How to Upsell on Shopify: Upselling & Cross-Selling 101

Deborah Mecca
June 14, 2023

Your goal: To sell as much as possible.

Your tools: A good Shopify site and a well-planned and dedicated marketing strategy (tips for that below!).

Your challenge: Competitors, cart abandonment, “boring” or “basic” products ... shall we go on?

As a Shopify store owner, you already know that boosting the average order value (AOV) of existing customers is one of your best strategies for success. Knowing how to strategically use product recommendations at the checkout page to increase the number of items in a shopper’s cart, quickly promotes growth for your eCommerce business.

According to Funnel Strategist, “10 percent to 30 percent of most e-commerce revenue is generated through upsells.” In other words, if you can learn to make the most of your current shoppers in your online store, especially on the cart page, you’re likely to see major improvements.

But how do you do it? Let’s discuss!

Upselling vs Cross-Selling: Similarities & Differences

While upselling and cross-selling might sound similar – and they are in the sense that your goal is to get people to buy additional products – there are some distinct differences between the two.

When upselling, you’re encouraging people to purchase a bigger or better version of what they’ve already chosen. For instance, encouraging a buyer to upgrade from the 1-gallon garden planter they’ve selected, and take the 2-gallon size instead.

In cross-selling, meanwhile, your goal is to encourage a few complementary purchases that go nicely alongside the item they’ve already chosen. That might be seeds, soil, or fertilizer to go with the planter they’ve ordered.

Upselling and cross-selling are similar in that they both use technology to show shoppers which items are frequently bought together in your store. By showing people how they might improve their orders, you can improve average order value to improve sales.

Here are six specific tips to help you achieve higher profits.

6 Tips for Shopify Businesses to Cross-Sell and Upsell Products

While there are any number of strategies for how to upsell on Shopify (and cross-sell, too!), here are six of our favorites.

1. Know What Your Customers Want

Hands down the best way to increase your conversion rate and see more traffic to your e-commerce store is to base your marketing strategy on what your customers want. Only then can you recommend products that you can feel confident your customers will like.

When people see a suggestion for a product page that matches their intent, that will enhance their customer experience – and make for a better customer journey overall. However, you can use the best templates and segmentation you want, but if you fail to understand the goals of current or new customers, you’ll miss the mark.

Doing the right research will help you see record-breaking sales, so pay attention to bestsellers in your shop, in your competitors’ shops, inquiries you receive, and so on.

2. Provide Relevant Product Recommendations

Now that you know what people want, you can do a better job providing relevance when you go to cross-sell and upsell products. This is critical to learning how to upsell on Shopify.

You do this by identifying the main products on your site, then choosing complementary products that work with them to promote on your checkout page. Upsell apps specifically help Shopify businesses increase the average order value of the current purchase as well as get more post-purchase upsells from returning customers.

Taking the above upsell strategy example of garden products, you would ask questions such as: Which do you sell the most of? What do people frequently buy with them? If you have two options of a similar product (large and small planters), which is better for your profit margin?

Find the nexus between products that are popular with them and have a good bottom line for you. That’s your sweet spot.

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3. Offer Product Discounts

Offering a complementary product at a discount when purchased in tandem with another related product can help boost sales. It is one of the best upsell offer strategies you can leverage, because additional items always appeal to people more once they’ve decided to buy the first.

For instance, if someone buys a large planter, you might consider offering soil at a substantial cut, such as 30 percent. Making this a one-click upsell offer, so that buyers don’t have to think a lot about it, raises the effectiveness of your upselling techniques even more.

4. Create a Sense of Urgency

While consumers don’t love limited-time offers, they’ve consistently proven to be a great way to motivate a purchase.

This might seem like a mean trick, but it’s not. Your inventory won’t be around forever, and when shoppers come back to your site and can’t find that item they favorited, they’ll be sad – and potentially also mad at you. That’s no good.

Instead, use a countdown timer paired with a discount for cross-selling and upselling. This lets people know that your item is in high demand. It also encourages them to make the purchase now, while the deal is still live.

Countdowns are effective only if the time is relatively limited, though. Rather than offering 24 hours to make a decision, try a short time such as 10 - 20 minutes. That way, your shopper is forced to confront whether or not they want this item right away. A full day might not apply enough pressure to create higher conversions, whereas a brief decision-making period often will.

5. Use Upsell Pop-Ups With Caution

It’s true that marketing strategies including pop-ups can be effective with reports claiming conversion rates as high as 11.88 percent. But they can also backfire if you use them too frequently.

Rather than annoying people with your flurry of pop-ups and add-ons, only use a pop-up widget where it makes sense. Put one at the bottom of a page while they’re shopping for cross-sell offers, and use another in your cart to upsell before they check out.

Done intelligently, this can increase average order value without turning your shopper off. Remember, once they leave your shop due to irritation, they’re unlikely ever to return.

6. Implement Email Marketing Campaigns

Customer retention is worth a lot, especially since “even a 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits of between 25 and 95 percent.” Where possible, you want to reconvert existing buyers rather than spend all your time drumming up new ones.

Email marketing is a great way to do that. Reach out to past buyers with marketing emails for complementary products and add-ons to the items they’ve already purchased. Use a thank you page to collect email addresses for opt-in, then use your email marketing strategy for cross-selling and upselling.

Best Apps to Boost Sales in Your Shopify Store

The advice we’ve shared above covers some of the best and easiest ways to boost sales, leverage the interest of existing customers, and make your Shopify store work harder for you. Choosing relevant products for your cross-sell and upsell strategy, employing pop-ups and email marketing, and using urgency and discounts to your advantage are all part of that process.

But having the right tools is what really makes all the difference. Luckily, the Shopify app store offers thousands of helpful apps to help any Shopify store owner achieve their function and process optimization goals. Many apps offer both a free plan and an upgraded version, while others have a low-cost paid plan that – if you choose the right one – is worth every penny.

To start, we recommend these two apps specifically to customize your store to maximize e-commerce success:

  • In Cart Upsell & Cross Sell: This Shopify upsell app gives you the power to easily, seamlessly, and subtly encourage additional purchases on your customer’s part before they complete the checkout process. It’s an easy way to make more sales without using annoying or spammy sales techniques or spending all day marketing.
  • Product Options & Customizer: Shopify has inherent limitations on its product options for customization, leaving you with the option to create a ton of extra SKUs or lose out on a highly tailored UX experience. Product Options & Customizer offers several benefits that change all of that, with options to finesse your product options by color, font, calendar and date selector, text boxes, and so much more. Instead of offering an additional product to the order to increase sales, you can charge more for add-ons to products to boost the sale and increase buyer confidence.

Ready to take your eCommerce store to the next level? Go ahead and install both apps that offer free trials to see the difference in your store today!

Start your free 14-day Trial Today