How to double the AOV of a board game platform?

Przemek Trubalski
15 minutes
How to double the AOV of a board game platform?

So, you already have a working and operational board and card game store. Your sales figures are decent, but you seem to be unable to convince your customers to spend more in your store. Thankfully, there are many remedies for that and if you put in some effort, you can boost your Average Order Value.

Average Order Value, or AOV for short, is believed by many to be the Holy Grail of e-commerce in the world of board games. Why? The answer is trivially simple – the higher your AOV, the more money you make. Why is that the case? To calculate the AOV of your board game store, simply divide your revenue by the number of transactions. Your main goal is to improve your e-commerce store in a way that will let you earn more for the games you sell without touching your margin and without changing your sales figures. Thanks to a higher AOV, you can simply get the revenues you want faster than before – that’s because, with the right AOV-boosting strategy, you will achieve the same revenue with fewer orders.

You might be asking yourself – fine, how do I come up with this strategy? What can help me boost the AOV in a board game store by up to twice? Truth be told, this indicator is affected by a wide variety of activities. Up-selling and cross-selling, perfect UX in your web store, marketing automation, loyalty schemes, recommendations, free shipping, discounts for subscribing to the newsletter, freebies of your choice, page customisation, vouchers for next purchases – all these things can be used and there are no wrong choices, only poorly tested ones, which means that you should experiment and choose the best way to go for your store. In the meantime, you should consider offering new products to your regular, repeat customers, keep checking their attitudes and test the efficiency of new methods, and only when you see some satisfactory results, feel free to open them up for more users.

How to boost AOV in practice

As a board game publisher or vendor, you are starting with an advantage. First of all, board games are a great product to offer, allowing you to take advantage of many sales and AOV boosting techniques. What is more, the board game sector has been growing recently, especially online – partly as a result of the ongoing pandemic. There is one more thing… you can see many of these techniques in action – just visit the excellent platform run by one of the biggest board game publishers – Gamelyn Games. Just try to test order a game, go through the purchase path, see how you will be encouraged to make more purchases, and then analyse some of the most effective techniques and examples.

Cross-selling and up-selling

It should not come as a surprise that using cross-selling and up-selling techniques is one of the more effective practices to not only increase sales volume but also to boost your AOV. This is particularly true in the case of board games – there are many examples of complementary products (cards, pawns, mats, posters, card protectors, etc.) which can be offered with the base game, resulting in great cross-selling opportunities. Cross-selling elements are best used in many places across the platform: on the product page, in the cart and on the payment page; however, before you do so you need to investigate and check at which part of the purchasing path your customers will be the most likely to add something to their shopping list.

But be careful and don’t go too far – you need to strike a balance between what is good for the platform and what is useful and valuable to the customer. What should you consider when using cross-selling and up-selling techniques? On the one hand, you need to focus on the right place and way of using them, but you should also plan your moves, and think about what you are going to add to your platform to boost your AOV by up to 200%:

🔴 add suggestions and recommendations for additional products on the product page;
🔴 put up information on the most popular items bought by other users in the same place;
🔴 use appropriate vocabulary, present the benefits;
🔴 be sure to get recommendations and feedback from users, as well as – preferably – experts;
🔴 avoid raising the order value by more than 25% – this is the magic limit, beyond which you can only discourage the customer from making a purchase;
🔴 do not forget about analytics – check who bought what, adjust your offering according to the insights from the analysis;
🔴 take care of your regular customers – if you offer them the right complementary products, they are far more likely to purchase them from your store;
🔴 if you implement cross-selling, promote products that are on sale and high-quality goods that never sold before – but don’t forget to inform your customers about that;
🔴 avoid adding new products to your cross-selling offering – your customers need to learn more about them, and this takes time – and time is essential when making a purchase. Customers usually buy things they already know well, things that were recommended and things that they have already read about.
🔴 educate customers through newsletters, e-mails, social media posts and blog posts to establish yourself as an expert and instil trust;
🔴 do not forget about ethics – never add additional products to a customer’s cart without their knowledge, since this can discourage them from buying and lead them to abandoning their cart, and – in the worst-case scenario – giving up on your platform and going somewhere else;
🔴 up-selling does not necessarily have to mean sealing the deal – never abandon the sales dialogue if it has already started. The sale might come at a later time, but this does not mean that it will never happen;
🔴 sell stories of best users to other customers, show them what others have gained thanks to additional purchases, directly encourage others to buy more via e-mails, dedicated news, blog posts, etc;
🔴 add trial sales to your offering – provide trial versions of games in exchange for a declaration of purchase of the full, final version;
🔴 offer a better variant of the same product – more refined, made with better quality materials, and so on. You can price it separately as a premium version;
🔴 combine card game promotions with online games, one product can easily promote the other, and the offers can complement each other.

Cross-selling and up-selling can only be effective if you manage to satisfy your customers with your suggestions and offer them what they find valuable – people do not want pushy salespeople asking them to buy additional things; however, they can be swayed by a well-thought-out strategy that includes expansions to the game they just purchased and some additional elements, supported by expert knowledge. Keep in mind that you cannot force anybody to make a purchase – and if you do, you might harm your brand and platform in the long term by sowing distrust and lack of confidence.

