“Hm, I ran out of tissues.”
*puts tissue pack in the basket*
“What else… Hey, the nicer tuna is on sale. Let me put this one back and treat myself.”
And just like that — I got cross-sold and upsold to, and I don’t mind. These are well-known checkout stands, or screamer shelves, as this person hilariously calls them:
Upselling involves more than just increasing your revenue:
- Using existing customers as a marketing and sales channel is more profitable and provides an opportunity to upsell and increase the ROI;
- Personalizing the shopping experience with relevant, data-based suggestions;
- Making shopping more convenient by acting as a one-stop-shop for everything;
- Giving the optimal solution as soon as the problem arises by offering priority customer support, for example.
Today we’ll show you:
- How to distinguish cross-selling, upselling, down selling, bundling, and add-ons, with examples;
- How to opt for one or several strategies mentioned above;
- Various upsell ideas and tactics, both usual and clever, “hidden” ones;
- How NOT to upsell to your customers;
- Expert tips proven to work.
Here are the key findings from the chapters on upsell ideas below:
- Provide convenience with your upsell offers;
- Frictionless shopping is a must. Sell first, upsell later;
- Use data to create personalized recommendations;
- Incentivize upsell offers with discounts, free shipping, FOMO, etc.;
- Compare items to upsell, downsell, utilize price anchoring and provide multiple options for them to find the best fitting one.
Difference between upselling And Cross-Selling
The terms are often used interchangeably, but it's crucial to understand the differences:
- As part of cross-selling, you offer the customer additional products related to the one they're already buying at a lower price and excellent to complete their experience. These cross-sells can be displayed with apps such as Recently Viewed or Related Products.
- Upselling means suggesting customers buy better versions of products they already own or would like to purchase: a more advanced, more powerful model with greater features, better materials, and more value overall.
Cross-sells and upsells require different products, so suggesting the same products for both would be absurd.
You should, for instance, do the following if you are selling high-end watches:
- Upsell with similar model — suggest a pricier or more advanced model and highlight its value;
- Once the product is in the cart and customers are close to buying, cross-sell on the check-out page: encourage them to buy a watch winder or a case for their watch.
Upselling and cross-selling are different but complementary. With careful planning and precision, you can use and profit from both at the same time.
Hybrid forms diversify the offer:
- Bundling is a combination of upselling and cross-selling; the package includes a primary and several additional products; the bundle price should offer a better deal than if they bought the products separately, but will be more expensive than the individual product prices.
Pure bundles consist of items that customers can’t buy individually, and mixed bundles provide both options (individual and bundled purchases).
Here’s an example of a great-value bundle with must-haves included:
- In the context of an add-on, you can think of it as something that comes with the primary product, making it more valuable (such as a laptop warranty, for example).
Downselling — The Dark Horse Of Sales
In downselling, low-priced items are offered to customers when the higher-priced options are rejected.
Surely this is the opposite of what we discussed above? At every step, shouldn't we strive to increase the AOV as much as possible?
Not quite. In reality, not all customers will be able to purchase the most expensive product. If you want them to stay with you, the next best thing is to recommend something cheaper for them to purchase. Pushing people into something they can't afford won't make them buy.
Downselling is a necessary part of a winning sales strategy:
- Improves your brand and customer support image. You will often find that a sales representative will try to get you a better deal, even if it is cheaper and the company makes less money.
- Gets you a repeated customer. Your past experiences and reputation will lead customers to turn to you first when they need a service. As a result, customers are inclined to spend more on their next purchase.
- Word-of-mouth recommendations. People talk about experiences they have with businesses — make sure yours is positive.
- More conversions. Low AOV is better than no AOV.
The best way to downsell is to compare cheaper and expensive models and show them the best thing they can get with their budget.
Or, give people a taste of your product before they opt for the entire package as Dollar Shave Club did:
These Upsell Ideas Will Make A Difference
For The Upsell Placement, Go For The Thank You Page
“Thank you” pages are the safest places for upsell offers:
- They’ve already bought the product, so there’s no risk or friction;
- They have a 100% open rate;
- You can pitch specific, targeted upsells that match the purchase.
We spoke to Nick Disabato, a designer/ writer, and he wouldn’t recommend taking chances with randomizers:
“I wouldn’t throw your upsell strategy into the mercy of a random number generator.
Customers don’t care about your random cross-sell row; for DTC brands, it’s mostly a ripoff of Amazon, who put a lot of algorithmic might behind what goes in there. Keep it focused and curated for each product.”
