Extending Upselling and Cross-Selling Efforts (2,414 words)
New Tools for Cross-Selling
Lillian Vernon's long-established upselling program for overstocks is only the beginning of its upselling efforts.
Hochberg says the company recently enhanced its proprietary order-taking software so that reps can upsell appropriate items based on the products customers choose.
"You buy a dinnerware set, and if we have matching mugs, the computer will prompt the rep to ask the customer about the mugs," he explains.
The upsell suggestions appear to reps as screen prompts, which are needed, Hochberg says, because of the vast Lillian Vernon product database. He explains, "The challenge is that we sell 6,000 SKUs, and although our reps are experts on the products, 6,000 products is a lot to memorize."
Mike Berg says that Lillian Vernon's buyers make the selections of the cross-selling products that are programmed to pop up as screen prompts for inbound reps. While group-filtering or real-time data modeling software can be used to generate upsell suggestions on the fly, Lillian Vernon considers its buyers to be the best merchandisers and relies on their judgment to choose complementary upsell offers.
Lillian Vernon also engages in external upselling with a program run by Magazine Direct. Before the termination of the call, the rep offers the customer the add-on of low-priced magazine subscriptions. Other examples of external upsell companies include MemberWorks and Triad Discount Buying Service, which market membership clubs as add-ons to partners' catalog sales.
Heidi Meyer, Lillian Vernon's vice president of specialty marketing, runs the Magazine Direct program. She explains, "At this point, we have a series of eight or so top magazines that we offer. They're general interest titles: women, men, we even have a kids' title."
First a rep offers the most popular titles, and if the consumer is not responsive, he or she suggests one of about 200 secondary titles. These suggestions are up to the rep's discretion. However, Meyer says that Lillian Vernon is developing targeting capability so reps will be prompted to suggest magazines based on the customer's demographics or purchase choices.