Upselling is a sales technique where the company offers customers an improved version of the selected product to get them to spend more by buying an upgraded version of the purchased item or service. Despite how that sounds, the main focus of upselling is to offer customers higher value and make them feel like they ended up with a great deal rather than got tricked. Eventually, this leads to customer satisfaction and retention.
Don’t confuse upselling with cross-selling. Rather than offering to improve on the same product, cross-selling is recommending users a related complementary item to the original purchase. Let’s say a user wants to buy a new TV. Suggesting a larger TV is an upsell while offering video games would be a cross-sale.
Examples of upselling techniques
Take a look at examples of different upselling techniques:
One of the easiest ways to upsell is by offering the same product in a larger size. The user is already indicating that he wants the product, so why not tempt them with a slightly larger version of it? Here’s Samsung showcasing discounted larger sizes:
Another technique is suggesting products that are slightly better in their performance, technical specifications, etc. Reportedly, around 30% of Amazon’s revenue comes from upselling this way:
Add-ons to a product
This is amongst the most favored upselling techniques in the travel industry, especially airlines. Most customers only want to purchase tickets, but airlines offer additions to improve the flight throughout the checkout funnel, which can result in a much higher purchase value.
airBaltic starts with offering the same flight with various benefits, letting users choose between 4 different options.
Then the airline offers travel extras:
With all the add-ons, the user can end up spending twice as much as originally intended.
Spend more, get more
Another classic upselling technique is tempting users to spend a little more, e.g., buying two products instead of one to get a discount for the purchase. Amazon does this brilliantly:
Upselling is great for customers that purchase the product as a gift. Suggest hand-written notes and other surprises to personalize the gift and help the customer prepare the best gift possible. Look how ProFlowers do it:
Successful upselling 101
Here’s a list of tips to keep in mind when planning upselling on your online store:
- Upselling only works when the user sees a clear gain from the purchase.
- Make sure that the upsell makes sense in the situation and matches potential customer needs.
- Choose the moment when to offer the upsell carefully. The PDP page with the user learning more about the product is usually a good choice. Another option is the cart page before the user makes the final decision to proceed to checkout.
- Keep it within a reasonable price range – don’t try to upsell products and services significantly more expensive than ones the customer chose.
- Consider showing a side-by-side product comparison to demonstrate the increased value of the offered upsell.
- Never be too pushy and aggressive with the additional offers. Show them as options, but allow customers to make up their minds and accept ‘no’ for an answer.
- Make sure not to overwhelm the customer with too many options. If you offer 5 more products, the paradox of choice will kick in, and the user might not choose any.
- Come up with ways to retain and reward customers for spending more on your website by offering discounts on future purchases.
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