One of the great challenges of running an eCommerce business is knowing how many products to offer your customers. On the one hand, more products mean more things that might catch someone's eye and make them hit that add to cart button. On the other hand, more products mean more inventory to keep track of—and more complexity in your business.
But there's a way to have your cake and eat it too: bundling.
By taking your existing products and combining them into bundles, you can expand your offerings without having to create brand new products. Bundling isn't just about avoiding complexity, though. It's also a way to help guide prospective customers through the buying process, give buyers a better experience with your products, and of course, bring in more revenue.
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How to bundle your products
I'll use my business as an example. We sell make-at-home dog treat mixes, and we have two basic types of mix: one for frozen treats and one for baked treats. We have four total flavors (two frozen, two baked). While we sell each of those jars individually, we've also bundled them into three additional SKUs.
A Pupsicle Starter Kit, which contains one jar of each flavor of frozen mix, plus a paw- and bone-shaped silicone ice cube mold.
A Baked Biscuit Starter Kit, which contains one jar of each flavor of baked mix, plus a set of three bone-shaped cookie cutters.
A Doggie Deluxe Box, which has everything in both starter kits—plus a couple of extras.
By combining our four core products, adding a few small extras, and repackaging them, we now have seven SKUs. And each one serves different purposes and price points.
Bundling to tell a story
When we think about storytelling in business, it's usually in the realm of marketing, as a way to help people understand what a company is, why it exists, and why its products are worth buying. But while storytelling starts with marketing, it ends with your products: from the pictures of them on your website to the box they come in, everything conveys a message about you and your brand.
My company is relatively new, which means that most people who come to our site are learning about Cooper's Treats for the first time. There's a lot of information that I need to convey in order to get someone to make a purchase—not only who we are and what we sell, but also the fact that we're trustworthy and that our products will make your life a little bit better.
Bundling is one of the fastest, easiest, and most effective ways to do this. In our case, by packaging our products up into starter kits, we do a few things.
We make it very obvious what you should be looking at if you're a first-time customer, so you don't waste your time reading about a product that's not a good fit and perhaps getting discouraged from buying. The only decision you have to make is whether you want baked or frozen treat mix, and that's usually an easy one based on the weather.
We help people envision what they'll do once the package arrives. This is especially true because our bundles include little "extras." By including an ice cube mold with the package, it means you don't have to think about whether you've got an ice cube tray lying around. Any time we save you from having to worry about details like that, we make it that much less likely that you'll give up before you click the buy button. People who can see themselves using a product are a whole lot more likely to buy it.
We encourage people to try both flavors, instead of just picking one and hoping their dog likes it. Then, they can come back and buy individual jars of their dog's favorite flavor. We even offer a discounted monthly subscription to help cement the idea that while you start with a starter kit, once you're familiar with our products, the logical thing to do is buy individual jars moving forward.
Bundling for different price points
But creating bundles isn't just a way to help your customers understand and enjoy your products; it's also a great way to provide different choices to consumers that have differing levels of price sensitivity.
If we didn't bundle our products into starter kits, a first-time buyer would likely buy one jar of mix for $9.99. Instead, they're spending $24.99. It's tough to argue with giving your customer a better experience and increasing revenue on a sale by 150%.
This is the main reason we introduced the Doggie Deluxe Box, our highest priced item at $59.99. When you're dealing with luxury items, you're going to have some buyers who have to save up to make a purchase, some who have more money than they know what to do with, and lots of folks in between. By offering bundles at different price points, you ensure that you don't lose buyers who aren't able to afford your highest-price SKUs (but would be happy to buy something cheaper), but you also don't leave money on the table by only having lower-priced options when you have buyers that want to spend more money.
More than once, we've had first-time customers buy multiple Doggie Deluxe Boxes and send them to different recipients. These are clearly folks who want to buy nice gifts for people they know—if we hadn't had a $60 item for them, they probably would've purchased the $25 starter kits instead, or worse, decided that our brand wasn't upscale enough for their gifting needs and moved on.
Read more about how changing your pricing model can attract new customers.
As you think about how to start bundling your products, there are a couple ways to come at it.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, and think in detail about what their experience is like. They come home from work, see a box outside their front door, take it inside, and open it. Then what? How do they use your product? Does it involve them having to get anything that you didn't include in the box?
Think about when you were a kid, and you got a toy for your birthday that required batteries but didn't include them in the package. If you had the right batteries in the house, it was a little annoying to have to go search for them. If you didn't, it was full-on tantrum.
That's a terrible experience (mostly for your parents) that could have been a fantastic one if the toy seller had offered the option to add batteries. Oh, and by the way, those batteries would have been sold at a healthy markup, meaning the business managed to both lose out on some easy profit and make its customer unhappy by not bundling.
If you can, give your products to some people who are unfamiliar with them, and watch as they try to use them. Do they go looking for anything? Are there points of frustration? Those are problems that can be solved, very possibly by bundling.
Your other option is to look internally. What do you have that logically goes together? Which of your products would you expect to use at the same time? My local market does this well: they have wines and cheeses that you can buy individually, but they also pair and sell them together. This is great for me. I'm not an expert in wine and cheese pairings, so now, instead of Googling what goes together—or only buying one or the other—I just grab a package and go.
This is especially powerful for gifts. When you're dealing with people that aren't buying for themselves, they often don't have a lot of expertise about what they're buying. My wife loves face masks, so I bought her this set of six different kinds for Christmas. I haven't the foggiest idea whether a pumpkin mask is better than an Irish moor mud mask (ok, fine—didn't know when I bought them, but I've since tried both, and the pumpkin left my skin feeling downright radiant). By bundling them together, the seller saved me from having to do a bunch of reading about face masks to try to figure out which one is the right one to buy—and they got me to buy more to give my wife some options.
Bundling your products is cheap and easy for you. It makes it easier for your customers to find the right product for themselves. And it gives them a better experience when they actually use your products. It's a real win-win.