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Do you want fries with that? – The art of cross-selling

Cross-selling is a great way to gain higher revenue, both in traditional and online stores.

You may recall the most famous instance of this when McDonald’s raised their sales significantly by asking one simple question: “Do you want fries with that?” 

In their own way, online eCommerce stores can do the same.

What cross-selling is and why you should try it?

First of all, people often mistake cross-selling with its cousin, upselling  the practice of persuading a customer to make a bigger order than what they’re considering. Cross-selling is introducing them to other products related to the one they are buying. For example, your customer is buying an $800 15-inch laptop. You offer them a $1000 17-inch laptop with a 1 year extended warranty, then it’s upselling. If you suggest that they should buy a chill mat for $30, it’s cross-selling.

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The difference between upselling and cross-selling

Cross-selling brings us many benefits. According to the book “Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance”, you have a 60-70% chance to cross-sell an existing customer, while the opportunity to gain a new customer is only 5-20%. This is because a customer who says yes to one of the products is ready to open their wallet to spend some money.

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An existing customer is more likely to make the purchase

However, we’re not the sole beneficiary. Our customers won’t have to surf through various pages to find other items necessary for the products they intend to buy (e,g.: When they want to buy a flashlight, we offer them a pair of batteries). You make sure that your customers have everything they need to use the products you sell. This helps save them a lot of time and makes things much more convenient, which gains you more trust from your customers.

How to start cross-selling on your site

Step 1: Understand your products

The first thing you should do is understand what you’re selling. Try to put yourself in the customers’ shoes and ask: When I use this lamp, which kind of light bulb will I need?, or This shirt looks good, but what will go well with it? When you have the answers to these questions, you will have uncovered the key to making your customers buy more.

Step 2: Make a list of relevant products

Cross-selling is not just making random suggestions, they must be really relevant add-ons. It’s advised on VWO that you pair up things in the same category. For example, shoes with socks, ties with tie pins, necklaces with earrings, etc. Don’t make crazy combinations like long dresses with pants or sandals with socks.

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MAKE offers both makeup and skincare.
When cross-selling, they don’t mix these two lines up.

Step 3: Display your products to catch the customer’s attention

There are some ways to present your additional products. You can bundle things up and give them a discount on buying the whole set. Or you can show them as matching or related products; introduce them as others who bought this also bought items. Maybe you let your customers shop-the-look. The term “shop the look” – a strange sounding term but one usually used in fashion stores when showing your customers all of the items of clothing that make up the look of a featured model.

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Decjuba lets customers shop the look – an effective way of cross-selling

There are some helpful tools for cross-selling out there. Below are some WooCommerce plugins that can make this process easier for you:

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YITH’s Frequently Bought Together plugin lets you bundle up your products

Step 4: Conduct some tests, observe the results, and make it better

Last but not least, there is no fixed formula for cross-selling, because each store has its own sales strategy. Therefore, you need to test things with your customers to see what fits them best. Then change your cross-selling plan when it seems necessary in order to gain more sales. AB Testing could be a helpful process in this area.

Tips to optimize your cross-selling

Cross-selling may seem appealing, however you need to be doing it right to get the best results. Here are some tips that you may want to refer to when you apply this technique on your store.

  • Try to be helpful and make your suggested products relevant. You need to bring some true value to your customers, otherwise they will not return to your store. Don’t use this as a tactic to unload your overstock. Provide suggestions that make sense and will enhance the experience they’ll have with the core product they’ve decided on.
  • Once they click the add to cart button, keep them on the product page. If you bring them straight to the cart, they’ll assume they’ve finished their shopping process. Instead, if you keep them on the product page, they will spend more time looking around, and potentially make another purchase.

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Keep your customers on the product page

  • Personalize the up-selling/cross-selling section. Instead of telling them about related products, use friendly phrases like “You may like”, or “You may also want”. “Customers who bought this also bought” also works like a charm because it makes the customer believe that there are others shopping on the site with the same taste as them giving them confidence in the suggestion.

Some other great examples can be “Works best with” or “This looks great with”, etc. You can even get creative and try “Feel like you’re still lacking something?”.

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DrMartens kept the suggestion personal and linked it with emotions

  • Don’t forget the check-out page. According to Shopify, cross-selling at the check-out page brings about 3% conversions. Meanwhile, this number is only 0.5% when it comes to the product page. It’s been found that when your customers have finished their shopping, they tend to be happy, and unconsciously add some extra things into their cart if they feel like it. Be sure to present them with adequate information about the price of the original order, including delivery or packing, if any. Otherwise, it will decrease the chance of you winning some extra purchases.

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This is how Zalando cross-sell on the check-out page to gain even more sales

  • Last of all, according to VWO, your additional item should be at least 60% cheaper than the product added to cart. For example, if your customers buy a $500 suit, a $50 tie would reasonable. Whereas offering a $300 dress shirt would be nonsensical.

Those are some simple suggestions and tips for cross-selling. Bear in mind that cross-selling is a practice to help ease the decision-making process for your customers. Do this well and you should be very successful.

Got some other interesting tips to share? Let us know in the forums!

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Envato Announces Author Recommendations

Coincidentally, Envato has just released a feature called “Author Recommendations” that allows you to cross-sell items within a collection. Check out our announcement right here!

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