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Upsells & Cross-Sells: 5 Ways to Generate Extra Profit

Most e-Commerce owners probably have the same goal: increase the amount customers spend on your site. You want them to buy more products, more expensive products or even just keep returning to do business with you.

Because when they do? Your profits increase.

Without feeling like a spammy salesperson though, it can be difficult to encourage that. See, the difference between offline and online is that you’re not there with your customers while they shop.

They get to browse in their own time, add their own items to their basket and checkout as and when they feel like.

In person, you can talk to the customer, tell them about the benefits of a specific product and encourage them to make a purchase.

Often, this strategy works and a customer will leave the store with more than they thought they would.

So is there a way to transfer this sales-like ability from offline to online?

Yes. Through upsells and cross-sells.

In this post, we’re going to walk you through exactly what an upsell and a cross-sell is and provide you with some best practices for if you decide to implement it into your own e-commerce store.

Are you ready?

What is upselling?

An upsell works by suggesting your customers should increase or improve their purchase by either adding features to the item they’re hoping to buy or moving towards a premium version of their original choice.

Mcdonald’s, the fast-food chain are famous for their upsell efforts. How many times have you gone to order a meal and they ask if you’d like the large instead?

ecommerce upselling

That’s upselling. In e-commerce, this can manifest in a number of ways. You might convince someone to buy a bigger engagement diamond for the ring they’re about to buy, or you might convince them to buy a power drill with more features.

Upselling is effective for the buyer because in most cases it happens when the buyer is ready, or almost ready to make a purchase. Think about it, before a customer makes a purchase they first need to browse your site, then they need to decide they trust you, and also learn about your products.

When you hit them with the upsell, they’ve already overcome any objections they may feel and are much more likely to consider the upgrade product offering.

What is cross-selling?

Cross-selling alternatively is a similar approach to upselling in that you convince people to buy more than they were hoping to do when they first started browsing your store. However cross-selling differs in that you usually offer a similar product (related to the current one they’re looking to buy).

Cross-selling works on the provision that you understand the product you’re selling in a way that means you could recommend similar things to each customer. For example, someone who’s just about to buy a puppy training mats might also be interested in toys for puppies, but might be confused if you tried to offer them budgie food.

ecommerce cross-selling

The main crux with cross-selling is that the products should be complementary in that they are related but they also perhaps might fall into different categories, meaning there was less chance of the customer finding the second product if you hadn’t recommended it to them via a cross-sell

Both cross-sells and upsells are effective in increasing your average order value. When your average order value increases, so does your profit.

However, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind in order to implement the strategies well.

Let’s dive in.

Make it easy for the customer

I can’t stress this enough, if you don’t make things easy for your customers, they just won’t want to do business with you.

Imagine this situation. You go to buy a new pool table for your garage. You get a pop-up to say you might also like to buy two sets of cues to go alongside it.

You’re keen to buy and click on the offer. The offer adds the cues to your basket but removes the pool table.

Now you have to go back and search for the pool table again.

Frustrating, right?

Even though you might present your upsells or cross-sells as a good deal, customers aren’t stupid. They know that making that second purchase puts more money in your pockets, so it’s imperative you make it easy for them.

The first step is to offer reasonable choices. These choices should be something your customers are likely to buy. Back to our pool table example.

Amazon Product Recommendation

Amazon has listed a range of things other people buy when they buy the pool table. It makes people ponder whether they want to also buy these too.

Now imagine if Amazon showed the pool table and then recommended a lawnmower. The relevance isn’t there so it’s a useless cross-sell.

Now if this were an independent retailer selling a pool table, they might try and upsell the product to convince the buyer to get the larger sized pool table or the one with a better quality of wood.

See where we’re going with this? It’s hard to list exactly what your upsell or cross-sell should be because it really is business or product-specific. Look at your top products and think to yourself:

  1. What could I add to this product to give it more value? There you have you cross-sells
  2. What sort of upgrade could this product have? There you have your upsells.

The second step to making it easy for the customer is to present your cross-sells or upsells in a way they can visibly see. If your upsell or cross-sell offers aren’t clear from the very beginning, they’ll go unnoticed.Apple does a great job of highlighting both their upsells and cross-sells throughout the buying process.When you go on their site to buy a product, let’s say the iMac, as soon as you hit the “buy” button to start the checkout process, you’re presented with a number of options.

Upsells And Cross-sells

Here they’ve clearly placed the upsell options next to the cheaper ones too. Where Apple is able to dominate in the upsell world is the fact they are selling a premium product already. It’s no secret that Apple products aren’t cheap. Even the “cheapest” product is $1,099.00

Presenting the products in this way forces shoppers to look closely at the features. For many it’s a simple case of “well I’m already spending $1,099.00, might as well spend a bit more and get a better computer.

