9 eCommerce Cross-selling Strategies (Instantly Sell More) + Live Examples

14 min. read
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How do I cross-sell products in my eCommerce business?

💡 Quick Answer: The key to successful cross-selling is to prioritize customer needs. The cross-sell items must genuinely add value to the primary purchase. You can create bundles with complementary products, utilize recommendation engines, and use follow-up emails to promote related products. Like all eCommerce marketing tactics, test and optimize to refine your cross-selling strategy.xo


Imagine you’re shopping online for a new coffee machine. You pick out a model and are about to click “add to cart.”

But you notice a helpful recommended section with premium coffee beans and some eco-friendly filters. You didn’t even realize you needed these until now - and they’re on sale! And in just a few seconds, your cart contains more than a single coffee machine.

That’s the power of cross-selling.

As you can see, cross-selling is one of the most effective ways to increase revenue.

If you run an eCommerce store, cross-selling is a must-use sales technique. It can lead to higher sales revenue and increased customer lifetime value - two vital eCommerce metrics.

In this guide, we’ll explore what eCommerce crossing selling is and how to implement it. You’ll learn 9 actionable strategies with real-world case studies to inspire you. We’ve also included some tips to help you avoid common mistakes that can derail your strategy.

Let’s dive in.

What eCommerce cross-selling is and what it isn’t

eCommerce cross-selling is a sales strategy to promote products related to the item a customer is already interested in. A classic cross-selling example is McDonald’s “Would you like fries with that?” The primary goal is to encourage shoppers to purchase more than they initially intended.

Cross-selling is one of the most used eCommerce sales tactics. In 2019, 68.9% of businesses used cross-selling and upselling on their websites:

But let’s get one thing straight.

Cross-selling isn’t a sneaky sales tactic to rack up the bill. It shouldn’t feel pushy or intrusive. It’s about understanding your customers and offering helpful recommendations.

Think of cross-selling as offering suggestions and choices rather than pushing for a hard sale. You want your customers to feel satisfied, not overwhelmed and frustrated.

9 eCommerce cross-selling strategies

Let’s get into the good stuff.

Incorporating these techniques can enhance the shopping experience and boost your profits. The key is to add genuine value at every cross-selling opportunity.

Here are 9 tried and tested cross-selling strategies for increasing revenue and sales.

If you’re just starting out, you should check out the resources below before you move on to more advanced tactics like cross-selling.

1. Cross-selling bundles

This tactic is pretty straightforward. You bundle together related items and sell them for a discounted price. Customers get a better deal than if they were to buy each product individually. For example, you might sell printers. You could create a bundle deal with a printer, paper, and ink.

How to implement:

Start by checking out what your customers usually buy together. These patterns can help you create attractive product bundles that include what customers are looking for. If shoppers often buy grill brushes when they buy a barbecue grill, you could bundle those products together.

What to watch out for:

The bundle needs to make sense for the buyer. The products in the bundle need to be closely related, and the discount needs to be significant. If the bundled price is only a fraction cheaper than buying the products separately, then it’s not much of a deal, right?

You want customers to feel they’re getting a bargain.

Real life successful example:

Best Buy is great at this. Say you’re browsing for a new digital camera. If you browse Best Buy, you’ll often see deals where you get a camera, a memory card, and a case for a bundled price. Shoppers find bundle deals compelling because they feel they get the complete package and save money.

There are lots of ways you can price your eCommerce products. Check out our eCommerce pricing guide to learn which is the best strategy for your store.

2. Free shipping thresholds

Free shipping thresholds are a great way to boost average order value. You set a minimum spend limit to unlock free shipping. According to a study by UPS, 58% of online shoppers have added extra items to their shopping carts to qualify for free delivery.

Everyone has seen this tactic in action. You’re shopping at an online store and about to check out, but you see a message saying, “Spend $10 more to get free shipping!.”

Free shipping badges can be a powerful sales tactic. Learn more about eCommerce trust badges and how they can boost sales in our guide.

How to implement:

First, you need to do a bit of math. Look at how much it costs to ship products and your profit margin on average orders. Once you’ve got those numbers, work out a spending threshold that covers the shipping costs without eating into your profits. Then, promote the free shipping deal on your homepage, product pages, and checkout page.

