Cross-Sell vs Upsell: The Ultimate Guide 2023

In eCommerce, every store owner wants to get more sales and make more money by increasing the average order value (AOV). 

Cross-selling and Upselling are the marketing techniques that can help you increase the AOV and make you more money. But people often don’t know about these techniques or get confused. 

Don’t worry!

To help you get through this, I have compiled today’s article to help you understand the difference between cross-selling and upselling. I’ll also explain a few website examples that use these techniques. 

So without any further ado, let’s jump into the article. 

What is Cross-sell?

The term “cross-sell” refers to convincing clients to buy additional goods or services beyond what they initially checked for. 

Items that are cross-sold are often designed to work together to increase the likelihood of a customer buying both.

Cross-selling additional products will not only increase the customer’s experience but will also help you to create a circle of sales. It’ll ultimately help you get more sales and revenue. 

This technique can increase your sales and profits by 20% to 30%

For example, If you have a garments store and a person wants to buy a t-shirt from your store. So you can also cross-sell other items like trousers, belts, and shoes to make a complete outfit. 

This will encourage customers to buy more items, and ultimately your average order value (AOV) will be increased. 

Types of Cross-Selling

Now that you know about cross-selling let’s dive in to see its types. 

Pre-Purchase Cross-Selling

Pre-purchase cross-selling means cross-selling additional items to users before they have paid for their order. It can be on the product page, cart page, or checkout page. 

It may have different headings, like ‘You may also like, ’Frequently brought together‘, ‘People also buy one of these with your product added to cart,’ and more.

Here’s an example site to help you understand it more clearly. 

Sleep Outfitters offers a bed base and foundation as cross-sell add-ons on the mattress product page. Whenever users visit the mattress product page, they cross-sell the additional add-ons. 

Post-Purchase Cross-Selling

Post-purchase cross-selling means suggesting additional products to customers once they have paid for their previous product. 

Once a user has completed the purchase, they are shown the additional items that can be bought together with the one they purchased. 

Users are cross-selled the additional products on the thank you page or in the email they receive after purchasing the product. It depends on where you want to cross-sell the products after the purchase

What is Upsell?

Upselling encourages customers to buy a more expensive version of the product they just purchased to increase the average order value(AOV).

Simply put, if a user has purchased a product or service from your store, you can upsell them the more premium version of it to give them more value. It will also help you improve your brand identity and get more revenue because it directly affects your AOV.

Let’s understand it with an example:

You sell marketing courses at $799. It is hard for users to trust a new brand or service with which they don’t have any experience. 

So, you offer them two or three video lectures for free or at a small price. This will help the users find the course quality, and if they are happy with the quality, some of them will make a high-ticket purchase. 

Please read the Tripwire Funnel article to find out more about it. 

Types of Upselling

Following are the two types of upselling. 

Pre-Purchase Upselling

Pre-purchase upselling refers to suggesting the low-priced product version on the product page (it can also be a high-ticket product page) or the cart page. 

In this technique, the store owner upsells the low-risk items related to the product before the user has added that item to the cart to convince the user to purchase the high-ticket product. 

Upsells before a purchase is most effective for low-risk, low-priced items like freebies or inexpensive stuff where the shopper doesn’t need extensive research.

Let’s say you run a campaign, and the users from that campaign are going to the high-ticket product page. On that page, you can also upsell the smaller or low-priced version of your main product to gain users’ trust and attention.

It will be challenging to convince users to purchase a high-ticket product directly. So, you can upsell them a smaller version or a free trial on the same page. And if the users are satisfied and are getting what they want, they can purchase the high-ticket product or service. 

It will help you increase your average order value(AOV) and get you more sales and revenue. 

Post-Purchase Upselling

It is the technique that you should use to sell your high-ticket products. 

In this technique, you’ll redirect users to a low-ticket product, and once they have purchased it, you can upsell them the more premium or full version of it on the thank you page or in the purchase confirmation email. 

This technique is widely used in the tripwire funnel and has shown exceptional results in terms of revenue and sales. 

For example, Disney Movie Club is excellently using post-purchase upselling marketing techniques. They offer four movies of your choice for $1 as a low-ticket product to encourage customers to purchase the membership. 

