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How to Upsell & Cross-Sell on Shopify

Co-founder, CEO
Tags :
eCommerce, Shopify
5 Mins

Have you ever found yourself purchasing an “upgraded” version of the product that you intended to buy? Or perhaps, purchased additional items that complement or go well with the product in question? Then you have witnessed the magic of upselling and cross-selling firsthand.

Upselling and cross-selling are the golden tickets to generating more sales. More importantly, the increased revenue should not come at the cost of customer experience! However, orchestrating a truly rewarding experience that balances profitability with customer satisfaction takes a good amount of skill and expertise. If you are looking for help to harness upselling and cross-selling opportunities on your Shopify store, then you have come to the right place.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to upsell and cross-sell on Shopify.

What is Upsell?

Illustration of upselling - supersizing the fries

Upselling is a strategy that convinces customers to purchase a more premium or improved version of a product. In the case of services, it could be pitched as an add-on. The objective is to nudge buyers into purchasing upgraded products and services to increase revenue.

For example, suppose your Shopify store sells mobile phones and accessories. You notice a customer browsing through iPhone 13, and you suggest that they purchase the brand new iPhone 14 instead. Alternatively, the customer is checking out the 128GB variant of the iPhone 13, and you recommend the 256GB or the 512GB variant instead. This would count as Shopify upselling.

What is Cross-Sell?

 Illustration of cross-sell - offering beverages and sides with a main order

Cross-selling involves recommending similar or related products to what your customer intends to purchase or has purchased from your store. The aim is to increase the average cart value to maximize sales.

Let’s continue with the above example of your Shopify store selling mobile phones and accessories. The customer has added the iPhone 14 to their cart and is now proceeding to checkout. At the checkout page, you recommend that they purchase power adaptors or AirPods - after all, the user will require these since these essentials do not come in the box. You could also suggest other accessories such as screen guards, phone cases, etc. Such a strategy counts as cross-sell on Shopify.

Difference Between Upselling and Cross-Selling

Demonstrating the difference between upsell and cross-sell

From the above definitions and examples, it may be evident that upsell and cross-sell are not the same. However, since the end result is the same - increased profits - they are often confused for each other. While there is no contesting the fact that they boost revenue, they achieve this goal in different ways.

Here is a detailed comparison of upselling versus cross-selling:



Upselling revolves around persuading the customer to purchase a better version of a product. The “better” version could have improved specifications, the latest features, premium looks and so on.

Cross-selling involves recommending additional products that may be related to current or past purchases. These products may be bundled with the main product that the customer planned on buying.

It attempts to increase revenue by suggesting a higher-level or higher-value product.

It attempts to increase revenue by suggesting a greater number of products to buy.

The customer already has the intention to buy the base product and may have already made the decision. Upselling merely swoops in to “upgrade” their purchase.

With cross-selling, the customer may not have started the journey with the intention of buying related and complementary items. 

It increases the actual value of sales by  lifting the average order value.

It increases the overall value of sales by upping both the average order value and average cart size.

They are typically deployed in the pre-sale cycle

They can be used pre-sales as well as post-sales

Top Tips for Upselling and Cross-Selling on Shopify

Here are some hot tips on how to upsell and cross-sell on Shopify:

Make it a Part of the Customer Journey

Upselling and cross-selling are not one-time opportunities. They will crop up at random (but expected) moments during the customer journey. For instance, you can upsell products while they are browsing through your Shopify store.

Similarly, you can recommend related items at the checkout page. You can even upsell and cross-sell on the product page by suggesting premium alternatives or related products. You can cross-sell items even after the customer has made the purchase. As such, you will have several opportunities to make upselling and cross-selling a reality on your Shopify store.

All you need to do is find the micro-moments where it is possible to execute upselling and cross-selling.

Harness the Power of Personalization

Customers want personalization and delivering it can help cross-selling and upselling efforts

Personalizing your Shopify store can transform every aspect of your customer experience and business operations to make it more effective. 

