The humble upsell is underrated.
Why? Because right now, there’s a segment of your customer audience that would be happy to pay more for premium products.
The problem? You’re not offering it to them!
See, upselling represents one of the easiest ways to boost your average order value and beef up your bottom line.
And the best bit? Good upselling isn’t that difficult when you know what you’re doing.
So, in this post, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the art of upselling.
Sounds good? Let’s dive in!
What is Upselling?
Remember the last time you went to McDonald’s, and they asked if you’d like to “Go large?”.
Yup, that’s an upsell.
In the simplest terms, an upsell is when you offer a customer a more expensive item than the one they were thinking of buying.
Upsells can be offered before, during, and after the buying process, and how you introduce them can significantly influence how customers perceive them (more on that later).
Among other things, upselling is incredible because:
- Upselling improves the customer experience by guiding them towards the best product for their needs.
- It can power-up your average order value (and profit margin too).
- When your AOV increases, you can spend more on customer acquisition and beat out your competition.
So, as you can see, upselling has a lot going for it.
With the benefits out of the way, let’s knuckle down and discover how you can start doing it in your store, starting with four essential best practices.
eCommerce Upselling Best Practices: Rules of the Game
There are many different ways to upsell, but no matter how you implement it, there’s a couple of principles to keep in mind.
1. Don’t Be Shady
Upselling gives some people shivers.
And with good reason – we’ve all dealt with a dubious salesman who’s tried to empty our wallets.
But the thing is, upselling doesn’t have to be like that.
By far, the most crucial thing with upselling to avoid being pushy or overly-salesy.
Remember, most customers aren’t interested in your upsell offer – so make it easy for them to decline the offer.
Seriously, the last thing you want is your customers feeling like you’re trying to rip them off.
2. Use the 25% Pricing Rule.
Consumers usually have a price range in mind when they’re shopping.
So when creating upsells, ensure your more premium product is not over 25% more expensive than the one the customer has chosen.
This will keep your conversion high while also maximizing revenue from each sale.
3. Select The Best Products to Upsell
When upselling, it’s essential to offer customers products that are closely related to one another.
For example, there’s no point in offering me a merino wool jumper if I’m looking to pick up a pair of leather shoes.
Instead, just show me the more premium pair of leather shoes.
To maximize uptake on your upsell, offer customers ‘big brother’ versions of the items they’re considering rather than distantly related items.
4. Add A Dash of Exclusivity & Urgency
Super effective upsell offers are those that customers can’t just claim at any time.
That’s why throwing some exclusivity and urgency into the mix can send your conversion rates through the roof.
Think about it: if customers can upgrade and save 15% on a more premium product right now, they’ll feel like they’re missing out if they don’t accept your offer.
6 Proven Ways to Upsell Customers Today
With the ground rules under your belt, let’s look at six upselling tactics you can implement today.
1. Upsell Using Comparisons
Comparisons are a fantastic way to nudge customers towards higher-priced items without being the least bit pushy.
Case in point (excuse the pun) travel gear brand Away:
Notice how this upselling tactic shows customers what’s on offer, but leaves it up to them to decide if the more expensive option is right for them.
Seriously, there’s a reason why Amazon uses this tactic on just about every page:
When you present customers with the information they need, you’ll often find that they are happy to spend a little extra on a more premium product that meets their needs, especially if you’re selling high-ticket items.
2. Upsell into a Subscription
Question: How is it possible to upsell by charging your customer less upfront?
With subscriptions, of course!
For example, check out how bone broth retailer Kettle & Fire seduce customers with a 20% discount if they opt to subscribe for regular deliveries.
Upselling into a subscription works because instead of relying on customers to buy again (which often doesn’t happen), you get reliable income from them at regular intervals.
Plus, your customers don’t have to worry about remembering to come back and re-order. A win for everyone involved!
3. Upsell with Incentives
Incentives are a great way to nudge customers towards an upsell offer.
For example, check out how sports nutrition brand Bulk gently encourages customers to spend more by highlighting the cost per serving for each size of protein powder:
The bigger the bag of protein powder you order, the lower the cost per serving goes, showing the customer clearly how much they’re saving.
Here’s a similar upsell tactic used by one product store Beachly:
Customers save around $15 per box if they choose to pay upfront for one year – an upsell that moves the order value from $99 to $340.
Incentives don’t just have to be price-based. However, you can also tempt customers to spend more with benefits like:
- A free gift with a more expensive purchase
- Priority customer support
- Expedited shipping
- A donation to a cause they care about
- Discounts on future purchases
- Free product insurance
Basically, anything that makes choosing a higher-priced product more attractive is great to nudge customers towards a higher cart value.
4. Upsell with Recommendations
Ever been shopping in a store, and the clerk shows you a couple of similar items you may also like?
With intelligent product recommendations, you can bring the same experience to your online store.
For example, check out how Nordstrom strategically displays two more premium boots beside this pair I was looking at:
They even add a little ‘popular’ tag to enhance the odds that shoppers will click over to the more expensive option.
Similar to comparisons, simply showing customers the other options available to them is often enough to tempt a portion of them to spend a little more money.
5. Upsell on the Thank You Page
The tactics we’ve discussed all involve pre-purchase upselling. But post-purchase upsells can also be incredibly powerful.
Specifically, upselling on your thank you page is a tactic that works very well for most merchants.
Think about it:
- Your thank you page has a 100% ‘open rate’ (unlike post-purchase emails)
- Shoppers who land there have their wallet open(aka they’re in peak buying mode)
- It’s re-visited an average of 2.8 times by customers looking for shipping updates.
In other words, it’s arguably the most valuable piece of digital real estate in your post-purchase sales funnel.
Here’s an example of a thank you page with a few conversion elements added:
Notice how urgency is added with the time-limited discount, while the option to re-order and get 15% off tempts customers to spend more.
In all, thank-you page upselling is one of the least-invasive, highest-return forms of upselling you can implement.
6. Upsell via Partnerships
As we mentioned, a key part of effective upselling is offering the right products, at the right time.
One of the best ways to deliver irresistible upsells is by partnering with complimentary brands to create offers your customers will love.
For instance, Glow Recipe and Vanity Planet came together to build a product bundle for Black Friday (check-out the case study here)
The Steam, Sleep & Glow Set, which included a facial steamer from Vanity Planet, and a facial mask and toner from Glow Recipe gave customers something neither brand could deliver on their own.
The results? $68,300 in sales and almost 500 new customers later, it’s fair to say that this upsell offer killed it. Especially when you consider that neither brand spent additional cash on marketing.
So, think about brands in your space who offer complimentary products, reach out to them and see how you can upsell together.
Pro Tip: Instead of spending time and effort looking for partnerships that lead nowhere, use Carro Partnerships to easily find other Shopify merchants and grow your business today.
Go Forth & Start Upselling!
There’s no denying that upselling is a killer way to add more revenue (and profit) to your eCommerce business.
Hopefully, this guide has given you the impetus to start offering upsells to your customers today.
No matter how you decide to start upselling, never forget the basics:
- Upsell with transparency – never come across as pushy, salesly, or shady.
- Promote products that customers actually want
- Limit your upsell offer to 25% greater than your customers’ order value
- Adding an element of scarcity or exclusivity will keep your conversion rates high.
Ultimately, your primary goal should be not to make more revenue but to offer upsells that enhance your customer’s shopping experience by introducing them to products that help them achieve their goals.
Because when you do that, everybody wins!
This is a guest post from Fintan Meagher and the team at ReConvert. ReConvert is the number one post-purchase upsell and cross-sell app for Shopify, with over 30,000+ merchants enjoying an average ROI of 2,000%.