How to Upsell: 9 Proven Strategies For a Higher AOV (With Examples)

Figuring out how to upsell effectively can be challenging.

We know. Because we’ve been there. 

As former retailers, we tried every upselling strategy in the book. From pre-purchase upsells, to in-cart cross sells and post-purchase upsells too.

And our results? Well, they were mixed.

So, when frustration got the better of us, we even decided to build our own app to help us grow our AOV. 

And in the process, we learned a thing or two about how to upsell effectively.

So, in today’s post, we’re going to demystify the process and show you how to upsell with ease. 

We’ll cover 3-parts that show you exactly how to upsell:

  • The theory: you’ll learn 6-principles that underpin how to upsell properly
  • The tactics: you’ll discover 9 upselling techniques that work (with examples)
  • The implementation: lastly we’ll talk about the best upselling tools to bring your strategy to life

So, if you’re ready to learn how to upsell and start generating more revenue from your existing traffic, let’s get into it!

How to Upsell 101: What is Upselling?

In a nutshell, upselling is when you offer a customer a higher-priced version of the product or service they’re going to buy.

For example, above you can see that Tesla gives customers the option to add 'Full self-driving capability' to their cars for $7,500 extra. This is an example of effective upselling.

Upselling is great for you because it helps you generate bigger orders. And nowadays, with the costs of customer acquisition on the rise, upselling is a great way to offset these increased costs, and boost profitability. There's also more upselling benefits - such as greater customer satisfaction, and higher customer lifetime values.

Seriously, popular companies like Amazon and McDonald's use upselling techniques every day to increase their bottom lines. Just think about the last time you were offered to ‘go large’ or ‘supersize’ when you ordered a BigMac meal.

Now upselling can conjure an image of a shady salesman trying to convince you to buy something you don’t need. But in reality, it can also help your customers get what they’re looking for.

So, let’s keep going to learn the underlying theory of how to upsell in a way that helps both you and your customers get the best deal.

How to Upsell: 6 Principles for Upselling Success

Now that you know what upselling is, let’s break down the theory of effective upselling. By implementing these principles, you’ll generate bigger orders, without leaving a bad taste in your customers' mouths.

1. Choose the right timing

When it comes to upselling, timing is everything. You need to introduce your upsell at the moment when your customer is most likely to accept the offer.

Introduce your offer too early and you’ll create a paradox of choice. When this happens, your customer may ‘need more time to think about it’. 

See, when you overload your customer with options too early. You can actually end up losing the initial sale. So, the best time to upsell customers is after they’ve already committed to the purchase. 

The closer you get to checkout, the more likely you are to convert customers.

For example, a McDonald's employee won’t ask you if you’d like to go supersize, as soon as you approach the counter - they wait until you’ve already decided what you want, and then drop the offer to upgrade.

For this reason, it’s best to upsell as close to checkout as you can, and even better if upsell after checkout. The data tells us that the closer to checkout (and beyond checkout) you upsell customers, the more conversions you’ll get.

2. Choose the right products

After timing, choosing the right products is the next step. 

When creating your upsell offer, you should select closely related or complimentary products to the customers initial order. For example, fries go very well with a burger, right? (technically this is cross-selling, but for this article, we’re treating them as one and the same)

What’s more, the more personalized your upsell offers are, the more conversions you’ll get. This is where using marketing automation tools is valuable.

Use tools (like ReConvert) to upsell customers based on the items in their cart contents or purchase history. 

For example, Amazon does this all the time, and you’re probably aware how irresistible their product recommendations can be.

3. Use the rule of three

In line with not overloading customers, you should choose only a few upsell options. Generally, one to three upsell options is enough.

Offer too many options and you’ll create another dreaded paradox of choice scenario, where shoppers need time to consider each one, and you lose the sale.

For example, in McDonalds, they don’t ask you if you’d like to add a McFlurry, an Apple Pie, and a second burger. They simply ask if you’d like ‘fries with that’ or if you’d ‘like to go supersize for $0.50c.

When you offer fewer options, there’s less for customers to consider, which in turn results in higher conversion rates and more revenue for you.

