How to Build Bigger Baskets

March 28, 2019 In Latest News,Retailer Insights

Growing revenue as an independent retailer isn’t only about increasing your customer base. It’s also about increasing the average order value, or basket spend, of your customer.

This is called building bigger baskets. With smart analysis of store and customer data, retailers can learn which products customers tend to purchase together, and then leverage this insight to make strategic decisions that drive more incremental sales.

Why is data an important part of the equation?

  • Knowing what branded products sell together allows retailers to optimize opportunities to pair those items and increase sales.
  • When adjacent items span price points, retailers can use discounting to promote the purchase of more expensive or higher-margin items.
  • Larger basket purchases are critical to a healthy bottom line. They increase sales sales volume, revenue, and can improve overall margins.

In other words, by fueling strategic inventory management and merchandising with data-driven insights, retailers can see more profits, and even higher customer sastisfaction.

Here’s how to optimize your business to encourage bigger basket purchases:

Keep the right products in stock at all the right times.

Aggregating and studying your transaction-level data will tell you what people are buying from your store. By layering that with intelligent analysis, you can also know what people are buying together and when. Keep track of these trends to ensure that your store’s inventory is always stacked in your favor.

Best-seller brands, like Budweiser and Smirnoff, will be the backbone of your inventory year-round. Watch for seasonal trends, both in your store and in your region, to know when to bring in and emphasize other items (like Rosé, for example), and promote them alongside the staples.

When your store dependably carries the go-to products, regulars will build it in as part of their routine. They will visit the store more often, increasing the chance of being upsold on additional products they might like.

Create high-volume displays in highly visible spots.

While trendy, local and craft items drive spikes and shifts in sales, most stores see the steadiest revenue from old-reliable brands (Bud Light, Barefoot, Tito’s, etc.). Put these products on display, front and center, and group them with complementary items. These displays should “sell rather than amuse,” according to Beverage Dynamics, so source your complementary products using actual data-driven insights.

For example, if your sales data shows that customers who purchase Bud Light also tend to purchase a specific brand of bourbon, incorporate that product into your high-volume display. People who are already making the decision to purchase those things together will appreciate the ease, and others may be more likely to buy them together.

Use data to drive promotions.

Promotions are a smart way to clear out inventory and increase sales of basket adjacent products. Like in the example above, you can use high-volume products that drive sales (like Corona or Jack Daniels) to sell other items in your inventory that might carry a higher margin.

But these shouldn’t be random. Instead, let customer behavioral data dictate how you promote and sell items. Loyalty programs are a good place to start. By gathering information about your regular customers and offering incentives to keep them coming back, you’ll not only increase basket sizes but also will gain valuable information on what categories and brand your most valuable customers gravitate toward.

With that data, you can create smarter promotions throughout your store and even offer some personalization, emailing specific customer segments with specific deals that could all be running simultaneously in your store. Ideally, this brings these shoppers back in store to take advantage of the promotion, where they then also stock up on their go-to products.

Make promotions clear, inside and out, with strong signage.

You still want to attract and build sales with those outside your loyal circle of regulars. That’s where good signage comes in. Something as simple and enticing as “Sale Inside” can draw in new foot traffic. Once they enter the store, make it super clear what the promotion is and where the items involved are.

Here, you should also think about where to put these items when they are being promoted. Imagine your store layout as a map that guides customers toward purchases. Make the locations of your displays purposeful: easy to find, but amidst other products customers might be interested in buying and on the route to the checkout.

Optimize your checkout counter.

Studies show that about 17% of a customer’s time in store in spent in line to check out or at the checkout counter. That makes the counter a rich last-frontier for impulse purchases or upsells.

Try locating miscellaneous items like corkscrews or bottle openers, as well as accompanying products like ginger ale and tonic water near the counter. When customers are waiting in line, they’ll see these items and realize they are necessary complements, quickly upping their basket value.

Make sure that these items make sense for what’s in your store. You wouldn’t sell lighters at your checkout counter if you didn’t sell cigars or cigarettes in your store. Candy, for example, might not be a great thing to include, but pretzels have a strong connection to beer and will click for certain customers.

Finally, keep it seasonal. And look at the data to see which 50mL nips are landing in the greatest number of baskets. Stock up on those.


Building bigger baskets starts with knowing your customers. Get to know them personally and study the insights you gather from their transaction data. Then, you can optimize how you stock, display and promote different categories & brands to better serve them. Your reward? Customers will happily buy more, again and again.