How to Upsell & Cross-Sell on Shopify like a Pro


Chris Rausch


April 3, 2023

reviewing online sales metrics from shopify upsell app

Are you doing everything that you can to maximize your Shopify store’s revenue?

In the pursuit of sales, it’s essential that you put yourself in the best position to increase income, lower expenses, and maximize profitability.

If you’ve already created a marketing strategy, written effective web content, and offered some popular products for sale, but you’re still not seeing the growth that you were hoping for, you need to increase your average order value (AOV).

Fortunately, the right Shopify upsell app will make it easy for you to generate more income, sell more products, and increase your cash flow so that your business can continue to grow - and we’ll show you how.

What is Upselling?

Shopify upsell - Tips & Tricks

Upselling involves trying to increase the amount of money your customers spend on a single product in your store. You make an offer for some kind of upgrade to the product, usually at a discounted rate, that convinces the customer that the value is too good to pass up.

Upsell offers can include increases in the quantity of the product (BOGO or size increases), the quality (newer model or added features), customizations (color changes or design changes), the frequency of purchasing the product (subscriptions), added warranties, and more.

What is a Cross-Sell?

A cross-sell is when you offer your customers additional products or services in addition to the purchase they’re already considering. Companies use cross-sells in every industry and every niche worldwide, but you’ll commonly see them at your local fast food restaurant, favorite clothing store, or hobby-based business.

Cross-sells should be related to the main purchase in some way and complement it so that customers are more tempted to accept the offer. Your goal is to create a high-value offer and provide a more complete experience so that you can increase your total revenue and average order value with no additional customer acquisition costs to consider.

What’s The Difference Between Cross-Sell and Upsell Offers?

Upsell vs Cross-Sell

Upselling and cross-selling are similar in their purpose but different in their execution.

Both strategies aim to increase the amount of money your customers spend on your site for better cash flow and revenue. They’ll also usually be placed in the same general locations in your sales process, including the product, cart, checkout, and post-purchase pages.

However, the primary difference is that upselling upgrades the existing product while cross-selling adds more products to the cart to increase AOVs. Plus, upsells focus more on providing value with discounted upgrades that make the deals irresistible while cross-sells generally focus more on convenience in addition to the value they offer.

Additionally, upsells can also maintain a higher profit margin than cross-sells because there is only one product cost to worry about. If you know your margins, you can easily create a discount on a product that ensures you maintain the profit you want while making your customers a great offer. Plus, upsell offers that are services like personalization and customization upgrades generally have a much lower cost to you and as a result, can generate “free” profit. 

With cross-sells, you have to take multiple product costs into account to create a profitable offer. However, cross-sell products also give you the opportunity to generate more revenue than upsells because your customer can add multiple products (in multiple quantities) to their cart while upsells are pre-defined increases.

With each strategy having its pros and cons, it’s easy to see why your approach should include both cross-sell and upsell offers for the best results.

How Important Are Upselling and Cross-Selling To Your Shopify Store?

benefits of knowing how to improve cross-selling

Every business wants to generate more income – and if you know how to build an effective upsell and cross-sell strategy, you’re much more likely to be successful.

When your revenue and AOV grow, you’re able to spend more money on advertising to acquire more customers that help to organically grow your market share. You could also use the improved cash flow to improve your customer experience so you can bring customers back with great service.

Once you begin building better upsells and cross-sells, you’ll also be able to provide more complete shopping experiences for your customers that lead to better relationships, improved satisfaction, and more referrals from happy customers. By tailoring your cross-selling offers to provide relevant recommendations, your customers will be happy to get everything they need in one place and feel better informed about their purchases in the case that they’re new to your niche.

A cross-sell strategy helps you to generate more revenue, grow your AOV, improve customer experiences, and expand your business. There’s no limitation on the benefits of implementing effective cross-sells (and upsells) for Shopify, so it’s something that everyone should implement.

How to Successfully Upsell and Cross-Sell on Shopify

making effective offers with a shopify upsell app

Ready to start generating more revenue? Here’s everything you need to keep in mind when getting started with cross-selling and upselling on Shopify.

#1. Provide value with your offer

While the point of an upsell or cross-sell is to increase your average order value, you also want to be sure that you’re providing value to the customer so that they actually accept the offer. This starts by making sure all your offers make sense. The upgrade options you provide should be within a reasonable price range of the current product and any cross-selling bundles should include products that make sense together like seasonal candles, a full set of toys, or batteries with an electronic device. 