Further to that, once you’ve chosen your computer, they offer a range of cross-sells. Extra accessories you might want for your computer.

Upsells And Cross-sells

The UX of the site is so nicely done that it doesn’t feel like a sales pitch at all. It genuinely feels as though someone from Apple is guiding you through all your options.

But very quickly, a computer that originally cost $1,499.00 has no increased to $3,427.99.

upsells and cross-sells

The power of upsells and cross-sells.

Product bundles upsell and cross-sell

Product bundles are when you package a few items together for the customer to buy. This is very common in apparel where you might get 3 or 4 pairs of socks in one pack. It’s also common in the video game niche where you might buy a console alongside some controllers and some preselected games for a set fee.

Bundles give the illusion of a discount because you’re paying one price, but getting multiple items. There’s less conflict when buying a bundle than say putting the items individually into your basket (even if the latter works out to be cheaper).

How many times have you ummm’d and ahhh’d about the items in your basket and whether you actually need all of them?

With a bundle, you can’t do that. You buy it all or nothing at all.

Bundling works effectively when you bundle products that simply cannot be used without the other.

You can’t use an electric-toothbrush without a charger. You can’t use a sketchbook without something to paint/draw/decorate it with.

Bundles are less effective when you could easily use the items without one another. For example. Bundling a kitchen table with a napkin set. You might want the kitchen table but have no need for the napkin set, nor do you need it in order to have the table.

In fact, Death Wish Coffee even have an entire page dedicated to their product bundles.

Product Bundles

When you look at the products it makes sense. If you’re going to buy a Chemex, you need filters.

See if you can bundle like-minded necessity products together to increase your overall average order value.

Checkout upsell or cross-sell

The checkout is a great time to catch people’s attention with a cross-sell or upsell offer. They’ve already made the commitment to purchase a product and they’re likely excited about it. So why not use this opportunity to offer them further incentives they might want to consider.

Evelo Bikes, an electric bike company are a great example of using upsells and cross-sells during the checkout process.

Upsells And Cross-sells

In this scenario, I’ve already chosen the bike I’d like, I’ve inputted my height and picked my color scheme.

The first two steps are mandatory. You need to tell them how tall you are so they can pick the best bike for you.

What’s super clever about their approach is they then offer you a number of accessories you can buy.

The sleek product descriptions are enticing and given you’re already excited about the prospect of an electric bike, buying one or all of the accessory packs seems like a no-brainer.

Bonus points: Evelo also bundles their accessory pack together.

Post-purchase upsell

What’s one inference you can make about your happy customers? If they’ve bought from you once, they’re likely to do so again.

That’s why, if you’re not already, you should make use of the post-purchase cross-sell.

Dollar Shave Club does this well through their emails. The email is a simple reminder of when their next order is going to arrive and what they should be expecting.

Post-purchase Upsell

However, they use this email as an opportunity to offer their customers other products they can add to their basket.

In a way, if you’re a fan of Dollar Shave Club and regularly buy from them, you already know which products you like. So when they list them here with a nice and simple “add” to cart button, it seems almost as if they’re doing you a favor.

Post-purchase emails are one of the most effective ways to encourage further spending because it gives you an opportunity to remind them of the value they receive when they bought your from you previously.

Don’t let your upsells and cross-sells end when the customer finishes purchasing.

Use software to track prices and understand what would work as an upsell or cross-sell product

With everything you do, your upsells and cross-sells should be an opportunity for you to organically suggest new, or better versions of your products to your customers.

However, in many cases, the best way to approach a task like this is to use data and intelligence price tracking tools to help you understand where you can create further sales opportunities based on what your customers have been happy to pay in the past.

We’ve listed a number of different strategies here and which one will work best for you depends largely on the types of customers you’re dealing with.

Your main advantage is that you understand your customers and what makes them tick, so combine that understanding with data to help you decipher what sort of upsells and cross-sells you should make and on which products.

Upsells and Cross-sells Takeaways

We’re all in the game of increasing our revenue, that much is true. We’ve established that one effective way to do that is through upsells and cross-sells.

However, if you want this approach to be effective, you need to make sure you don’t sound like the only thing you’re after is an increase in profits.

If your customers start to feel like that’s the case, not only will they not be receptive to your cross-sells and upsells, but they’re likely to find another vendor to spend their money with.

However, when you get your cross-sell and upsell offer right, you can greatly increase your company’s revenue so long as you’re providing value for your customers.

What are you waiting for, upsell and cross-sell today!


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