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49. Increase Your eCommerce Revenue with Cross-Sells & Upsells

49. Increase Your eCommerce Revenue with Cross-Sells & Upsells

What’s the easiest way to increase your eCommerce revenue? By selling to the customers you already have. 

Today I’m breaking down easy ways for you to increase your eCommerce revenue without having to spend money on ads or even acquire new customers. I’m going step-by-step to help you implement and take advantage of using cross-sells and upsells in your business. From when and where to use them, how to make sure they’re actually successful and the tools you’ll want to make it happen.

How would you like to increase revenue in your eCommerce business without having to spend more money on ads or acquire new customers?

That’s what we’re going to talk about today! 

In Episode 4: Quick Wins for eCommerce Success, I talked about that there are only 3 ways to make more money in your business:

  1. Acquire new customers
  2. Bring your customers back more often
  3. Get your customers to spend more when they’re already shopping

Of course, getting them to spend more when they’re already shopping is the easiest and least expensive way to do this, followed by bringing them back more often. Which makes sense, right? We know it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to acquire new ones. 

So for today’s conversation, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into how to do this with upsells and cross-sells and the different ways you can implement this into your eCommerce business. 


What's the Difference Between an Upsell & a Cross-sell 


A true upsell is selling the customer a bigger or better version of the same product. For instance, if you sell coffee and you offer a 12oz package and a 24 oz package the goal would be to get more people to purchase the 24oz package. Or maybe you sell lashes and you can sell them 1 pair or a package of 3. 

Another example would be if you have a new version of something. You see this mostly with techy-type products. You’ll see this a lot on Amazon, actually. Let’s say you go to buy an Instapot or a camera. On the actual product page, Amazon will tell you there’s a newer or updated version of this product and link you right to it. 


A cross-sell is a complementary product to what they’re already buying. So if someone is buying a pair of pants, cross-sell them a top. If someone is buying a candle, cross-sell them a wick cutter or a reed diffuser. 

You get the picture, right?

How to implement an upsell or cross-sell 

So how do you actually implement this? There are 3 main ways or steps in their journey that you can do this.

  1. Before they checkout 
  2. Right after they check out
  3. Later down the road in an email

Let’s break these down a bit more. 

Before they check out 

How can you implement a before checkout upsell or cross-sell on your website? 

The easiest way is to add an app. If you’re on Shopify, there are a ton of options like ______ 

Essentially, you want this to pop-up for them either when they add the product to their cart or when they hit the checkout button. How you implement this specifically will depend on the app you choose, your website, and your product assortment. 

Suggest items based on the products in their cart

For instance, if you’ve got an AJAX Cart — that’s the one that slides out or pops-up after a customer adds something to their cart but doesn’t redirect the customer to the cart page on Shopify — you might offer the cross-sell when they hit the checkout button instead of the add to cart button, because there’s some conflict there. I don’t fully understand the tech side of it, I just know it’s a common issue. 

Usually this will look like 1-3 product suggestions based on the item the customer is already planning to buy. When you use this method, ideally you want the item you’re cross-selling to be about 20-30% of the retail price of the item they were already purchasing. So if they’re buying something for $100, you want the cross-sell item to be $20-30. This is, of course, something you can test, but you want to try to avoid asking them to double what they were planning to spend, that’s too big a barrier to purchase. 

Call out buy in bulk savings 

If you’re offering an upsell like a bigger version of what they’re purchasing, you can call out how much they’d end up saving if they buy the bigger version. Generally, the customer is getting a deal by buying in bulk. 

Think about when you shop at the grocery store. If you look at the price labels on the shelf, it will tell you the unit price, which is the cost per ounce or liter. The bigger the package, the lower the price per unit because you have less packaging, ect. 

Use recommended products on the product page 

Another way you offer cross-sells or upsells is with recommended products on the product pages. This is a much more passive way to do this, and I haven’t really seen any hard evidence of how successful it is, but it likely can’t hurt to show them. Many of the newer Shopify themes have this built-in already, it’s likely just a box you have to check in your theme settings. 

You may also want to offer it on the product page itself, near or in the description. Like I mentioned with the Amazon upsell example, if you’ve got a newer product add that to the product description and link to it. 

Or if you’re selling Mommy and Me Matching clothing, call out the matching outfit and link to it in the product description. 

Add cross-sells or upsells in the cart itself 

You’ll definitely need an app for this and it might be harder and more expensive to implement than the others, but for a more advanced business, it’s a great option. 

Post-check out cross-sell

But what about after they check out and make their purchase? This can be really powerful because they’ve already committed to buying from you. They already typed in their credit card number and placed an order, showing that they’re comfortable giving you their money. 

Make your cross-sell very specific 

If you’re going to use a post-checkout cross-sell method, you’ll want to get much more specific about what you’re selling them and how it ties to the product they’re already buying. 

Because they’ve already completed the purchase and made their buying decision, it really needs to be a no-brainer for them. You don’t want them to have to think too hard about it.  

Note that we’re really talking about cross-sells because I don’t believe the technology allows you to truly replace the item they already purchased. 

