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How to upsell & cross-sell on Shopify – 10 strategies with examples

Tomas Janu

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January 4, 2022

How to upsell & cross-sell on Shopify – 10 strategies with examples

We have put together this guide in order to help Shopify merchants be more effective in upselling and cross-selling, but also to help customers by improving the overall shopping UX. Before we dive into specific tactics, let’s learn some basics of Shopify upselling.

How to upsell & cross-sell on Shopify – 10 strategies with examples

It has been over 2 years since the launch of our first Shopify upsell app, Candy Rack. During this journey, we have successfully onboarded over 4,000 merchants and helped them generate more than $100 million in upsells and cross-sells. That’s over $25,000 per merchant in a pure uplift that likely wouldn’t happen without the use of our app.

During this time, we also had a chance to review hundreds of different upsell strategies used by merchants. That helped us understand what is working well and what is just a conversion blocker. We have put together this guide to help you create more effective upselling and cross-selling deals, as well as improve the overall customer experience in your store.

➡️If you want to learn more about upselling and its benefits, how it’s different from cross-selling and bundling, and what different approaches can be used, check out our article on what is upselling.

Here, we’ll focus on the major upselling techniques that will help you motivate customers and drive more sales.

How to upsell on Shopify?

In most cases, you’ll need an app to set upselling or cross-selling offers. A powerful Shopify app will help you automate upselling strategies and easily track their performance. But there are plenty of things you can do besides creating pop-ups via upselling and cross-selling apps. 

Let’s explore the best industry practices on successful Shopify upselling.

Upselling and cross-selling during and after the purchase

The most profitable offers are done at the moment when a customer is “in the buying mindset” so they are either clearly determined to make a purchase or have just finished one. This is when you can slip more products into their cart or order. Knowing when to upsell and cross-sell is crucial, and you should use different approaches to different shopping stages. 

Let’s see what upselling sales techniques you can apply at the stages when a shopper chooses products to buy, reviews their cart, and completes a purchase.

10 upsell & cross-sell tips for Shopify

Here are the 10 helpful tips you should keep in mind when implementing upselling/cross-selling/bundling offers on your Shopify store.

1. Create a relevant offer for each product

This is probably the key one. The more relevant the upsell/cross-sell is, the higher the take rate you will achieve. Your goal here is to think of a relevant/complimentary product for every product in your store. We have seen many merchants simply skipping this and offer the same cross-sell product across the store.

Offering expansion pack for a card game is a great cross-sell (via theAwkwardStore.com)
Offering expansion pack for a card game is a great cross-sell (via theAwkwardStore.com)

In order to do this, you can use some external BI tools to analyze your existing orders and look for patterns (not sure if there is some for Shopify?) or common sense. For example, if your customer is buying shoes, offer him a matching shirt or shoelaces.

Consider automated recommendations

If your store is too big and has hundreds of products, our apps support the Smart Auto-Upsell feature and can automatically suggest relevant offers based on Shopify’s product recommendation API. Note that this is available only for Shopify Plus merchants.

As our internal research shows, automated upsells perform better than manually set ones: the former receive a conversion rate of 3.8% on average, while the latter receive 1.56%. Consequently, smart upsells bring a 2.5 times higher revenue per order on average.

While automated recommendations might work great, they pose some challenges: dynamically suggested products might be too expensive (we’ll talk about the perfect price ratio for upsells and cross-sells later) and they can be completely irrelevant if there’s no shopping history collected on a particular customer.

➡️ To learn more about what to upsell and how to set up the upsell pop-up make sure to read The Perfect Upsell Pop-up article on our blog.

2. Predict what customers might need

While relevance is key, there’s another important factor: predicting customer needs.

E-commerce expert Shane Rostad claims that merchants often cross-sell something customers will shop for even without the extra deal. If you offer a matching shirt to the pants, it will be impossible to track how many people purchased the shirt thanks to the cross-sell because some of them might initially wanted to buy both pants and shirt (so the cross-sell had nothing to do with their decision).

Proceeding from this statement, your best offer will be something less expected and maybe even not available in the catalog. If, for instance, your store sells eyewear, you can cross-sell a cleaning kit, a glasses repair kit, and a glasses chain. Not everybody can be hooked up on glasses accessories but everyone will eventually need to clean their glasses, which makes it a perfect recommendation.

Here’s an example of how an eyewear brand suggests an anti-fog spray and a softer case than the one included in the original purchase—such offers can nicely work with shoppers who didn’t come to the store to buy additions to glasses but realized they would actually need them:

Example of the in-cart cross-sell
Example of the in-cart cross-sell

As for upselling deals, you can grab any opportunity that works for your business. In the eyewear example, you can upsell customers on different types of lens protection or offer them a personal engraving.

Example of the add-on upsell for glasses
Example of the add-on upsell for glasses

If your store includes such product upgrade options, make sure they are naturally integrated into the purchasing funnel. If you don’t already offer such add-ons, think if there might be some suitable ones for your products and consider implementing them.

