8 eCommerce Experts Share Their Best Advice On Upselling Effectively

Want to increase your revenue with a successful upselling strategy? Check out tips from top ecommerce experts on how to optimize your store for higher average order value.

Luka Susanj
September 14, 2021

The theory is all good — but what about real-life upsell struggles? Setting up those product suggestions by the book, and still can’t manage to boost the sales?

To learn more about how to increase your sales and what’s a pure decoration in your Ecommerce, we spoke to 8 industry experts. We got an insight into their best upselling practices, with some valuable advice.

From quick-fixes to long-term strategies, this is how they upsell effectively:

  1. Igor Avidon (Avidon Marketing Group, Founder)
  2. Fintan Meagher (StilyoApps, Content Manager)
  3. Guerric de Ternay (The Value Mix, Author)
  4. Ugi Đurić (MarketingFamily, Founder)
  5. Aazar Shad (Vitals, Growth Marketing Leader)
  6. Jordie Black (Content Marketing Expert)
  7. Elliott Davidson (Contrast, Director)
  8. Michelle Ebbin (Jettproof, Director)

#1 Relevant Suggestions And Rewards Are The Way To Go

Igor Avidon is the Founder & Chief Strategist of Avidon Marketing Group, specializing in eCommerce SEO and content marketing.

Ecommerce expert Linkedin profile

Igor proposes to start with product suggestions that align with customer needs and wishes:

“When a customer selects or buys a product, make sure that your website shows other products relevant to it. This will encourage them to explore more in your store. Never ever offer them irrelevant products as it can displease the customers, and they can quit your site altogether.”

In addition to making a connection between the original product and suggestions, Igor claims that using a reward strategy always works as well:

“Offer a special reward to ease the decision-making for the customer. 

When the customer has selected the product and is heading towards the checkout, make sure that you offer them some sort of reward or discount to get them to spend a little more. 

Your upsell offer would act as an incentive to encourage the customer to make a quick decision and buy more from your site.”

#2 Good Upsells Are Never Pushy Or Expensive

Fintan Meagher works as Content Manager in StilyoApps LTD, and he was willing to share plenty of upsell tips proven to work. 

Fintan Meagher

After analyzing tens of thousands of merchant stores, he noticed that the most successful upsells share these characteristics:

  • They aren’t pushy
“Nobody likes to have an offer forced down their throat. The thing is that most customers won't convert to your upsell offer, so make it easy to say no. You want customers to feel like they're getting a good deal, not being ripped off.”
  • The 25% pricing rule
“Most shoppers have a budget in mind. If you're trying to upsell them by 100%, you'll struggle to get conversions. Instead, bumping up the cart value by just 25% is the sweet spot to maximize revenue.”
  • Using scarcity
“The best upsell offers can't be claimed at just any time. Add an element of exclusivity and scarcity to your offer so that customers feel compelled to act now or risk missing the deal.
 “Suggest personalized recommendations based on your customer's shopping and browsing history, which convert at much higher rates than generic upsells.”

Fintan strongly recommends you keep testing until you hit the sweet spot:

“As with most things in Ecommerce, much of your success comes down to throwing a lot of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks - keep testing different offers, placements, offer images, etc., until you find a winning combination.”

To top things off, Fintan sent us a couple of tried and true upsell tactics:

  • Upsell customers into a subscription using a pre-cart pop-up like Native does here (also notice their cart drawer upsell/cross-sell):

pre-cart pop-up from Native

  • Upsell by setting a free shipping threshold that's 25-30% more than your median cart value like Art of Sport does here (add a product to cart and look at the 'free shipping progress' bar in the cart drawer):

Free shipping threshold example

  • Upsell into a bundle like GoPro does here - technically, this is a blend of an upsell and a cross-sell but it's a proven way to boost cart value:

GoPro product bundles

#3 Personalize The Upsell With Customers’ Goals In Mind

Guerric de Ternay is the founder of GoudronBlanc and the author of The Value Mix — where he strives to help entrepreneurs and product managers create better value propositions for their customers.

