Feb 26, 2016

11 Supermarket Tricks You Can Use To Increase Your Website Conversion Rate

Nod if this sounds familiar: You go to the supermarket to buy one thing, and one thing only, and end up with a basketful of groceries.

It’s not that you don’t have enough willpower and self-control (well, maybe a little); it has more to do with the psychology of supermarkets.

They spend a lot of money trying to figure out how to get you to spend ‘a little bit’ more. Using behavioural, social, economic, and psychological techniques, they discover ways to entice buyers to spend more.

In this post, you will learn some of the tricks that supermarkets use, and how you can relate these to your website, and increase your conversion rate.

Supermarket trick #1: Keeping related items next to each other

You wanted to buy cereal; the next thing you know you’re buying strawberry jam. The jam needs to be spread on something, so you’re adding white bread into your shopping trolley.

Increase website conversion rate tip #1: Cross-sell and/or upsell better or complementary products

Only one question remains – should you focus on upselling more expensive but similar products or presenting related and complementary products (cross-selling)?

According to data from Predictive Intent, upselling performs 20 times better than cross-selling when it comes to product pages.

Should you completely ditch cross-selling then? Absolutely not.

The key is in the placement. The same study from Predictive Intent shows that cross-selling was more effective when presented on the checkout pages (versus product pages).

increase conversion rate #1: cross selling and upselling

When it comes to presenting related posts on your site, Neil Patel of Quick Sprout notices it typically increases time-on-page by 14%.


Supermarket trick #2: Playing soothing music and showing colourful produce to get you into a good mood

Studies have shown that:

1. Slow tempo pop music might make you spend more on impulse purchases.
2. Ambient scent contributes to a favourable perception towards the environment.
3. Red makes us spend more online when there’s competition involved.

Increase website conversion rate tip #2: The psychology of colour

No, don’t start auto-playing videos or sound on your website – it’ll make your visitors click the exit button, not the buy button.

What you should do instead is consider running A/B tests to test out different colours.

There have been numerous studies on how colours affect buying decisions.

Red: Power, passion, appetite, love, danger
Orange: Confidence, cheerfulness, friendliness
Yellow: Youth, happiness, warmth, sun
Green: Growth, money, healing, environment, envy
Blue: Trust, peace, loyalty, masculinity, safety
Purple: Royalty, mystery, spirituality, creativity
Brown: Outdoors, food, conservatism, earth
Black: Formality, luxury, sophistication, death
White: Purity, simplicity, goodness, freshness

In fact, some studies have shown that colour accounts for 85% of the reason that you purchased a particular product.

increase conversion rate tip 2: How sales affect conversions

Neil Patel was able to increase his site’s (Quick Sprout) conversion rate by 38% simply by changing his CTA button from blue to yellow.

Supermarket trick #3: Giving away free samples so that you will buy the product

You’re at Costco, wandering around, and see this cheese stand.

“That cheese looks delicious”
“Would you like to give it a try, sir?”
“For free?”
“Yes, sir!”
“Okay, then, thank you!”

People love free stuff. These supermarkets don’t go giving out free samples for nothing. From a financial point-of-view, samples have boosted sales by (in some cases) as much as 2,000%!

Percentage of shoppers who purchased items being sampled, by product
percentage of shoppers

Increase website conversion rate tip #3: Offer a free trial

The free trial is a common practice in the SaaS industry.

Here’s how you can convert those free trial users into paying customers:

1. Offer the free trial without requesting credit card information
2. Offer a one-time upgrade (at a discount) immediately after the user signs up
3. Drip-feed content on how to use the product and best practices
4. Offer one-on-one training
5. Create and A/B test behaviourally triggered emails
6. Remind them the free trial period is expiring
7. Towards the end of the trial period, offer the user a discount if they sign up before the trial ends


Supermarket trick #4: Discount/loyalty cards

Do you ever get one of those specials or discounted products offers that look really targeted?

They record your profile, buying habits, preferred products, and many more. The more you use their discount/loyalty card, the more targeted their offers will be.

For example, the second largest supermarket chain in the UK, Sainsbury’s, found out that a cereal brand called Grape-Nuts was worth stocking (despite its weak sales) because the shoppers who bought it were extremely loyal to Sainsbury’s and often big spenders.

Increase website conversion rate tip #4: Segment your email list and send behavioural triggered emails.

The days of emails blasting are long gone. We live in a world where segmenting customers is the way to move forward.

