Retailers have seen enough of Amazon’s cross-selling examples, including “Frequently bought together” and “Customers also like” invites.
Everyone talks about how good cross-selling helps your business.
However, only a small group bothers about how subpar cross-selling can hurt your bottom line.
Here’s the thing:
Your product page visitors are close to buying—they are serious shoppers. If you piss them off with intrusive and pushy cross-selling nudges, they’ll leave or ignore your effort.
What you should do instead:
Make your cross-selling nudges add value to your customers. Improve your overall cart quality and not cart price only.
This guide shares battle-tested ways to add cross-selling nudges on your product pages to drive more sales and boost your average order value.
Let’s get to it.
12 Customer-focused Cross-selling Ideas for Your eCommerce Store
Executing high-converting cross-selling strategies requires careful attention to your shoppers’ emotions and buyer behavior.
But buyer emotions and behaviors are slippery concepts.
That’s why I crystalized them in these 12 actionable ideas.
Let’s unpack them.
1. Don’t Go Overboard With the Price
With more sellers turning to eCommerce to sell their products, prices will always affect buyers’ decisions because shoppers have more options.
That’s why you need price intelligence.
Studies show that 80% of consumers compare product prices before buying.
So pricing too low or setting your rates too high above the prevailing marketing price might bite your bottom line.
Most shoppers will move to the competitor if your price is higher and they can’t justify the extra cost.
Conversely, setting prices too low could make some consumers assume the product is inferior.
You need a pricing sweet spot to win the sale and make the most profit.
But to succeed with cross-selling, you’d need to recommend only the products that are within buyers’ budget—the products they select give you a clue.
So, pitch only products that are 10% to 50% of the cost of the products they select. Anything out of range might drive the customer away or make them overlook your offer.
How iHerb Drive’s Price-Aware Cross-Selling Offers
iHerb understands this pricing behavior. So the brand cross-sells only products that match the buyer’s appropriate price range.
For example, in the screenshot below, the price of the item is $19.99, while the recommended products go for $8.99 and $19.80.
We can predict that shoppers would add those extra items to their carts without raising eyebrows.
From review counts, you'll notice that the suggested products have more sales volume than the current item—perhaps due to the cross-sell.
One product has about 21 times the review count of the current product—overwhelmingly positive reviews too—for the same price point.
Further down the product page, under the ‘Customer also viewed’ section, the brand promoted products within the price range.
Psst: Want to know more on eCommerce product pricing? Check this post out.
2. Make the Why Clear, With Copy
Most consumers already have a product in mind while shopping online.
So cross-selling them would hit a brick wall if you can’t convince shoppers why they should add the extra products to their cart.
Bland explanations like “you may also like” won’t hit the mark because shoppers already know what they want. Instead, communicate why it’s a good choice with a benefit-based copy like “Goes great with” or anything that triggers their fear of missing out (FOMO) sentiment.
Puritan and Amazon Cross-Sells with Clear and Compelling Copy
Puritan invites buyers by showing them products that might interest them. And then demonstrates the value of those products by
- Adding their review numbers and ratings
- Giving shoppers a hard-to-resist deal—buy one get two free
- A ready Add To Cart button
Amazon uses “Customers who bought this item also bought,” “Frequently bought together” to recommend relevant products to customers.
These product recommendation copies convey a message that shoppers are buying the items together, demonstrating social validation and endorsement.
McKinsey says 35% of Amazon sales come from product recommendations, indicating an effective cross-selling strategy.
3. Stay Wary of Choice Paralysis
Making a buying decision is not often as easy as it sounds; hence, most consumers love it when brands make it seamless with options.
Giving shoppers options lets them find what they’re looking for or compare products quickly. It could also help them find something they don’t even know they want.
However, too many options can lead to choice paralysis, which could spoil the shopping journey, causing your conversion rate to plummet.
According to Hick's law, the time it takes for a person to decide is contingent on the number of choices they have.
Hick was saying the more options you give your customers, the longer it’ll take them to check out. Sadly, shoppers are impatient—they don’t often have the time to go through the rounds.
Making their sales journey longer than necessary is skating on thin ice.
But how many options is too many, you may ask.
Perhaps, the answer lies in this Latin phrase: omne trium perfectum; everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete—the rule of three.
According to Alive, “The rule of three suggests that words grouped into threes are more appealing and easier to remember. Our brains are pattern-seeking machines, constantly looking for relationships and meaning in the world around us. Three is the smallest number we need to create a pattern, the perfect combination of brevity and rhythm.”
