How many times have you fallen victim to upselling? Many businesses will try to strategically upsell customers on items they don’t necessarily need using a variety of methods ranging from clever marketing in loyalty programs to offering upgrades with purchase.
Upgrades at the Point of Purchase
Samantha Hawrylack, personal finance expert and co-founder of How To FIRE, said the point of purchase is the most common place for businesses to upsell customers.
Hawrylack uses the example of a customer buying a new appliance. A salesperson might ask the customer if they want to add on an extended warranty or protection plan. The customer might have only come in to buy the appliance, but may be swayed into thinking they need these plans especially if the upgrade only costs a few dollars more. If you are uncertain if you need these items, Hawrylack recommends asking questions and getting clarification on what you’re being offered.
Discounts After Making an Initial Purchase
“Upselling can also happen after a customer has made an initial purchase,” Hawrylack said. “For example, a customer might be offered a discount on a related product if they buy it along with the item they just purchased.”
If you don’t need this related product, don’t be afraid to be assertive. Hawrylack recommends saying no firmly but politely to discount offers on additional purchases.
In Response to Customer Service Inquiries
There are some situations where upselling may occur when consumers seek out customer service or assistance.
Hawrylack uses the example of a customer having problems with their computer. They may call the company they purchased the computer from and have a customer representative walk them through the issues over the phone. At the end of the call, before the customer hangs up, the representative may ask the customer if they’re interested in upgrading to a support plan that includes more features for a higher price. Unsure customers may politely say no to the offer and thank the representative for their help.
Frequent shoppers may be encouraged to join a company’s loyalty program. This allows the shopper to receive extra perks and rewards — and potentially experience upselling.
“Exclusive” and “limited-time” offers and discounts may be offered to customers who spend more money. Review each deal carefully to determine if this is a purchase you need and prevent yourself from giving in to a false sense of urgency or experiencing FOMO from not buying the sale item right now.
Store Credit Card Offers
How many times have you gone shopping and been asked by a store associate if you would like to apply for the store credit card?
Some store associates will ask you this question as you’re checking out. They may upsell even further by sharing immediate discounts you receive with the credit card and offering to help you start the application process in-store. Customers may politely decline the offer in person. If you’re online shopping and a pop-up appears about a store credit card offer, opt out.
If you’re shopping online, free shipping usually feels like a deal. However, this is often one of the sneakiest ways businesses will upsell to customers. There may be a threshold to receive free shipping, like $150, that a customer needs to reach. Customers who originally planned to spend $50 may keep adding to the cart simply so that they can reach the free shipping goal.
From in-store to online, there are plenty of places where consumers can be upsold — and Hawrylack said not all upselling is necessarily bad either. In some cases, upselling can benefit customers by providing them with more value for their money. In others, it might mean spending beyond your means or investing in purchases you don’t need right now.
The next time you suspect you might be getting upsold, Hawrylack recommends doing some research ahead of time so you know what you’re getting into. Trust your gut instinct, too. If something feels off, Hawrylack said it probably is.
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