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The Benefits Of Upsell And Cross-Sell Personalization


eCommerce sales, just like in person sales, require the perfect mix of timing, offering and need. When the product is offered, how the product is offered and which product is being offered are all relevant in creating the perfect sale for the perfect moment. When done right, cross-sell and upsell recommendations can be exactly what the customer needs; helpful, thoughtful and exciting. Combine this with a personalized touch, and you’ve struck gold. Let’s take a closer look at what this means, and how it can be done.

Cross-sell and Upsell

Cross-sell is the practice of offering the shopper some additional products to go with what they are purchasing, that compliment the purchase nicely. For example, if someone is buying a burger; “would you like fries with that?” is cross-selling. If the customer is buying a new phone; a phone case, charger and power bank would be relevant cross-sell suggestions.

Upselling is suggesting other alternatives to whatever the customer is purchasing, perhaps a bundle deal that includes other items of interest. Or it could show another of the same style of product, maybe a more expensive version, but one that offers more value for money. For example, instead of buying a 20 pack of cables for $20, a 50 pack for $40.

Both cross-sell and upsell recommendations should be helpful. They should provide customers with useful products that relate to their interests and search. In fact, cross-sell and upsell accounts for more than 30% online revenue, so there is a demand for it, and it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.


Personalization is a crucial part of sales, as it is a sure way of improving brand image, brand loyalty, and increasing sales. It means giving customers a shopping experience that is unique to them, tailors to their needs and interests and helps them on their buying journey. It means that the customer feels valued, as they personally are being considered, rather than just being treated as another nameless statistic on the website.

The Combination: Cross-sell and Upsell Personalization

So why do these things go so well together? Well, if personalization wasn’t taken into account, then how would it be clear which items should be recommended? In order for cross-sell to even be implemented, the current product being viewed is taken into account. In virtue of this, the personalization process has begun. 

Customers should see alternatives and extras that are based on their specific viewing history, online behavior and previous purchases. Working from this information, we can tell what the customer will be interested in moving forward.

With extra effort and consideration, personalization can be used to create an even deeper cross-sell personalization method that can hugely improve the customers’ experience.

Fast Simon - Klaviyo - personalized emails

Challenges of Cross-sell and Upsell

When done incorrectly, cross-sell and upsell can make customers feel undervalued. If the products offered aren’t actually relevant to them or their purchase, the recommendation might come across as pushy, which is not the intended goal.

You also do not want to let your shopper reach the point of offer fatigue; where they see so many promotions, offerings and suggestions that they become overwhelmed or bored of them and don’t give them much attention. This gives the challenge of presenting diverse suggestions that do not bore the customers, but rather are diverse, exciting and relevant. The suggestions should be varied, captivating and keep the customer engaged.

You do not want your customer to feel as though they are being used for their money, Instead, you want them to feel as though they are being thought of as unique and individual, and their needs are being catered to. This is where personalization comes in.

Making Cross-sell and Upsell Personalization Work For You

Here are some tips to get you started with creating the perfect cross-sell upsell personalization capacity for your eCommerce store:

1. Use What You Know

In order for personalization to work, all available information about the customer should be used. Some customers may have a profile with the website, in which case information such as the customer’s name, age and location may already be available. This should definitely be used in order to make sure that recommendations are relevant to them. 

In the age of data-privacy however, finding customer profile data can be challenging. But there are ways that data can be retrieved using a click profile of customers even if they are anonymous. This uses information such as:

  • How the customer navigated the website
  • The device the customer is using
  • Specific pages visited, and the time spent on them
  • Anything added to the cart

By creating a real-time click profile, no data privacy concerns are violated, and all of these can be used to give the customer the most relevant and appropriately personalized suggestions and recommendations they could hope for.

Make It Financially Reasonable

Information such as customers’ previous expenditure should be taken into account when offering the customer upsell and cross-sell recommendations. If the customer has just purchased a high ticket option, it’s unlikely that they will purchase another one through a recommendation. Instead, in this case, they should be offered smaller value items that compliment the expensive one they have brought.

A helpful rule of thumb can be that cross-sells should be about 60% cheaper than the product added to the cart. This is key in making sure that you do not expect too much from your customers; think about your own spending habits and what offers would be attractive to you.

Another good idea could be to offer a payment plan, so that customers don’t have to spend a lot again immediately, but this could be spread out in installments. Installment payment plans are becoming more popular for businesses, and this could be a great way to secure the sale without expecting too much from the customer.

Language Matters

The wording used in cross-sell and upsell promotions is very important. The tone, addressing and communication can make all the difference into how the sales are perceived. It is a human instinct to pay attention when someone calls your name, so if the name is known then it should definitely be used centrally. Words such as ‘you, your and yours’ will also make a difference, as it allows the shopper to imagine themselves with the product, and shows that their needs are being considered in the promotion. 

If in doubt about which language will produce the best results, AB testing could be used to try out a few variations and see which phrasing produces the best results. It can be the small things like this that make all the difference, so testing it out is a great way to ensure you’re achieving the best outcome possible.

Relevant Reviews

Customers want to be reassured about the products they purchase, and reviews are one way that this can always be done. If the customer is concerned with product quality, as can be told through previous reviews, then providing product quality reviews for the suggested items can be a great way to show the shopper you’re considering their needs.

By providing reviews that will resonate with the shoppers’ interest, you’re cutting down time that stands in the way of the shopper making the purchase they need to make. Shortening the sales procedure can create positive outcomes faster, meaning a positive experience for both the shopper and the merchant. 


Cross-sell and upsell personalization should be relevant and helpful to the customer. Yes, it will produce positive outcomes to the merchant, but if this comes at the cost of customer satisfaction it may not be worth it.

Giving the customer the chance to find products they might have missed, and saving them time on scrolling through information they feel they need to make a purchase is the motive here.

By knowing more about the customer and their needs, this can be achieved. Personalization provides the missing piece of the puzzle that transforms upsell and cross-sell from something that could be perceived as annoying to something that is really genuinely beneficial to everyone involved.

Special thanks to our friends at FastSimon for their insights on this topic.
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