Many businesses focus on driving traffic and generating first-time customers with ads, emails, seasonal promotions, and coupon codes. But most ecommerce store owners tend to forget about increasing their average order value. This is another great way to generate more revenue.
Getting a new customer typically costs five times more than retaining a current customer. That’s exactly why focusing on cross-selling and upselling can really boost your profits.
Read on for the most effective upselling, cross-selling, and down-selling techniques, plus dozens of real-life examples.
But first, let’s define what these terms mean.
What is upselling?
Upselling is a sales and marketing technique that you can use to convince customers to purchase a more expensive item.
When you upsell, you typically promote more expensive products, more profitable services, bundles, or package deals.
For example, if a customer is about to check out with a bottom-tier phone, you can offer an upgrade for a mid-range or premium phone, which helps to increase your average order value.
What is cross-selling?
Cross-selling is another effective way to boost your sales by recommending complementary products to your customers.
You need to make sure that the additional product or service increases the value of your customer’s cart.
Here’s a cross-selling example: if a customer is about to buy a mobile phone business phone system you could offer them a memory card, a phone case, or a protection plan.
What is down-selling?
Down-selling is when you adapt your offer to a customer who’s second-guessing a purchase that might be out of their price range.
With down-selling, you should match the customer’s budget and recommend another item that’s cheaper and has similar features to the original item. For example, if a customer can’t afford a premium mobile phone, you can recommend last year’s model.
While this method won’t increase your average order value, it will still increase your revenue, because you’ll be offering a cheaper option to visitors who probably won’t otherwise make a purchase.
You’ve got the terminology down, now let’s see where and how to implement these techniques!
How can I implement cross-selling and upselling techniques for my store?
You can employ each of these techniques separately or use them together. Either way, make sure you’re thinking about your whole website. You can upsell, cross-sell, and down-sell on your:
Homepage—Product recommendations on your homepage are like shop window displays for brick-and-mortar stores.
- Use your homepage to capture people’s interest and show off your best product lines.
- Your primary goal should be to inform them about your current deals, special offers, and promotions.
Product pages—Recommend relevant and related items to boost your sales from your product pages.
- Visitors that browse your product pages are typically more engaged since they’re driven by a specific goal or need.
- For example, shoppers may jump between different party dresses trying to find the best one for their upcoming office party.
Cart page—This is the perfect time to cross-sell or upsell.
- Recommend products that are closely related to the items in your customer’s cart. This will increase the average order value.
- You can also offer package deals with complementary products.
How to maximize your upselling and cross-selling efforts
As discussed, upselling and cross-selling can be great strategies to increase your revenue and average order value.
But the real impact comes from these strategies when you use them together with personalization.
Without personalization, you’ll just be showing random recommendations to customers. This will probably annoy them, and they might even leave without buying.
Personalization is all about showing customized offers and recommendations to each customer at the right moment, creating the most relevant user journey for them. It’s about understanding that no two visitors are alike, and optimizing their onsite journey based on their unique behavior and interests.
Personalization not only helps increase your revenue, but also leads to happier visitors, real connections, and long-term customer-brand relationships.
Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Website Personalization
Now let’s see how you can combine personalization with upselling and cross-selling!
14 of the best upselling strategies to grow your business
First, we’ll start off with 14 powerful upselling strategies.
1. Promote featured products
This approach is useful if you’ve just launched your ecommerce website and customer browsing history isn’t available yet.
Featured products can be your bestsellers or simply some of your favorite items.
You can use them on your homepage or on category pages. CafePress did this well:
2. Highlight new arrivals
Stocking up on new items that your repeat customers haven’t seen yet? Get more eyes on them by promoting them to returning website visitors.
This is one of the most popular approaches for ecommerce stores.
Check out Sephora’s homepage. Not only do they highlight new arrivals on their main banner, but also directly under that with a section called “Brand-New Additions.”
