Cross-selling: the ideal way to boost your e-commerce sales

September 10, 2015

Ah, the art (and science) of cross-selling – otherwise known as recommending complementary products to a buyer. Offline retailers are all-too-familiar with the concept (“Do you want fries with that?” “Can I interest you in a reduced bar of Dairy Milk with your petrol?”).

However, well-executed cross-selling techniques online can seriously boost revenue, too – essentially, by selling more to the same customer. And the benefits aren’t just one-sided: effective cross-selling can also lead to a very happy customer. As a basic example, when you sell batteries to someone who has bought a product that needs them, you’re increasing the total cart value, but it also means the customer can use their new product straight away. Smiles all round.

A recent article I read on Econsultancy says we should always keep it relevant, offering something that complements a product the customer is already interested in. Amazon’s “frequently bought together” feature is a prime example of cross-selling, giving the total price to make it more transparent. Similarly, Amazon’s “customers who viewed this item also viewed…” comes off as less of a hard-sell, as it seems as though fellow customers are recommending products, rather than Amazon itself.

The offer of a deal can work wonders as well, presenting discounts for ‘bundle buys’. But the key is to get the timing right – to cross-sell at the exact point when customers are likely to be the most receptive to it (before they begin entering their payment details). No-one wants cross-selling to distract or irritate. The Apple Store has nailed it timing-wise – it doesn’t begin cross-selling until the customer has clicked on the ‘buy’ button – but they have to view the cross-selling product page before they can proceed to the checkout. Clever.

Cross-selling isn’t about manipulating, though. In fact, when carried out properly, customers actually like being cross-sold to! Think back… can you remember the last time you were “guided” towards a relevant product online?

Jessica Ellis - Business Development Director