Upsell and Cross-Sell Best Practices for Shopify Stores in 2022


Jonathan Halbrecht

 on July 25, 2022. 
Reviewed by 

Staff Editor

blyp cross sells upsells shopify

Cross-selling and upselling is probably the easiest win in increasing your Shopify store’s revenue. When done right, it can boost growth in multiples.

They are two similar, but distinct tactics every Shopify store should be making use of to significantly increase sales and build a healthier business.

One recent example is Shopify brand Laumière Gourmet Fruits, which managed to finish Q4 with a 10% gross revenue increase just by adding post-purchase thank-you pages with recommendations.

Upselling and Cross-selling techniques are not new in ecommerce. Both practices prove to drive additional sales and revenue in a cost-effective manner. They run on the concept that personalization sells, as seen in Laumière Gourmet Fruits.

So, if you own a Shopify store, upsells and cross-sells must be part of your 2022-23 ecommerce strategy.

The question is, how do you adapt these strategies effectively for your business?

Here’s everything you need to know to make your customers go:

What Is Upselling?

Upselling is the sales technique of suggesting more value (premium version, larger quantity, etc.) to get customers to increase their planned purchase value. It usually means offering a more expensive version of a product in which they have shown purchasing interest.

What Is Cross-Selling

Cross-selling is a sales technique that involves offering your customers products related to a product they have already expressed interest in, whether in the current buying session or based on their purchase history.

So Upsell = Same product, higher price tier; Cross-sell = Different yet related product.

For now, let’s put aside the question of how to implement upselling and cross-selling along your customer’s journey (don’t worry, we’ll get to it later). Instead, let’s focus on tactics to implement each and what type of products they are best suited for.

NOTE: Cross-selling and upselling may occur before or after checkout, depending on your product type and customer journey.

What Are the Benefits of Upselling and Cross-Selling?

Upselling and Cross-Selling increase the total amount a customer ends up spending per order (also referred to as Average Order Value, or AOV) and over the course of their relationship with your brand or store (also referred to as Life Time Value, or LTV).

Simply put, if you suggest additional/ancillary items in a contextually relevant way, they are more likely to buy more than they originally intended to.

In the case of subscription products, the ability to convert the customer to a higher value recurring order has an even greater impact on sales, which is why upselling/cross-selling subscription products needs to be addressed as early as possible in the customer journey.

Upselling Techniques and Examples

There are four main ways you can use to upsell products on your Shopify store. You should consider the way that best suits your product and business model.

1. Product upgrades

The most common upsell format is that which directs a customer to a higher value variant of the product they are interested in. This especially works with tech items where you can suggest the customer gets a newer or more advanced version of what they are shopping for.

2. Customization

Upselling also works through product customization. With this tactic, you can offer to personalize what they want to buy.

It could range from engraving names to changing colors, specifications, etc. Gift items like mugs, clothing, and to an extent, electronics are much easier to try this with.

See, for example, swag brand Rey to Z's offer to add custom embroidery:

Rey to Z personalized caps blyp upsell cross sell

3. Offer a subscription

The subscription technique works best with products requiring repeat purchases, like toiletries, food or other CPGs. Here, customers can buy the product cheaper if they sign up to receive it periodically.

Like this example from premium tahini brand, SoCo:

eatsoco soco blyp

Notice how the subscription option includes a 15% discount. So, if you subscribe, you can buy the jar for 15% less instead and receive a new bunch every 30/60/90 days at the same price. It is an excellent way to increase customer lifetime value and loyalty.

4. Quantity discounts

One of the most common forms of upselling is quantity discounts. Here, you offer a reduced price per item if the buyer takes a larger quantity.

See, for example, a neat implementation of this tactic by Knickey:

On the product detail page (PDP), they clearly call out the benefit of ordering items in multiples. You can get one set of underwear for $17, but if the buyer chooses to get 3, they can get it for only $48 (6% discount), 5 for $80, etc.

knickey blyp

Quantity discounts work best for much smaller, regularly used items like toiletries, supplements, makeup, or lower-priced items which a buyer may need in quantities (like the example from Knickey shown above). It is easier to communicate the value customers derive from the purchase with these.

