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“If only they would show me a leather jacket to go with my floral dress and complete my look”. “If only they would show me a similar floral dress”.

Do you relate to either of the scenarios? How often have you wished for someone to guide you on your look when shopping online or an alternate option for a product? How often do you think makers of the site worry about it?

Let’s look at it analytically.

complete look
Complete Look

What is the difference between upselling and cross-selling?

Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase higher end alternatives to the same product whereas cross-selling invites customers to look at complimentary or related products.

Let’s say a customer selected a pair of jeans.

Upsell: After selecting a pair of jeans, the customer is immediately presented with several alternative higher-end options for a similar pair of jeans. In this case, the merchant is trying to upsell the customer to a higher end product, essentially, trying them to spend more on the same product.

JC Penney Product Page
JC Penney Product Page

Cross-sell: After selecting a pair of jeans, the customer is presented with a list of related or complementary products, say, a pair of boots to go with the jeans. Since boots are related to the original product, i.e., jeans, which the customer was interested in, it is known as cross-selling. Essentially, the merchant is trying them to spend more by anticipating what they might be interested in.

Complete your look suggestion
Complete your look suggestion

Seems legit. However, how do you choose between the two? A well-executed technique can not only boost sales but also improve your customer’s experience. Furthermore, an ill-timed decision can also prevent your customers from completing the checkout process (funnel leakage).

Unfortunately, the purpose of upselling and cross-selling gets lost on many merchants. Selling more to increase cart size isn’t the best strategy. Instead, focus on what makes more sense at which point in the product lifecycle. Focus on customer experience.

For instance, if a customer has purchased a product or has added a product to the cart, it makes sense to show them related products. However, showing related products on the checkout page may disrupt the process, preventing your customers from actually checking out. Similarly, showing a higher end similar product may not be perceived well by the users if displayed on pages other than the product description page. Finally, don’t overdo it. Recommendations and suggestions on each page over and over again will only come across as nagging and may result in hurting the overall conversion.

Happy Shopping!

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