Cross-selling and upselling are two powerful tactics to boost your revenue, upgrade existing customer experience, and provide value for first-time visitors of your website. Read on to find out how these strategies work topped up with cross-selling and upselling examples from various companies.

Exploring cross-selling vs. upselling

There is a lot of confusion surrounding cross-selling vs. upselling strategies. To better understand their differences, let’s first refer to their basic definitions.

Cross-selling is an eCommerce practice where retailers offer a user additional products that complement those that they have already purchased or are about to purchase. Upselling, in its turn, is the strategy that consists of suggesting a user more expensive or upgraded products compared to those that they have initially chosen.

To draw a clear line between the two strategies, let’s take a look at three different scenarios and the corresponding cross-selling and upselling solutions to them.

Case Cross-selling example Upselling example
A user has added a pair of sneakers to their cart on your website Coming up with product recommendations, such as socks, shoelaces, or shoe care products Offering a pair of similar, but more expensive sneakers from the new collection
A user wants to buy a cell phone from your company Suggesting a screen protector, phone case, or headphones Offering a phone with a bigger screen, better camera, upgraded features, and, thus, a higher price
A user is about to book a hotel room for their vacation on your website Coming up with ideas for sightseeing tours, transfer options, or other services your company can offer Offering higher-ranking hotels or more sophisticated suits at the hotel the user has chosen

Here are just a few benefits the right use of both techniques can bring you:

  • increased average order value and company profits as a result;
  • lower customer acquisition cost;
  • improved customer loyalty and retention;
  • increased awareness about the set of products your company offers.

Hot spots to leverage cross-selling and upselling

Before we dive into the on-topic tips, check out a list of website and inbox spots to hit with your cross-selling and upselling deals:

For example, you can present additional purchase options in a pop-up window or a sidebar of your product page or add an image carousel to the bottom of your post-purchase email for customers to pay another visit to your website for more purchases.

See how AliExpress used their confirmation email to provide customers with personalized product recommendations:

cross-selling email example
Transactional email with cross-selling from AliExpress

Now let’s proceed to cross-selling and upselling examples you can get inspiration from.

Cross-selling examples

Frequently-purchased-together items

Advise the customer about the ways they can complement their order with based on their purchase activity. iHerb, for example, shares the combination of products that are typically bought together with the selected item.

cross-selling example
A bundle offer from iHerb

Trial products

Offer users some trial products in return for their order. This is another cross-selling strategy iHerb use — they place this option at the checkout page, specifying the rating of the suggested items.

cross-selling example
A trial product offer at iHerb checkout page

Additional services

Think of a list of goods or services that would go well with the current version of the product. The user is browsing for a tablet on your website? Come up with setup offers, so the customer is able to use their device right after the purchase.

Apple, for example, suggested accompanying the order with a special offer which prolongs the device repair coverage and guarantees 24/7 technical support.

cross-selling example
An offer with additional services from Apple

Now let’s jump to upselling best practices and see how various companies implement them.

Upselling examples

In case you’re new to upselling, this is the safest way to go — simply choose several similar products with better features and higher price and put them on the product flypage.

The checkout point is another location to feature additional products for upselling. Users don’t have to navigate somewhere else — you provide them with valuable recommendations while their order isn’t finalized yet. Lancome, for instance, add items that are frequently bought by other users right at the check-out stage.

upselling example
Upselling example on Lancome website

Free shipping

Expensive shipping is what typically keeps users from finishing their purchase. You could provide a free shipping option to motivate users to make a more expensive purchase.

This is what Clinique did in one of their emails. They offered a predefined total for free shipping, thus motivating a subscriber to take action with a freebie at the checkout.

upselling example
An email with upselling strategy in action from Clinique

Comparison lists

Upselling works best when it shows how users will benefit by paying more. Present extra features available for more expensive options or provide the social proof. The beauty of this upselling trick is that the benefits you list outshine extra expenses for the user.

Elegant Themes, WordPress themes and plugins service, present available pricing plans within a comparison list. The company places the more expensive plan as the best option and outlines financial benefits the user will get from it — one-time payment and lifetime support.

upselling example
Upselling strategy used by Elegant Themes

Indicate a list of the most popular products or services among your customers and display them on the page. Stressing the most appealing or trending products is another option on how to improve your bottom line as people tend to trust the opinion of the majority., for instance, tends to upsell while a user is choosing an apartment. The company positions low-priced options as deals of the day and offers them together with more expensive ones, but with better amenities. In the upselling example below, the cheaper accommodation is non-refundable while the pricier one allows you to cancel your order for free.

upselling example
Upselling example from

Yet no matter which eCommerce tactic you decide to use, you should understand how to use both with reason. Check out below-listed recommendations to get the most of cross-selling and upselling strategies.

Cross-selling and upselling tips

Choose your goals

Improving your bottom line is a top reason to cross-sell and upsell. How about digging deeper: why are you doing this? Do you want to tell people about your new useful services, sell unpopular products or, on the flip side, promote the new arrivals?

Segment your audience

Would the female part of your audience be pleased to see beard care products in the recommended list bar? As the answer is obvious, consider segmenting your audience according to their age, gender, preferences, browsing history, or location to provide them with relevant offers in the future.

Stick to prices and quantity

If the user is browsing a $150 sofa, coming up with a $2500 alternative would be a bit irrational. Elevate the price by no more than 25%, choose several reasonable recommendations as to why the user should pay more, and present them.

Start with loyal customers

If you’re just starting out upselling and cross-selling, turn to your existing customers and ask them to share their insights about how you should implement these tactics on your website or in email marketing, providing the most active users with complimentary gifts.

Bottom line

Choosing between cross-selling and upselling is solely up to you and your marketing goals. By using these tips and inspiring examples, you’ll be able to build a marketing strategy that boosts your income and keeps your customers pleased. Once you are ready with your strategy, remember to turn to SendPulse to bring it to life.

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