4. Upsell Customers by 10-30%

Many people ask ‘how much should I upsell customers by?’

The answer is that it’s important to remember that shoppers typically have a budget in mind. 

And although it would be nice to upsell customers by 50%, in reality trying to do this will scuttle your conversion rates.

We’ve studied over 30,000+ active Shopify stores and found that the sweet spot for upselling is typically between 10-30% of the initial basket value.

Landing around 20% will give you a good balance between extra revenue and conversion rate, where you’ll make the most money.

Obviously this varies based on order value, profit margins, and what kinds of products you’re selling, but if you’re not sure where to start, shoot for between 10-30% when it comes to upselling.

🚀Pro Tip: With ReConvert, you can use upsell funnels to retain more revenue. For example you can offer customers a 10% discount on an additional product. If they decline, you can then offer them an even bigger discount to tempt more conversions.

5. Don’t Be Pushy

Skillful upselling is non-invasive. It doesn’t interrupt the natural customer journey.

It’s important to make it easy for customers to decline your upsell offers. Because while a portion (up to 15%) of shoppers will accept your offers, most won’t. So, don’t annoy them.

Sure, subtle scarcity & urgency are fine. And in fact, You should limit your offer to the upsell (i.e. make it exclusive,  that it can’t be claimed outside of the transaction) you’ll get more conversions and we recommend doing this.

Essentially, don’t use pop-ups that are hard to dismiss. Don’t design your offers in a way that tricks customers. If you offer the right products, at the right time, to the right customer, you won’t need any questionable ‘CRO-hacks’ to get conversions.

6. Leverage Data & Testing to Hone Your Offers

As with most things in digital marketing and conversion optimization, testing is your best friend.

It’s unlikely you’ll create an amazing upsell offer first-time. So, you should a/b test different types of customer segments, products, offers, timings etc. to find the best converting upsells.

Now, doing this on your own can be time consuming. So, with ReConvert, we’ve already ran tests across thousands of Shopify stores and figured out what works.

You can deploy our Conversion Monster Template which is built off data from our users. It’s a pre-built post-purchase upsell funnel that converts like crazy, and saves you a ton of time and headaches.

Phew! Ok that’s a lot to take in. So, here’s the TL;DR of how to upsell a product for you article-skimmers:

  • Timing: Introduce offers at checkout (or after checkout) where intent is highest
  • Products: Personalize offers based on cart contents, shopping history, total spend etc.
  • Rule of 3: Don’t offer more than 3 upsell options to reduce decision fatigue
  • Pricing: Price your offer 10-30% more than basket size
  • Non-pushy: Make it easy to decline your upsell offer
  • Testing: Constantly a/b test your upsells for more conversions

How to Upsell: 9 Proven Upselling Tactics to Try (+ Examples)

Ok, with the theory of upselling under our belts, let’s keep going to see it in practice. We’ll look at practical ways you can add upsells to your eCommerce store. Each of these strategies satisfy our formula for effective upselling and will generate extra revenue, with minimal effort.

1. Upsell Customers at Checkout

how to upsell customers example on the checkout page

The classic ‘Would you like fries with that?’ upsell works just as well in an eCommerce context. In fact, ReConvert users get an average of 10% CVR with their checkout upsells.

This is because when customers check-out, they’ve got super high purchase intent (i.e. they’re ready to buy). 

Some ideas ReConvert user implement to capitalize on this intent are to offer:

  • An add-on service - e.g. shipping insurance, or priority handling
  • A personalized related product - e.g. a carry case to compliment a new laptop
  • A digital product - e.g. a recipe ebook to compliment a new blender
  • The same product with a discount - e.g. ‘Buy 2, get 15% off’ or ‘Buy 2, get a 3rd free’

2. Upsell with One-Click Offers Immediately After Checkout

How to upsell a product with one click upsells

After checkout, your shopper’s purchase-intent peaks. 

They’ve already purchased a product. The sale is secure. So, now is the perfect time to tempt a portion of them into a second sale. How? With one-click upsells.

One-click upsells are offers you show between completing checkout and the order confirmation page.

These offers are so powerful because customers don’t have to re-enter their payment details. There’s no friction for a second conversion. And no friction = more conversions.