Alternatively, you can also use visual cues to direct your customers to higher value quantity breaks without offering any discounts.

For example - see below how Fohm is directing the clients towards the 2 Bathroom Kit by marking it as the most popular.

fohm blyp

How to Cross-Sell to Customers

You can use cross-selling in multiple ways as well, which include:

1. Complementary products

The most common way is by suggesting complementary products to whatever the buyer is adding to their cart.

Complementary products only work when the items you suggest are relevant to the customer's purchase. For example, offering a memory card to an iPhone buyer may not be the best idea.

Take a look, for example, at Toki Mats. This toddler accessories brand offers padded play mats for babies. Once customers add a play mat to the cart, they come across an offer to add a cover to that mat, which they are likely to need. It even comes with a discount!

Tokimats blyp

Other popular ways cross-sell through offering complementary products includes:

  • “Shop the look” - Especially relevant to fashion brands that can offer the customer to not only buy a single item but rather a whole set, assuming that they may be shopping for a new look rather than just a single item.
  • “Recommended for you” / “You may also like” - A section within the homepage, collection page, or product detail page which offers additional related products.

2. Bundles

Many successful eCommerce businesses also use bundles to cross-sell to customers.

A bundle groups together items that are frequently bought together and usually offers a small discount on the price one would pay had they purchased the items individually.

You suggest other relevant items the buyer can take for a lower price per item.

See this example from Vive Cosmetics, which offer their visitors a dedicated collection in which they can browse bundles comprised of commonly purchased items with a small discount to make the offer more enticing:

vive cosmetics blyp

As with complementary products, bundles must include relevant items. Otherwise, the customer may not see any value from the option.

How to Know When to Upsell and When to Cross-sell

While upselling and cross-selling are both great for your revenue, knowing which one to use and when is essential. As a rule of thumb, before you set up any of the two, consider the nature of your product.

Typically products that are being purchased as a part of a bigger customer need will benefit from cross-selling. For example, shopping for a look (e.g, fashion products) or an occasion (e.g. going out camping, getting ready for a new baby, or moving to a new house). These opportunities will usually include several items which are frequently bought together and can be offered as a cross-sell.

On the other hand, products that can fulfill the customer’s need on their own may benefit you more with an upsell. They may choose to indulge and go for more features, buy more of the same item or decide to use the product regularly and therefore opt for a subscription.

How to Automate Upsells and Cross-Sells

First, you need to consider where you’d like to apply these upselling and cross-selling techniques. There are multiple points along the customer’s journey in which you can introduce those. For example, you can:

  • Create a dedicated page/collection for bundles
  • Float an upsell or cross-sell offer only once a product has been added to the cart
  • Use Shopify’s “Post Purchase” feature, which allows your store to offer the buyer an additional item or an upgrade right after they filled in all of their details but just before the thank you/order confirmation page
  • Use Shopify’s “Thank you page” to offer an item to your client right after they make their purchase
  • Leverage email/text marketing tools such as Klaviyo or Attentive to reach out to your past clients at the right time when they are most likely to have used your product and may feel it’s the time to make another purchase or buy a complementary item to what they already bought.

Some cross-selling and upselling capabilities come built-in within some of Shopify’s most popular themes. These make the setup pretty easy without needing to apply dedicated development resources, although it does require regular maintenance, setting up the bundles/upsells, coming up with the product combos, etc.

While these built-in capabilities will be a good start for any new store, as you grow, your needs may change, and you’ll want to offer a more sophisticated (and effective) upselling and cross-selling flow.

Automation solutions like ReConvert come in handy here as it offers a range of implementation capabilities to get your upsell and cross-selling set up with many ways to implement it along the customer’s journey.

Now Your Turn

If you read this far, you’re most likely researching or trying cross/upsell strategies. And rightfully so. They go a long way in driving sales and boosting customer loyalty.

The key is to determine the most suitable strategy for your specific products and audience.

Got any feedback?

I would love to hear your takeaways and learn about your strategies. Please contact me at [email protected], and let’s pick up the conversation from there.

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