What is the Difference Between Pre-Purchase Upsell vs. Post-Purchase Upsell on Shopify

Upselling is one of the most popular techniques for increasing store revenues on Shopify. Recently, Shopify allowed app developers to use the post-purchase page (order confirmation page) as one of the real estates to upsell customers who just finished their order. That’s why it’s technically called a post-purchase upsell. While the pre-purchase upsell is happening prior customer finished the transaction (most of the time prior to entering the checkout flow). Which one should you implement to your store (if any)?

In this article, we will first explain what is it, show a few examples, and recommend the best apps for each category. We’ll also share our tips and recommendations, and help you to better understand which one you should choose for your Shopify store. For this time, we’ll ignore the difference between upselling and cross-selling as it would just add more unnecessary complexity.

➡️ If you are not sure what is upselling or cross-selling, head to our Intro to the Upselling article.

Should you choose pre-purchase or post-purchase upsell?

What Is a Post-purchase Upsell

Post-purchase upsell or sometimes also called thank you page upsell or order confirmation page upsell (the first is definitely the most common name on the Shopify platform) is an offer that is presented to a customer after he/she finishes the order (i.e. submits and pay for it).

The thing “after” is really a key here. There are quite a few apps that promote themselves as “post-purchase upsell” yet the upsell is technically pre-purchase but still in the checkout, on the customer info or shipping page, for example.

Below is a nice example from the ReConvert app which shows the original transaction has been completed and customers can still add some more products or get the same one with a discount (which doesn’t make much sense, to be honest).

Example of the post-purchase upsell on Shopify

The reason why post-purchase upsells are so successful in terms of take rate (acceptance rate) is that customer doesn’t need to enter any information including payment details (i.e. credit card number) again. All information is pre-filled from the previous, just finished, transaction. It’s just a few clicks and that’s it, transaction created and charge done.

Post-purchase upsell can be also truly one-click. That means that if a customer clicks on the CTA button like “Accept” on the screenshot above the charge happens immediately, no other action is required. Using this approach the take rate can be as high as 30-40% which is insane.

Yet I haven’t actually encountered ANY app on the Shopify platform which would be truly one-click upsell. If there is any please let us know in the comments below.

Post-purchase upsells can be also offered via email, for example as part of the order confirmation email, but that usually doesn’t allow to pre-fill the customer information so it’s kind of useless and old-school.

Overall post-purchase offers are a great tool for boosting your store revenues and selling more products. You can also be a bit more aggressive as the original transaction has been already paid so there is no conversion risk here.

The only disadvantage may be the “sale easiness” (what a paradox, lol) which can lead to increased refunds and charge-backs. Especially with the true “one-click” flow. It’s all about finding the right balance, so pay attention to customer experience, and make sure customers understand what they are actually doing and not just clicking around.

Recommended Post-purchase Upsell Apps

There are quite a few apps on the app store which can help you with post-purchase upselling. However, many of them are of questionable quality.  Here’s our list of the top 3 which we can safely recommend.

Top 3 recommended apps for post-purchase upselling

  1. Honeycomb Upsell Funnels – Complex upselling tool with many advanced settings and customizations. Support also pre-purchase upsell. Free for up to 100 funnel views per month for more the starting price is $49.99 per month.
  2. ReConvert Upsell – Allows creating multiple post-purchase offers including the pop-up. But the design is sometimes a bit sketchy. Free for up to 50 store orders per month (in total) for more the starting price is $7.99 per month.
  3. AfterSell – Very basic app in terms of UX and functionality but does its job well. Can be a good choice for one-product stores. Free for up to 50 store orders per month (in total) for more the starting price is $9.99 per month.

Recently, the CartHook team also announced they plan to release their post-purchase upsell app to the app store during October 2020. It should be a native part of the checkout and likely make it to our top 3 list.

What Is a Pre-purchase Upsell

As the name suggests, the main difference is in the time of the upsell offer compared to the post-purchase. The pre-purchase upsell is presented before the customer finishes the transaction. In the Shopify ecosystem, this is mainly on the product page or on the cart page. The most common method of displaying the upsell offer is either via an on-page banner/div or pop-up. The upsell product (if accepted) is added to the original transaction.

The tricky thing about the pre-purchase upselling is that you need to be a bit more careful when it comes to UX and find the right balance. The last thing you want is to scare off the customer who would finish the transaction with some aggressive/confusing upsell offers. So it’s super important to make the pre-purchase upsells “soft”, clear, relevant, and easy to decline. Otherwise, they may impact the overall conversion rate and in some cases actually lead to the revenue decline.