With email marketing companies making it easy for us to segment our customers, there’s no more excuse to NOT segment our lists.

A recent study by MailChimp shows that segmented campaigns performed much better than non-segmented campaigns.

increase conversion rate tip 4: email segmented campaigns

Here are the top 3 lessons:

1. Send the right message to the right segment: 
2. Use targeting, tone, and style to avoid recipient fatigue
3. Automate what works

To get you started, here are a few ways you can segment your list:

1. Age
2. Gender
3. Location
4. Interests
5. Job position
6. Past purchases
7. Purchase interests
8. Buying frequency
9. Education
10. Shopping cart abandonment

Related reading: Email Marketing for Ecommerce: 12 Lifecycle Must-haves

Supermarket trick #5: There are always delicious things near the checkout

There’s a reason why checkout stands are by the front door. It’s so that you’ll (double) pass all the aisles before you pay.

It’s also no coincidence that small value products like chocolates and magazines are in the checkout line. They are cheap enough to make you (impulse) buy.

Increase website conversion rate tip #5: Content upgrade

We’ve talked about cross-selling and upselling previously, so we’re going to talk about how we can apply this to your blog.

By offering a content upgrade.

A content upgrade is simply a bonus content specific to the blog post (not the website in general).

The old way was to offer a free ebook no matter what the audience was interested in.

While this technique still has its place, a better way to increase conversions (and hence your email subscribers) is by offering content specific upgrades.

Brian Dean from Backlinko was able to increase his conversion rates by 785% in ONE DAY by offering a content specific upgrade.

Here’s how you can do the same:

1. Find your most visited landing pages or blog posts
2. Figure out a resource that would make that content better
3. Create that resource
4. Add resource to your website
5. Offer that resource by creating a specific section within the content in exchange for a user’s email address

To get you started, here are a few ideas of various types of content upgrade you can offer:

1. A list of tools and resources
2. A checklist
3. Cheat-sheets
4. Videos (or audio)
5. Quick start guide
6. Ultimate guides
7. Whitepaper
8. Printable version
9. Case study
10. Templates
11. Free email course
12. Infographics
13. Swipe files
14. Spreadsheets

Supermarket trick #6: Keeping the popular products at eye level

In the world of magic, there’s a trick called “card force”. 

To “force a card” is when the magician asks a spectator to choose any card and makes them pick the card they wanted the person to pick while leaving them thinking that they had a choice (they didn’t).

It’s very similar with supermarkets. 

Increase website conversion rate tip #6: Bring popular products and posts to the homepage

Or include them in the navigation, rather than hide them deep down in the menu.

Brian Dean created a landing page or as he calls it, Social Squeeze Page, that was converting at 21.7%. However, there was one problem – the page couldn’t be found on the blog, because, well, it was a landing page.

So he strategically funnelled his blog’s traffic using a tactic that he calls “The Landing Page Funnel (LPF) technique”.

It’s a simple 2-step formula:

1. First, identify landing pages that convert well on your site
2. Second, design your site to funnel people to those landing pages

The process saw Brian:

1. Add links on the website to point to his highest converting pages – in his case, his Social Squeeze Page (21% conversion rate) and the newsletter sign up page (10% conversion rate)
2. Add a “Helpful resource” in the sidebar
3. Add a text-based link under “Popular Articles” in the sidebar

Supermarket trick #7: Losing track of time because there are no clocks inside

Guess which other industry uses this technique? The gambling industry.

The main aim is to “help” you to forget the time and stay in the casino (and in our case supermarkets) longer and thus spend more money.

(Of course, there’s a simple way to counter this: wear a watch)

Increase website conversion rate tip #7: Use interactive content to improve time-on-page and conversions

A study by Kapost shows that interactive content generates 2x more conversions than passive content.

Don’t let the name “interactive content” deter you though. Interactive content doesn’t mean you have to create Super Bowl-level ads.

It simply means creating content that is engaging to the audience. It’s about creating value for YOUR audience.

There are a number of ways you can make you content interactive:

1. Create videos
2. Infographics
3. Competitions
4. Quizzes
5. Polls
6. User Generated Content
7. Piggyback on social trends

Supermarket trick #8: All the lollies and chocolates are kept in reach of children

Just like the “eye level” tactic, this is another tactic that supermarkets use to increase their sales.

This is where you’ll find those sugary cereals, Easy Mac, toys, sprinkles, and other items a kid will grab and beg their parents to buy.

