Cross-selling is shown by adding fries and a drink to your hamburger order.

Are you looking for a simple way to increase average order value (AOV) for your business? Trying to get more products off your shelves? Cross-selling might be the solution for you. By showing your customers additional items to buy, you can encourage them to spend more money while clearing inventory—perhaps on items you’ve had a hard time selling previously. 

This post will dive into the merits of cross-selling as well as various examples to inspire your own cross-selling initiatives. Ecommerce stores looking to maximize profits will want to learn more about how to cross-sell as another strategy for increasing sales. 

Key takeaways

  • Cross-selling is an excellent way to increase your store’s revenue.
  • The placement of cross-selling efforts—such as on individual product pages or in checkout flows—is crucial to a successful strategy.
  • Suggesting complementary products via cross-selling is done best using customer data and personalization.

What is cross-selling?

First, let’s better understand the term cross-selling and how it works. Cross-selling is a practice used by merchants to suggest related, often complementary products to a customer who is already purchasing something. For example, an ecommerce retailer could suggest a sleeve of tennis balls to a customer already purchasing a tennis racket. 

Benefits of cross-selling 

At its core, cross-selling is a tactic that—according to our ecommerce glossary—“attempts to increase the value of an order by showing customers related or complementary products or services they can add on to their original purchase.” Cross-selling efforts have a number of benefits, including:

  • Increasing revenue
  • Increasing AOV
  • Improving the customer experience
  • Increasing engagement
  • Testing the performance of new products or services 
  • Improving customer satisfaction

Cross-selling vs. upselling

You may have heard about cross-selling in conversation with upselling. Though both have the goal of increasing the amount a shopper spends, they do so in different ways. Upselling is all about convincing shoppers to upgrade the item they’re buying. 

Let’s take a fast-food restaurant as an example. Upselling might look like changing your order from a regular hamburger to a deluxe cheeseburger, while cross-selling would be adding french fries on the side. The whole point of upselling is to convince customers to purchase something of higher quality and value for a higher price, thus increasing AOV. Cross-selling, on the other hand, convinces shoppers to add related or complementary items to their carts to increase the price of the order. 

Upsell options are shown in this example.
Many ecommerce stores will give upsell options directly on the product page, as seen in our Succeed with Subscriptions guide.

Best practices for cross-selling

In our Succeed with Subscriptions guidebook, we’ve highlighted some best practices for cross-selling. The goal is to know your customers well enough so that you can provide the right cross-selling promotions to the right shopper. Another key to effective cross-selling is to make it easy and accessible—you could even add a discount for those that add items to their cart. 

1. Personalize

The first tip to successful cross-selling is to personalize your offerings. The more you tailor your suggestions to the specific customer, the more successful you will be. Here are a few effective strategies for personalized product recommendations to try in your next cross-selling campaign:

  • Give options based on purchase history
  • Leverage an integration partner to conduct product recommendation quizzes
  • Utilize data and analytics to present the best choices

2. Segment customers

Using data, you can segment new customers and existing clients based on factors like geography, age group, what’s already in their cart, and other common customer traits. Segmenting customers like this is a tried-and-true marketing strategy—knowing your audience means you can utilize the most effective cross-selling techniques. Getting to know your customers in this way will help you present them with the right product options, at the correct point in their customer journey. 

3. Consider discounts

Just like offering a subscribe-and-save option, giving discounts is a great way to make cross-selling work for your online store. When prices are lower, shoppers are more likely to try out an item for the first time—there’s less risk at a lower price point. Plus, most customers appreciate it when companies give them a discount on a purchase. 

4. Make it accessible

No one is going to add extra products to their cart unless it’s easy to do so! Any customer purchasing something extra will want it to be easy—which is why the location of your cross-selling initiatives is so important. Continue reading to learn more about the best places your experienced sales team should try cross-selling, with some examples. 