The other crucial element is making sure the offer makes monetary sense. Since the upsell opportunity doesn’t cost you anything, you can offer a great deal on the upsell that doesn’t need to account for acquisition costs. Just be sure your margins aren’t too thin - selling more doesn’t help if that extra income isn’t profit!

#2. Make your offer visible but not inescapable

Nobody likes to be bombarded with pop-up offers or have to click through a sequence of screens to get to checkout. In fact, the more steps it takes to checkout, the lower the chance of converting the sale.

When implementing your upsells and cross-sells, be sure to place them in accessible but non-intrusive places. Product pages, carts, and checkout are all great places to embed an offer in places your customer is already going to be. Plus, they all make sense for a “related products” section that makes cross-selling easier. 

Keep in mind that while popups are a great way to get a customer’s attention, they can get annoying quickly. If you’re using a popup to make an offer, stick to just one even if you make two separate offers within the same funnel to avoid turning the customer off the purchase entirely.

#3. Try multiple offer types

There are a lot of different ways to unlock greater revenue and increase your AOV with upselling and cross-selling offers.

For upselling, you’ll want to consider offering larger quantities, upgraded models, and subscription offers as ways for your customer to spend more money.

For cross-selling, consider bundling the different styles of your products into a set, offering accessories to the main product like a phone case for a new phone, and making recommendations based on products past customers have bought together.

No matter what kind of offer you’re making, be sure to experiment with different styles of discounts, bundles, recommendations, and price ranges so that you can find what works well in your market. Even better – create offer flows that show multiple types of offers in succession to improve conversion rates.

#4. Use both pre-purchase and post-purchase offers

When you think about upselling or cross-selling, you probably think about a quick pop-up before checkout that makes another offer before you complete your purchase and move on. But, there’s also the opportunity for a post-purchase upsell with a Shopify upsell app.

Making an offer after the purchase is a risk-free way to try to generate some more income. Since they’ve already completed their purchase, you’ve secured the sale - so making another offer isn’t going to take that sale away. Plus, you’ve already collected their payment information which makes it incredibly easy for your customer to press another button or two for the upsell offer.

‍#5. Upsell to Subscriptions

Subscriptions are an underrated strategy for increasing revenue by either increasing your average order value or the customer lifetime value. When you upsell a subscription, you’re either locking the customer in for a larger upfront payment or locking them into a deal where they’ll have to buy in the future.

Subscription upsells can include “buy 10 months, get 2 free” deals that encourage customers to spend 10x the amount they intended to just to get more value. After they prepay their membership, plan or subscription, you’ve secured this additional income whether they use it or not.

You can also turn an upsell into regular monthly income that customers have to cancel to get rid of, which takes more time than not ordering again, giving you more chances for additional sales in the future.

#6. Set Up Automation For Your Upsells

Whether you’ve got a 10-product catalog or a 1,000 product catalog, automation can help you improve your upselling.

AI tools and algorithms can take lists of items you want to sell more of and display them where they make the most sense. You can also completely automate the upsell and cross-sell recommendation process with a tool like ShopBrain that leverages customer behavior data to make the best offers possible.

#7. Be Strategic With Your Discounts

Discounts are a surefire way to draw more interest in your offers, but you have to be smart about which discounts you provide.

Offering too much of a discount can cut into your margins unnecessarily, but if the discount is too small, nobody will want to buy it.

Percentage-based discounts can help avoid breaking even or losing money on your upsells and cross-sells because they scale based on the item price. Without it, you may offer 50% off a $10 item or less than 5% of a $100 purchase with a flat $5 off deal.

#8. Create Relevant Offers For Each Product

Relevant offers are offers that convert. If you offer an Android phone case to a customer buying the new iPhone, you don’t stand a chance at a successful conversion.

While you can build these offers by hand based on your market knowledge, you’ll have more success with automation through an AI assistant who can use data and analytics to determine which item to dynamically offer in an upsell or cross-sell.

#9. Don’t Be Too Aggressive With Your Upsells

When you think about upselling or cross-selling, you probably think about a quick pop-up before checkout that makes another offer before you complete your purchase and move on. But, there’s also the opportunity for a post-purchase upsell with a Shopify upsell app.

Making an offer after the purchase is a risk-free way to try to generate some more income. Since they’ve already completed their purchase, you’ve secured the sale - so making another offer isn’t going to take that sale away. Plus, you’ve already collected their payment information which makes it incredibly easy for your customer to press another button or two for the upsell offer.

