The Art Of Upselling: How to Maximize Your Profit & Improve the Shopping Experience

January 5, 2021 - 11 minutes read

Your definitive guide to retail & eCommerce upselling techniques.


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If you’re looking for effective ways to maximize your sales and boost your bottom line as a retail or eCommerce business owner, upselling is an effective promotional tool.

By providing an incentive for customers to upgrade or add related items to their shopping cart, you will increase your average order value (AOV). 

To help you on your way to upselling success, we’ll consider why it’s such a powerful tactic and look at practical tips you can use for your eCommerce or retail business.

Let’s go.


The benefits or upselling your products or services

With the right approach, upselling offers a host of business-boosting benefits. In addition to increasing your customers’ average order value, upselling can also:

  • Preserve your budget: Studies show that upselling to existing customers is 68% more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.
  • Expand revenue: On average, well-executed upselling strategies increase revenue by up to 30%.
  • Provide stability: Businesses that offer upsells or upgrades state that around 70% of their revenue comes from upselling a product or subscription renewals.
  • Improve loyalty: Although upselling is geared towards encouraging your customers to spend more, many businesses believe that by offering more choices and extra value, these tactics drive engagement and improve customer loyalty.


Essential eCommerce & retail upselling tips

Upselling is a worthwhile investment for any ambitious retail or eCommerce business.

Now that you understand the benefits, let’s work through an effective mix of practical upselling tips—starting with cross-selling.

Add cross-selling into the mix

Upselling and cross-selling are closely related. Amazon, for instance, uses cross-selling techniques to diversify its sales tactics and drive sustainable revenue to the business. Studies show that 35% of Amazon’s overall income comes from cross-selling.


As you can see, Amazon utilizes a well-placed ‘Frequently Bought Together’ box to create value-driven bundles that consist of items related to the main item of interest.

Product bundling will not only showcase a personal approach to your customers’ shopping needs (which, in turn, will increase loyalty) but also grab their attention at the point where they are most motivated to buy.

For successful cross-selling and bundling, it’s important to present relevant items to your customers when they are near the checkout while making it as frictionless as possible to add the new items to their cart (any hesitation, and you could lose your sale altogether). It’s also important that you select the right products—which brings us to our next point.

Curate the right upsell products or services

For both cross-selling and upselling, you will need to choose items that work well together and provide you with a solid profit margin while offering genuine value to your customers. If you’re upselling to your customers at the point of checkout or reaching out to them post-purchase, we recommend that the value of the upgraded product is no more than 30% higher than the value of the existing item.

To ensure that you upsell products or create bundles that offer personal value and result in sales, you should create buyer personas to get to know your audience better. 

Analyzing your consumer data will also give you an insight into which products are most popular among your existing customers (these are the ones you should target first).

Here are three resources that will steer you towards product bundling and upselling success:

Bonus tip: When presenting your customers with upsell products or personalized bundles, following the ‘rule of three’ will increase your chances of success.

It’s proven that humans respond best to patterns, and based on multiple studies, presenting three increases engagement.

Offer three options for an upsell, and most consumers will go for the middle pricing option.

Explore all channels & touchpoints

We are living in a hyper-connected digital age and you don’t have to confine your upselling efforts to your online store checkout journey alone.

By using every available touchpoint—including social media, email, and even SMS—you will increase your chances of driving revenue and improving customer loyalty through upselling.

Use striking visuals, create the right messaging, and you will entice a healthy portion of your audience to upgrade, add extra items, and increase their order value.


This SMS marketing example, for instance, is simple yet effective, giving the recipient a clear indication of what the content is about and how they might benefit from it.

The copy also includes an emoji to keep the reader engaged, followed by a targeted discount and a solid call to action (CTA). 

In this context, the upselling element is a post-purchase communication offering a targeted message and product related to past purchases and interactions. 

You can use this approach across channels and touchpoints to upsell products and services across touchpoints. For extra tips on how to grab customers’ attention across the board, read our guide to multichannel marketing techniques.

Offer unmissable incentives

Expanding on our last point, if you offer your customer deals, discounts, or incentives when upselling products or services, you stand to boost your sales exponentially.

Around 93% of customers use deals or discount codes throughout the year.

If you’ve invested enough time in choosing the right upsell products, you could afford to offer a little discount on your upsell item. By doing so, you will offer your customers savings on an upgraded product while increasing the order’s value.

You could present your upsell item near the checkout, showing the customer how much they will save by choosing the upgraded product. Sending your customers an exclusive offer or discount code based on a previous purchase will also help you increase sales. 

Curating product bundles and shaving a little discount off the overall price will also result in more people pressing that all-important ‘buy’ button. Bonus packs that promise overall savings can increase sales by up to 73%

Consider downselling when it counts

This may sound counterintuitive, but downselling can provide you with another sustainable stream of income.

Downselling products also builds trust as it demonstrates that you have your customers’ best interest at heart.

Here are the scenarios where downselling will come into its own:

  • When a customer abandons their shopping cart at the checkout.
  • When a customer changes their mind about an upsell product or bundle and may give up on their purchase altogether.
  • When a customer is seen to look at products in a particular price range.

Here’s how it works: Rather than offering relevant products that cost more than the original item, offer relevant products that cost less than the original item. It’s basically upselling in reverse, and it works.

In these instances, you won’t increase the order value, but you will salvage a sale (which is far better than earning $0) while giving customers an incentive to make repeat purchases. And when you convert a one-time purchaser into a repeat customer, you will make more money in the long run.


Final thoughts

“Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It’s a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do if you’re to bring it to your customer interactions.”— Betsy Sanders

Upselling is a fine art, but as you can see, there are many avenues you can explore as a retail or eCommerce business owner.

Choose the right products, be consistent, consider the needs of your customers, and you will boost your business success through upselling.

If you’re looking to maximize your upselling efforts, working with the right tools is essential. At Agiliron, we provide cutting-edge eCommerce site-building and management solutions that will help you present your products in their best possible light while connecting with more customers.

If you want to know more about us and what we do, please get in touch. We will be happy to answer any questions.