To illustrate this fact, know that 94% of companies that personalize their website notice higher conversion rates. Along similar lines, 50% of online buyers end up making an impulse purchase after coming across a personalized promotion. Nearly 56% of online shoppers would return to a website that offers personalized product recommendations. 

In short, personalization can help you achieve your targets across the customer lifecycle. Since we have emphasized how upselling and cross-selling campaigns should be well-aligned with customer requirements - current and future - it comes as no surprise that personalization will sharpen the effectiveness of the same.

Use Pop-Ups

Pop-ups are one of the least intrusive channels to capture customer attention without marring the experience or diverting the journey. That is if you use a floating bar or a slide-in pop-up instead of something that takes up the entire page! It is highly versatile and can be used at various touch points - from onboarding customers to making personalized recommendations to alerting them about a related product on sale or retargeting to prevent cart abandonment. Either way, they can accelerate the customer journey, be it at the homepage or at the checkout page.

To set up such a system, you can define an automated campaign that plugs into your Shopify recommendation engine against the trigger of a customer adding an item to the cart. Once they complete this action, it is clear that they wish to make a purchase. At this stage, a cross-selling pop-up that is personalized according to the user preferences and calibrated to complement the product added to the cart can improve the chances of the recommended product making its way to a purchase.

Adopt a Data-Driven Approach

Value and relevance are the core components of the success of any marketing and sales campaign, especially for upsell and cross-sell. After all, why would a customer engage if you fail to offer anything in return? 

However, the uniqueness of every customer and what they hold dear is often masked behind tons of data, which needs to be cracked  wide open. Data-driven insights based on historical sales, customer purchase patterns, preferences based on demographics, etc., can validate your upselling and cross-selling decisions with data rather than relying on intuition.

It will shed light on customer segments that are more likely to make impulse purchases, those who are willing to go the extra mile for free delivery, and so on. Accordingly, you can pack the value proposition that appeals to them most to ensure the success of your upselling and cross-selling activities.

Suggest Affordable Alternatives

Recommendations of cheaper or feature-rich alternatives‍

Okay, now you’re thinking - why recommend an affordable alternative when the objective is to grow revenue through upsell & cross-sell? Well, you’re not wrong. However, consider the fact that price is quite often the greatest obstacle that comes in the way of a successful sale. 

Let’s say a customer has a budget of $50 to purchase a product from your Shopify store. The item that they are looking at costs $150, which is clearly above their spending capacity and may even lead to attrition. However, they come across a recommendation where a similar item is available for $60. In such a case, they may extend their budget by $10 and happily make the purchase, while you manage to save an almost-lost sale!

Recommend Essential Accessories

Consider an example where a customer is purchasing a digital camera from your Shopify store. While they add their choice of device to the cart, they receive a pop-up encouraging them to also add an SDHC card. Chances are that they might not have thought of it during the decision-making process of buying a digital camera, but will now appreciate it and your store. 

Recommending essential accessories, therefore, improves the customer experience and grows your sales. 

Curate Product Bundles

Another smart strategy to  upsell or cross-sell on Shopify is by curating product bundles. You may have seen these strategies in action with the popular “Shop The Look” trend that displays a model wearing clothes and accessories, with each item being shoppable. The scope of product bundles is not limited to apparel alone; it works across almost all categories of products and even applies to services.

These product bundles can contain the aforementioned essential accessories or offer attractive discounts to lure the customer into purchasing them. The former reduces the number of orders that they would have had to place, while the latter rewards them with savings. 

Incentivize Upsell/Cross-sell

With upselling and cross-selling, you’re essentially  the customer to spend more money than they intended to. As such, you would have to offer something more tangible and rewarding, apart from the endorphins from retail therapy. Some of the oldest tricks for making upselling and cross-selling a success include incentives in the form of discounts, free delivery, overnight shipping, freebies, buy one get one (BOGO), loyalty points, etc.

Even if certain incentives like discounts ate your profits, the imminent return on investment would be far too great. So, don’t be afraid of clubbing a few benefits along with your upselling and cross-selling campaigns since you receive higher pay-offs in the form of increased conversion rate, higher cart value, greater customer loyalty, and customer retention.