3. Add Upsell Offers on the Thank You Page

An example of how to upsell on your thank you page

By far the most underutilized page on any eCommerce site is the thank you page (also known as the order confirmation page).

Think about it: your thank you page is seen by every single customer who buys from you. And for most stores, customers are just looking at a placeholder.

Moreover, data from ReConvert shows that customers come back to the thank you page an average of 2.2 times per order. So essentially, without upsells, you have a lot of impressions going to waste.

For instance, ReConvert users Tushy, added a few simple personalized cross-sells to their thank you page. Overnight, they added almost $200,000 to their monthly revenue without modifying their customer’s front-end journey.

Plus, eCommerce giant Amazon also uses product recommendations on their thank you page. If they’re doing it, it’s certainly a strategy worth considering for your store too.

4. Upsell Customers with Pop-ups

Pop-ups are also a useful tool to upsell customers. 

For example, Native Cosmetics uses pop-ups to upsell customers on the product page:

How to upsell in eCommerce with pop-ups

The key thing to notice here is that the pop-up is triggered when a customer clicks add to cart (i.e. they’re showing purchase intent). 

Because, while effective, pop-ups can be annoying for shoppers - so you don’t want to randomly show pop-ups to every visitor browsing your store. Thank you page pop-ups are also extremely powerful. For instance, you can use a pop-up to display a one-time offer based on the customer’s cart contents. 

If you make this upsell offer exclusive to the order (e.g. ‘Add another item within 30 minutes & get 20% off’) you‘ll likely get an impressive conversion rate. This type of offer is the best performing thank you page widget in ReConvert with up to 15% of shoppers converting to a second order.

One place we would advise against using pop-ups is at checkout. This is because you don’t want to distract customers here. A pop-up may take their attention away from completing the sale. And the last thing you want is for your upsell offers to cannibalize your existing sales.

5. Upsell on the Cart Page

The cart page represents another opportunity to upsell customers to a higher order value. For example, one of the best Shopify stores, Outdoor Voices, uses their cart page to cross-sell related products:

The important thing to note is how non-invasive these cross-sells are. Also, notice how they don’t offer more than 3 products. And additionally, how all of the upsells fall within the 10-30% pricing rule we discussed previously.

You can also add product upsells to the cart-drawer (if using one) like nutrition retailer Natreve do here:

Simple product suggestions like this are a good way to boost cart value. It’s unlikely that you’ll get as high a conversion rate as with one-click upsells and thank you page upsells. 

But cart page upsells are a nice way to boost the value of sales on a portion of your orders, while giving customers something extra they may have missed.

6. Upsell Customers with Post-Purchase Emails

Moving off-site, email is another channel you can leverage to upsell products.

For example, look at how interior design store Crate & Barrel adds a ‘you’ll also love’ section to their order confirmation emails:

Transactional emails like this typically get high open rates. This means you can get more free impressions on products your customers may like. 

Combined with thank you page upsells (which essentially have a 100% open rate), it’s possible to show an offer to a customer three or four times for free. And when you consider that such customers are highly-qualified shoppers, many of those extra-impressions are likely to turn into revenue.

🚀 Pro Tip: Birthday emails are a great way to build brand loyalty and drive sales at the same time. Ava Estelle generated over £7,250 from their birthday email automation in just 6 months which took them 15 minutes to set-up. Read how they did it here.

7. Upsell Shoppers to a Subscription

Another way to upsell is to convert customers from one-time shoppers into subscribed customers. For example, Soylent offers customers a 10% discount when they subscribe to replenish their stock. And an even bigger discount if they subscribe to pre-pay for 3-months supply up front.

Upselling customers to a subscription is something to consider if you sell replenish able products - or products that have a high purchase frequency.

The best way to upsell shoppers into a subscription is to offer them a discount for signing up. Although this means giving away a small portion of revenue in the intial sale, you'll recoup much more profits if customers stick around for a period a time.

8. Upsell With a Free Shipping Threshold

Everyone hates paying for shipping. As a retailer, you can use this to your distaste to your advantage by creating a free shipping threshold.

Free shipping based on cart value, motivates shoppers to spend more to reach it and unlock their reward.