So for instance, if they checkout with the 12oz coffee, you’ll want your after checkout offer to be either an additional 12oz of coffee or a complimentary item. You can’t replace the 12oz with a 24oz at this stage. 

You can even get a little fancy at this stage if it makes sense for your product. 

Use multiple cross-sell offers without going crazy 

Have you ever purchased a digital product on the internet? First, you buy the product, then they offer you another complimentary product, and maybe even another product after that. Before you know it, the original $149 product you bought turns into a $300 purchase because of all these other offers they made? 

Now, I don’t recommend you go crazy here, it can be really off-putting. But with an app like Zipify’s One-Click Upsell, you can create multiple post-purchase offers that show up for the customer. 

Let’s use the candle example again: first, the customer buys a candle, so you offer them a reed diffuser after checkout. Maybe they feel like the reed diffuser is too expensive and they don’t take you up on the offer. Then you can offer them the wick cutter instead as a downsell. 

A downsell is just a cross-sell that costs less than what you were trying to sell them. 

You follow what I’m saying? 

Cross-selling and upselling using email 

Okay, so we talked about before checkout and right after checkout. Let’s talk about how to do this in email because there are a few ways you can approach this. 

Mimic the after checkout experience

One way to effectively cross-sell is to actually mimic the after checkout experience but do it in an email instead. 

In my previous job we couldn’t use Zipify One-Click Upsell because it wasn’t truly integrated with Shopify checkout and didn’t work with our ERP integration, so I created a similar experience with email. 

Once someone made a purchase, first I would check they purchased something from the toy category but not the cleaner category. If those conditions were true, then I sent them an email offering them a branded cleaner that we had a really good margin on, at a discount, just a couple of minutes after they made their purchase. And we saw a really good conversion rate on that. 

Doing this through email is a great way to test it out and prove the concept before you invest in another app. I recommend making the switch if you see it working because it will likely perform even better once you have it integrated into the existing checkout experience.

Add a cross-sell email into your post-purchase series 

Now depending on your product, offering a cross-sell right after checkout might be too soon. Especially if you don’t have a wide assortment or if your products are all similarly priced. Like I mentioned earlier, asking someone to double what they were planning on spending might be a bit tough. 

This is where your post-purchase email series comes in. After you send them a personal thank you and whatever educational material they need, etc. you can add a cross-sell email into your post-purchase series. When you offer this depends on a few different factors, so you’ll really need to think it through for your business specifically, but having that sent out automatically would be super helpful for you. 

You don’t necessarily have to only do this through automation, you can do this through campaign emails as well. 

Use segmentation to offer new products or complimentary products

Let’s say you have a new product that comes in, or even just a product you already have that you know compliments another product you sell. You can create a segment of people who purchased product A and send them a one-off email that features product B. Of course, if they already purchased product B you’ll want to exclude this from that segment. 

What’s cool about doing this is that you can really personalize the message to the subscriber you’re sending too. 

Let me give you an example to illustrate this — we’ll roll with the candle example. You sell a salted caramel scented candle and now you have a reed diffuser of the same scent. 

You can create a segment of people who have purchased the salted caramel scented candle but not the reed diffuser and say something like, “We hope you’re loving the scent of your salted caramel candle, now enjoy our salted caramel reed diffuser.” That is a very lame example of copywriting, but you get the idea. 

Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t send the reed diffuser to your other customers, it’s just that the messaging is different. So for someone who never had purchased the scent itself, you’re going to talk more about why the scent is so awesome vs. why reed diffusers are awesome. 

Does that make sense? 

Repeat the upsell and cross-sell process throughout the customer journey

The upsell and cross-sell process is one that you can repeat over and over in your email marketing. And like I said, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a new product, it can just be a product that you already have. Maybe the customer didn’t take you up on the cross-sell item in the beginning when you offered it to them on the website, so you want to follow up maybe a month or so later and try selling it again. 

It’s possible if they were a new customer maybe they weren’t ready to spend that much money with you just yet or they just weren’t ready to spend that much money at that time. This isn’t a one-and-done opportunity, you can still follow up later in the journey to sell them these complementary products. 

The same goes for consumable products where you have multiple sizes. Maybe they start out with the 12oz, but once you see they’ve purchased it a second time and have committed to continuing to buy it, you want to let them know hey, “We have a 24oz option and you’ll save some money if you buy the bigger version.” 

And again, this also works for a newer version of a product. So if you made a 2.0 version of something, send that to everyone who purchased the 1.0 version. I would treat the messaging similarly to the candle and reed diffuser example. It’s not that you’re only sending it to the people who bought version 1.0 it’s just that you’re going to change the messaging a bit. So you can say something like: “Hey, if you loved 1.0 you’re really going to love these new features. We heard your feedback, this is what we changed.” Something along those lines. 

So I wanna know… how much effort have you been putting into cross-sells or upsells into your business? 

If you’re reading this in real-time, don’t forget to join me on Thursday at 2PM PST live on Facebook and Instagram so we can talk more about how you can implement this into your business. 

And remember that raising your average order value and getting your existing customers to come back more often are the cheapest and easiest ways to increase revenue in your eCommerce business.

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Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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