Guest blog post by Sasha Butkovich from Ecommerce Outtakes

Though online retail trends continually change, there are some tried-and-true rules for successful cross-selling and up-selling.

Don’t: Waste white space

Product pages are the perfect section of the site to suggest other items to shoppers. Of course you don’t want to clutter the page, but leaving too much empty space is such a waste. Why leave it blank when you could be suggesting similar products or making recommendations? This is the perfect spot for a cross-sale.

Take True & Co, for example; they have lots of white space here! This is such a missed opportunity for cross-sale or up-sale items that could add to the total value of the shopping cart…

True & Co

Do: Provide relevant suggestions at checkout

It’s not enough to recommend just any old product on the site. Recommendations need to be relevant to the item being viewed and the purchase being made. The whole concept of a “people who viewed this item also viewed” recommendation engine is nice in theory, but not all customers shop the same way. Just browse around on for a while for proof of the seemingly arbitrary suggestions this feature can provide.


As a counterpoint to this, here’s a good example of relevant suggestions from B & H Photo. When I added a camera to my shopping cart, there was an additional “Essential Accessories” section in the pop-up window that showed other items to accompany this specific camera. This is a great cross-sale feature, because it saves the shopper having to look up or find each item separately. It’s all provided right here. Plus, featuring these items right in this “added to cart” window is a great way to draw attention to these products without adding a step in the checkout process. Good timing is definitely a big part of good cross-sale!


JulepDo: Provide additional discounted options

A great strategy for up-sale is to offer additional products at a discount. For instance, a customer who adds item A to their cart can get item B for 50% off. Similarly, nail polish site Julep offers add-ons for a lower price. When you go through the checkout, one of the steps is to select your add-ons. You can of course choose none, but it seems hard to pass up a product that’s typically $14 for only $5… Customers are limited to three add-ons, so the logic is to get the most product for the money by choosing the maximum amount—at least that’s what I did when I ordered from the site! Speaking from personal experience, I can say this is an effective strategy for sure.


CP Toys
Do: Integrate cross-sale on search pages
Another really cool way to provide a cross-sale feature is to offer it right on the search page. Here’s a great example from CP Toys. When you perform a search, like for “construction,” the results page shows some of the items available from CP Toys, of course. But if you look below this, it also shows products available on their sister sites, U.S. Toy and Constructive Playthings. This is an excellent cross-sale strategy because it creates a connection with the customer. It shows that if the shopper can’t find what they want on this site, they can still get help finding what they’re looking for.



Don’t: Be overly aggressive

Of course, cross-sale and especially up-sale features run the risk of feeling aggressive to the shopper. It’s important to not become too intrusive in their shopping experience. Provide suggestions and recommendations based on their preferences and behaviors, but avoid becoming too pushy with multiple pop-up windows or repetitive reminders. Otherwise, you create a shopping experience that feels a lot like this:

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One thought to “The Do’s and Don’ts of Cross-sale and Up-sale”

  • Love Sex Toys

    we have found that managing upsells on some of our sites, which have upwards of 3000 skus has proved so problematic/time consuming that we have automated related products, with great success.

    this is a great article though, why other sites would still ignore the power of up/cross sell is beyond me. though rather plays in to the hands of those who do!

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