Research says three is the magic number, but four to five are not bad either.
Bliss Applies the Law of Threes
Bliss recommends several products to shoppers. However, they display them in a set of fours, making the options less overwhelming. In addition, shoppers can use the navigation arrow to reveal more choices.
The brand also uses a lot of whitespaces to make the information easy to process.
Are you hooked by psychology? Here's a roundup post on the top psychology-backed strategies to boost your conversion rate.
4. Play on the Peer Pressure
People crave social acceptance and validation.
It's human nature for people to feel like they want to belong. Hence, people tend to follow the crowd. Playing on this desire could help you cross-sell them successfully.
Using social proof works wonders. For example, it could trigger the bandwagon effect—the tendency of people to engage in an action if other people are doing it—enabling you to sell more.
When customers see that others have bought a product, they would want to buy it too. A study found that most millennials will make reactive purchases 24 hours after experiencing a FOMO—fear of missing out.
New Chapter Adds Star Ratings on Its Product Recommendations
A high review number shows shoppers that many people are buying the product, which could prompt them to add the product to their carts.
5. Use the Bundle Tactic
Everyone wants to pay less for great deals. It’s natural. Humans are value maximizers.
Offering shoppers bundled products create a psychological effect that makes them feel they're getting the most out of a deal. It influences them to add more products to the cart to save cost, increasing your average order value (AOV).
How iHerb Uses Product Bundling
iHerb uses this bundle tactic to drive additional sales. The brand combines complementary products to cross-sell buyers. Also, they add a discount to make the offer more enticing.
Of course, people don't get free $3 every day. So most people will not walk away without adding both items to the cart.
Besides increasing AOV, product bundling also enhances customers' shopping experience.
It's often challenging to make an informed decision when there's so much to choose from. However, bundling complementary products gives buyers the right amount of choice, enabling them to check out more quickly.
Also, it gives them control over their buying experience without overwhelming them.
Are you using product bundling for your eCommerce store yet? You'll love this curated bunch of bundling examples and ideas.
6. Let Visuals Do the Trick
Sometimes catchy visuals can convince customers more than anything else.
What people see moves them more than what they hear or read. You don't have to do anything spectacular to cross-sell shoppers successfully. Using the right images can get the work done effortlessly.
They say a picture is worth more than a thousand words. So, use it to your advantage.
Madewell Recommends Visually Appealing and Complementing Wears
We advise people to do this is to cross-sell different variations of the product or styles using attractive images, which is precisely what Madewell does most times.
When you shop for a piece of cloth in the store, the brand will recommend several wears you can style it with. Madewell makes them stand out with catchy images.
For instance, when you visit this wide-leg crop jean’s product page:
Madewell will recommend complementary wears you can style the jean with. The recommendations usually feature several variations of the products, so you can always find something you’ll love.
The magic is not just in the quality of the recommendation or styling but the quality of the images. The arrangement of the clothes makes them stand out.
Someone will hardly go through the pictures without taking a second look or using the navigation arrow.
When you click the Shop The Look button, Madewell allows you to choose the items you want. They don’t force everything on you.
7. Include Cross-sell Specific Reviews
I can't remember when I bought a product online without checking out the reviews.
Most buyers are loss-averse. They would rather not lose than get equivalent gains.
Grappling with product returns is not my thing, so I always read reviews before buying to avoid mistakes.
It’s not just me. Most consumers are also loss-averse. We hate losses.
So we often look at what others are saying to guide our choices. Since we're in the majority, using customer reviews as part of your sales strategies would help you win more sales. The truth is that only a few online shoppers don't check reviews or take them seriously.
Of course, you don’t have to take my words for it.
A study by Trustpilot found that nine out of ten customers read reviews before buying a product. Also, in a survey by Statista, nearly 60 percent of U.S. online shoppers admitted they find customer reviews helpful.
LuckyVitamin Adds Reviews to Boost Social Proof
Adding reviews and star ratings from customers who have bought the cross-sell items can convince shoppers to add them to the cart. LuckyVitamin uses star ratings to add social proof to the recommended products.
Recommending only products with at least a four-star rating makes it easier to convince the shoppers. Podium says that more than a third of consumers require at least a four-star average review to consider engaging a business.
8. Add a Separate Block for Best-sellers
Sometimes customers may not even know what they want.
