Last updated: October 27, 2022
Cross-selling is where you recommend complementary products to a customer who is about to purchase a primary product or has made the purchase.
According to the Salesforce personalization in shopping report, visits where shoppers clicked a recommendation comprise just 7% of visits but drive an astounding 24% of orders and 26% of revenues.
When you consider that 51% of all traffic on your site is from returning users across all industries, it’s worth giving recommendations that are worth coming back for if they didn’t get to buy the first time around.
If you weren’t sure before, this is the sign you needed to implement cross-selling in your business.
Cross-selling is one of the ways to strategically grow your online store. At Upscribe, we help ecommerce store owners unlock trapped revenue in their businesses. In this article, we’ll show you how you can use cross-selling to increase revenues with examples of brands doing just that.
Cross-selling strategies you can implement in your business
Cross-selling is about giving customers helpful recommendations that will improve their product experience.
For this to work, you have to make it easier for them to see the value in the complementary products, remove any friction or objections to buying and personalize the product recommendations. We’ll look at how you can do this in detail.
Product bundling is when you pair complementary products together and sell them as a package at a discounted price.
The bundle is usually more attractive to customers because it costs less than what it would normally cost if the products were sold separately. If you have products that get bought together often and complement each other well you can create a bundle or package using those products.
This is a more convenient way of cross-selling because the customer doesn’t have to make separate purchases.
For example, Fenty has a skincare routine bundle, and shows the price savings for buying the discounted bundle vs the two products separately. If this is a regular purchase, you can even offer a subscribe and save option where the bundle gets delivered at regular intervals for a reduced price.
Upscribe lets you build product bundles on Shopify that your customers can buy once-off or as a subscription. Customers can also build their own bundles with products they choose, creating added flexibility and personalization. Giving customers the option to subscribe and save helps them get their orders regularly without having to worry about reordering.
Using data you already have about your customers can help you improve your cross-selling strategy. When it comes to which products to pair, you can look at past purchases to see what products were frequently bought together. You can even look at the order value most customers are prepared to spend and recommend products that slightly increase the order value but don’t exceed what customers are willing to pay in one transaction.
By segmenting your customers, you will be able to see which spends the most so you can tailor your recommendations accordingly.
Segmenting can also be done depending on what customers’ behavior is on your site as well, including which product categories they buy often, and what they like.
For products where you know your customers purchase frequently, you can get intelligent insights on when to send reorder emails and SMSs based on previous patterns.
Upscribe lets you create these reorder flows that conveniently remind customers to reorder their favorite products at the click of a button.
Use smart recommendations
Once you’ve used data and decided which products to pair, when and for who, you can use cross-selling apps to create those smart recommendations on your site.
Things like “frequently bought together” to show what other customers bought, “ buy it with” to make relevant suggestions, and “you might also like” are examples of these smart recommendations at work.
These recommendations can be strategically placed at key points in the buyer journey to generate the greatest impact.
You can use these recommendations before a purchase while the customer is on the product page, during a purchase while they are busy with checkout, and after a purchase. More on this later.
Add Order thresholds
This Wharton study estimates shoppers will spend 30 percent more to qualify for free shipping.
While a free shipping threshold is not a cross-selling strategy, it enables the successful implementation of cross-selling.
This is because in most cases, customers will add more products to their cart just to avoid paying shipping. When you have smart recommendations, the chances of customers adding those complementary products to their cart increase if they want to qualify for free shipping.
Examples of cross-selling
Cross-selling actually has to make sense to the buyer and provide value. They have to realize why they need complementary products and see the benefit of buying at that moment.
It should never take away from the buying experience of the main product and should still be optional and not forced.
Let’s look at a few good examples of cross-selling done right, and why it works.
Pre-Purchase Cross-selling examples
In the pre-purchase stage, the customer is still considering their options. It may or may not lead to a sale.
But even if they don’t buy and leave the site, customers who do click on product recommendations are twice as likely to come back to the site based on this Salesforce study.
Cross-selling at the pre-purchase stage can help convert the sale of the main product by assuring the customer that they’re making the right decision.
It paints a full picture of the experience they can have with the product by getting the recommended products even if they don’t purchase immediately.
Crate & Barrel
Crate & Barrel is a good example of pre-purchase cross-selling. When you’re on the product page, you’re immediately prompted to “complete the look” with designer-recommended products.
This is because when buying furniture, it’s seldom that a person will buy just one thing because you’d want accessories to essentially “complete the look”.
So instead of letting their customers look to competitors for those accessories, Crate & Barrel offers their recommendations to go with the main product.
Why it works
- The selection is personalized to complement the product you’re looking at. What’s even more impressive is that each product completes the space and matches a theme.
- The products are carefully curated according to the color scheme, textures, and style. Nothing feels out of place.
- From the gallery wall art to the dining chairs to go with the dining table, you definitely get the sense that they “understand your taste”
- A customer can already imagine what it would be like walking into this kind of dining room, whereas a single dining table doesn’t give that full picture.
- Even if a customer doesn’t complete the purchase for the complementary products now, there is a sense of “I know what to come back for later”, where they can get the chairs or lamp, etc.
If you’re searching on amazon for a camping tent, then you’re either buying your first tent to enjoy the outdoors or you’re buying a replacement tent or upgrading.
