How to upsell and cross-sell on Shopify

Running a business today is challenging, as fighting for customers in a highly competitive landscape is difficult and expensive.

This is no truer than in the world of eCommerce, where there is so much competition. You are likely spending a lot on acquiring customers through your marketing spend. Consequently, when they come to your shop and click buy, you want to make the most of that basket.

If done well, using upselling to increase the average order value is a clever strategy. Upselling is an approach that offers a more expensive option when the customer clicks on a product. For instance, when buying an iPhone, the customer may choose iPhone 8, and then you show them iPhone 11, so they realise there is a more up-to-date model.

Equally, you might show the customer a 128GB model if they first selected the 64GB. In these examples, the displayed alternative requires them to make a bigger financial commitment and offers you a greater return on this visit to your Shopify store.

Cross-selling and upselling options

There are several approaches to upselling you can use. Here are three.

1) Pop up

A pop-up is probably the most aggressive form of upselling. When the buyer clicks on an option, they are then presented with a more expensive option in a window that obscures their selection. While it is attention-grabbing, it also places one more click in the sales journey to buying the original selection. It is best to use this strategy only when you are certain of the desirability of the products.

2) Soft

A soft upsell does not distract the customer from the selling journey to buy the original product. However, this upgraded selection is sitting on the same screen, should they wish to click on it. It could be that you show this as a “customers also viewed” section in the product description.

3) Post-purchase

Alternatively, you might want to wait until the customer has clicked buy, and then you can offer it as an “Are you sure?” option. You might even wait until you send the confirmation of order screen, where the upsell option is available if they want to change their order.

The right tactics and tools help

As with anything, the right tactics and tools help. The Shopify upsell app, for example, helps sell intermediate goods throughout the buying journey making smart profits for the business.

And the best upselling strategies encourage more extravagance without killing the original sale. There is a balancing act between pushing for more value and acquiring the customer in the first place. Here are some of the tactics you might want to consider.

Make the selection relevant

While it sounds obvious, choosing a relevant upsell and cross-sell item is not always the policy for some companies. Many offer the same item across the whole site and do not adapt to the original purchase. However, the best upsell options are better and more expensive versions of the original selection to be successful. The best cross-sell option compliment the original purchase, such as offering a phone cover when selling a phone.

Give them a tiered selection

Customers tend to not like to buy the most expensive option, but neither do they like the feeling of buying the least expensive. When we treat ourselves, we like to feel we have splashed out a little but not too much.

Imagine someone has bought a box of chocolates. The upsell could include three or four different boxes of chocolate at different prices, with the original selection being the cheapest and least appealing. The cross-sell works in a similar way but for a product that works alongside the original purchase.

When cross-selling, you can also offer cheaper products that help the buyer make up the difference to achieve free shipping. This is a solid strategy for increasing the average value of your basket by incentivising a minimum spend. (Read more about using the triplicate of choice here.)

Buy again… for someone else

Sales is a psychological game. When our customer makes an expensive purchase, there will be a moment of guilt. Offering a buy again for a friend or family member can help to ease this sense of splurging because it is shared with someone else. It is a classic win: win opportunity for you and the customer.


Another great way to put some sense of prestige and urgency into the purchase is by adding a time limit or a stock limitation. If the offer for the upsell or cross sell is only available for the next 24 hours, it makes it hard for the customer to put off the click. Equally, if there are only 30 in stock, then the need to buy quickly feels ever-present, and it feels like others have bought this item too.

You need to nurture your sales

The art of selling more items that the customer originally wanted is a balancing act. You need to nurture the relationship with the customer and encourage the higher value basket without losing the sale completely.

Consequently, any upselling or cross-selling strategy you use needs to feel like welcome information to the consumer and not an intrusion into the sales funnel. Be creative with your messaging, and it will all work to increase the value of your average order.

Laura McLoughlin is a Digital PR based in Armagh, Northern Ireland. She has previous experience as a website editor and journalist, and currently works with Chorus Commerce.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez