January 5, 2021

It’s costly and time-consuming for online stores to attract new customers. One study of online retail sales shows that 40% of revenue comes from 8% of buyers. It is much more cost effective to market to current customers than to try to find new customers. That’s where using upselling and cross-selling techniques comes in handy.

Cross-selling vs. upselling

These two techniques are often used to encourage customers to spend more money at the time of purchase. Both cross-selling and upselling are often used in the same transaction and are very effective for increasing overall basket size for your customers.

What is cross-selling?

Cross-selling is a sales tactic many online stores use to suggest a related or complementary product from a different category to customers. Often this happens after a customer has already added an item to their shopping cart and a pop-up will show them other items customers typically purchase with the original choice. This is based on other campaigns in your storefront with similar tags. If you don’t have a campaign running with similar tags, it will be based on overall popularity.

Storefront tags

The key to successful cross-selling is suggesting products that make sense together. If you are selling T-shirts, a good cross-sell might be a mug. On the other hand, suggesting canvas wall art after a T-shirt selection won’t make much sense to your audience.

What is upselling?

Upselling is a sales tactic used by sellers to recommend a slightly higher priced item or better quality product to customers during the sale. Often these items will be upgraded or premium items customers may find more appealing. When done right, retailers build trust with customers because they know they are getting a quality product at a good price.

It may also occur after a customer has purchased a product from your store. This is typically a recommendation based on whether you have different products with the same campaign available on your storefront. For a standard upsell, you can set a discount amount within any campaign page. In-cart upsells are also popular and are based on having whether you have different products with the same campaign available on your storefront.

Upselling & cross-selling best practices

It’s important to keep customers in mind throughout the sales process and provide value with your upsell or cross-selling strategy. Customers love to save money, and it’s good to point out if they are able to save on shipping costs by bundling products and making a bigger purchase to avoid paying shipping costs on individual purchases.

Before purchase/In-cart upsell: A common practice is to show customers recommendations on your product page before checkout. Customers appreciate seeing other ideas as they browse your categories.


Shopping cart upsell

During purchase: Use pop-ups or display recommendations during checkout, as they shop or on the abandoned cart page.


Add on upsell example

After purchase: Follow-up emails are a great way to keep in touch, remind your customers they can come back to make another purchase, and introduce new products. You can also offer a discount on an item after purchase to encourage customers to increase their purchase amount.


Upsell offer example

Your business will thrive as you take the time to finesse some of these common sales tactics. Creating a relationship with current customers will keep them coming back for more, and increase their lifetime value to your business. You will spend fewer marketing dollars keeping current customers happy and providing greater value to them during their shopping experience than by working to find new customers.

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