Learn from Amazon and don’t try to upsell to unqualified shoppers:
If you use Vitals, placing a Post-purchase widget on a thank you page is easy:
Post-Purchase upsell widget by Vitals can display the suggestions left or right, and it will instantly adjust the price and apply the discount codes. Configure the Maximum Acceptable Discount to prevent profit loss:
“Before” Upsells Are A Classic
There is an opportunity to showcase multiple variants for customers who are just looking around without any specific item in mind.
This one is easy: display these products in the following sections:
- You might also like;
- Similar items;
- Recently viewed (if they’ve browsed the store before);
- Related products (handy for cross-selling as well).
ASOS conveniently lets customers shop the look:
This method of suggesting additional purchases is great: not only do they show you how the product looks in action, but they also suggest matching items to make your outfit complete.
When selecting the items to suggest, be sure to explain why they should opt for them and provide relevant additional info: price, discounts, availability.
Social Proof Makes The Offer Convincing
People on the fence about buying are more likely to buy if they see others have bought it and give it 5-star ratings.
There are several ways to show social proof, all available within the Vitals app:
- Product Reviews;
- Shoppable Instagram Feed;
- Recent Sales Notifications;
- Trust Seals and Badges;
- Payment Logos.
Building on the previous example: you can go a step further and also provide the customers with a Star rating snippet with product preview:
Star-rating will show up in the product preview, with the total number of reviews.
Pro tip: to make sure site visitors never miss good deals, you can use the Announcement bar and display it across the website in an impactful yet non-invasive way.
As these are non-personalized recommendations, you can make them more general and highlight store-wide discounts or item categories on sale.
Sense Of Urgency = High Conversion Rate
It has been proved that extending discounts (on expensive items) for a short time boosts conversions.
The Sephora Spring Savings Event is one of the most-anticipated online sales events in the beauty community:
You only have a few days to catch this deal; makeup lovers can get high-end items cheaper than normal.
Stock Scarcity app lets you place the stock info on the upsell items.
Create A Reward System
A reward system is the most giving out of all the upsell ideas. It’s a no-brainer that works; incentivizing the upsell will bring visible results, and there are several ways to do so:
- Buy One, Get One;
- Free Shipping with a threshold;
- Point system;
- Subscription model;
- Limited-time offer and FOMO;
Vitals is a tool that provides you with all of these in the Upsell Builder. Moreover, you can prevent discount conflicts, create the spend goals, exclude certain products from these deals, or enable/ disable discount code stacking on Shopify stores.
All those non-glamorous purchases present you with some great upsell ideas. These are the routes you can go:
- Discount/free shipping for bulk purchase — Things that don’t go out of date so soon: pet food, toilet paper, canned goods:
For some pre-purchase upsell ideas, upgrading the offer may look like this as well:
You can see the amount of savings, proceed to the original cart easily, and upgrade quickly with just one click. It also clearly explains that the update will replace the current item.
- Subscription model — Things people periodically run out of or need to be fresh: meals, cosmetic items, etc. HelloFresh does this with meal kits, delivering three times a week:
Offer Something Cheap And Extra Convenient
You don't have to spend a lot of money and sleepless nights to make an offer people can't refuse. Simple ideas are the best; you wonder why you didn't think of them sooner!
If my life depended on it, I couldn't wrap a present properly. And even if I could, I would do something else instead.
Naturally, this offer on Naja.co instantly piqued my interest:
Include a heartwarming message and have them deliver the gift to the recipient, so you don't even need to bother with delivery!
Even if you don't make millions from gift-wrapping, upsell ideas like these will work like a charm and increase ASP each time. Choosing the more expensive item is harder than spending a dollar or two more on something that will make gifting easier.
Pro tip: mention you’ll wrap the gifts and add a nice, personalized message with your product in your blog about gift ideas for women for a double win — increased likelihood of opting for your store and a guaranteed upsell.
Compare The Items And Help Them Win
Comparison can help you downsell as well as upsell — as long as you go into great detail and explain the differences and variations:
Use Customer Support To Mine Upsell Ideas
The comments on your product reviews may not be sufficient to understand your customers fully. A great way to determine how to create a campaign is to read comments on similar competitor products. As a result, you will gain a better understanding of what customers want.
Next, analyze live chat, reviews, and support tickets to find out what irks customers the most – and then use that information to upsell.
Do not focus only on the price — keep the product value in mind. To foster client-centric customer support, give detailed product descriptions describing life expectancy, quality, unique materials, etc.