#10. Learn your Customer’s Journey

One of the best ways to improve your upselling and cross-selling is by putting yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. Depending on your niche, you could have customers of all different experience levels - those who know just what to look for and those who need some more help. As the owner of the store, you’re the expert that they look to and will need to guide them through the process so that they can get everything they need.

When you learn your customer’s journey, you can tailor your cross-sell offers to meet the needs of each customer. You can build bundles that are an all-in-one starter kit for new customers showing an interest in your primary product. Or, recommend essential accessories based on their purchase so that they leave your store with everything they need to get started. Your goal is to provide a complete experience for your customers that makes you the only place they need to visit - and when you create effective cross-sells, you’ll build better relationships and foster more returning customers.

#11. Use Logic to Control Offer Flows

While upsells and cross-sells are a minimally invasive and low-risk sales strategy, you still want to be certain you’re showing customers offers that make sense. Bundles that don’t make sense or recommendations that don’t work for a customer’s purchase are easy ways to make it seem like you don’t know what you’re doing or come across as too pushy, turning customers away.

With your Shopify upsell and cross-sell app, be sure to implement logic into your offer flows so that you can be sure you’re only showing relevant offers to your customers. You could create an offer that only recommends a phone case that fits their new phone or a charger that works with the electronics's specific port type so that you’re only providing valuable considerations.‍

#12. Use FOMO to your Advantage

FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a highly effective sales strategy. It encourages customers to take action quickly so that they have less time to look elsewhere or second-guess their decisions, allowing you to improve conversions.

When building your offers, consider using time-sensitive elements and verbiage to encourage customers to act quickly on your offer. A countdown timer on your checkout page helps boost conversions, so you can use the same strategy on post-purchase pages to convert on one-click cross-sells. You may also use phrases like “one-time offer” or “while supplies last” to demonstrate scarcity and urgency that gets your customers to accept your offers.‍

#13. A/B Test Your Offers

One of the biggest advantages of online business is the wealth of information that’s available to you. You can easily find which products sell the best, where customers come from, and, in the case of upsells, which offers are drawing interest or not hitting their mark.

With data collection, reporting, and analytics, A/B testing is easy and gives you the chance to optimize your upselling strategy. You might find you need to offer a certain discount to draw interest, or that customers only want to spend a certain amount as an upsell or cross-sell.

Using this insight, you can make changes to improve your success rates and revenue generation.

Where Should I Add Shopify Upsell and Cross-Sell Offers?

Your offers need to be seen if you want them to increase your AOV and generate more income for your business. Choosing where to place these offers, both the location on the page and which page to add it to, can make a huge difference in engagement.

Landing Page Upsell

The landing page usually uses a popup (to collect emails) or highlights a product, so customers add it to their cart when they see it. An example from landing page

Product Page and Cart Upsells

Product and cart page upsells usually show upsells once you add something to your cart. An example from below. They recommend socks with their shoes, which could increase this order value by 12% ($15 + $125). product/cart page upsell

Checkout Page Upsells

Once the customer is in the checkout, they have 3 steps to walk through, Information, Shipping and Payment. We’ve even heard that merchants would like customers to not use Shop Pay. A customer who walks through the checkout fully, can be shown another custom upsell offer! Maximize that checkout real estate:

The steps of the checkout

On Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify, the merchant is not allowed to customize the checkout. Shopify Plus allows custom solutions into the valuable checkout real estate.

From the Shopify Plus detail page:

This gives the merchant the ability to add custom and private apps to upsell customers in the final steps of the checkout. This is where UpsellPlus shines. The app will show customers a small item, priced at 10-15% of the cart total to the customer. They can add it with just 1 click.

Upsell your customers with 1 click in checkout

Post-Purchase Page Upsells

Once the customer checked out and paid for the order, there’s room for post-purchase upsell offers. This comes in two versions. The merchant can upsell on the confirmation page or send an email with an offer that is customized to the customer’s order.

UpsellPlus Makes it Easy to Upsell and Cross-Sell Your Offers

If you want to successfully increase your average order value with upselling and cross-selling, you need the best upsell app for Shopify.

UpsellPlus provides you with all the tools you need to create and implement offers that convert. With it, you can add a pre-purchase or post-purchase upsell or cross-sell offer to your cart, checkout, post-purchase or cart side drawer so that you have full control over how you present them.

All offers can be customized to your branding and go live with just a few clicks. Plus, ShopBrain, UpsellPlus’s algorithm helps you find the product recommendations that make the most sense for better conversions.

Start your free trial of the best Shopify upsell app so that you can start generating more revenue today.

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