How do you generate more money with an ecommerce website? You only have three options:

  1. Increase the average order size or
  2. Increase the number of orders or
  3. Both #1 and #2.

This post talks about how we increased an average order size. This means the customers already on your site are purchasing more, so it’s a natural place to start.
While reviewing our #1 niche ecommerce website which specializes in sales of particular equipment and supplies, I noticed that many website visitors used “Ask an Expert” form on product pages to get advice on what to buy. After all, the site has over 1,000 specialized products and even with the best product visuals and descriptions, sometimes it is not easy for a customer to feel like they are making the best product selection.

The website owner and I discussed their ideal customer. On many occasions, those who asked for a personalized shopping list ended up buying the most from the shop because they trusted the advice they were given. It was not so easy for customers to make the list for themselves because their purchase list depended on multiple factors and that was part of the value this website created for their customers.

We decided to improve the process where the shop representative sends recommended product lists to customers. We knew the idea had a lot of potential because shoppers who asked for professional advice spent the most. The weakest link was customer follow up. The ecommerce customer representatives were sending potential shoppers an Excel spreadsheet with product names and prices without images, detailed explanations and easy way to make a payment. These spreadsheets were not only difficult to view on mobile devices but time consuming to produce.

To increase average order size and to save customer service time, we:

  • Replaced excel spreadsheet with a dynamically generated HTML shopping list which a customer may open on any device with a web browser.
  • Created admin interface for easy creation of shopping list templates, which could also be copied and modified.
  • Implemented online payment process so shoppers could use the regular website checkout process to pay and shop staff could view all transactions within the existing shop administrator interface.
  • Presented shoppers with a professionally designed web page with a personalized shopping list.
  • Enabled a shopper to update quantity, continue shopping (add more items if needed) or remove items from the list.

Following the implementation of the custom shopping lists, we increased the average order size on the website by focusing on our best website customers and making the process more efficient ahead of the busy season. At the same time, while the products are more expensive on the website than on Amazon, shoppers are willing to pay more because of personalized advice they receive from the shop staff.


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