Timing is everything. To upsell successfully, you should do it towards the end of the conversion. Your best deal becomes more attractive to a customer after creating a detailed explanation about the product's value. It is important to note that some customers expect a special offer at the end of the conversation. By doing so, you can cross-sell and up-sell to customers with ease.
If you use CRM and multiple support channels, data may be cumbersome to track.
Vitals integrates with CRM of your choice and has an All-In-One chat app to unify social media, SMS, and more:
This way, you can collect all the insights you got from customers in one spot and then use them to your advantage.
Razor-Sharp Targeting: Based On Customer Experience, Previous Choices Or Needs
After investing tons of money into data collection, you’ve managed to single out one of the buyer personas — let’s call him Allan.
Allan has a taste for more expensive things: he uses his iPhone 12 to browse through boutique travel agencies for distant, exclusive destinations. He surely won’t mind paying a little extra for additional leg space for his 8-hour flight.
JetBlue did this back in 2014. and scored $190 million of ancillary revenue.
So, why shouldn’t you?
Nick Disabato: Keep it focused and curated for each product, use common sense
This cross-sell/ upsell tactic works for Nick:
“I just ran a test that swapped the effectively randomized cross-sell row with a nicer-designed inset that sold a specific alternative at higher AOV with a few bullets about why they’d want to take the bigger size. It increased ARPU by 42% at 100% confidence.”
As for the placement, Nick proposes sidebar carts:
“Not enough people implement upsells in sidebar carts, which is what I recommend these days. Post-purchase is great for some verticals, but not all.”
And, it is always a good idea to let your common sense guide you:
“I’ll often recommend larger sizes or quantity savings, or if there’s an ability to recommend accessories, that’s always a huge win. You just need to exercise common sense with it.”
Sina Fak: Basket Analysis uncovers meaningful patterns of products frequently purchased together
Sina Fak from Conversion Advocates recommends basket analysis to help increase the revenue with upsells:
“The market basket analysis technique helps find items that people buy together. This is a way to figure out which items are related or which items customers buy the most.”
They tested the post-purchase upsells this way:
“Up-Sell Strategy: If there’s a low-to-medium correlation of 1 product being purchased with other products (but not on its own), we’ll test presenting that as post-purchase upsell using an OTO (one-time-offer) to create urgency.”
Highlight The Best Deal With Price Anchoring
In price anchoring, customers can indicate what they are willing to pay for a product before deciding if the purchase is worthwhile.
You can play with the customer's perception of what a fair price is in a way that facilitates the sale of a specific product for the original price that you had in mind. This powerful strategy provides your customer with a time frame to estimate what your product is worth.
Pricing is relative: what is cheap for some is expensive for others; what matters is a buyer’s perception and an option to compare prices. Price anchoring will guide your customer to products presented as the best deals.
How NOT To Upsell: What Sets You Up For Failure
After we went through some great upsell ideas, let’s check the things that hinder your performance:
- Don’t make it expensive. People have a particular budget in mind when shopping and anything exceeding the 25% bump in price could fail;
- Don’t be random. As Nick explained earlier, customers want curated and personalized suggestions;
- Don’t push it. No means no, and the point is to make customers happy and make the shopping trip as short and frictionless as possible.
Sholom Chazanow: No upsells until you get a sale
Sholom Chazanow from LIV Watches explains how pushing upsells creates a distraction from the real deal.
“…what I do think that it does is that it sort of sets in a little bit of confusion. There’s a little bit of a, “Oh, I have to make a choice now.”
I think upsells, in our category at least, create this distraction, and it’s like, “Oh, I’m not sure if I need that upsell. You know what? Let me save this page, and I’ll come back. Do I really need this upsell?” I don’t want that to be the barrier. I want to keep it as simple, as clean as possible.
No barriers; sell the main thing first, then proceed to increase the order value:
We sell a watch, and we offer different straps. After you buy, we’ll do the upsells, but right now, check out, buy the watch.”
Vitals — The Closest To Autopilot You Can Get
Sales are hard enough and upselling is even more tricky.
It requires your expertise, attention, and continuous product development. For everything else, we can take over.
Vitals has more than 40 apps packed in one powerful solution for Shopify stores, making them load fast and provide a fantastic shopping experience.
Try it now with a 30-day free trial, and let us make you the king of the upsell game. 👑
Content marketer and strategist specialising in B2B, SaaS, Influencer Marketing. Building my first DTC e-commerce business.