When you scroll down, Amazon suggests you “Buy it with” a sleeping bag and waterproof camping tarp. These are useful suggestions that complete the outdoor sleeping experience.
Why it works:
- For camping newbies, a camping tarp may not be an obvious choice, the person may not even realize that it’s needed. But it would be a shame to figure it out the hard way in cold wet conditions.
- This is probably going to be an “I’m so glad I got this” to the newbie that didn’t know they needed it.
- The sleeping bag is a reminder, it might be on the list but could have been forgotten.
- The price of the two products doesn’t even amount to half the original products price so it will probably be an easy sell
- The “Add all three” button is conveniently placed with the new total to make a quick buying decision
It becomes immediately clear how Amazon has perfected the art of cross-selling. This is an example that explains why 35% of what consumers purchase on Amazon comes from these powerful recommendation algorithms.
Negative sells loungewear, intimates, and swimwear for women.
One of the biggest frustrations customers experience when it comes to buying clothing is figuring out what to pair it with to get a full outfit.
So it comes as a welcomed suggestion to see Negative taking the work out it and making the recommendations for their customers.
Why it works
- Brands know their products better than the customers. Recommending products that complement each other saves customers time and energy that would be wasted in endless searches.
- The picture of the shorts shows how incomplete your outfit would be, and the recommended products highlight the trendy look you could achieve after pairing the shorts with the hoodie or t-shirt.
- Customers can have a complete outfit and enjoy the full brand experience in their loungewear set
- It also gives the customer an opportunity to try out other garments in the range.
During the purchase Cross-selling examples
Cross-selling which happens during the purchase is when the customer is already inside their shopping cart and is getting ready to check out. This is an opportunity to bring up recommendations again if they didn’t add them from the product page.
This is an example of Apple’s website making use of cross-selling during the purchase. The buyer can decide to just check-out, but there is an immediate option to add AppleCare for $149.
Why it works
- Their argument for getting AppleCare is persuasive because if you’re about to spend $929 on a phone and it gets damaged, you’ll be able to repair it with AppleCare for just $149.
- This amount compared to how much it costs to fix the phone without Applecare makes it difficult to say no, especially if a customer has experienced having to repair a broken screen before.
- The benefits are clearly stated and it answers the question “what’s in it for me or why should I care”.
- There’s a clear link to conveniently “add” the AppleCare to the cart without interrupting the buying process
- The positioning of this specific product is higher than all other recommendations which appear lower on the page. This may be because it’s their way of saying thay if you don’t take anything else from our recommendation, take this – you’ll need it most.
Alo Yoga sells yoga wear and accessories. They also have a yoga app available for IOS and Android.
Why it works
- During the pre-purchase phase, Alo Yoga recommends other clothes to “get the look”. So if you’re getting the jacket, they recommend the crop top and sweatpants to achieve the same look as the model.
- During the purchase phase, they give you 30 days of Alo Moves yoga app for free. The normal cost is around $19.99 a month and they only have a 2-week free trial ( so it’s 2 weeks extra for free)
- A customer who is buying yoga apparel probably already does yoga so they’ll benefit from the app, and will have experienced the “results”
- This is clearly an opportunity to upsell when the 30 days are up. However, there is also free shipping worldwide and they are getting 30 days free on the app. Those savings can motivate customers to go ahead and get the other clothes to “complete the look”
- Not many retailers can offer free shipping worldwide because it’s so expensive, most customers are aware of this, so it definitely frees up more to spend on apparel or even the app when the free trial is over.
Post-purchase cross-selling example
Post-purchase cross-selling is where the customer has already made the purchase, but you offer them complementary products that they didn’t buy. Post-purchase cross-selling is a chance to get your first repeat purchase if you had sold to a new customer.
Amazon uses cross-selling as an opportunity to get more sales post-purchase. The email notification with the order shipping status comes with “customers who bought items in your order also bought” suggestions.
Why it works
- Now that they’ve gotten past the first purchase, existing customers are 60-70% more likely to buy from you again compared to 5-20% of new customers.
- Trust is established with your brand and they’ve gotten past any objections to making additional purchases
- You’ve likely created a good experience for them and they found value in your products
- The purchase experience is still fresh in their minds so they could be more willing to buy again or go back for the products they left behind
- By using the social approach that others also bought these items, it creates FOMO
- You don’t have to use cart abandonment tactics and you can just communicate with them directly.
- Not all first-time buyers will buy immediately, but showing interest is enough for you to woo them back to your site with retargeted ads specifically personalized to their search and interests.
- For a customer who has created a cart and is checking out, you have an opportunity to remind them of products they could be forgetting, which can be appreciated if those products are necessities
- If a customer has already bought the main product but didn’t take up any of the complementary products, as you’ve seen email can work wonders in further nurturing the relationship until they are in a position to buy more.
- If you have a retail store presence, your sales reps should be perceived as product experts who understand customers’ needs so that they can cross-sell effectively without being obnoxiously salesy
The key is to have a well-planned cross-selling strategy that works in tandem with your other marketing efforts to ensure you’re getting the sales your business needs.
Remember, cross-selling is not about just getting customers to spend more to push sales, you need to actually provide real value.
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