Upselling and cross-selling for online retailers

Upselling and cross-selling for online retailers

As a Shopify online retailer have you wondered what the terms are for when you offer a customer an upgrade to a potential product purchase, and when you suggest products that may go well with an item just purchased? The answer is ‘upselling’ and ‘cross-selling’ respectively.

While neither are completely new ideas, when online retailers engage in upselling and cross-selling it’s a good thing because it can really grow business. According to online retailer stats upsells and cross-sells make up an average of 10% to 30% of online sales.


What do upsell and cross-sell mean?

While the two are interchangeable, individually they describe different selling tactics.

Upselling: Relates to different versions of the same product. So, for example when a customer is keen on purchasing a certain model of bike. When upselling, the retailer will encourage the customer to upgrade and consider the next more expensive model up from their original choice.


Cross-selling: Relates to different products that complement a product purchase. So, for example say a customer has purchased a new bike, straight after making the purchase a retailer will introduce them to products that they can add value to the bike. In this way cross-selling is encouraging the purchaser to spend more like for a set of very bright bike lights.

Top tips for upselling and cross-selling

Applicability –
When your customer buys a bike don’t cross-sell them a useless decorative accessory, instead make it something that they will truly benefit from such as safer tyres.

Usability – When your customer wants to buy a set of pots and pans but mentions they love Chinese cooking upsell them to the version of the pot and pans that includes a steamer. That way the customer will get a lot of use from the new suggestion.

Desirability – When your customer wants to buy a certain model of dryer, but you have many positive recommendations and reviews from customers for the energy saving model up, then you are upselling them a more desirable option.

Necessity – When you only have a certain number of products to sell like 50 air conditioners a month before the hot summer weather commences, you can work in the ‘get in quick before they all go’ sentiment into your upselling or cross-selling marketing.

Authenticity – When upselling and cross-selling to your online customer, make sure to not go overboard with the tactic. Instead be authentic in why and what you are offering to your customers in a skilful way rather than a pushy unpleasant way. If you are too bold and repetitive you could run the risk of losing your customer permanently.

Why should you upsell and cross-sell?

Upselling and cross-selling can potentially increase your sales and when executed well it can also assist your customer with their buying experience. For example, after getting to know your customer a good retailer will know the kind of bike that would be the most beneficial to the customer and they will also know the kinds of products that would enhance the bike’s performance or possibly increase its value. Sometimes cross-selling of products is absolutely needed, like when your smart phone does not come with earbuds.

By upselling and cross-selling masterfully you are not only enhancing your customer’s purchasing experience you are also helping to collect more in-depth data for your business to analysis. Also, by cleverly upselling and cross-selling you are also improving your customer’s overall user experience which in turn encourages clicking through and completion of purchases.

Which is more pertinent – upselling or cross-selling?

Many Shopify online retailer specialists suggest that upselling is the better of the two tactics because it rates higher via general product performance stats. Another important note is that cross-selling performs better when it appears at the checkout part of the online purchasing process. For example, when you buy something on an food app and you are checking out but see that you can order fries with your burger for $5 less, this is where cross-selling is at its best.

Ways of assisting your upselling and cross-selling

Timing – Study your customer’s user experience and think about where in the journey (or which page) you could place a voucher offer for the next model up or where you can add in the offer of garlic mayo. Some customers could be put off by any offer if is too early in the buying journey

Apps – There are several apps you can get through your Shopify App store and there are also independent apps (some free) including Recommendify, Conversio, The Motivator and Product Upsell. Your developer may also have more suggestions.

Product recommendations – This is an extension which assist you to organise upsells and cross-sells via categories and tags. For example, if a customer wants to buy earrings you can cross-sell them with items that are tagged as ‘necklace’ and ‘ring’. By doing it this way you’ll only need to tag these items once and you can also do it quickly.

Reminders and suggestions – As a Shopify online retailer you can set up reminders such as ‘Did you forget…’ for when a customer has looked at an item but has not added it to their cart. Along the same vein you can also recommend a customer to consider buying a pair of shoes that go with a dress they already have in their cart.

Free shipping – If you can and wherever you can offer FREE shipping this is proven to encourage purchasing from your online store over another store that has separate shipping fees. This may also encourage a loyal repeat customer.

Examine data and analytics – As mentioned before upselling may increase your revenue more than cross-selling but this is only found out by examining your Shopify online store’s analytics. By looking at this date you can measure click throughs, page views, sale conversions and so forth.

Loyalty programs and incentives Lastly, regardless of whether you are upselling and cross-selling by adding in an extra incentive like ‘By adding the shoes to your outfit you will receive a free membership to our loyalty program that will give you 20% off ….’ This kind of added bonus may just seal the purchase from your customer.

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