Once you become a member (by using this offer), Disney requires you to make additional purchases of five movie titles at the standard price for the next two years. This requirement more than makes up for the low cost of this offer.

Again, this is a very insignificant number considering that anyone interested in Disney films will purchase more than five titles in more than two years.

Now that we have a clear idea of cross-sell and upselling let’s understand the difference between cross-selling and upselling. 

Cross-Sell vs Upsell: What is the Difference?

Cross-selling and up-selling are precisely what their names imply. Cross-selling promotes the sale of extra supplementary goods to increase the value of a purchase. 

The term “upselling” refers to the practice of selling a more expensive or more desirable version of a product to a customer after they have already made a purchase.

Following is the main difference between cross-selling and upselling. 

  • When you’re cross-selling, you’re working especially to convince the customer to make additional purchases that would go well with what they originally wanted to buy. 
  • When you upsell, you are not necessarily proposing more things but rather persuading the buyer to purchase the more significant, better, and more expensive version of their original purchase. 

Example of Cross-Selling

Following are a few example sites that are using the cross-selling technique. 

1. Edloe Finch 

It is a furniture boutique store. In this store, the owner is cross-selling similar items to the product the user is currently viewing. 

It has a section named ‘You may also like’ in which similar items are being cross-sold. 

2. Amazon

Amazon is the largest online retailer, and it uses the cross-selling technique by showing customers similar items to what they are viewing. 

On some of the product pages, they also have the ‘Buy With’ section to increase the average order value. 

They also cross-sell the items from the same store or seller, which is excellent for the seller and the company. 

3. The Sill

The Sill is a plant-selling online store. It uses the cross-selling technique excellently. It cross-sells the additional products on the product page very decently. 

They have a ‘You may also like’ section in which they cross-sell the other plants. 

Example of Upselling

Following are a few example sites that are using the upselling technique. 

1. Challenge Fitness

The gym club offers a $10 membership trial for 10 days. They provide limited services with the trial, but the offerings are of high quality and tell users what they can achieve in 10 days using their service. You can also cancel it at any time. 

Once a user purchases the trial membership, they upsell the monthly membership to make them their gym club members. They also email once you have purchased the trial membership to upsell the primary membership. 

2. The Sill

I have also used this example in cross-selling, but this store is using the upselling technique. 

They are upselling low-priced items that users can purchase with the plant to grow it effectively. They are upselling the items in the ‘Grows well with’ section. 

3. Fly By Jing

It is a company that specializes in Sichuan goods. Once you add a sauce to the cart and visit the cart page, you’ll be upsold several sauces to increase the average order value. 

How to Cross-Sell and Upsell in WooCommerce?

You can efficiently cross-sell and upsell the products in WooCommerce because of its user-friendly dashboard and third-party page builders. 

You can create custom product pages using any WordPress page builder like Elementor or Divi to cross-sell and upsell the products on your store. 

But WooCommerce isn’t very flexible regarding cross-selling and upselling on the checkout page. You need a different solution for this. 

That is why Woosuite has developed the AIO Checkout plugin. It is an all-in-one checkout plugin that allows you to create order bumps on the checkout. You can also edit the checkout page

This plugin, used with a page builder, allows you to create custom templates for cross-selling and upselling. 

Which One is Better? : Cross-Sell vs Upsell

There isn’t any better than the other. Both techniques are proven and are being used by several businesses. Some of them use both techniques at the same time. 

You can use any of them. It mainly depends on what offerings you have. 

If you have something low-priced item that adds to one of your products, you’ll upsell those products. If you want to sell a high-ticket product, then upselling would be very effective for you.

If you do not have the items to upsell, you can simply create a ‘You may also like’ section and cross-sell the other products on your store. 

Final Thoughts

That’s it for today’s article. 

I hope you now understand the difference between cross-selling and upselling. There isn’t always a clear path to take when cross-selling and upselling. 

Timing, acute awareness, and empathy are all required for the successful execution of this strategy.

You can upsell and cross-sell like a pro if you maintain tabs on your customer’s moods, know which features or items they’d benefit from the most, and strike at the right time.


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