Running an online store isnโ€™t easy. Ecommerce trends keep on changing and ย it takes plenty of time, skill, and strategy to operate on such narrow margins while still competing with the millions of other sellers in the market. That is why itโ€™s so important to maximize every opportunity to make a sale as well as watch out for digital marketing trends of 2020-2021 to stay on top of your game!

Cross-selling is one of the best ways to increase your average order value, generating more revenue per customer and ultimately benefiting your bottom line. It is a strategy that blends selling to an existing customerโ€”which is 5-25x cheaper than acquiring a new oneโ€”and generating a new revenue stream that comprises up to 35% of total sales.

Creating a cross-selling strategy is simply a matter of knowing your customers and your product catalog like the back of your hand.

Consider this your guide for how to sell more and grow your online store, plus some examples you can adapt and use for your eCommerce business.

What is Cross-Selling? ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ

Cross-selling is the suggestion of buying another item(s) alongside a customerโ€™s initial purchase. It differs from upselling, which simply encourages making the initial purchase more expenses. Think of it as being asked if you want fries with your hamburger (cross-selling) versus if you want to supersize your meal (upselling).

Both tactics are widely used in the eCommerce space, even if you donโ€™t recognize it yet. Here are some examples.

Cross-Selling Examples

Complementary Products ๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ‘—

As youโ€™ve likely guessed, complementary products are additional items that enhance the original purchase to complete the look. for example, if a customer has selected a dress and added it to her shopping cart, complementary products can include a purse, shoes, and jewelry.

A salad serving bowl can be complemented with salad tongs, oil and vinegar dispensers, and matching smaller bowls. Complementary products turn each item into a set, which tells the customer it makes sense to buy them all.

Image Courtesy of Asos

How many times have you been shopping on Amazon and seen the โ€œProducts related to this itemโ€ section about halfway down the page? This section typically features similar/related products that are not necessarily complementary to the original item but still in the same realm.

Letโ€™s continue the salad bowl example. Related products could include dish sets, drink pitchers, or other serveware. All of these are items you could use at a dinner party but donโ€™t comprise a setโ€”unless everything matches or itโ€™s sold as a bundle.

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Bundles ๐Ÿง

Bundles are groups of products sold together, typically at a discount to encourage the purchase of all of them. Itโ€™s fairly standard for cell phone companies to bundle chargers and screen protectors with the purchase of a new phone, for example.

If you have products to bundle together and can afford to offer them at a discounted price, this can sway customers into buying the bundle instead of the single product they were looking for. The other advantage here is that you only pay for shipping once.

Image courtesy of Stitch Labs

Previously Viewed Products ๐Ÿ‘€

Shopper tracking can come in handy when youโ€™re looking to cross-sell items. If a consumer viewed a product but then added something else to his shopping cart, sometimes a reminder is all he needs to add the first product as well.

Additional Services ๐Ÿ”ง

Selling additional services works well for products that require assembly and/or installation. Customers can be enticed by professional help if they have ordered something complicated or simply do not have the time to put it together themselves.

This is common with online furniture and technology stores, but there are times it works for other sellers as well. โ€œAdditional servicesโ€ also encompasses subscription add-ons, such as spin class access for Peloton owners as well as product assembly after the delivery.

How to Sell More ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

The key to cross-selling, therefore, is finding the gaps that can be filled with other products you offer. These steps can help you in your search so youโ€™ll know how toโ€”and when toโ€”set up the cross-sell so it makes sense and feels natural to the customer.

Understand Your Customer Base ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿฝโ€โ™‚๏ธ

If you havenโ€™t already, now is the time to develop buyer personas. These are detailed descriptions of your ideal customer that include not only demographics information but also specific needs and wants.

These personas can then inform your marketing campaignsโ€”and your cross-sell strategies. Understanding your customer base goes beyond buyer personas, however, so it is just as important to conduct research into the post-purchase customer. What feedback do they have, and how can you use it to identify cross-sell opportunities?

Map Out the Customer Journey ๐Ÿ—พ

In a similar vein, understanding the customer journey can give you insight into the best ways to cross-sell. Buyer personas offer insight into the pre-purchase steps, but the customer journey is much more than the touchpoints on the way to buying. It includes the purchase itself and the customerโ€™s usage of the product.

Doing some digging can tell you if there are additional products customers tend to buy after using an item in your catalog for some time or if multiple products are bought together. Pay attention to these post-purchase insights that can help you make a more effective cross-sell.

Identify Problems & Offer Solutions ๐Ÿค

Mapping out the customer journey can help you identify the problems and needs of the people who have bought from your online store because youโ€™ll understand, among other things, why shoppers go looking for your products. What are they trying to solve?

Once you know, use that information to determine which of your products can help with those challenges so you know exactly what to cross-sell when the time comes.

Listen for Cues ๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿฝ

Staying in touch with customers after theyโ€™ve already made their purchases is a worthwhile practice because youโ€™ll get insight into their experience with your products. Listen for cues like โ€œI love it, but I wish it had___โ€ because those wishes can often be fulfilled. At that point, the customer has already expressed interest and will be more likely to listen to your cross-selling pitch because it aligns with what they want.

Setting up the Cross-Sell

Now that you understand the benefits of cross-selling and how to create opportunities to execute, remember these steps:

  1. Select your items ahead of time.
  2. Limit the items to avoid overwhelming the shopper.
  3. Highlight the benefits of the cross-sell.
  4. Use social proof to show the shopper that others are buying extra items.
  5. Cross-sell on product pages and at checkout for maximum effectiveness.

Youโ€™ll be boosting your profits in no time.


This article was written by Taylor Gilliam. Taylor is a Content Specialist at Webgility, the #1 accounting automation solution for online retailers and accountants using QuickBooks. When sheโ€™s not photographing concerts, you can find her hiking with her dog, Charlie ๐Ÿถ

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