Upselling and cross-selling techniques are the difference between mediocre and great sales. When you use these techniques with your online store, you'll see a reliable increase in sales that'll really add up over time. You'll also increase customer retention and loyalty -- after all, with many of these techniques you're genuinely helping your customers.

The Difference Between Upselling and Cross-Selling

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of how to upsell and cross-sell online, it's important to understand the subtle differences between the two.

Upselling is encouraging customers to upgrade or replace their existing sale with something more valuable. You might encourage them to buy a slightly more expensive version of a product or to buy add-ons or complementary products.

Cross-selling is encouraging customers to buy an additional item. Rather than buying just one thing or one thing with add-ons, your customer will buy more than one.

Both of these sales techniques are powerful ways of boosting your revenue. They can be used separately, but can be combined for maximum benefit.

1. The Decoy Effect

Everyone likes a deal. It makes them feel like a clever shopper and it convinces them that they've gotten something of real value -- no matter how much they actually spent on it.

The Decoy Effect involves harnessing that feeling to upsell to clients. If your customer's about to buy one product, and there's a comparable product on sale, have your site inform them of the second product. Your customer is likely to spend a little bit more to get the more expensive version at a discount that'll leave them feeling awesome. The Smart Upsells app is one of Shopify's most popular automated methods of using this upselling technique, as well as several others on this list.

2. Better Together

Some products go great together, like toys and batteries, or a set of books in a series. Cross-selling frequently uses this principle.

Don't let your customers shop without knowing what items are best to buy together. As they're adding items to their cart, remind them of something they should consider buying with the product. Try the Cross-Sell Shopify app to hand-curate lists of these pairable items.

3. Don't Leave Them Empty-Handed

Lots of online storefronts allow shopkeepers to make note of when an item's out of stock. This avoids customer frustration when an item takes longer to ship, but can also cause your customer to abandon their order.

Instead of just telling them an item's out of stock, cross-sell by pushing them toward a substitution item. You're more likely to complete the sale, and your customers will be happier for it.

4. Use the Post-Purchase Moment

The moment after a purchase -- say, the order confirmation page -- is an excellent time to upsell and give them a chance to add something to their order. Have your system look at their cart and suggest additional items they might add to their order.

If they edit their order with more items at this stage, they'll likely save on shipping by having all of these things mailed together, so don't hesitate to remind them of that. Plus, they avoid the headache of reentering their payment information. The Boost Sales app is a fine way of creating that vital checkout boost.

5. Bring Them Back with Emails

If your customer makes an account to check out, you now have their email address. Don't hesitate to send out cross-sell and upsell emails to your previous customers to let them know about more things they'll love. One way is to use the Restocked Alerts app, to let customers know when items they're interested in are back in stock.

6. Harness Your Cart Abandonment Emails

Increasingly, online retailers are sending reminder emails to logged-in customers who abandon their carts while shopping. They'll inform the customers that these items are still available and remind them that their purchase isn't complete (if they're confused). These emails double as a great opportunity to upsell and cross-sell, so don't hesitate to utilize these techniques here -- and be sure to use the Consistent Cart app to automate this process.

Learn to love cross-selling and upselling. They're powerful techniques in any sales arsenal. By adding even one of these techniques to your shop, you'll see your profits increase, and your customers will love you.