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How to cross-sell and upsell products on your ecommerce store

Jessica Farelly
By Jessica Farrelly

There are two main approaches an ecommerce business can take to increase revenue… and we bet you can guess what they are. The first is reaching more customers. While this strategy is great in theory, it’s expensive and arduous in practice. The second approach is getting your existing customers to spend more money. With the right strategies and tools, boosting customer spend can be immensely effective, affordable, and simple. Step one? Start cross-selling and upselling products.

Stick with us to 1) discover the difference between cross-selling and upselling and 2) learn the cross-selling and upselling techniques that you can apply to your ecommerce store.

Cross-sell vs. upsell: What’s the difference?

First things first: let’s clear up any confusion over these often erroneously interchanged phrases. 

Cross-selling is suggesting additional products that complement the item being purchased. For example, if a shopper is looking for a wedding gown, you may cross-sell them a pair of shoes that would go well with the dress. Or, if a customer is shopping for a laptop, you might cross-sell them compatible accessories like a laptop case or portable mouse.

Cross-selling isn’t just a way to generate more revenue. It’s a form of anticipating shoppers’ needs and providing them with top notch customer service. Showing customers matching accessories makes their shopping experience easier. 

Upselling products means suggesting alternative, similar items at a higher price point. For example, if a customer is looking at a $100 coat, you may recommend coats in similar styles that are slightly more expensive to get them to spend more with you.

Upselling strategies for ecommerce stores

As you know, the basic principle behind upselling is suggesting more costly versions of items the shopper is looking for. Below you can see how a customer looking for sports bras from Fabletics will also be shown other sports bras at higher price points.

upselling strategies

Follow these four upselling strategies to ensure you are providing relevant and helpful suggestions to your shoppers.

1. Be cost conscious

There’s more finesse to upselling than just pushing expensive products on customers. Retailers need to be conscientious with their upselling strategies to avoid recommending items that are out of the shopper’s budget. 

If a customer searches “washing machines under $500” on your website, you’d be remiss to advertise $3,000 washer-dryer combos as recommended products. Take advantage of rules to hide irrelevant – and out of budget – items to gently nudge shoppers towards the upsell.

2. Upsell on product pages

Just like location is critical in the world of real estate, placement is critical in the world of online shopping. Where you place your upselling recommendations can make a world of difference. 

Show recommended products on product pages, so that when someone clicks to learn more about a product they like, they’ll also see related – but pricier – items too. Make sure to place the recommended products below the featured product so they’re easy to find without being obtrusive.

upsell products

See how customers looking at WineEnthusiast.com’s Vintage Factory Bar Cart are shown more expensive options further down the product page.

3. Leverage your cart and checkout page 

You can increase your chances of upselling success by also showing recommended products on your cart or checkout page. Below you can see how WineEnthusiast.com recommends alternative wine glass sets at varying prices when shoppers add a set to their cart.

upselling techniques

4. Choose your upselling words carefully 

Using the right language can help you make the upsell. 

You can see in the photo above that a “Continue Shopping” call to action (CTA) is featured on the cart page to subtly convince customers that there’s still more to shop for.

Experiment with phrases like “you may also like,” “we think you should check out,” “you may have missed,” or “customers also bought” throughout your online store. 

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Cross-selling techniques for ecommerce

To reiterate, cross-selling can involve suggesting compatible products or related accessories. These five cross-selling techniques will help you increase order value.

1. Choose relevant product recommendations to cross-sell

So how do you choose which products to suggest? Start by brainstorming relevant product combinations. For example, if customers are shopping for kitchen sinks, you may also suggest faucets, garbage disposals, and built-in soap dispensers. 

2. Look for patterns

After you’ve come up with product combinations on your own, dig into your sales data to discover any unexpected buying patterns. You may find your customers buying two seemingly unrelated products together. A/B test these recommendations on each product page and see if sales increase.

3. Fine tune suggestions

The beauty of running an ecommerce store is that you can automate cross-selling. Use a recommendations tool to set attribute rules that prioritize certain product categories or brands over others to ensure shoppers see only the most relevant complementary products.

4. Don’t forget about the cart

Just like with upselling, you can cross-sell related products on product pages and on your cart or checkout page. This is a great way to ensure shoppers are aware of any relevant accessories that you sell, so they don’t turn to a competitor’s site to seek them out.

5.  Find your inner wordsmith

Phrases like “related products,” “complementary products,” “compatible accessories,” “complete the look,” and “do you have everything you need?” can help seal the deal without coming across as pushy. 

Wrapping up: Cross-selling and upselling techniques for ecommerce stores

Upselling and cross-selling are powerful strategies to help grow your average order value. With the right upselling techniques, you can steer customers towards buying slightly more expensive products than they were looking for. With skillfully executed cross-selling, you can become a one-stop-shop by ensuring customers find their products, plus any related accessories they may be interested in, without ever having to leave your store.

Already a Searchspring customer? Email our team of Customer Success experts at customersuccess@searchspring.com to learn how you can implement these tactics on your store. Interested in adding Personalized Recommendations to your site? Request a demo today!