Hot Topics:

Bundling Goods for Better Sales

Displaying items with complementary pieces can help buyers see their appeal.

Sometimes, a lone item offered for bid or sale struggles to earn to its true potential. Moreover, some stand-alone goods can even fail to attract a single interested shopper. Are the goods no good? Is there no demand for the item? Have you done something wrong in your presentation?

Assuming you’ve crafted an effective item title, a complete and compelling description, and included alluring images, it’s possible the item by itself just can’t gain the attention—and sales price—it deserves. Before you decide to donate or discard the product, believing it hasn’t any inherent appeal, consider one more marketing approach: product bundling.

Sometimes, an item needs a companion piece (or two, or more) to find its audience. When you offer a bundled grouping of items, you help buyers see the value of what you’re offering in a way that an item title, description and image simply can’t convey. Read on and discover how offering a product bundle can help increase the appeal of an item, and help you turn a potentially failed listing into a profit-bearing sale.

How can bundling make a difference?

Product bundling sets a ‘scene’ that tells a more compelling story about the item and demonstrates it in action

Some items require a bit more than description—they need demonstration. In other words, you might find that certain items need to be shown in action, so to speak, to help potential buyers recognize and appreciate the use or value of what you’re offering.

For example, consider an antique monkey wrench—it has a value in its age and unique qualities, yet it doesn’t quite connect with buyers because they just can’t see a reason for buying and owning it. You believe it would make a wonderful display piece—and it would—but the buyers aren’t sharing your vision… yet. If you include some antique nuts and bolts that you might also have, you now offer a setting, or a “scene,” that tells a more compelling story about the wrench and demonstrates it in action. Now, buyers can envision a display of the antique tool along with the antique hardware. And, by the way, this also makes it easier for you to sell those antique nuts and bolts.

As another example, consider items regularly found in a table setting: silverware, cutlery, dishes and such. Taken singly, any one of these items might not have a persuasive draw to bidders, especially those who are interested in purchasing a setting, rather than work to attain each piece individually. If they see a single fork or bread plate, they might think, “Fine, but I wonder if I could ever find the other pieces needed to complete the place setting.” It’s a valid concern and, by taking a product bundle approach, you can offer the entire setting as a set, providing a “solution” to the buyer’s problem. In a single purchase, they can acquire everything they need for a setting while you’re able to sell more pieces in a single offering.

As a final example, expanding on the table setting, consider if you have vintage silver napkin rings. By themselves, these napkin rings might or might not be compelling to buyers. By way of a product bundling approach, however, you can pull actual cloth napkins into the rings—maybe festive holiday napkins for appropriately decorated napkin rings—and you’ve provided a setting, a use, and maybe even the nudge a buyer needs to agree that those napkin rings are must-haves. When you solve a buyer’s problem, or present them with a demonstration of the value and even use of an item, that’s when bundling helps you to make the sale.

Bundling with remarketed goods

Try bundling ‘common’ items with a complementary item and turn that stale inventory into more profit

Recall a previous article, Sourcing Undervalued Goods on eBay, which explained how to mine the site for goods that were poorly presented, yet become your opportunity to purchase and re-market for profits. In the example, the Frito Bandito erasers were offered in sets of three when being re-marketed—that was the product bundling approach. By that method, offering three of the erasers in subsequent listings not only helped earn a better overall price for the erasers (three desirable items offered together) but also helped ensure that the more common-colored erasers wouldn’t languish in an inventory.

If you have “common” items, the sort that folks simply don’t seem to warm up to when you offer them singly, try to bundle them with a complementary item and turn that stale inventory into more profit.

How to create a product bundle without bundling at all

One other variation of bundling that you can try is actually more akin to cross selling. By that, we mean presenting the availability of other complementary goods, not in the same listing but as referenced by the listing.

For the place-setting example, it’s possible to offer each item of the setting separately and yet, in a variation of bundling, also make the buyers aware of the other items you have for sale that will complete the setting. In some cases, this can be a better approach than bundling all in a single listing if you anticipate you can earn a better per-piece price for the items.

The key, of course, is to offer all pieces for the place-setting at the same time to encourage buyers or bidders to seek out each of your individual listings in order to complete a place-setting themselves. Of course, if different buyers purchase different pieces separately, then none will have opportunity to purchase a complete setting. In that case, you could also offer a listing of a complete setting concurrent to the individual pieces, thereby catering to both factions—those looking for the complete setting and those looking for only single items. Either way, by this variation of a product bundle, you’ve gained more visibility of your items to more buyers.

When you have stubborn items that just won’t seem to sell, try these product bundling methods to see if you can turn a fizzled one-off listing into a profit-bearing bundled sale.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

Newsletter Signup