You can also use popups to promote new arrivals. Check out this ready-to-use template below:
3. Display seasonal offers
Another variation on upselling is to promote seasonal products on your homepage.
Level up the effectiveness of your seasonal displays by offering promotions.
Here’s an example from KAY.com. Their main banner highlights “It’s engagement season,” with 20% off for all bridal jewelry.
An even better example is HealthAid. They tap into their visitors’ seasonal interests by offering relevant promotions for each season.
The “Seasonal Products” module on their homepage includes “Allergy Support” for spring and summer and “Winter Protection” for the cold and flu season.
4. Create daily offers
Daily offers are a surefire way to grab your returning visitors’ attention. They increase the sense of urgency and motivate visitors to buy right now.
When you create your daily offers, review your sales data to ensure that you select the most profitable items for the season.
For example, if you’ve seen an influx of sweater orders, feature your best sweaters. Or if some outdoor sports gear sold amazingly last summer, feature those products throughout the summer season this year.
Flipkart uses a “deals of the day” module on their homepage. They also added a countdown timer to further increase the sense of urgency:
Here’s an ace example that doubles as upselling and cross-selling. After their customer adds an item to their cart, Speedo uses a popup to promote “exclusive offers of the day.”
5. Promote your bestsellers
Upselling your most popular products and deals is a simple, effective way to boost your average order value and consistently generate more revenue.
Determine which products are the most popular in your store by:
- The number of times a particular product is sold
- The number of visits to a specific product page
- The number of times someone adds a particular item to their cart
SwimOutlet takes an elegant approach by highlighting their popular items with a subheading, “Products Trending This Week.”
Your cart page is also a great place to highlight your most popular products. When your visitors are reviewing their carts, they can take a peek at best-selling items and easily add them to their order.
Look at how L.A. Girl does this. They promote trending items on their cart page:
Want to do this for yourself? Check out our sleek, ready-made onsite messages for recommending your most popular products:
6. Offer similar products or alternate options
Visitors love options, so promoting similar products is another great way to upsell. This solution is typically used on product pages.
This allows your visitors to compare their options and helps them feel confident that they’re making the right choice.
Check out how Booking.com does this with a sidebar to display properties that are similar to the accommodation a user is currently looking at:
You can get creative with the labeling for “similar products” modules to make them more eye-catching and unique.
Check out how LuckyScent.com uses a dynamic title to introduce similar products,“If you like Blackpepper Eau de Parfum, we recommend you try…”
7. Display products other customers have viewed
People are more likely to buy products that have generated interest among other customers. So promoting products others have viewed is one of the most effective forms of product recommendation.
Let’s look at Walmart’s tactic. They use a convenient scrolling module on their product pages to display products that other customers viewed.
8. Highlight your products with customer reviews
Customer reviews help spike an item’s popularity. Have a few higher-end products with amazing reviews? Those could be a great place to start with upselling.
Reviews can convince visitors to purchase a more expensive product, showing that it’s better rated and more in demand.
HomeDepot provides a strong example of upselling products with a comparison table featuring aggregated star ratings. Take a look:
9. Recommend products in a “mini cart”
“Mini carts” are a great location to feature products for upselling. A mini cart provides an easy way for shoppers to view their cart without heading to the actual checkout page.
You can optimize your customer’s shopping experience by suggesting some recommendations in their mini cart. This helps customers effortlessly add similar products.
Here’s a brilliant example from Lancome. They recommend products purchased by other customers in a sidebar of the mini cart.
Recommend your own products with our ready-to-use templates:
10. Offer an upgrade
Many ecommerce site owners feature an upgraded version of products when they upsell.
Review sales data from repeat buyers to help you identify opportunities for suggesting upgrades.
Great upsells are typically crafted from relevant products that sell well or upgrades that pack in a lot of value. ProFlowers does this by suggesting shoppers “double the roses for only $29.99 more” and by offering optional vases that would look great with their flowers:
11. Create package deals
Package deals are most commonly associated with cross-selling. But you can also use them to upsell. Motivate customers to drop more valuable items into their cart with a package discount.