They might need help finding the right products. Having an eCommerce store best-seller section does the work by showing them what other shoppers are already buying, enabling them to make quicker choices.
It's what a best seller section is all about. But, of course, it shouldn't be more than that.
However, some eCommerce brands cross-sell their best-selling products. The truth is not everyone will find them relevant. Therefore, it's best to display them in a separate block instead of suggesting them along with the specific product.
Victorian Plumbing Uses Product Best-Sellers to Cross-Sell
Victorian Plumbing has a best seller section on the homepage. Shoppers looking for product ideas can navigate to the section to see what others are buying—as simple as that.
9. Follow Data, Don’t Throw Darts in the Dark
The era of one-size-fits-all marketing is long gone.
Today, customers want brands to personalize their experiences. They love brands to treat them as individuals and not lump them together as a single whole. They also want them to anticipate their needs and exceed them.
Bilal Jaffery of Deloitte believes that responding to these new expectations requires an ability to leverage consumers' data at the most granular level. According to him, consumers want to deal with brands who appreciate that their reality and needs change every day.
He advised businesses to leverage data, analytics, and AI to adapt to their customers' changing realities in real-time.
Instead of random recommendations, cross-sell as per cohorts from your customer's behavioral data, like previous purchases, interactions, browser history, and others.
A data-centric recommendation strategy helps you suggest products your customers would love. It removes the guesswork from the process, enabling you to hit them with value on the fly.
Amazon Using User Shopping Behavior to Cross-Sell Them
Amazon can recommend items based on shoppers' viewing habits, previous purchases, or browsing history. Items on your wishlist or things you viewed recently also help Amazon suggest new products.
10. Keep Their Journey in Mind
New buyers, repeat shoppers—all will have different cross-sell requirements.
Cross-selling them the same way is a huge mistake. Instead, think of the customer's shopping and lifestyle journey to map products and identify how they'll benefit from the cross-sell.
Anything else is skating on thin ice. It’s bound to fail.
Actions these product recommendation tactics to deliver meaningful value to shoppers at each stage of their buying journey.
Similar products work for shoppers at the research stage of their journey. It helps them find the right product that suits their needs by showing them a range of alternative items similar to the one they're browsing.
You can also recommend similar products to customers that abandoned their carts.
Best Sellers & Trending
This recommendation tactic is effective for customers in the research or purchase stages seeking extra information to make a buying decision. It suggests items people are already buying, acting as social proof to customers.
New arrivals are among the best product recommendation options for loyal customers or repeat buyers. Since this category is already buying, recommending the latest available products is not out of place. It builds excitement around the shopping experience.
This product recommendation tactic is suitable for active buyers, just as the new arrivals. It reminds them of their favorite products or the items they are already used to, making it easier to convert them. It’s effective for getting them to restock.
11. Ensure That Cross-sells Enable (And Not Disable) Existing Products
Cross-sells has just one purpose: to increase your average order value.
The recommended items shouldn't take the shine from the existing products. So, it would be best to avoid anything that'll undermine them or cause shoppers to change their minds.
A cross-sell is an opportunity to get buyers to add more items to their cart. Always keep it at that. It’s not a battleground for products to compete for shoppers’ attention.
Sadly, many eCommerce brands make this mistake.
Suggest items that supplement the existing product and not ones that the current product will not be able to run without. Doing this sets the two products against each other. It could also bring down the value of the existing product.
Amazon Suggests Products that Go Together
Amazon suggests only complementary products to shoppers. They are always careful not to recommend competitive products. For instance, when you shop for a monitor, the store recommends items like a keyboard and mouse.
These three products can go together. So there's no competition. However, suggesting items like another monitor brand could confuse shoppers, killing the cross-sell purpose.
12. Offer Discounted Rewards
It’s more blessed to give than to receive.
This Bible verse also holds in eCommerce. Most consumers are more receptive to brands that give them something of value before selling to them. A study found that receiving from people creates a sense of indebtedness to them.
Also, research shows that nearly one-third of online shoppers will buy items they didn't intend to if it has a heavy discount. According to data, about 93 percent of consumers have used a coupon or discount code throughout the years.
The numbers show that a vast majority of consumers appreciate a good deal. So offering your customers discounts could help you sell more to them.
Pet Meds Adds Coupon Codes to Its Cross-Sells
The money-off deal entices shoppers to go for the additional products, enabling the brand to drive more sales from its product recommendations.
