Upselling and cross-selling techniques have been used by offline retailers for decades, and now online stores are implementing both to their sales strategy in order to boost revenues and create fast growing business. Upselling and cross-selling is beneficial for merchants and for customers and while both techniques share some similarities, they need to be seen and adapted differently.

Who is who? 

Upselling – encouraging customer to buy more expensive item from the same product family or to add extra features to an original product. Here’s a simple example. Whenever you are buying plain tickets usually you have 2 options. One is the standard fair and business class. The plain is still the same, but business fair tickets are more expensive because you get extras.


Cross-selling – promoting products that complement the main product. It’s when you order a burger and they ask “Would you like fries with that?”  That’s a classical example of cross-selling. At some point it might be easy to cross-sell just thinking about products that naturally pair well. Like coffee and chocolate or beer and chips. So if your customer is looking for a MacBook you can offer cases, cords and so on.


Upselling and cross-selling is highly beneficial because it boosts revenue simply by selling more to the same customer. And not only store benefits, the customers can choose the best product that meet his or her needs and also can buy everything that is essential to use the product. The best examples is batteries. Majority of gadgets comes without them and it could be quite annoying not being able to use the product instantly. So offering batteries as a cross-selling item is a great deal for retailer and customer. Win-win situation! 

Upselling and cross-selling needs to be seen as part of good user experience not just a way to increase sales. Consider what goes with the main product so customer could get the maximum benefit out of it. And timing matters too. There is a great chance that you will fail in cross-selling if you suggest it too early. It usually works better when it’s at the end of purchasing and customer has already choose the main product. Mindfully created upselling and cross-selling strategy will lead to great user experience and increased sales on it’s own.

While upselling and cross-selling keep in mind: 

1.Don’t over do it. Don’t confuse your customer with too many options both in upselling and cross-selling. For example if you are selling a computer and offer computers with faster processors and bigger storage, don’t try to show everything you have. Eventually customer will get confused and you might fail in uspelling or even in selling in general. The same goes with cross-selling. 3 to 5 suggestions is considered the golden middle, well fitted with customer needs and preferences.

2. Rule of 25. Never try to upsell or cross-sell more than 25% value of the original order. If you try to do more, probably it’s not going to work, because everyone has a budget. For example, if your customer is looking for 15K $ car you can offer him a better model for around 18K $ because that might still be in his price range. But 30K $ model probably is not what he is looking for.


Written by Akvile Zelnyte
Marketing miss at Followprice with a great passion for writing on a various topics starting e-commerce business to traveling and philosophy.