Upselling and Cross-selling: Tips and Tricks to Help You Succeed

Upselling and Cross-selling: Tips and Tricks to Help You Succeed
Jordan Henri Jordan Henri Jun 9, 2020 —  8 min read

Do me a favor and ask yourself this. If you can make a dollar, why not make two?

The chances to make a sale to a new customer these days are around 5-20%. That doesn’t seem like very good odds to me! And because you’ve been working so hard to convert that first-time visitor into a first-time customer, you should use every tactic to maximize the order value and increase your ROI.

The best way to achieve this goal? Upselling and cross-selling.

Now, if you’re new to ecommerce, you’re probably sitting there wondering where to start and asking yourself questions like:

“Upselling? Cross-selling? What’s the difference?”

“What tools am I supposed to use?”

“I don’t want to come across as a pushy salesman!”

Relax. We’re not going to leave you hanging out to dry!

So, without further ado…

What is upselling and what is cross-selling?

To capitalize on these two money-grabbing tactics, you’ll have to understand the difference between upselling and cross-selling.

Not just that, you’ll also have to understand when they’re most effectively used.

Don’t worry, it isn’t rocket science. We’ll break it down in the next paragraphs and demonstrate examples of both, for you visual learners out there!

What is upselling (plus upselling examples)

The purpose of both tactics is to make an even larger sale than you’ve already made. Or, using a more formal language – to increase your customers’ average order value (AOV).

Here is how exactly you can achieve that using upselling.

Upselling is a sales technique used to persuade a customer to upgrade their current purchase through premium versions of their product, or by purchasing add-ons to their product.

Upselling examples typically include an offer to:

  • Upgrade to a more expensive subscription plan
  • Upgrade your purchase with relevant add-ons
  • Get a package or a set instead of a single product
  • Get a better or a newer version of a chosen product

When to upsell is another important question to answer. There are three common scenarios when you may successfully encourage customers to upgrade.

1. Upsell before purchase by displaying relevant add-ons or upgrades on a product page – usually in the “Recommended” section.

2. Upsell during purchase by displaying recommendations right in the shopping cart or in an abandoned cart email. For example, you can display a popup with an upgrade offer in a shopping cart.

3. Upsell after purchase using follow-up emails that contain your recommended add-ons or upgrades.

Here’s an after-purchase example from my own inbox, from a popular website host provider Bluehost:

After-purchase upselling email example from BlueHost

After I purchased my domain from Bluehost, they offered an add-on directly related to my purchase – a security tool to help keep my website protected.

From there, they’ve offered me different plans:

BlueHost uses add-ons to upsell first-time customers

This may not seem like a huge upsell for one customer, but what if thousands of customers purchased the protection plan? That’s quite a pile of cash.

Of course, add-ons might not work for every niche, but if you can recreate this tactic, it will help you increase the bottom line. So, don’t leave that money on the table!

What is cross-selling (plus cross-selling examples)

So what if you don’t have any relevant add-ons or potential upgrades to your product?

That’s when cross-selling comes into play.

Cross-selling involves persuading a customer to purchase products that are related or complementary to those they’ve already purchased.

We’ve all seen it. You’re purchasing a pair of jeans and the retailer recommends some other items to complete the outfit. Maybe a shirt that pairs well with the jeans. Or a pair of shoes to complement them.

Remember that convenient “Wear it with” section in online stores?

Cross-selling example from Banana Republic

Yes, that is cross-selling.

Cross-sell timing is just as important as upsell timing. However, it often depends on what you’re trying to sell.

For instance, if we go back to the jeans example used above, it makes more sense to cross-sell during the purchase. Customers are more likely to get the entire look in one transaction, rather than to buy complementing items from the same brand separately.

However, if you’re selling laptops, for instance, you can cross-sell complementary products – like a protective carrying case or a cooler – both during the purchase and immediately after.

Here’s an example of a common cross-selling technique from a popular electronics retailer Newegg:

Newegg uses the “Recommended” section for cross-selling

Looks familiar? I’m sure it does! Loads of companies use “Recommended for you” sections on their websites. In the example above, while viewing a new computer video card, I’m also shown other computer component upgrades.

What’s the thinking behind this approach? Someone looking to upgrade one part of their computer may be easily persuaded to upgrade other components as well!

Upselling and cross-selling: tools of the trade

Even with all this newfound knowledge in the world of upselling and cross-selling, you’re still going to need a little help implementing these tactics.

Broadly speaking, there are three ways to do it:

  • 🔧 You can hire a developer to code the solution you need
  • 🔌 You can use plugins from your ecommerce platform store
  • 💡 Or you can use Getsitecontrol sticky bars and popups

We’ll start with Getsitecontrol because it works on any website platform and requires zero coding. Then, we’ll cover a couple of popular apps for those selling on Shopify and WooCommerce.

Getsitecontrol – product recommendations on popups and sticky bars

Getsitecontrol is a cloud app to help you create stylish widgets: popups, sticky bars, email subscription forms, and surveys. Because of its versatility, Getsitecontrol can be used for multiple tasks – upselling and cross-selling included.

Let’s suppose a customer just added a cookware set to the cart. Here is what a cross-selling popup may look like:

Just like that, you’ll be able to create popups with product recommendations or upgrade offers and place them on the selected pages. Then, using simple targeting settings, you can display your offer:

  • When a customer adds a product to cart
  • During the checkout process
  • After the purchase, on a Thank you page
  • On selected product pages only
  • When a customer is about to abandon the cart
  • Or under even more advanced conditions

The best part? You don’t need to be a tech wizard to set everything up. With the large widget template gallery, all you have to do is add your copy and adjust the appearance of the popup in a user-friendly dashboard.

