With an increasing number of people shopping online, there is no better time to start an e-commerce venture of your own. In 2017, e-retail sales accounted for 10.2% of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 17.5% by 2021.

By Ankit Panchal


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However, the ever-increasing number of online shoppers has also led to cut-throat competition. The average e-commerce conversion rate globally is a mere 2.86%. If you don’t get the right mix of digital marketing, online brand awareness, and prompt customer service, you will most likely lose your customers to your competitors.

That’s where up-selling and cross-selling techniques come in handy. While cross-selling means offering complementary products to your clients, up-selling is a way to encourage your clients to buy a better and more expensive version of the same product.

Often used as the in-store sales conversion techniques, they are proving to be equally effective in the c-commerce realm as well. With increasing automation, everyone including large and small digital stores can use up-selling and cross-selling strategies to increase their sales.

Here are five tips that will help your e-commerce venture to grow.

Know Your Target Audience Inside-Out

One of the first steps you will need to take is to create an outline (or a buyer persona) of your ideal target customer. However, unlike the regular buyer personas for potential clients, you will need to know more about your consumers after they have made their first purchase.

As a result, you will need to spend some time digging through the past buyer e-commerce metrics to find out more demographic and psychographic details. You should also collect direct consumer feedback if possible.

You will need to know the following three things:

Why Did They Buy from You in the First Place?

Was it the discount you offered or the quality of your product or a recent advertisement campaign or just your brand name? Was seasonal demand involved in the purchase?  The answer to all these questions will help you find out why the customer chose you and build your cross-selling and up-selling strategy accordingly.

What Products Did They Purchase?

Knowing what they purchased will also help you clear-up your strategy. For example, if they have purchased a budget-smartphone, you can cross-sell phone covers, cell phone stands, and other accessories.

What Does the Buying Pattern Say about Them?

Some purchases may be cyclic while others might be one time only. For example, buying a shampoo is going to be a cyclic purchase. If the data tells you that the same customer made this purchase every two months, you can up-sell a new product to the customer again as the date of the next purchase closes in.

Find the Right Way to Up-Sell or Cross-Sell on Your Site

While a prospect is on your website, you should cross-sell or up-sell without appearing pushy or self-promoting. That’s why it is necessary to time and present your cross-sells or up-sells perfectly. There is no standard benchmark in this regard, however, as different e-commerce stores take different approaches.

For example, Zalando uses its product page to up-sell as well as cross-sell products. Being an online store selling a variety of clothes, shoes, and other accessories, it can recommend tracksuits, jackets, sunglasses, and along with similar products if you are going to buy a pair of trainers. (Image source)

Bluestone, an online Indian jewelry brand, on the other hand, provides shoppers with a choice of similar jewelry items when they visit a particular product page. They provide only pictures though, no product details. However, being a jewelry brand, providing only product images and prices is enough to prompt users to explore more products. It’s a simple but effective way of up-selling.

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The third option is to show the products that have been purchased by other users recently or frequently with the product in question. Amazon often makes use of this method to cross-promote similar products. This approach essentially provides your prospects with a social proof of what the trending products are in the relevant category.

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Provide the Right Incentives

Another great way to make your cross-sells and up-sells more attractive is to provide the right incentives. In many cases, users tend to make an additional purchase if they feel it will benefit them somehow. You can offer discounts, exclusive memberships, shipping incentives, and special payment terms to make your up-sells more enticing.

For example, Erstwilder provides free international shipping above the orders of $100 and within Australia for orders above $50. The relevant message (based on your location) gets displayed on the checkout page enticing users into buying a few more products.

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On the other hand, Sephora, one of the leading beauty brands, offers free samples with each purchase order along with the free shipping incent. Giving away free samples allows users to try new products which may prompt them to make larger purchases when they visit the online store next time. The store also runs a Beauty Insider rewards program for registered users. You can redeem these rewards points as gift cards and discounts resulting in higher up-sells for exclusive and limited edition products.

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Tap into Your Email Marketing

According to a recent study, overall emails showed an open rate range of 35%, the click rate of 5.46%, a conversion rate of 1.41% with $1.17 revenue per recipient.  Beauty and Cosmetics industry was the top performer in email marketing. In other words, email marketing is one crucial weapon that you can use in tandem with your up-sell or cross-sell strategy to increase your conversions.

Instead of sending a slam-dunk newsletter, you can send an email showcasing products that complement or improve their last purchase. For example, if a consumer has bought a refrigerator, you can send them a cross-selling email featuring various accessories ranging from fridge magnets to fridge drawers and trays.

Thanks to more affordable and accurate automation, you can start email drip campaign quickly. You can use the customer demographics and psychographics to churn out more personalized emails. You can find a variety of email automation tools out there including ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, and iContact among others.

Test and Tweak Your E-commerce Strategy

Finally, you need to test your up-selling and cross-selling strategy periodically to make sure it is producing the desired effect. Your strategy will change as you will add new products and remove old ones over time. Seasonal changes in shopping patterns and socio-economic factors will also play a critical role in managing your strategy. So, keep track of your sales conversions from day one.

You can use any of the popular e-commerce analytics tools including Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, and Hotjar among others. Make sure to identify and address the weak spots in your strategy. This will ensure you spend your money judiciously and get substantial returns on every dollar you spend.

Wrapping Up

As you can see product up-selling and cross-selling is as crucial for online stores as it is for brick-and-mortar businesses. Apart from increasing your overall sales, it can also increase your customer retention rate and boost your average order value. Hopefully, the five pointers mentioned in this post will help you streamline your up-selling and cross-selling efforts in the long run. Make sure to use all of them to win the hearts of more customers with less effort. All the best! 

Ankit Panchal is an SEO Analyst and Strategist at E2M, a full-service digital marketing agency based out of India. He is always in search of new link building & content marketing strategies. He makes sure his defined strategies work well for all the clients and is always ready to help anyone in the team. Catch him on Twitter ankit_panchal20.

E-commerce stock photo by one photo/Shutterstock