What to watch out for:

You need to find a balance that encourages extra spending without pushing customers away. If you set your free shipping threshold too high, some shoppers might think it’s not worth it. Find that sweet spot where customers feel motivated to spend a bit more without feeling overwhelmed.

Real life successful example:

American Eagle is very clever at this. Shoppers need to spend $75+ to qualify for free shipping. And most of their products are in the $30-$40 range. So you need to buy at least two items to qualify for free delivery.

It works! Shoppers often add an extra t-shirt or a new pair of jeans to hit that magic number and get the free shipping deal.

3. Cross-selling in post-purchase emails

You can take advantage of cross-selling opportunities post-purchase. Once your customer has received the item they ordered, you can send a follow-up email asking if they are happy with their purchase. This follow-up email is an opportunity for cross-selling. If the shopper is satisfied with their initial purchase, there’s a good chance they will be interested in related items you sell.

Make sure you check out our expert customer service guide to learn more ways you can keep your customers happy post-purchase.

How to implement:

You’ll need an email marketing tool to add product recommendations to post-purchase emails. MailChimp and Moosend have this feature. These tools analyze your eCommerce store data to understand the types of products your customers might be interested in. They use these insights to add related products to follow-up emails automatically.

What to watch out for:

Don’t bombard your customer with emails or send random product recommendations. Keep it relevant and not too frequent. You don’t want to annoy your customers and have them hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button.

Real life successful example:

Sephora aces this strategy. After you buy something, they’ll send emails showcasing products that align with your recent purchase. And because they keep it relevant, it doesn’t feel spammy. The follow-up emails feel personalized and thoughtful. If you get your follow-up emails right, you can boost sales and build a stronger relationship with your customers.

4. Cross-selling on product pages

Product pages are one of the prime opportunities for cross-selling. This tactic is about anticipating customers’ needs and offering a solution. For example, you might include socks or shoe spray on a sneakers product page. These items are super-relevant to the primary product.

How to implement:

You can use platforms like Fresh Relevance and Klevu to add this functionality to your eCommerce store. These tools use algorithms to automatically display relevant products related to what the customer is viewing. If you don’t have the budget for a third-party tool, you can manually set which products show up as related items.

What to watch out for:

It’s all about relevance. If someone is looking at a winter coat and you suggest swim shorts, it won’t generate any sales. Make sure the products you recommend are relevant and add value to the primary product shoppers are viewing.

Real life successful example:

Amazon is exceptional at this marketing strategy. Their “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section is a key driver of sales for the eCommerce giant. Amazon’s product recommendation engine generates 35% of its total sales revenue. Shoppers end up discovering products they might not have found on their own. You can guide customers to items they are likely to be interested in.

5. Cross-selling at checkout

The checkout page is another step in the buyer’s journey where you can add value with cross-selling. Before customers complete their purchases, suggest relevant products they might want to add to their cart.

Gas stations often use this cross-selling tactic. You’ll often find chewing gum, energy drinks, and other items near the register. These items are placed there to encourage impulse buys.

How to implement:

Use a product recommendation engine to analyze customer carts and display complementary products on the checkout page. There are a bunch of WooCommerce plugins and Shopify apps you can use to add this functionality.

What to watch out for:

You don’t want to clutter the checkout process or make it too long. The goal is to make the suggestion feel helpful rather than a pushy sales pitch.

Real life successful example:

Have you ever shopped at Menards online? When you add dog food to your cart, you’ll get recommendations for dog treats, dental chews, and other relevant products on the checkout page. These personalized recommendations enhance the shopping experience.

Personalization is one of the most effective eCommerce tactics. Read our guide to discover the other eCommerce optimization tactics you should be using.

6. Add to cart cross-selling

Shoppers that click the “Add to Cart” button have already taken a step toward purchasing. You can add a pop-up window confirming the selected item has been added to their cart. This pop-up is the perfect way to encourage customers to check out a few related products.

How to implement:

Use plugins and extensions to suggest products that customers are likely to purchase together. Keep the design clean and not overly aggressive.