Tap Into FOMO

Limited time deal of the day can nudge customers into giving in to the cross-selling and upselling campaign

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, has been the buzzword in eCommerce. It instills a fear of being left out that pushes the customer to make a purchase while an attractive offer still stands. You can use this method to upsell and cross-sell on Shopify in various ways.

For a start, you can create handpicked product bundles and tag them as “Limited Edition” to make the offer exclusive. Alternatively, you can throw in some discounts and put a timer that counts down to when the offer will be removed. You could also display the number of items left in stock. Such tactics give the customer one final push while taking up the upselling or cross-selling opportunity.

Avoid Choice Paralysis

While spoiling your customers with choices is obviously good for your Shopify store, overdoing it may scare them off. After all, an array of choices will breed confusion, which, in turn, might delay sales cycles and dilute customer experience. More than necessary recommendations or annoying pop-ups will eventually dissuade them from buying from you and result in cart abandonment and customer churn.

To avoid such a situation, businesses follow a rule of thumb of including a minimum of three recommendations per page and a maximum of five recommendations per page. Do note that this number is bound to change depending on your Shopify store design, theme, industry, and other factors. The focus should be on the quality of recommendations rather than the quantity.

Make it Feel Natural

Website recommends harness with a bag for cat, which is a natural suggestion

The best upselling or cross-selling campaigns look or feel nothing like upsells and cross-sells. In fact, they are so organic that the customer believes that they have landed an exceptional deal. However, the trick lies in deeply integrating your upselling and cross-selling efforts with the natural purchase flow. Try too hard, and the customer will get suspicious of your well-meaning intentions. . 

With Shopify, you get the upper hand with upselling in-cart or checkout that makes product recommendations feel like a natural component of the buyer’s journey. Plus, it is easier to modify cart items without leaving the page, which minimizes the possibility of cart abandonment. We have already talked at length about how pop-ups can come in handy too. Essentially, make upsells and cross-sells a part of the sales funnel so that it does not stick out.

Use a Shopify App

As we’ve seen, upselling and cross-selling involve many moving parts spanning the buyer journey. Considering that every customer's purchase journey should ideally be unique, it would be virtually impossible to pull off manually. As such, the best way to cross-sell and upsell on Shopify would be through apps.

A quick glance through the Shopify store will show the various upselling and cross-selling apps for Shopify. You can also consider an AI-powered recommender engine like Argoid that offers great value for a diverse set of requirements - integrating naturally into the customer journey, and powering upsell and cross-sell recommendations based on data rather than manual intervention or intuition


1. What are the benefits of upselling and cross-selling?

These are the benefits of upselling and cross-selling on your Shopify store:

  • They are a form of personalization that enriches the customer experience
  • They boost revenue and maximize the ROI of the product or service
  • They optimize the value of every sale to the max
  • They cultivate trust and bolster customer loyalty
  • They encourage product discovery They balance growth between new and existing customers

2. What are some KPIs to measure upselling and cross-selling?

Some KPIs that you can measure to track your upselling and cross-selling activities include:

  • Conversion rate
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Average order value
  • Upsell rate
  • Renewal rate
  • Ratio of Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Acquisition Cost
  • Retention rate

These are just a few indicative KPIs to get you started.

3. What are some leading upselling and cross-selling apps on Shopify?

Some highly-rated upselling and cross-selling apps on Shopify include:

  • Argoid Upsell, CrossSell Engine
  • ONE Upsell, SMS, Email, Pop-up
  • Upsell and Bundle Products by Assortion
  • In Cart Upsell & Cross Sell
  • Upsell & Cross Sell - Selleasy
  • Bundles Upsell | PickyStory

Closing Thoughts

Upselling and cross-selling are two of the most important things you can do to improve the conversion rates and take your Shopify store to the next level. This is a great way with build meaningful, lasting relationships with customers while encouraging them to stay loyal to your brand. Make sure that you're using these strategies in your sales and marketing, and you'll be giving your customers a reason to buy from you!

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