5 proven areas to cross-sell (with examples)

So, you know the best cross-selling techniques and the merits of using cross-selling to increase sales. Now let’s learn more about how to cross-sell. Or, to be more specific, where you should focus your cross-selling efforts. Seeing a cross-selling example (like the ones below) can help you determine the best place to offer customers an opportunity to purchase additional products. 

Offering a cross-sell at the wrong time in the customer journey can discourage your customers and may even decrease customer loyalty—especially if it’s seen as pushy or aggressive. Follow these proven strategies for successful cross-selling and you’ll surely increase revenue without sacrificing customer trust. 

1. Individual product page

One of the most common examples of cross-selling is on the individual product page. It makes a lot of sense to show customers related items at this stage of their shopping. Any retailer knows that including crucial product details is key to helping customers make a decision about their purchase. Well—go a step further by showing them right then and there some additional products that would make their purchase even better.

Theo Chocolate shows customers three additional chocolate options on product pages.
Theo Chocolate encourages guests to add a few more bars to their cart on every individual product page.

2. Checkout page

Most shoppers are familiar with the checkout page—and many visit this page when they’re making final decisions about what they want to buy, making it an excellent location for a cross-sell. You might phrase these items as “frequently bought together” or “make a complete outfit,” suggesting to your customers that they’re missing essential pieces of an order. 

Theo Chocolate bars are shown on the cart page.
Once a customer adds some chocolate to their cart, Theo Chocolate shows them a few more options on their cart page—a great place for a cross-sell before the customer checks out. 

3. Customer portal

Your existing customer might benefit from cross-selling within the customer portal. Say they’re an avid coffee drinker and have a coffee subscription with you. Why not suggest supplementary products within their customer portal, like a coffee mug or a new creamer to try? Better yet, you could suggest they try adding a new roast of coffee to their order. You just might win a new subscription from them if they like what they try through this cross-selling technique. 

Options to add on products are shown with this example, using coffee grounds.
The customer portal is a great place to make product suggestions, especially if your customers visit it often to edit or modify their orders. 

4. Transactional SMS 

Have you thought about reaching customers through transactional SMS? Not only can you increase customer lifetime value (LTV) by 30%, but you can also use transactional messaging as an effective way to cross-sell. Give customers the ability to add an item to their order with a simple text. 

Transactional SMS texting gives customers the option to make changes through text.
Give customers the option to add a one-time purchase through transactional SMS.

5. Post-purchase page

One final location suggestion for a cross-selling campaign is on the post-purchase page. Chances are the shopper already has their credit card out and since they just made a purchase, it can be the right place to show them additional products. If you want to take your cross-selling strategy one step further, why not showcase more items from your brand on this page? 

Cross-selling in subscription ecommerce

Subscription businesses can also take advantage of cross-selling by offering their existing customers add-ons or one-time purchases of items related to their subscription. Cross-selling can also be used to motivate customers to subscribe to additional products along with their existing subscriptions. 

Showing subscribers items related to their current subscription can motivate them to make these additional purchases, or even better—sign up for a whole new product or service on subscription. 

The benefits of cross-selling to your existing customers

These examples of cross-selling show that there are a multitude of ways for companies to reach consumers and boost their revenue with this sales technique. 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations, according to Accenture

Any existing customer will appreciate being shown additional options to add to their order, and it can help new customers become more familiar with your brand and what you offer. 

Increased customer lifetime value and revenue is another huge benefit, especially for companies looking for new strategies to help their profit margins. Cross-selling can even help your brand gain increased customer satisfaction and customer loyalty—building a community of trust with your shoppers that can help propel your business to the next level. 

Sources

[1] Personalization Pulse Check (Accenture)

[2] A Beginner's Guide To Upselling And Cross-Selling (Forbes)

[3] Cross-selling (Recharge ecommerce glossary)

[4] Lifetime value (Recharge ecommerce glossary)

[5] Succeed with Subscriptions (Recharge)