What to watch out for:

Make sure the pop-up can be easily closed. The last thing you want to do is annoy customers or slow down the buying experience. The goal is to offer more without making the customer think twice about their initial product.

Real life successful example:

Birkenstock has mastered this approach. If you add a pair of Birkenstocks to your cart, you’ll see a pop-up that contains a couple of related products you might be interested in. The pop-up doesn’t interfere with the user experience. It feels like a helpful suggestion rather than a cross-selling technique.

7. Cart page cross-selling

You can also take advantage of cross-selling opportunities on the shopping cart page. Customers often click through to the cart page before they checkout. This is an opportunity to include a few personalized recommendations.

How to implement:

Use a third-party tool to customize the page based on the items in the shopping cart. Include a “Recommended for you” section beneath the cart showcasing 2-4 complementary products. Keep it simple and focus on the visuals and pricing.

What to watch out for:

You don’t want to drown the buyer with options. Make sure the recommended items don’t overshadow the main cart contents.

Real life successful example:

IKEA are pros at this type of cross-selling. When you head to your cart, IKEA often highlights a few related products. They really focus on the visuals. Shoppers often find themselves clicking on the related product and adding it to their cart before they complete the checkout process.

8. Cross-selling pop-ups

Cross-selling pop-ups can be super effective. You can increase sales and average order value by suggesting related products to customers in a well-timed pop-up. The best time to display these pop-ups is usually when a customer views a specific product.

How to implement:

There are a bunch of plugins and apps you can use to add cross-selling pop-ups to your store. You’ll need to determine the specific triggers for the pop-up. It could be after a user spends a certain amount of time on your site or visits specific product pages.

A study by Drip revealed that an 8-second wait achieves the best pop-up conversion rate:

Once the trigger activates, your pop-up displays a related product or bundle deal.

What to watch out for:

Pop-ups can be annoying. It’s a bit like being in a physical store with a sales assistant constantly suggesting additional items. One or two suggestions can be helpful. But if the salesman doesn’t leave you alone, you’ll likely leave the store without purchasing anything. Use them sparingly, and make sure your pop-up’s content is relevant.

Real life successful example:

The swimwear brand Speedo is an excellent example of how to use pop-ups for eCommerce. While looking at swimwear or flip-flops, you get a well-timed pop-up for goggles or another related product. Speedo often includes a discount to make the offer more appealing.

9. Thank you page cross-selling

Thank You Pages are displayed after a customer has made a purchase. The customer has already bought from you and showed trust in your brand. That’s why it’s a great opportunity for cross-selling. To boost sales, you can strategically add cross-sell offers to your Thank You page.

How to implement:

Use a Shopify app like Happy Checkout or Thank You Page for WooCommerce to create a custom Thank You page. These tools allow you to add related products and a message expressing gratitude for the purchase. You can boost conversions by making a time-sensitive offer to create a sense of urgency. For example, you can offer free shipping if the customer purchases within 1 hour.

What to watch out for:

This eCommerce cross-selling technique works best when it feels like a bonus. That’s why exclusive discounts are an excellent option for Thank You pages. Remember, it’s a “Thank You” page, so don’t push too hard for the sale.

Real life successful example:

If you’ve ever bought a domain from GoDaddy, you’ll have seen this tactic in action. After you buy your domain, GoDaddy directs you to a Thank You page with a deal on a related product like SSL certificates or customer privacy protection.

Case studies of successful cross-selling

We’ve covered a few cross-selling examples. But the best way to understand the potential of this sales strategy is to take a closer look at the brands that do it really well. That way, you can see exactly how cross-selling and upselling techniques contribute to sales revenue.

Check out the resource below for more strategies you can use to boost sales.

Apple: An ecosystem of complementary products

The strategy:

Apple designs products that work exceptionally well together. And they do a great job of capitalizing on cross-selling opportunities. When you purchase an iPhone, Apple suggests a protective case and AirPods. If you buy a MacBook, you’ll be nudged towards AppleCare+, and HDMI and Thunderbolt cables.

The success:

Customers become part of the Apple ecosystem when they buy a device. Once you buy one Apple product, you will likely buy another due to the seamless integration.