Promo pack example from Gamelyn Games platform.
Suggested products example from Gamelyn Games platform.

Bundle discounts

Offering bundles is a perfect way to boost your AOV and one of the most effective up-selling techniques. The key to it is to show the customer the value they get when they choose a bundle instead of an individual product – in this case, it is usually going to be a cheaper unit price when sold as part of the bundle. On the one hand, bundles make for an easy opportunity to boost order value, and on the other, they are particularly enticing to customers, who can hunt for bargains and save money by buying more. This option should be available both as a product in the store and as an item in the shopping cart.

Bundles example from Gamelyn Games platform.
Add extras example from Gamelyn Games platform.

Collecting points

Loyalty schemes are another interesting method of boosting the AOV, especially when coupled with gamification – for example, points that customers can receive for specific activities on the platform. What is more, it should be particularly easy to make the points enticing to the customers – who doesn’t t like collecting gold coins, diamonds, tokens, talents… You could even go for references to the lore of your games by using the right nomenclature, references to heroes or the universe, as well as a fan service geared towards the fans of board games offered on the platform. Points can be converted into specific actions or monetised – for example, used to cover the delivery cost.

Free shipping

If your goal is to boost your AOV, setting a free delivery threshold can give you the boost you need. All you need to do is display a message in the user’s cart that after getting additional items to get to the free delivery threshold. If you combine that with cross-selling offers, which can be added to the cart, make sure that you actually discount the delivery costs after the user adds them. You can also complement that with a second threshold in addition to free delivery – if the order value exceeds a set amount, the customer can get some additional freebies – cards, card protectors, gaming mats, posters, gadgets, promo packs, etc.

Subscription discounts

Subscriptions are another effective way of boosting your AOV – you can offer it during the checkout process and entice your prospective subscribers with free shipping or free game updates. Lead acquisition using this strategy has one interesting boon – thanks to subscriptions, your platform starts bringing in some passive income. What is more, you can design the functionality for the entire year and do it quarterly (with monthly fees). An extended premium package is another great way to increase order value. What is that all about? You can offer a premium service for placing an order above a certain threshold, such as a discount, priority pre-orders for new games, free promo packs and so on.

How about deferred payments? 

If your platform offers card games, deferred payments may be an interesting solution and something that might make you stand out on the market. How does it work? Your customer gets their game and they can pay for it in a month’s time. Of course, using this technique might significantly affect your platform’s cash flow, but on the other hand, you might attract users who keep a close eye on their finances and carefully manage their budgets. Introducing this option might further increase your AOV by another few per cent while letting your customers know that your platform is user-friendly and offers flexible payment terms.

Be the expert

Are there any other ways to boost your AOV? Of course there are! The right content on the website and proper marketing can do the trick. First and foremost, you should keep your users up to speed with all the news concerning the platform and the industry as a whole, you should also encourage your customers to create content. Another good idea involves sharing stories of your best customers to encourage others to successfully shop on the platform. For that to work, you need to showcase the benefits your customers got by purchasing games using your platform. This doesn’t have to be about the game – make sure to highlight customer service, delivery and so on. This is the way to educate your existing and prospective customers. Articles posted on your blog or posts on social media can encourage others to give the platform a try – some of them will eventually buy something from you. In the meantime, you keep promoting the brand, build its position and foster brand recognition. If you want an example of a well-executed and well-run information layer that brilliantly builds the expert position of a board game platform, and as a result significantly influences AOV, look no further than the Gamelyn’s Gazette addressed to users of the Gamelyn Games platform.

Other ideas

AOV may also be affected by other solutions used on the platform. It goes without saying that encouraging users to get something more is always a good idea – you can do it on the product page, during the sign-up, in the cart, during payment and even after they seal the deal. You could also go with a helpful chatbot suggesting various offers and deals, best prices, news, loyalty schemes and more… A test programme can be another interesting way to foster better AOV. While promoting pre-order games, you can ask users to sign up to become a part of an elite testing group, earn points for testing and join a loyalty scheme. 

There is one thing about all the methods and techniques of increasing the Average Order Value indicator that you need to always keep in mind – they offer added value by helping you build the credibility of your platform, promote your brand and get board game fans – your future customers – to check it out. We are trying to increase AOV using various experimental techniques. Every vendor needs to discover the right benchmarks for themselves, but we can assure you that by using these techniques you can boost your AOV by up to 60%. How do we know? We did exactly that with the excellent new platform built for Gamelyn Games. You can read this very interesting case study where you will find many more key metrics and indicators that grew after all our ideas were implemented. 

You ca use a chatbot not only for help.
Apple Pay and other payment system is a must.

If you are a board game publisher or distributor and need a modern e-commerce platform to sell your games, let us know – we can talk about your business needs, help you with the necessary changes and achieve impressive results – together!

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