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July 12, 2021
Like every ecommerce store, you wish customers would spend more money when they make a purchase. A slight bump in your average order value (even just 3%) could represent a lot of revenue and a better experience for your customers.
Upselling and cross-selling are key tools to boost the amount customers spend at your store. These practices require relatively little effort to set up, but have the potential to add a lot of value to your business.
In this article, we explain upselling and cross-selling, show you how to get started on Shopify, and offer some best practices to make your upselling/cross-selling program the most effective.
Upselling and cross-selling are key tools to boost the amount customers spend at your store.
Upselling is the practice of persuading customers to purchase a premium or upgraded version of a product to make a larger sale. It focuses on customers who have already made a purchase or are just about to.
The goal of upselling, of course, is revenue. It helps you increase your average order value. It works well because the probability of selling to an existing customer is about 60%–70%, whereas the probability of selling to a new customer is only 5%–20%.
Upselling is also a boost to the overall customer experience. You can make sure the customer gets the most value out of their purchase by getting exactly what they need or want.
Cross-selling and upselling are commonly confused, but they are quite different.
Cross-selling is the practice of persuading customers to purchase adjacent products to the original product. It’s a whole other purchase that compliments the first purchase. This method also increases your average order value, but by delivering an additional product, not an upgraded version of the original product.
Here’s an example of a cross-sell. The customer is asked to add an additional item to their cart.
Here’s an everyday example in a non-ecommerce environment to highlight the difference between upselling and cross-selling.
Upselling: “Would you like to super-size that burger?”
Cross-selling: “Would you like fries with that?”
In an ecommerce setting, it might look something like this:
A customer decides to purchase a bicycle, so you present them with options for upgrading the tires, the seat, and the handlebars. This is an upsell because you are trying to convince them to purchase a better (and more expensive) bicycle.
After they choose their bike, the customer proceeds to the next page where they have the option to add cross-sell products to their purchase. This might include biking gloves or shoes, a helmet, or a clip-on water bottle. These are obvious accessories that the customer may like based on what they were originally buying.
In order to offer upsell and cross-sell products on Shopify, you’ll need a special app. Our recommendation is Bold Upsell. It’s trusted by more than 1,000 merchants to raise average order values and create a better shopping experience.
Here’s what we like about this app:
Watch this video to learn more:
Admittedly, this is not a free app. But the best ones never are. It starts at $9.99/month with a 14-day free trial, but you’ll recoup that cost easily.
In addition to Bold Upsell, we also recommend Rush which specializes in upselling and cross-selling through shipment notifications (hint: those emails have the highest open rates of any other emails).
Like anything else, if you upsell or cross-sell poorly, you won’t see the powerful results. Follow these tips to make your upselling/cross-selling program effective.
If you offer too many upsell or cross-sell products, there's a chance you will confuse the customer and disrupt the conversion. Limit your offerings to only a few items that your customers are most likely to buy.
Upsells and cross-sells work best when they are personalized to the shopper and his/her needs. After all, 86% of consumers say personalization impacts what they purchase. Your goal is to improve the experience, not create friction by frustrating the shopper.
How do you personalize? Fortunately, this is fairly simple with upsells and cross-sells because you already know what the customer wants to buy. You just have to show them an upsell or cross-sell that makes sense.
If someone wants to buy a laptop, you shouldn't try to upsell them to a car. That’s not in line with the original purchase. But they might be interested in the same computer with more storage. You could offer cross-sell products like a laptop case, a wireless mouse, or lap desk.
If you elect to use Bold Upsell, you can take advantage of its data-backed recommendation system. It will scan the customer’s past activity to recommend upsells that will convert best. This way you aren’t offering completely irrelevant products.
Choose upsell and cross-sell products that don’t add much to the price. If your offers increase the price too much, shoppers may dismiss it immediately.
We recommend offering products that increase the order total by no more than 25%. For example, if the original product costs $50, the total plus upsell or cross-sell shouldn’t be greater than $62.50.
Shoppers generally don’t investigate your upsell or cross-sell products too much before making a decision. You don’t want them veering off the checkout path to do some research. So the value of the products you offer should be clear and easy to understand at a glance.
This means not using images that are hard to decipher or include overly technical language. Use copy like, “Double your speed with a faster processor,” “Add a free spring makeup palette,” or “Invite friends camping with a bigger tent.”
Decide whether you’ll offer upsell or cross-sell products before or after the sale.
Pre-sale offers occur on your website. Add them to product pages, shopping cart pages, or checkout pages. The upsell order will then appear on their receipt.
The best pre-sale add-ons are small purchases that don’t require much consideration or research, similar to candy bars in the supermarket checkout lane. The risk should be low so that someone can think, “Sure, I’ll grab that too.”
Post-sale offers occur on your thank you page or in post-sale emails. It gives the customer the opportunity to complete a separate transaction to upgrade or add to their original order. They would receive a second receipt.
The major benefit here is that there’s no impact on the original purchase. The purchase is quick and simple without disruption. The customer isn’t presented with any new information or forced to make any decisions after they buy.
Discounts on upsell and cross-sell products are great tools to encourage sales. Everyone likes a deal, but in these cases, the deal is tied to their original purchase. If they neglect to purchase the upsell/cross-sell product now, they will have to pay full price later. This is a great way to take advantage of psychological tricks like scarcity and urgency.
Depending on the nature of your products, there may not always be a reasonable upsell option. For instance, if you sell artisan soap, you may not have an upgraded version, so there's no upsell opportunity.
In these cases, don't try to force an upsell by offering irrelevant products. Focus on your cross-sell opportunities.