To sum up: think of a helpful extension to a product that customers didn’t necessarily think about but might eventually need. An additional pack for a card game, an extra pair of shoelaces for shoes, a set of spatulas for a blender—these are great examples of relevant cross-selling deals.

3. Offer cheap or discounted products

When talking about how much you should upsell a product, experts agree on sticking to the 25% rule. Your extra product shouldn’t cost more than 25% of the chosen product or whole cart value. When you choose cheap additional products or heavily discount the additional product, customers are more tempted to make an impulse buy.

According to our research, discounted offers bring an 80% higher revenue per offer. Seems like they are great motivators for shoppers. Among such upsells, products with a 10-30% discount are the most performant.

Let’s say your store features protein powders, with the most popular package of 1kg worth $50. You can successfully attract customers to additional goods like protein bars that are around 20 times cheaper than the original purchase and are very likely to be relevant to the audience.

If you bundle several products together, you can as well remind customers about bundles and how much money they help save in your cross-selling pop-up. For instance, a store that sells printed mugs offers the second mug at a discounted price:

Offering a discounted cross-sell as part of the bundle
Offering a discounted cross-sell as part of the bundle

4. Create urgency

Another element which works great is urgency. You can find numerous cases of how urgency led to an impressive conversion rate increase—for example, from 2.5% to over 10%

Position your offer as something unique, limited, and not for every customer. Using phrases like “Only today,” “Time-limited offer” or “Only for the first 100 customers” are good in increasing urgency.

Price reduction and time limitation perfectly work together:

Using time-limited discount immediately increases the upsell take rate
Using time-limited discount immediately increases the upsell take rate

You can use urgency on different levels and apply it either with a particular offered extra product or for everything.

5. Highlight a higher tier

If you are having multi-tiered products (that have multiple variants depending on how “good” they are), you should always offer a higher tier unless the customer is not already buying the top-tier product. Let’s say a customer is buying a box of 6 chocolates—why not offer a box of 12 that provides a better value for money?

Here’s how an upgrade looks in the Candy Rack app:

True upsell (upgrade) demonstration in Candy Rack app
True upsell (upgrade) demonstration in Candy Rack app

When offering higher tiers, it's important to remove the original product from the cart in case the customer agrees on the upgrade. Our Shopify upsell apps Candy Rack and Last Upsell will automatically remove the lower-tier product in such a case.

6. Offer the same product with a discount

This one may sound a bit silly. Why should a customer buy the same product they’ve just purchased? Well, many customers will actually do that to give the additional one to someone else or have a spare one for themselves. You may argue that if someone wants more of the same product, they would add them during the purchase. But first, many customers don't realize it and second, not every Shopify theme has a quantity selector.

The best time to offer the same additional product is after the purchase, on the order confirmation page. And to make the offer more effective, add a discount. Typically, 10-20% will work well. 

The example below shows the same product upsell for a tennis racket offered through the Last Upsell app—given that tennis is an activity for two, it makes perfect sense.

Same product upsell offered via Last Upsell post-purchase app
Same product upsell offered via Last Upsell post-purchase app

Additionally, you can tweak the upsell messaging to mention some of the potential use cases of the additional item: phrases like “Get another one for your friend” will be especially helpful for products that are meant to be used together with someone.

7. Make it feel native

The best upsells don’t look and feel like upsells. The more consistent the offer is with the purchase flow, the less suspicious is the customer and the more likely they are to agree on the deal.

That’s why Shopify in-cart upsells and checkout upsells are so popular and effective. They look like a natural part of the purchasing flow—just like the example below:

Example of a native Shopify checkout upsell through shipping options
Example of a native Shopify checkout upsell through shipping options

Adding extra services to shipping options is actually a nice trick to create offers without any app or coding. Learn more from our post on free, no-app upsells

Faster deliveries and extended warranties are among the offers perceived the most naturally. You can incorporate them on the cart page without a pop-up or add these options in a Shopify upsell pop-up that appears after the customer clicks to checkout.

Our upsell and cross-sell apps offer a dozen templates that will make it super-easy to add similar services to the offer: you can choose extended warranties, priority processing, gift packaging, and more.

8. Leverage upsell emails

Besides adding elements to your store’s pages to attract customers, you can also grab their attention with upselling and cross-selling emails. Among the ways to feature extra offers, the most natural will be the following:

  • In order confirmation emails: entice customers who’ve just made a purchase with relevant additions to purchased products that can be shipped altogether. 
  • In delivery tracking emails: you can remind shoppers about new deals and products while they wait for their order.

Check out upsell email examples for inspiration and craft your own strategy.

9. Measure overall store conversion

Most of the Shopify apps for upsells, cross-sells, and bundles will show you how much they contributed to growing your store’s revenue. But you won’t get direct data on how they are affecting the overall conversion rate of your store.

Imagine you implement several upsell offers using different apps. They will generate some extra revenue, but some customers will drop off. A powerful analytical tool like Google Analytics can help you take everything into account. With it, you can measure your overall conversion rate and visualize the funnel path to see where users tend to drop off and where they convert the most.