Increase website conversion rate tip #8: Use a floating sidebar to increase email opt-ins

Remember the “eye level” trick that we talked about earlier?

This is how to take it to another level.

A lot of websites tend to leave a “dead space” in the sidebar. 

By having a floating sidebar, you will take advantage of that “dead space”.

Bryan Harris of Video Fruit integrated a floating sidebar on his website and saw a 300% increase in email opt-ins.


Supermarket trick #9: Precut veggies and fruits

How convenient are those pre-made meals, chopped-up veggies, and pre-packaged cake mixes?

They just make cooking so much easier.

We don’t even mind paying a little bit more for these convenience foods, as long as it saves us some time.

Increase website conversion rate tip #9: Make it easy

Simplify things for your users – for example:

Don’t give them a lot of options. 

More is not always better, especially when it comes to increasing conversions on forms like asking people to sign up for a newsletter or an event.

Here are some stats from Quick Sprout.

1.    You will see a 5% decrease if you ask visitors for a phone number
2.    Asking for a street address causes a 4% drop
3.    Asking for their age causes a 3% drop

The bottom line is this – you want to remove friction (anything that stands between the user and the goal) as much as you can.

Don’t force users to register or sign-up in order to buy

It’s the same reason why (most) people don’t get married after the first date. They don’t know you, yet.
First-time shoppers *DO* mind registering. They’re not at the stage where they feel comfortable enough to give you their details yet.

An unnamed $25 billion ecommerce site saw a 45% increase in purchases, which translated to an additional $300,000,000, simply by replacing the “register” button with a “continue” button, that had a simple message:

“You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.”

Auto-fill forms

Privy data suggests that pre-filling fields on behalf of repeat subscribers can increase conversions by over 30%.

Formstack looked at data from more than 650,000 form users, and found that conversion rates increased by as much as 189% when social media auto-fill details were used.

Do you have one of those huge drop-down lists for selecting categories, countries, years, or cities? One way to get around this is to use auto-fill fields, such as this one:

Increase website conversion rate tip: Auto-fill form

Supermarket trick #10: Floral and fresh baked goods near the front door 

Do you know why supermarkets usually put flowers and fresh baked goods near the front door?

It’s not just to play with your senses, but because they are high-margin departments.

Your spirits are high and your cart is empty – chances are you don’t mind adding these items to your trolley.

Increase website conversion rate tip #10: Use pop-ups (without disturbing them)

Picture this – you clicked an interesting headline, you’re expecting to read a really good article, and suddenly you’re presented with a “welcome gate”.

There was a discussion on Inbound recently about what causes you to “bounce”.

The number one element that caused users to leave a site straight away was a welcome gate.

There’s no denying that pop-ups work, but there are better ways to present them.

Pop-up at the end of your content

People decide whether your content gives them value or not AFTER reading the content. Triggering a pop-up as soon as they finish reading the content works because it’s like you’re saying to them, “I’m glad you enjoyed that article, here’s what you should read next”.

Pop-up after page scrolls

Another gentle nudge to capture readers’ emails is to “slide-in” or pop-up a subscribe box once they reach X% of your page.


Supermarket trick #11: The items you are most likely to buy tend to be on the right of an aisle.

Brands fight over the shelf-positioning. They want the eye-level shelf, the end of the aisle shelf, or the right-hand side shelf.

Did you know that most supermarkets and stores in general are designed to move customers from right to left?

The reason is because most people are right-handed, and they are more likely to purchase items that are on the right-hand side.

Increase website conversion rate tip #11: Make your call to action the most prominent feature

Placing it “above the fold” is only one side of the equation. There are a lot of other factors that go into a high converting CTA button.

Factors like:

1. Does it look like a button?
2. Is the copy compelling enough?
3. Does it stand out?
4. Does it compete with other CTAs?

There’s no way of knowing the best position, copy, or colour to use without proper A/B testing.

That being said, there are some best practices on how to make your CTA stand out:

1. The colour contrasts with the rest of the page
2. It’s big enough for people to notice
3. It looks clickable
4. You’ve used directional cues to “direct” people to see the CTA
5. State what they will get as a result of clicking the button
6. Use power words
7. Make it the next logical step


You’ve seen how we can use the best of offline methods, online. Now, not all of these tips and tricks will work for you, but you have a structure, and can get started.

Do you have any other supermarket tricks that could be used online? Tweet @bwired_group or comment on our Facebook page.

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