Now the question with a free shipping threshold is - ‘where do I set it at?’ Well, here’s one solution; take the mode order value of your store (i.e. the order value that is most common in your store). Then add 20-30% to this figure to find your free shipping threshold.

The idea here is to encourage the most shoppers to add an extra 20-30% to their cart to boost their final order value.

Now, of course, it’s critical to ensure that your free shipping threshold also covers the cost of fulfillment. For example, you don’t want to end up boosting your order value, but lowering your profit margin.

So, run the numbers. Then set your threshold high enough that it covers the cost of shipping, while also upselling customers to a higher cart value.

9. Upsell Customers with Product Bundles

Product bundling is a powerful strategy that’s been used to upsell customers since retail began.

The BigMac Meal is a product bundle. Amazon’s ‘Buy it with’ recommendations are a product bundle. And these t-shirts from H&M are a product bundle too:

Product bundling is a wonderful way to tempt customers to spend more. The trick is to price your bundles cheaper than if customers purchased each item individually. 

For example, on the H&M website, if I arrived to purchase a t-shirt, they probably wouldn’t make much margin on a single t-shirt for €5.99. However, if I buy five t-shirts, all of a sudden I save 7% per tee, unlock free shipping, and H&M gets an order value of €27.99. So everyone gets a better deal.

The beauty of bundling like this is that it’s completely non-intrusive. At no stage does the customer feel like they’re getting upsold. It fits seamlessly into the buyer's journey. It’s subtle, but powerful, especially when combined with some of the other techniques we’ve covered so far.

How to Upsell: Implement Your Tactics With These 5 Upsell Apps 

Okay, by now you know the principles of upselling, and practical strategies to upsell customers in your store. So, it’s time to talk about tools and figure out how to implement this on your Shopify store. 

These five apps will allow you to add the upselling strategies that we’ve covered thus far. So, think of them as your AOV-boosting stack:

1. ReConvert Upsell

If you want to instantly add upsells to your store, ReConvert is the one-stop app that’ll cover your bases and boost your order values overnight.

Now, obviously it’s our Shopify app. But we are listing it first based on its Shopify app store ratings to ensure impartiality.

ReConvert allows you to add three powerful upselling strategies we discussed above in a single app:

  • Checkout upsells (Shopify Plus only)
  • One-click upsells between checkout and the thank you page
  • Thank you page upsells (with pop-ups)

We designed ReConvert as former 7-figure merchants who couldn’t find a powerful upselling solution. So, it’s built to be as simple as possible to implement. It’s trusted by over 40,000 merchants every month to generate extra revenue for your store on auto-pilot.

  • Pricing: Paid Plans start at $7.99/mo
  • Free Trial: 30-day Free Trial.
  • ‍App Store Rating: 5/5
  • Best For: Checkout upsells, One-click post-purchase upsells, thank you page upsells

👉Try ReConvert Free

2. Wiser AI

Wiser is an awesome app that uses AI to offer personalized product recommendations to shoppers in your store. It allows you to add that potent Amazon-esque ‘Customers also bought’ functionality to your store. 

It’s also got a feature called ‘Wiser Pops’ which enables you to implement the click-triggered product page upsell we saw Native Cosmetics using effectively above.

Wiser is trusted by lots of big brands such as Kappa, Beddy's, and Nordmann. It integrates with other upsell apps (including ReConvert) to enhance their power. 

Plus they’ve got amazing analytics on the back-end. It’s easy to track the performance of your upsell offers and make necessary adjustments.

  • Pricing: Free Limited Plan. Full-feature plans start at $19/mo.
  • Free Trial: 14-Days.
  • App Store Rating: 4.9/5.
  • Best for: Personalized product suggestions & Product page pop-up upselling.

👉Try Wiser Today

3. In-Cart Upsell

With In Cart Upsell, you can upsell customers directly in their cart drawer or on the cart page, making it an ideal tool for increasing your average order value.

Similar to ReConvert, In Cart Upsell provides advanced segmentation features that allow you to tailor your upsell offers based on various factors like location and product type.