Guerric de Ternay

Guerric warned us of putting sales first and neglecting the customers’ goals:

“A big mistake when creating an upsell strategy is to be too focused on trying to sell something rather than trying to help your customers.

It’s important to be aligned with your customer’s goals. 

A good trick for me is to consider all the things that would positively surprise your customers when they decide to buy a specific product. Anything useful they may not have thought of? If you sell high-end tea, could you upsell it with beautiful mugs that help keep the tea at the right temperature?”

Another tip: supersize it and make your customers happy with generous volume:

“Another upsell trick is to increase portions beyond what your customers would ordinarily order. It’s a classic in the world of fast food. But it’s often neglected in e-commerce. It works well with food but can work for any category.”

#4 Complimentary Products Sell Like Hot Cakes

Ugi Đurić is the founder of MarketingFamily, a print-on-demand store that targets people from the marketing industry.

Ugi Đurić

Ugi describes how offering complementary and relevant products work for MarketingFamily:

“Each of our products is made for a specific type of marketer: Copywriters, PPC specialists, and others. 

Considering that we have multiple products in our store (Mugs, Hoodies, T-Shirts, etc.), some are less and some more expensive. Whenever someone puts a mug (let’s say a Copywriters’ cup) in a cart, we show a popup offering an exclusive 20% discount for a Copywriters’ T-shirt (that usually costs $59.99, or 2 times more than a mug).

In this way, around 15-20% of people who buy a mug also purchase a T-shirt as an addition.”

#5 Money-back Guarantee Is An Easy Win

Aazar Shad is a Growth Marketing Leader at Vitals and a podcast host at Growth Marketing Stories — where he and his guests debate actionable stories & lessons to be learned about growth marketing. 

Azar Ali Shad

This simple upsell tactic helps him bump up the price in a great way:

“For upselling, I'd simply add a 30 days money-back guarantee and charge them 1-5$ more if you usually don't get that many returns.”

#6 Make The Upsell A Better Option

Jordie Black is a Content Marketing Expert specialized in Ecommerce, with precious insights into customers’ way of thinking.

Jordie Black

Her tip is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and develop a strategy that prompts them to make a purchase ASAP:

“You want to catch consumers at a point where they weigh up the options of just buying it now for a lower price, or inevitably buying it in the future anyway for more money.”

#7 Woo Them With Better Suggestions 

Elliott Davidson is Director at Contrast, awarded with Emerging Digital Star (Under 25) category at the Mainframe Derby Awards in 2019.

Elliott Davidson

Elliott’s advice is to present the visitors with better alternatives that will pay off in the long run, as related product suggestion or instead of out-of-stock items:

“When it comes to upselling, one of the best ways to get an increase in revenue where you might not have thought is through your out-of-stock pages product pages or discontinued products. 

This is a great opportunity to get customers who want to buy a product the chance to understand that there is a slightly better product they could purchase instead and has stock availability.

How you might see this being implemented is through related products suggestions which would be dynamic.”

#8 Bundling: A No-Brainer That Always Works

Michelle Ebbin created Jettproof to provide people with sensory and neurological issues with clothing that suits their needs. 

Michelle Ebin

A niche this specific is built around particular customer needs, and that’s the critical path to creating profitable upsells:

“Upselling customers is much easier to do if you can take the thinking out of it for the customer. 

A great way of doing this is creating product bundles! 

If you sell products that can be used together, it makes sense to provide your customers with the option to purchase them together.”

Michelle reminds the marketers that they should rely on their product knowledge to offer products and bundles that make sense:

“By creating product bundles, you are using your product knowledge and expertise to assist customers. This builds trust and helps the user make quicker decisions, which is more likely to lead to conversions.”

TL;DR: Key Takeaways

Let’s sum up everything these experts suggested:

  1. Every suggestion has to be relevant and personalized;
  2. Incentivize the upsells: offer awards with purchase, use FOMO, or make them pay off more;
  3. Customer needs come first, and increased sales will follow;
  4. Put some thought into creating super-useful bundles;
  5. Test everything and adapt accordingly.

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