You could also consider offering customers a related product at a discount if they cross a certain threshold. This strategy can also work with order value thresholds like buy for $$ more to get a reward.
However, avoid pairing low-quality items with high-quality ones. Also, highlight the reward part to prevent it from seeming too salesy or as if you're trying to force the customer to purchase more.
5 Cross-Selling Examples We Love
We have seen several decent cross-selling examples, but these five can't stop getting us excited. So here, we'll review them to see what you can learn from them.
So, let’s get started.
1. Create a Sense of Belonging
One of the most straightforward ways to build a loyal brand following is to give customers a sense of belonging—a community-like feeling.
According to Justine Calarbut, “Being part of an engaging community gives us a sense of belonging. It enables us to share personal relatedness and support perpetual growth of each other, ourselves and our environment.”
She believes that being a part of a community can make people feel as though they’re a part of something greater than themselves. So making shoppers feel like they are a part of something special could win you their loyalties for life.
You don't even have to go above and beyond to create this feeling.
Lush uses a copy like “Lushies are loving this right now” to create this feeling.
Some shoppers won't leave without trying to find out what’s so special about products. Many would want to be a part of that community.
2. Create a Goal for Them
Giving shoppers a goal helps you set them on the path you want for them.
Goals give people direction, purpose, and focus. Setting exciting goals for buyers could let you influence their buying decision or self-direct their journey.
The reason is people love to get things done—they love being busy. Give them direction, and you'll see them running after it. Leslie Riopel of Positive Psychology said setting goals helps trigger new behaviors, guide people's focus, and sustain their momentum in life.
Using goals in your cross-sells could help you get shoppers to increase their order value.
We love Target because they make goal-setting effortless. The brand uses copy like "Complete the set" to create a subtle mission for the customer.
The phrase gives shoppers a direction. It gives them purpose and focus. It could reveal a need they don’t even know they have.
3. Don’t Make It Seem Like a Big Deal
A typical customer wants to pay as little as possible.
You might lose them if they feel the price is way above what it should be. So, don’t make the suggested products seem like a big deal. Making the offer appear affordable could cause them to buy on impulse.
Vans is a classic example of eCommerce brands doing this right. The online store recommends products with a copy like “Add … for only $12.”
This Vans cross-selling tactic makes the products appear as a bargain. In addition, it puts them within the impulse-buy range, making them more enticing to shoppers.
4. Add More Value With Instructions
Customers don’t often convert at first interactions.
So, taking your market beyond your primary channels expands your customer touchpoints, opening more opportunities to interact with shoppers and convert them.
Allergy Buyers Club probably understands this; it takes cross-selling beyond its product pages. When someone buys from them, the brand sends them detailed instructions on setting it up. It also promotes an item that goes well with that purchase in the email.
Of course, recommending complementary products while providing valuable assistance on making the most of the purchased item makes their offer non-intrusive, less pushy, and enticing to buyers.
The first part of the email contains the instructions. Offering shoppers some value on the fly builds customers’ trust, making them more willing for a sales conversion.
Next, Allergy Buyers Club invites customers to ask them questions, portraying them as a caring brand.
The brand cross-sells an item that complements what the customer already purchased instead of promoting related products or something else, making it easier to convince the customer.
Finally, the company asks customers for referrals to receive a 20% discount on their next order. So even if the cross-sell fails, the brand can still win new sales.
5. Resolve Their Indecision
It's not every day that customers come online with a clear head of what they want.
Sometimes, shoppers have challenges making up their minds on what to buy. They may feel overwhelmed and put off making a decision. Dealing with this category of buyers—indecisive customers—can be a pain.
Winning them over will require a lot of patience and your willingness to help streamline their decisions without being pushy. Medallion Bank believes that educating and providing extra information could help them make up their minds.
Unfortunately, you have a tiny window to convince them before they exit the product page. But something as simple as throwing extra options in the mix and a persuasive language could sway them to decide.
Asics uses a copy like "Still thinking about it? If you still can't decide, check out the best-sellers below" to help resolve buyers' indecision.
They also have “We Recommend” under their products to enable quicker decisions.
Wrapping It Up
Cross-selling shoppers can help you improve your average order value.
The challenge is doing it the right way. But the article provides a definite approach to cross-selling. Actioning the tips can get you more sales effortlessly, enabling you to scale your revenue without any ad spend.
However, it's crucial to remember that what works for others might not work for you.
So A/B them to ensure you’re delivering a shopping experience your customers would love.