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What is the Difference Between a Cross-Sell and Upsell?

What is the Difference Between a Cross-Sell and Upsell?

The only thing better than converting a store visitor into a paying customer is getting them to purchase more than they had initially planned! There are two ways you can go about boosting revenue for your store without adding new customers: cross-selling and upselling.

These two tactics are commonly confused with one another or used interchangeably. While both strategies seek to increase revenue and AOV, how they do it varies greatly.

So - what is the difference between cross-sell and upsell strategies? You've come to the right place. Today, we're going to cover everything you need to know on the cross-sell vs upsell debate.

To give you a taste of what's to come, upselling involves getting a customer to purchase more of what they have in their cart. Meanwhile, cross-selling involves positioning complimentary products in front of the customer, getting them to buy multiple products together.

We'll take a deeper look at what goes into upselling and cross-selling below, and we'll teach you how to get started optimizing your own store effortlessly. We've got a lot to cover today, so let's get right into the discussion at hand!

What is the Difference Between a Cross-Sell and Upsell?

So, what is the difference between cross-sell and upsell strategies?

Before we get too far into things, we must understand what cross-selling and upselling are in their own regard. These two terms are used interchangeably quite often, but they refer to very different things.

Upselling is when you convince a customer who is already interested in what you're selling to buy a more expensive version of the product or to buy a higher quantity of the original product. Cross-selling, on the other hand, is when you recommend products that complement what the customer is already interested in.

For example, let's say you're selling shoes on your e-commerce store. An upsell would be convincing a customer who is interested in buying a pair of sneakers to buy a higher-priced pair of running shoes instead. A cross-sell would be recommending additional items to go along with the purchase, like new laces or insoles. We'll take a deeper look at upsell vs cross-sell strategies after fully defining each one below. Let's start with cross-selling.

What is Cross-Selling?

Cross-selling is the art of convincing a customer who is interested in what you're selling to buy additional products that complement their purchase.

The most common example of cross-selling is when a waiter asks if you want fries with your burger at a restaurant. Or, maybe you add on a soft drink or milkshake. Maybe you add an extra patty - or a special type of cheese. All of these are instances of cross-selling at work. Other examples might include convincing a customer who is buying a new bicycle to also buy a helmet or getting someone who is buying a winter coat to add a scarf and gloves to their cart.

In each of these cases, the customer wasn't planning on buying the additional product(s), but they were persuaded to do so because it would enhance their overall experience. This is what makes cross-selling such an effective strategy - it allows you to increase revenue without having to find new customers.

But, it's not the only way to add cash to your bottom line without paying for new customers. Let's take a look at the other facet of today's discussion: upselling.

What is Upselling?

Upselling, on the other hand, is the art of convincing a customer who is already interested in what you're selling to buy more of it or to buy a higher-quality version of that same product.

A common example of upselling might be when a car salesman tries to convince you to buy a more expensive model than the one you had originally planned on. They might tell you that the slightly more expensive model has better gas mileage, or that it comes with leather seats.

An increasingly common example of upselling is bundling. Let's say you are purchasing a razor online. Upselling here would look like a popup offering you 10% off if you add a second razor to your cart.

In each of these cases, the customer was already interested in what was being sold - they just needed a little extra convincing to spend more money, whether that is on more of the same product or a better version of the product. And, that's what upselling is all about: getting customers who are already interested in what you're selling to spend more money.

Now that we've defined what upselling and cross-selling strategies entail, let's take a look at some of the key differences between these two revenue-generating strategies.

Upsell vs Cross Sell: Key Differentiators

There are a few key things that differentiate upsells from cross-sells. These include:

  • The type of products being sold: Upselling involves convincing a customer to buy a higher-priced version of the same product they were already interested in. Cross-selling, on the other hand, involves convincing a customer to buy a complementary product.
  • The customer's level of interest: Upselling involves convincing a customer who is already interested in what you're selling to buy more of it or to buy a higher-quality version of the same product. Cross-selling, on the other hand, involves convincing a customer who might not have been planning on buying what you're selling to buy it anyway - maybe they were just window shopping, or they were looking for something else entirely.
  • The timing of the sale: Upselling generally happens after the customer has expressed interest in what you're selling. Cross-selling, on the other hand, can happen at any point during the sales process - even before the customer has decided what they want to buy.

The bottom line is that upselling is about convincing a customer who is already interested in what you're selling to buy more of it or to buy a higher-quality version of the same product. Cross-selling, on the other hand, is about convincing a customer who might not have been planning on buying what you're selling to buy it anyway.

Now that we've looked at some of the key differences between upsell and cross-sell strategies, let's take a look at where you should invest your time and resources first.

Upsell vs Cross Sell: Where Should You Invest Time & Resources First?

While both upsell vs cross-sell strategies will pay off in the long run for your business, you might be wondering which will offer a better return. So, where should you invest time and resources first?

The answer to this question depends on your business. Where does it look like you’re leaving money on the table? If you have multiple SKUs in your store and one isn’t selling, trying to create some cross-sell offers can move inventory out of your warehouse while growing revenue - and creating a better customer experience. On the other hand, if you only have one SKU, then upselling will be your best bet. You can encourage bundle orders at a discounted price.

And, frankly, it doesn't have to be one or the other. In fact, upselling and cross-selling can work together to really supercharge revenue generation in your online store! If your business neglects either one of these strategies, you are leaving money on the table. Moreover, you're not creating the best customer experience possible. 

With that said, we're going to teach you how to get started with either upselling vs cross selling below.

How to Get Started With Upselling and Cross-Selling for Your Store

The best way to get started with either upselling or cross-selling is to integrate AfterSell into your eCommerce store. AfterSell is the world's leading Shopify post-purchase upsell app, and it makes it easy to start generating more revenue from your existing customer base. You can even use our solution for Shopify upsell at checkout!

With AfterSell, you can create customizable upsell and cross-sell offers that are triggered based on what your customers are buying. This means that you can offer them complementary products when they're already in the mood to buy, and you can offer them higher-priced versions of the products they're interested in.

The best part is that you can boost revenue without being pushy or sales-y. Precise targeting allows you to make unlimited post-purchase upsell offers for deep personalization, creating the best possible experience for your customer. Getting started requires no developmental work. Instead, use our pre-configured templates and optimize them for your unique branding!

Compared to other solutions, AfterSell is the #1 choice. We're regarded as the premier Carthook alternative, Zipify alternative, and Rebuy alternative.

There are over 5,000 brands that trust AfterSell, and you can be next. Whether you want to customize the checkout page in Shopify or edit the thank you page in Shopify, our app is up for the task. And with unparalleled customer support every step of the way, we're here to assist you with integration and offer building if needed. We can work together to get those upsell and cross-sell efforts dialed for you today!

Final Thoughts on the Difference Between a Cross Sell and Upsell

So, what is the difference between cross-sell and upsell strategies? In summary, cross-selling is where you offer a customer complimentary products to enhance their original purchase. Upselling, on the other hand, is getting the customer to buy a high-end model of what they had their sights set on - or to buy a higher quantity of what they were going to buy.

While there are many differences between cross-sell and upsell strategies, they both boost your store’s revenue rate while improving the customer experience. Nurturing your existing customer base is more cost-effective than acquiring new customers. And with AfterSell, getting started with either cross-sell vs upsell strategies is simple and affordable.

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to the Shopify app store and get integrated today. You’re a few clicks away from seeing serious increases in revenue immediately. 

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