Marketers have a tendency to focus too narrowly on lead generation to the detriment of other aspects of running a successful company.

Profit maximization requires not only boosting AOV but also keeping your current clientele happy.

Upselling and cross-selling are two of the most common forms of marketing that can help you reach this goal.

Although the two forms of advertising are often confused with one another, they each have their own advantages.

Let’s talk about the distinction between cross-selling and upselling, and how to use each technique in your own company.

What Is Cross-Sell?

Cross-selling is the practice of recommending additional purchases that go well with the one you’ve already made.

The cross-sell strategy is typically implemented by businesses by providing discounts for purchases of multiple items.

The goal of cross-selling is to increase the likelihood that a shopper will make an additional purchase as a result of impulse.

The supplementary item is typically more affordable, so the customer doesn’t pause much to consider whether or not to add it to the shopping cart.

An individual would see offers to buy a phone case and headphones at a discounted price when they purchase a phone.

By suggesting soup, drinks, fries, and salad alongside the main course, restaurants are following the cross-selling model.

What Is Upsell?

Upselling is the practice of suggesting and promoting the purchase of a more expensive product, service, or addition to an existing order in order to increase the order total.

If a customer adds an item to their shopping cart or begins the checkout process, an upsell prompt will appear.

It’s more like a last-ditch effort to get them to buy by teasing them with a better version of the product they’re about to buy.

Upselling succeeds because consumers already know a lot about the product they’re buying and are interested in purchasing a higher tier.

Presenting the superior choice at the last minute, especially with an eye-catching discount, may sway their decision and increase your earnings.

This upselling tactic works just as well with mobile devices.

Just before a customer completes a purchase, you can suggest an upgrade to a model with more memory, a speedier processor, etc.

Difference between Cross-Sell and Upsell 

Cross-selling is different from up-selling in that it encourages the customer to buy a related or complementary product.

On the other hand, an upsell attempts to persuade a customer to upgrade to a more expensive model of the same product.

Transforming Upsells into Cross-Sells
Both of these promotional strategies come into play once the customer has placed an item in their shopping cart or begun the checkout process.

Both strategies are designed to increase your profits, but they each take a slightly different approach.

Profit margins can be increased by convincing customers to upgrade to a more expensive product through upselling. Cross-selling, on the other hand, encourages shoppers to spend more by suggesting complementary products.

Why Are Cross-Sell and Upsell Important for eCommerce?

It takes a lot of capital to launch most eCommerce businesses unless you plan on dropshipping. It’s not uncommon for retail advertising to cost several hundred or even several thousand dollars on its own.

So now that you have customers coming in, you need to do whatever you can to maximize your profit and return on investment (ROI).

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should push any old product on your customers just to make a quick buck.

Ethical upselling and cross-selling in an online store requires providing genuine value to the customer.

Rather than trying to get customers to make a hasty purchase, focus on showcasing solutions to their immediate problems while also educating them on alternatives.

After all, cross-selling and upselling strategies are predicated on the idea that customers have no idea what they want until they see it.

If you implement these marketing strategies the right way, you’ll see an increase in both your average order value and the percentage of returning customers.

Examples of Cross-Sell and Upsell

The marketing strategies of cross-selling and up-selling are widely used across all sectors. The most prominent companies to have implemented these practices are listed below.


It wasn’t pure chance that propelled Amazon to the top of the online retail industry. Cross-selling and upselling are just two of the many marketing strategies that have been implemented by the company to attract and keep customers.

If you’ve ever bought something from Amazon, you know that the site displays recommendations for “similar products you might be interested in” either before or after you complete your purchase.

Some of those would be enhancements, and some would be relevant to your purchase. They would suggest that you try these products in the least intrusive way possible, rather than flashing a huge advertisement for them in your face.

It’s a model of how to add upselling and cross-selling to your online shop without annoying your customers.

Apple Store

A Look at Cross Selling and Upselling 2

If you want to know how to successfully implement the upselling strategy for your business, look no further than Apple Store.

People are willing to pay a premium for Apple’s high-end products even if the company doesn’t actively promote them.

It’s further evidence of the reliability of their clientele and the high regard in which they hold the company’s products.

Because of this, you should never recommend an upsell to a customer purely for financial gain.

You are, however, giving them far more value and quality than they are paying for.


McDonald’s was an early adopter of the fast food industry’s cross-selling and upselling strategies.

Almost everyone has tried McDonald’s at least once, and you’ve probably been asked, “Would you like a drink and some fries with that?”

The same applies if you wanted an upscale version of the meal for which you would be charged extra. These practices are the pinnacle of upselling and cross-selling techniques.

How to Identify Upsell and Cross-Sell Opportunities?

You’re trying to figure out how to implement upsell and cross-sell opportunities for your business. For assistance, consider the following:

Create a Map of Products 

You need to create a road map of your offerings to avoid annoying your customers with irrelevant promotions.

When possible, it’s a good idea to include a list of complementary products alongside the item you’re selling in order to spot cross-selling opportunities. After that, you should make a number of different packs of products and then run a split test to see which ones sell the best.

Upselling opportunities are trickier to spot, as you need to ensure that your products have upsell potential in the first place.

You should first look into the market to see what other vendors are offering as far as improvements.

Keep a Track of Your Sales

Customers’ buying habits can be better understood by collecting and analyzing their buying patterns.

Keep tabs on what they’re buying and the pages they’re visiting so you can tailor your recommendations to them.

Think From a Customers Perspective

Ask yourself how you can improve the products you already have. For example, if you buy a wall clock, it goes without saying that you will also need a pair of batteries.

Just put yourself in the shoes of a customer and think about how you can make things better or suggest related items to make their buying experience better.

Cross-Sell and Upsell Best Practices

If you want to use cross-selling and upselling in your business, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Know Your Audience

Upselling and cross-selling are ways to make more money, but they are also ways to keep customers. And you can’t do this if you don’t try to understand your audience.

Look closely at your customer feedback and data after a customer has bought something from your store.

Find out more about what they want to buy and only then suggest things that will be useful to them.

Don’t Push the Products

We all want to make more money, but that doesn’t mean you should let your customers down to do it.

Don’t use big popups to force customers to buy the products you want to cross-sell or up-sell.

Try to give your suggestions in a less intrusive way so you don’t ruin the customer’s experience. Learn how to do this by looking at platforms like Amazon.

Understand Customer Requirements

This should be clear, but you should never try to sell your customers products that don’t directly meet their needs.

Try talking to them to find out what they need, and then give them useful and honest advice.

There’s no point in making a sale if the customer is unhappy, because that will hurt your store’s reputation in the long run.

FAQs about Cross-Sell and Upsell 

What Are the Benefits of Cross-Selling and Upselling? 

Cross-selling and upselling can help in the following ways if they are done right:

Customer retention – Customers are more likely to come back to your store if you give them suggestions that are relevant and helpful.
Increase Profit: Keeping customers happy can lead to repeat orders, which in turn can help you make a lot of money.
Building trust: Knowing what your customers want and giving them useful advice can help you build brand loyalty because it shows you’re trying to find out what they’re interested in.

A Look at Cross Selling and Upselling

Are Upselling and Cross-Selling Same as Suggestive Selling?

Suggestive selling is the act of letting your customers know about other products you sell. Upselling and cross-selling are both technically types of suggestive selling.


Cross-selling and upselling are both effective ways to market, but they aren’t as easy as they seem.

To use them in your business, you need to have empathy, be aware, and try things out.

Just remember that your main goal shouldn’t just be to make money but also to make the customers’ lives better.