Here’s an example from Fragrance Outlet. They promote “Gift Sets” on their homepage:
12. Provide free shipping above a specific amount
High shipping costs are the number one reason why shoppers abandon their carts. So you can see why free shipping is a powerful incentive!
In addition, you can also promote free shipping above a certain predetermined amount to encourage customers to purchase a more expensive product.
At CoffeeForLess.com, customers receive a notification about how much more they need to spend to get free shipping.
13. Display gift wrapping options
Gift wrapping services are a great option to have in your arsenal. It may not increase your revenue outright, but it can increase customer satisfaction. And it will help boost your average order value.
During checkout at Nordstrom, visitors can choose to upgrade to a gift box for $5 or a gift kit for $2.
14. Personalized offers based on customer history
You can create even more personalized, effective upselling offers by using your customer’s browsing history on your website.
For instance, you can highlight a visitor’s recently viewed items on your homepage, category pages, and product pages.
Amazon is great at this. They display a wide range of product recommendations on their homepage, including visitors’ “Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations.”
5 cross-selling techniques
Now let’s take a look at 5 of the best, most inspirational cross-selling examples!
15. Recommend supplementary products
You can choose to recommend supplementary products based on the items customers are currently viewing. These supplementary items usually span multiple product categories and are related by how they function together.
You can see below that Wayfair cross-sells on their website by offering supplementary products in a category called “You might also need.”
For instance, if a shopper shows interest in Christmas ornaments, they offer a cute box to store them in:
This approach is more effective if you offer supplementary products as a package deal. The key is to combine it with a special promotion. Check out how DigitalRev does it:
Here’s another example from BestBuy.
They use a popup and showcase a protection plan for their item. They also display a complementary product as a way to cross-sell after a customer adds an item to their cart.
16. Offer related products
Cross-selling related products is just like cross-selling supplementary products.
You can promote related products to help your visitors find other items that they’re likely to be interested in.
Under Armour uses a unique label, “Goes Great With,” to cross-sell related products.
17. Showcase products frequently bought together
When a visitor doesn’t have a browsing or purchase history, you can use the purchase history of other customers to find the best products to cross-sell. Products that many customers bought together will likely tempt the rest of them, too!
Microsoft Store recommends complementary items in their “Frequently bought together” category.
Amazon uses the same strategy on their cart page. They display products that are “Frequently Bought With” one of the items in their customer’s cart.
If you don’t want to disrupt your visitors’ browsing experience, go for a sidebar that allows them to easily view the additional items.
18. Promote what other customers also bought
Beyond promoting items other customers have bought together (i.e. in the same purchase), you can simply promote items that other customers who’ve bought a specific product have also purchased (at any time).
Many customers who arrive at your store have similar buying habits or tastes, and this is a great way to take advantage of shared interests.
This cross-selling technique works well on the checkout page because visitors are already primed to buy. Take a look at how Pottery Barn cross-sells:
- First, a shopper adds an item to their cart.
- Then, the shopper’s cart content is displayed in a popup window.
- This window promotes additional items that were also purchased by other customers.
Here’s another example from Under Armour. They cross-sell products by displaying them in the “Customers Also Bought” category on their cart page.
19. Promote additional items for free or at a discount
Offering products for free or at hugely discounted prices is a brilliant way to increase your sales and improve your customer satisfaction rates.
However, be sure to offer something that’s of genuine value to your customers. Sending a low-quality item to a person who bought a high-quality item can do more harm than good!
Take a look at this example from the interactive online catalog of Kellyco Metal Detectors.
On their cart page, they notify customers when they’re eligible to buy discounted items (after they hit a certain cart value). If a visitor spends around $4,000, the site offers some heavily discounted items and a freebie.
This approach is a good way to help motivate your customers to spend more. By providing discounts and gifts to your customers, you’re showing them that you value them and that their loyalty will be rewarded.
