Great upsell + cross-sell moments include:

  1. Inside the Menu – the product detail page might include upgrades to the product (e.g., larger beverage)
  2. Between the Menu and the Cart – an intervening step or screen might suggest items that would pair well with the items in the cart (e.g., after-lunch mints)
  3. Inside the Cart – the cart itself, while recapping the products already chosen, gives an option to add more items before checkout
How is The Upsell/Cross Sell Presented?

What is the UX/UI of the actual offer? This aspect considers ways to display the upsell or cross sell:

  1. As a Step of the Process – This guides the process through steps, similar to how the customer might make decisions in store.  For example, drink selection near the check-out, just like a customer experiences in store.
  2. In-Line –  The upsell is given the same treatment on the screen as the items above or below it.
  3. Modal – The upsell is featured in a pop-up window that temporarily disrupts the main screen navigation and prompts the user to take an action.
  4. Carousel – The upsell is shown on a bar that users can navigate through by swiping right or left.
  5. Full Screen –  The upsells reside on their own page, typically between the Menu and the Cart or the Cart and Checkout. 
Why is a Particular Offer Presented?

This is the intelligence behind the scenes that informs offers for a particular customer at a particular time.

  1. Static logic refers to consistently-offered products presented as an upsell or cross-sell.  Despite the behavioral history of the customer, the product the customer is viewing, products in the car, the time of day, or any other variable, the offers area is always the same.
  2. Dynamic logic varies the upsell offer, based on dynamic intelligence that typically drivers higher AOV (Average Order Value).

Looking at these four dimensions, it’s no wonder that technology can dramatically improve data, the ability to build customer offers based on insights gleaned from that data, and the optimal way in which to offer an additional item. Digital interfaces can improve the customer experience and your revenue, by ensuring that the right offer reaches the right customer every time.