A good example of a pre-purchase upsell offer is shown on the screenshot below. The Candy Rack pop-up is displayed after the customer clicks on the “add to cart” button on the product page. In this case, the upsell product is relevant and complementary to the parent product which is great. Also, the main call-to-action to continue in the flow is the primary one.

Example of the pre-purchase upsell done via Candy Rack app

➡️ Learn how to build The Perfect Upsell Pop-up for your Shopify store.

Pre-purchase upsells should be an important part of your sales strategy, especially due to their ability to boost AOV (average order value). But it’s important to keep the basic rules in mind and be “gentle” to your customers in terms of UX (user experience). Many merchants forget to monitor the overall store monetization (i.e. average revenue per visit) after implementing the pre-purchase upsell.

The best and most simple way of testing whether you crossed the line with your upsell game is to imagine yourself in the shoes of your customer.

Recommended Pre-purchase Upsell Apps

There is really a lot of (pre-purchase) upsell apps on the app store and it may be hard to pick the right one. We definitely recommend trying at least a few of them and see which one fits your needs the best. Most of them usually offer 7 – 14 days of a free trial. But anyway, our top 3 list is following.

Top 3 recommended apps for pre-purchase upselling

  1. Candy Rack – Recognized for being an extremely simple, slick, and effective upsell app. It displays an upsell pop-up on the product page after the customer clicks the “add to cart” button. The price starts at $29.99 per month. And yes, we are developers of Candy Rack. 🤳
  2. Bold Upsell – Probably the most established upsell app on Shopify. Enables you to display upsell pop-up on both the product page and cart page. The design is a bit outdated though. The price starts at $9.99 per month but only for up to 200 upsell views.
  3. Raid Funnels – Allows you to create upsell funnel including pop-ups, frequently bought together lists, and complete the look bundles. The design is fresh and light. There is also a free subscription but only for 250 upsell views per month. The starting price is $19.99 per month for 1.000 views.

➡️ Did you know you can set pre-purchase checkout upsell with no app and completely for free?

Btw. we would also include here Honeycomb Upsell Funnels but they are already recommended in the post-purchase upsell app list above.

Conclusion

Well, there is no ultimate advice when it comes to upselling and choosing the right strategy. But a good understanding of the best practices below will definitely help you.

Best Practices & Recommendations

We have put together this list of best practices for upselling which is relevant for both pre-purchase and post-purchase upsells.

  1. Make upsells relevant – Do not offer completely random products only because you hope someone may buy them. Spend a lot of time to tailor the offers so they are relevant to whatever product is the customer purchasing in the first place.
  2. Do not repeat upsell offers – If customer saw the upsell offer there is no point to show it again (unless the price has changed). Rather show a different offer or nothing.
  3. Integrate upsell offer as a native part – When you offer an upsell it needs to feel like a native part of your purchase flow. Best if it doesn’t look like an upsell but a “feature”.
  4. Customers need to be able to decline – If a customer doesn’t want to take the upsell, do not force him/her and make it easy to decline and continue in the flow. The point of upselling is driving additional revenue without losing the current one.
  5. Keep it simple – Last but not least, please do not overcomplicate it! Three upsells are much better than ten. One offer at a time. You can also ask your friends to go over your upsell flow and see if they will come around any uncertainty.

Which One Should You Go With

We can’t honestly recommend one over another. The best approach to find out is testing both. Setting up the right upsell strategy is an ongoing and neverending process. You need to constantly iterate, test, optimize, and innovate.

But it’s safe to say adding a post-purchase upsell to your store is almost risk-free and you can theoretically only benefit from it. When adding a pre-purchase upsell you got to be a bit more careful and make sure it doesn’t negatively impact the overall conversion. Or if it actually does, it’s offset by the higher AOV.

Based on our experience, the most successful online stores are using both pre-purchase and post-purchase upsells. But they are well balanced and almost a native part of the purchase flow, so customers don’t see them as “upsells”.

No matter which one you go with, happy upselling!

About Author

Tom Jarvis

Tom is one of our Customer Success Gurus and knows everything about our apps and how to set them up. He's likely the guy you will talk to when you need help. Tom's favorite topic is upselling/cross-selling about which he also likes to write on our blog. If he's not helping merchants he's likely out doing something crazy like parachuting or downhill longboarding.

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