This app is equipped with an AI-powered auto-suggest feature that recommends the most appealing product by analyzing several data points. Additionally, you can take advantage of its discount features and in-built A/B testing to fine-tune your offers and optimize conversion rates.

By targeting customers who have already indicated an intent to spend money, you have a better chance of successfully upselling or cross-selling additional products.

  • Pricing: Free Plan available. Full-feature plans starting at $19 per month.
  • App Store Rating: 4.9/5 on the app store 
  • Best For: Upselling customers in-cart

👉Try In-Cart Upsell Today

4. Bundler

Bundler is an amazing app to help you create product bundles and upsell customers just like we saw H&M doing above.

Bundler app gives you the power to create classic bundles, Mix & Match bundles, volume discounts, frequently bought together, fast bundle upsell, grocery discount, discount popups, mix bundles, tiered discount, build your own bundle, automatic bundle discounts and more!

  • Pricing: Free Limited Plan. Full-feature plans start at $19/mo.
  • Free Trial: 14-Days.
  • App Store Rating: 4.9/5.
  • Best for: Personalized product suggestions & Product page pop-up upselling.

👉 Try Bundler Free Today

5. Seal Subscriptions

Seal subscriptions is one of the best subscription apps on the market. If you sell replenishables this app is a no-brainer.

Seal Subscriptions app gives you full control over your subscribers, products, discounts, churn rate, cancellations with a great support team behind it to help you with whichever situation you find yourself in.

  • Pricing: Free Limited Plan. Full-feature plans start at $19/mo.
  • Free Trial: 14-Days.
  • App Store Rating: 4.9/5
  • Best for: Personalized product suggestions & Product page pop-up upselling.

👉Try Seal Subscriptions Today

How to Upsell: The Key Takeaways

Giving a definitive answer to the question ‘how to upsell’ is not an easy one. 

That’s because knowing how to upsell is context dependent. 

The right way to upsell a product depends on varying factors - who you're selling to, what you're selling, when you’re selling and so forth.

However in this article we’ve provided a theory of how to upsell effectively that applies in all contexts:

  • Timing: Introduce offers at checkout (or after checkout) where intent is highest
  • Products: Personalize offers based on cart contents, shopping history, total spend etc.
  • Rule of 3: Don’t offer more than 3 upsell options to reduce decision fatigue
  • Pricing: Price your offer 10-30% more than basket size
  • Non-pushy: Make it easy to decline your upsell offer
  • Testing: Constantly a/b test your upsells for more conversions

Along with this framework, we’ve covered 10 proven strategies that successful retailers use to upsell customers to a higher basket value:

  • Add upsells to your checkout
  • Use one-click offers between checkout & the order confirmation page
  • Implement upsells & product suggestions on your thank you page
  • Use pop-ups to upsell customers when they click
  • Suggest related products on the cart page
  • Use a subscription-upsell if it applies to your products
  • Design a free-shipping threshold to nudge customers to spend more
  • Offer discounted product bundles of related products or product variants 

Lastly we covered five tools to help you implement these strategies on your Shopify store. These tools are:

  • ReConvert Upsell for Checkout upsells, one-click upsells & thank you page upsells
  • Wiser AI for personalized product suggestions & pop-up upsells
  • In-Cart Upsells for cart drawer & cart page upsells
  • Bundler to help you build product bundles
  • Seal Subscriptions for upselling customers to a recurring revenue plan

How to Upsell: Putting it all Together

Providing a cohesive upsell strategy - i.e. how to use these tactics & apps together for your specific store -  is difficult. But that’s where you come in. You know your business, products and customers better than anyone. 

If you’re unsure of where to start, we’d advise you try post-purchase upsells first. Not because that’s what our app does, but because that’s where you have the least to lose. Post-purchase upsells don’t interrupt your customers before they purchase.

Plus, at present, your post-purchase funnel is likely completely unoptimized. So, adding upsells here represents the biggest opportunity to capture revenue that’s currently being left on the table.

Overall, deciding on which upsell strategies to implement is a matter of intuition combined with trial and error, that’s guided by your expertise. If you need specialized help, or have any questions, reach out to our support team who’ll be happy to help you set-up your first upsell offer today.

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