Getsitecontrol popups made easy in a user-friendly dashboard

Apart from Getsitecontrol, there are hundreds of other apps out there with features designed to help you nab those pesky extra sales. We’ll talk about a few that stood out to us and are well-loved in the ecommerce community.

Upsell and cross-sell apps for Shopify

If you’ve been following along with us for a while, you’ll know that personalization is key. That’s why some of the best Shopify apps for upselling and cross-selling are built around personalization. Below are a couple of examples.


The Limespot’s AI creates product recommendations for customers based on their behavior on your website, your products’ attributes, and global trends.

Limespot is a popular AI-based upselling app for Shopify

The recommended product boxes are fully customizable from a simple interface, where you can change the layout, design, or location of these boxes on every page. Beyond website recommendations, Limespot data can be transferred to email campaigns and newsletters as well.

Starting with a free plan, Limespot pricing then varies based on your business needs. Their higher end plans are priced based on your individual store’s monthly revenue.

Frequently Bought Together

Modeled after Amazon’s “Related products” section, Frequently Bought Together brings a one-click Add to cart feature. The easier it is for a customer to add something to their purchase, the more likely they’ll end up buying that item too!

Frequently Bought Together is a Shopify app built after the Amazon “related products”

Similar to Limespot, the FBT AI is constantly scanning and learning from your customer base and showing relevant product recommendations. However, if you don’t like the recommendations shown, FBT allows you to go in manually and create your own bundles for your customers. Easy as that.

FBT also has a nifty automatic discount code creator. Neat, huh?

Starting at $7.99 a month, Frequently Bought Together is a solid investment.

Upsell and cross-sell apps for WooCommerce

If you’re selling on WordPress, chances are you’re using WooCommerce. Let’s take a look at the examples of WooCommerce extensions for upselling and cross-selling.

Custom Thank You Pages

Custom Thank You Pages lets you fully customize your “Thank you” pages and optimize them for your needs.

Part of this customization is being able to upsell and show recommended products to your customers. While it may not have the simplicity of a drag-and-drop style editor, Custom Thank You Pages makes up for this with the insane levels of customization at your fingertips.

The extension has a personal plan for one website priced at $49 annually.

Product Recommendations

Product recommendations is an extension that helps set upselling and cross-selling on autopilot. It allows you to create recommendations in bulk and place them anywhere on your website including product pages, shopping cart, checkout and order confirmation pages.

Product Recommendations is a WooCommerce extension for cross-selling

The best part about this tool? You can apply smart conditions and specify precisely the type of products that will be recommended to a customer. For instance, you can only display items that cost more than the currently viewed product. Or you can incentivize customers to proceed with the purchase by offering a coupon for a recently viewed item.

With such a level of personalization, Product Recommendations is a great choice for growing your store. It’s available for $79 per year.

Tips to start upselling and cross-selling like a pro

Now you know the difference between upselling and cross-selling, and you probably have ideas of how to use these tactics for your store.

Nice! You’re well on your way to snatching that money off the table.

Before we wrap this up, let’s review the best practices for upselling and cross-selling like a pro.

Keep it relevant

You wouldn’t offer a deal on an Xbox game for someone who just purchased a PlayStation, would you?

Now, most relevancy mistakes will be far more subtle than that, but the result is still the same: damaging the customer relationship rather than nurturing it.

Choose your upsells and cross-sells wisely.

Offering deals on upgrades, add-ons, or other products that you know your customer will actually benefit from or be interested in is the key.

If you listen to just one tip from this list, make sure it’s this one. There is nothing that can make or break an ongoing customer relationship quicker than the relevancy of recommended products.

Demonstrate value

Showing relevant products to a customer who is in the process of purchasing is very important, but it might not be enough. You also need to show the value.

Your customers may not know what this upgrade, add-on, or extra product can do for them. So you should make it clear.

To highlight the potential value of a recommended product, you can display:

  • your customers’ testimonials
  • the amount of money saved
  • recommended product reviews

Use social proof to your advantage when you want to show a customer just how valuable your product is without being too pushy. Speaking of pushy…

No need to be pushy

Another quick way to lose a potential sale is to push upsells and cross-sells on people who may not even be interested at all yet.

Nobody wants to be annoyed by constant popups asking to upgrade a service when they aren’t even sure they will purchase it.

You should only offer upsells to those who have chosen to buy.

For instance, if we go back to the popup example, have your popups display only in the cart or on a thank you page. With cross-selling, the idea would be to keep your “Recommended for you” box a little more subtle.

Instead of throwing different t-shirt popups at a customer looking to purchase a pair of shorts, keep these recommended products off to the side, or underneath the product info.

Use scarcity to your advantage

Scarcity can be your best friend when it comes to upselling and cross-selling.

Look. Nobody wants to see a deal disappear right before their eyes. If you’ve got a discounted upgrade to your service on a time limit, customers are far more likely to jump on it because they know it’s going away soon.

You’ve likely been a target of this tactic yourself at least once!

Time to take your sales to the next level

So after reading through this, I hope your answer to my initial question was “Yes, I would love to make that extra dollar!” because with a rather minimal effort, you can both increase an AOV and make your customers happier.

Of course, you won’t be able to upsell or cross-sell to every customer you have. That’s a given. But even the small percentage of those who respond to your offer will add up over time.

Jordan Henri is a freelance writer for hire specializing in digital marketing content such as email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing. With careful word choice and top-notch SEO knowledge, he helps businesses achieve their content goals. When not writing, you can find Jordan spending time with his family, playing music or out in nature.

You're reading Getsitecontrol blog where marketing experts share proven tactics to grow your online business. This article is a part of Ecommerce marketing section.

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