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How cross-selling can boost e-commerce sales

While upselling encourages customers to buy more high-end products, cross-selling does the same thing in a way that involves purchasing two items at a time.



Your business likely has more than one offering, and your clients might be interested in more than just one product or service.

When you defined your ideal clients, you likely identified who they are and what they want from your business, but did you map out how to sell more than one product or service through cross-selling?

Cross-selling is the act of selling something to an active user who is already buying something else.

You’ve seen it everywhere from Amazon to Zappos, and it’s because cross-selling is effective when done right.

So what does “doing it right” mean?

The definition may depend on your business. However, this article covers four of the best practice staples in any cross-selling strategy.

1. Time it right

Timing is essential for cross-selling success. Several online studies noted a previous analysis by Achieve Global, which surveyed users and found 40 percent were negative in their reception of cross-selling and the cited reason was when the cross-selling happened.

The golden rule is to respect your user’s time. They may be in a rush to complete their purchase with you. Make sure they have that finalized before the cross-selling occurs.

Online cross-selling has been growing, and for the big players, it is always in a minimally intrusive way such as after the purchase or simply at the bottom of a product description.

Depending on what you provide and your conversion funnel—the path users take when buying from you or becoming a client—you should see where a user would complete their reason for contacting your business.

It’s best to make as few barriers as possible between the start and end of that path, so you must ensure you only cross-sell in ways that don’t obstruct your user.

2. Inform completely

Cross-selling without context will make your attempts appear financially driven and can put your user off. Instead, convey the value through citing the reasoning for the cross-selling suggestions.


Giving reasons behind cross-selling recommendations imparts business honesty and sincerity. (Source)

Are they supported by past purchase habits of other users? Amazon bases its recommendations by framing it around user interest based on their data on past user activity and purchases. If you are providing your expertise and the client is contacting you or buying from you based on your expertise, then cite that knowledge as the reason you’re suggesting other products or services.

You have to be honest and make the best suggestions only, so your users see the value of the cross-selling and will respond much better.

3. Offer something special

Providing additional value is a great way to cross-sell. When a user is buying something from you or making an appointment and you have other items or services they could be interested in, why not offer a discount or other sort of incentive?

Users may not be aware of how the two offerings relate, so make sure you make it explicitly clear as per point 2.

Connect the offerings, and if there is additional value in buying both, then tell the user what that is and why the discount or other offer is being made.

4. Listen to feedback

Listening to your users is essential to building a loyal client or customer base. This can mean reviewing the cross-selling efforts and refining them based on how effective or not they are. It can also indicate reviewing emails or phone calls where users have expressed anything to do with the cross-selling.

If you are seeing negative results, then you have missed the mark and should stop the current cross-selling. You can start again but really assess what went wrong the first time.

Cross-selling can be very effective when done right but a disaster if done wrong. Knowing when it’s wrong and acting on it to stop the issue is extremely important, so don’t let this be something you set up and forget about.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Susan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence. As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.