Monday night’s Shop Secrets: tricks of the trade programme was a massively interesting insight by Harry Wallop into how retailers use various upselling techniques. This was episode 4 of an eight-part series on Channel 4 which looks at the many ways shops help us to part with our cash.
With hidden cameras installed in a number of shops, boutiques and market stalls, the programme delved into the techniques used by shops and sales assistants to get maximum sales from each customer.
The most interesting part for us was looking at upselling techniques at the point of sale, which is becoming more and more popular in high street stores. A classic example of this is McDonald’s asking if you’d like to ‘go large’ or add fries with your order.
Apparently, in a study of 1,000 shoppers, a third admitted that they made impulse buys at the till. In fact, the programme mentioned that 52% of profits in retail can come from upselling, which shows how important it is.
In the show, one of the retail assistants rightly points out that for each shopper it may only be a pound here and there but for a retailer this can add up to thousands over a week or a month.
This tactic is based on the commitment consistency principle, which basically means that if a customer has already committed to buying one item, they are more likely to buy something else.
Another interesting aspect of the programme was its look at restaurants using tactics to sell more of a particular dish. A spicy chicken kebab was packaged up onto a hanging rack, which created a spectacle every time it was brought out of the kitchen.
The restaurant relies on ‘social proof’ which means that seeing someone else order the dish makes it look popular and therefore more likely that other people will follow suit.
This is a really interesting series, but the tone of voice is rather over the top. Using phrases such as sneaky tactics, dubious selling technique and dirty tricks is trying to make these methods seem very dramatic, when they are in fact all classic sales techniques, which have been used for years.