Measuring the overall store conversion rate in Shopify
Measuring the overall store conversion rate in Shopify

Analytical data can help you improve the store in general. For example, you find out that a lot of visitors leave certain collection pages, not even giving you a chance to show them upsell and cross-sell offers. Re-examine those pages: it might be they lack advanced search or filtering options, or they load too slowly, etc. If you identify a bottleneck and fix it, then your upselling pop-ups will likely become more effective as well. 

Upselling is a great business booster but it can fail to succeed if your store has some issues that damage user experience, for instance, poor filtering options or an over-complicated checkout process. Check our ultimate guide to Shopify checkout optimization and make sure your checkouts are designed to drive sales.

10. Keep it simple

We have seen many Shopify stores that use dozens of different apps for upsell and cross-sell deals, motivators, spin wheels, social proof, security seals, etc.—with so many things at once, it’s a total pain for a customer to purchase anything. Don’t bombard your visitors with too many motivating elements.

Over-(up)selling is not cool and customers hate it
Over-(up)selling is not cool and customers hate it

Please, keep it simple and pick just one or two upsell tools and stick with them. The more apps your store have, the slower it is and the worse the UX is. Customer without an added upsell in the cart is still far more valuable than no customer at all.

Don’t use too many pop-ups

For example, if certain product or collection pages already trigger a pop-up (about a current sale or something else), don’t put one more pop-up with an upselling offer. Too many pop-ups and ads can contribute to increased bounce rates.

There’s a great way of featuring special deals in a way less invasive than a pop-up: by adding an additional line to the header. It's called header bar and there are plenty of free apps to help you with that. You can use it for displaying free delivery conditions and current sales: this way, you can create upselling and cross-selling pop-ups that won’t overlap with other pop-ups and therefore won’t ruin the user experience.

Example of the header bar
Example of the header bar

Stick to 1-2 apps

Pick one or two upsell tools and stick with them. With a lot of apps, you’re risking to slow down your website and irritate visitors. At the end of the day, a customer without an added upsell is far more valuable than the one who drops out of the funnel.

➡️If you’re not sure which app to choose to automate upselling, review our list of best upsell apps on Shopify.

Don’t induce choice paralysis in your offers

When it comes to extra deals, they should be suitable for quick purchasing decisions so don’t add multiple product variations when trying to cross-sell. And as for the number of offers per a single upsell pop-up in a Shopify store, 3-4 tend to work best—if it takes time to scroll all of them, then it might be too much choice.

Test and iterate

You can try to offer a different product, change the messaging, pricing, or design. Experiment with anything and track how it impacts the conversion rate. However, don’t change too many things at once but do small iterations instead.

If you’re using our apps, you can easily experiment with your offers. Each template allows you to set a discount, change the pop-up’s heading and messaging, decide on the order of offers (if you have multiple ones shown in one pop-up), modify the color and buttons, etc. Plus, you can adjust any detail at any given moment.

Expected results from upselling

When you know how to upsell products and do everything right, the conversion (take rate) should be around 5% (measured on the offer views). The overall uplift on your store revenues should be around 10-30%. When Amazon introduced upselling back in 2006, it boosted their revenues by a massive 35%.

Let’s take an example: a well recognized Shopify expert Hayden Bowles made over $73k on a single store by using Candy Rack upsells. He explains his tactics in the video below:

Bonus – List of best upsell apps on Shopify

Being an upsell app developer we can also recommend some other good apps which are worth testing.

  • Candy Rack by Digismoothie (from $49.99 per month) – Our flagship pre-purchase upsell app used by over 4.000 merchants. Displays slick pop-up on the product page after customer clicks on the "add to cart" button. It's also the one from all the screenshots in this article are taken
  • Last Upsell by Digismoothie (from $19.99 per month) – Our latest upsell app that allows merchants to offer post-purchase upsells and cross-sells right on the order confirmation page. It's a perfect combo with Candy Rack
  • Bold Upsell by Bold (from $9.99 per month) – Probably the most notorious upsell on the Shopify App Store. Allows you to offer upsells/cross-sells on the product page, cart page or post-purchase. Supports multiple offers, discounting, free gifts and other types
  • SMAR7 Bundle Upsell by SMART ($47 per month) – One of the most expensive upsell apps on the market, but totally worth it. It’s super slick and clean. Supports in-cart pop-up upsell, discounting and incentivizes customers to spend more
  • Review the full list of best upsell apps on Shopify

There are dozens of others, but they are either looking awful from the UX point of view or they are difficult to set up. Our goal is to keep the list small and feature only the top-quality ones.

If you are looking for more ways how to drive more sales, make sure to check our ultimate guide to Customize & Optimize Your Shopify Checkout.

Tomas Janu

Tom loves writing about upselling, conversion optimization, and e-commerce trends. He is one of our co-founders and you can sometimes talk to him if you contact our support team.

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