What you can learn:

Make sure your cross-selling products complement each other and enhance the customer experience. Look for opportunities to become a one-stop shop in your niche. If you sell cat beds, expand your range with cat treats, toys, and other related products.

ASOS: Complete the look

The strategy:

ASOS does a great job of showcasing entire outfits. When a shopper is interested in jeans, ASOS suggests shoes and t-shirts to complete the outfit. Shoppers get a curated ‘look.’

The success:

The cross-selling strategy enhances the shopping experience. Visitors get helpful recommendations and visuals to help them picture what they can achieve with the related products. It’s an excellent cross-selling example.

What you can learn:

Presentation matters. When customers can visualize the added value of a set of products, they’re more likely to purchase in bundles. This is super-important for fashion and lifestyle products.

Home Depot: “Complete the Project” suggestions

The strategy:

When customers look for specific items, Home Depot suggests additional items required to complete the project. For example, shoppers looking to buy kitchen faucets are shown related products like water filter units and plumber tape.

The success:

Home Depot’s cross-selling strategy adds value and convenience. Shoppers can get the essentials to complete a task in just a few clicks. It boosts sales for Home Depot, and shoppers don’t have to worry about forgetting something and having to make a return trip.

What you can learn:

Anticipating customer needs is key. Try to offer comprehensive solutions and enhance the experience for shoppers. You’ll increase customer satisfaction and boost revenue and sales.

eCommerce cross-selling: what not to do

Cross-selling can be super-effective. But there are certain things you need to avoid. If you get it wrong, cross-selling can backfire.

Here’s a list of “what not to do” when it comes to eCommerce cross-selling:

1. Overwhelming the customer

Don’t overwhelm your customers with endless product suggestions. Too many options can be a bad thing. A recent study found that 54% of consumers abandon eCommerce sites if choosing is too difficult.

What to do instead:

Limit your recommendations to a handful of products that genuinely relate to what they’re buying. Keep it streamlined and relevant.

2. Irrelevant product recommendations

Don’t offer random items that aren’t connected to what the customer is browsing or buying. If someone is looking at headphones, it’s doubtful they want to hear about shampoo.

What to do instead:

Use eCommerce analytics tools to better understand what customers might want based on their current choices.

3. Being too pushy

Don’t be too aggressive with your cross-selling approach. No one likes the feeling of being cornered into buying something. It can have the opposite effect and result in lost sales.

What to do instead:

Offer friendly and helpful suggestions. Cross-selling works best when it comes across as friendly advice, not a salesperson chasing a commission.

4. Ignoring the customer journey

Don’t interrupt the customer journey by pushing related products at the wrong moment. This is where you need to be smart about the tactics you use.

What to do instead:

Offer additional products when it makes sense. For example, a pop-up can work well on product pages. But a pop-up during checkout could derail the sale and cause the shopper to bounce.

5. Setting unrealistic price points

Don’t offer cross-sells that are more expensive than the main item. It’s like buying a coffee and then being asked if you’d like a three-course meal to go with it.

What to do instead:

Make sure the additional items are in a comparable price range and feel like a logical addition.

6. Not testing and analyzing

Don’t assume you know what your customers want. It’s very rare to land on the perfect strategy straight off the bat. You may be surprised at the types of products that shoppers often buy together.

What to do instead:

Monitor your sales data to see which products are often bought together. When it comes to your cross-selling efforts, you should always be tracking, testing, and optimizing your approach. 

Boost eCommerce sales with cross-selling techniques

Successful cross-selling isn’t just about increasing sales. It’s about improving the overall shopping experience with tailored recommendations and solutions.

Understanding the needs of your customers is key. Like Amazon and Apple, you can maximize the value of your new and existing customers.

To fulfill the potential of your eCommerce store, you need the right business partners and tools. If you want to expand your range and find related products your customer will love, make sure you explore the SaleHoo Directory. It’s the best resource for discovering top-notch suppliers and products.

And if you’re looking to grow your Shopify dropshipping store, SaleHoo Dropship is your go-to solution. It streamlines the process of finding lucrative products and adding them to your store.

Do you have questions about the cross-selling strategies we’ve covered in this guide?

Reach out to our 24/7 dedicated support team for expert advice on how to get started with cross-selling.


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