6 down-selling examples
Let’s face it—some visitors are very price sensitive. This means they’ll abandon their cart when it gets too expensive.
But many businesses overlook down-selling as an opportunity to increase sales. It’s actually an awesome way to engage customers.
Here are 6 high-quality examples of down-selling.
20. Offer discounts and deals
Promote current discounts and special offers to reach price-sensitive visitors.
Michael Kors offers 50% off select products. These items are tied to a limited-time offer. This is a great way to create a sense of urgency that pushes more people to buy.
21. Try one-time offers
Create an air of in-demand exclusivity by making your offer a “one time only” deal. Your shoppers will feel the urge to buy it right away before the deal’s gone forever!
Take a look at how The Supplement Store down-sells an exclusive discounted offer while using a countdown timer to increase urgency. They only give shoppers a 10-day window to get the discount.
22. Make your down-sells highly visible
Always highlight your best deals to drive more sales. You can catch the attention of price-sensitive customers by using well-designed, active calls-to-action throughout your website.
Here’s a great example from Macy’s: they down-sell their daily deal and clearance items across their site. Be like Macy’s and drive traffic to your sales pages by using bold text, vibrant colors, and clear sales categories for easy navigation.
As you continue browsing their site, you’ll see an eye-catching banner promoting the offer across their category pages:
…on product pages:
…and on their cart page:
As you’ll notice, they also use a countdown timer to increase urgency.
Macy’s reduces the intensity of their promotion as customers show more engagement and move towards the checkout.
When you use this technique, remember to dial back your promo to avoid overwhelming buyers who have already made a decision to purchase.
23. Reduce cart abandonment
The average ecommerce cart abandonment rate is almost 70%. This means nearly seven out of ten visitors who add an item to their cart will leave your store without buying.
How do you prevent that?
Down-selling is one of the most effective ways to encourage an immediate purchase when someone is about to bounce. You can offer a discount or another special, limited-time offer.
Here’s an example from the Natural Fertility Shop. They use cart abandonment popups to recover visitors who are about to abandon their cart. They provide 10% off for customers who check out immediately.
Bonus tip: you can rely on your store data to track when visitors are about to abandon their cart, detecting the precise moment when someone is about to leave your website with exit-intent technology.
Here are some exit-intent popup templates that you can start using right now:
24. Communicate secondary offers on exit-intent
If your visitors aren’t ready to buy just yet, encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter so you can guide them further along the customer journey at a later date.
The best way to grow your list is to offer a promotional code in exchange for their email address, like 10% off their next purchase.
This approach to down-selling is known as “soft conversion.” It allows you to build your email list and convert your signups into sales via email.
Guilty Soles persuades their visitors to provide their email addresses for a chance to win a free pair of shoes. Offering a discount or hosting a contest is much more exciting than just asking visitors to sign up for your newsletter.
If you’d like to communicate a secondary offer, try one of these templates:
Recommended reading: The Ultimate Guide to Creating High-Converting Popups
25. Send special offers via email
When a visitor leaves your site without buying but signs up for your email list, you can down-sell to them with special offers via email.
People are naturally reluctant to spend money. A discount can help them stay within their budget and still get the products they want.
You can also send upselling and cross-selling email offers to existing customers.
If you sign up for DODOcase’s newsletter, you’ll find your inbox filled with emails presenting exclusive bargains.
The emails encourage visitors to return to their site and make a purchase with a special offer. Here’s an example:
You now have the most powerful upselling, cross-selling, and down-selling techniques you need to grow your store. Build your own strategies by combining these tips and examples to drive more sales and boost your revenue. Don’t forget, the more personalized your recommendations are, the better your results will be!
If you need good personalization software, you can give OptiMonk a try today.
Have you given upselling, cross-selling, or down-selling a test drive on your site? Which techniques have been the most effective for you?
Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for more tactics that can boost your ecommerce sales? Check out these articles: