The best way to sell multiple products online

Introducing the wonderful world of Reserved Product Pricing (RPP)

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You’ll learn how to

  • Implement new research on how best to sell multiple products
  • Prevent unnecessary lowering of your product price
  • Hide discounted offers to non-purchasers
  • Combine profit maximisation with a personalised consumer experience

The problem

Dear Coglode,

I’m the CMO of a successful startup that sells a handful of our own physical products online. We have one product right now, and we’re launching a second soon. We’re wondering how best to position our second product alongside it, as we don’t want to cannibalise sales in the process. Is there any research that best shows us how to do this?


The Solution

Dear Decision-Maker,

Firstly, thank you for getting in touch. Second, let me reassure you that your problem is a common one, but that there indeed is research that offers guidance on how to continue your successes once you launch your second product.

Let me introduce to you some recent research by Prasad, Venkatesh and Mahajan (2014) that focuses on how best to sell multiple products to a single customer.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should simply allow your dear customer to buy both products at the same time on your site, offering a discount if indeed they choose said bundle. An example of this is below, with books both available to purchase separately for $20, and available together for $35.

However, this new research suggests that there is a better way of positioning and optimising sales of multiple products. It’s called Reserved Product Pricing (RPP), and it’s pretty cool. Here’s why…

Potential benefits of Reserved Product Pricing

  1. Maximisation of profits from multiple product sales
  2. Prevention of prematurely-devalued product price
  3. Aids loyalty and return purchases through preferential hidden pricing
  4. Effective use of personalised offers based on a first stage purchase

How it works

  1. In a nutshell, RPP involves you offering a later discount on product 2 to a customer who buys product 1.
  2. No discounts are shown on the site and are only disclosed to customers who first successfully make a purchase.
  3. They are then granted the opportunity to purchase product 2 at this discounted rate.
  4. Subject to the conditions below, the research shows that this pricing strategy has been found to be more profitable than offering customers a buy-both-now discounted bundle on your site.

To conclude, RPP is an awesome blend of time-based pricing and cross-selling. Customers can’t get the discount by waiting; the offer is only triggered after they buy a related product at its regular price.

How to do it

1. On your product page, don’t offer a second product to buy at the same time for a bundled discount.

2. Instead, once the sale and delivery of product 1 has been successful, send a time-sensitive follow-up thank you email.

3. In this personalised email, highlight the sale of product 1, now offering product 2 at a reduced cost from that seen on the site.

4. Add in a time-scarcity factor, highlighting that the offer can only be redeemed within a small, limited, one-time offer window (optional).

5. Add in social proof recommendation quote of not just the product but of the sequential purchasing narrative (optional).

6. Create a single, distraction-free call-to-action using persuasive copy such as “claim my offer” or “pay less than everyone else” etc

Conditions of use

Suits higher marginal costs

This pricing strategy should be used for products that have a higher marginal cost of production. For example, physical books over eBooks.

Best for short-termist consumers

This pricing strategy works best for near-sighted consumers over strategic, discount-seeking consumers. That said, implementing a strategy of variable and uncertain discounts can help suppress this. It also looks to work best for impulse-driven products where an impatience to buy is relatively high (new gadgets, vacations etc).

Limitations of research

  • Doesn’t take into account competitors selling your own product.
  • Assumes that you have two products on sale.


That you…

  • Are selling your own product
  • Have more than one product to sell
  • Have a marginal cost that is not extremely low
  • Can track customer sales info and personalise email marketing based on these sales

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