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Upselling & Cross-Selling in Ecommerce: The Difference, Benefits & Examples

Learn the difference between upselling and cross-selling, why they’re essential for ecommerce, and how they help boost AOV and drive more sales.

The best online shopping experiences occur when your customers feel they’ve found the perfect product or service for their needs.

And sometimes, it’s up to you as a merchant to help them discover their next favorite product through upsells and cross-sells.


(Keep reading to learn how the following upselling and cross-selling examples can inspire your merchandising strategy.)

  • Licorice.com uses Rebuy for post-purchase offers
    Post-purchase upsells and cross-sells
  • Au Vodka uses Rebuy for dynamic bundle offers
    Dynamic bundle offers on the PDP
  • Fanjoy uses Rebuy for AI-powered upselling and cross-selling in the shopping cart
    In-cart cross-sells
  • Flaunt uses Rebuy for upselling and cross-selling on the product detail page
    Cross-selling on the PDP
  • immi uses Rebuy for upselling and cross-selling with pop-ups
    Pop-up subscription upsell
  • OLLY uses Rebuy for upselling and cross-selling in the shopping cart
    In-cart subscription upsells


Upselling and cross-selling are strategic ways for ecommerce businesses to offer a better shopping experience. They show a product’s value without using aggressive sales tactics. 

In this article, we break down the difference between upsells and cross-sells and why they’re essential. We’ll throw in some tried and tested tactics sure to boost your AOV and drive more revenue for your online store.

Before making any changes to your online shop, though, let’s clarify what cross-selling and upselling really mean.

What Is Cross-Selling?

Cross-selling is a sales technique that encourages customers to spend more by buying related products. Think of fashion brands asking customers to “complete the look” by offering complementary items. For example, someone shopping for swim trunks could also want sandals and sunglasses. 

To cross-sell products effectively, it's crucial to suggest items that complement the purchase. For example, you could recommend a case and screen protector when someone buys a new smartphone. The relevance of the offer ensures it feels personalized and not like an attempt to increase sales.

What Is Upselling?

Upselling is a sales technique that asks customers to buy the premium version of a product. Think of upselling as upgrading. Instead of selling more items to complement the original product, you’re upgrading it altogether.

Let’s say you’re ready to buy a $130 running shoe—until you learn about the high-end features of the $160 running shoe. Can you run in either shoe? Sure. But if the $160 model offers a smoother ride, more cushioning, and is made with sustainable materials, it’s seen as the more premium product.

What Is The Difference Between Upselling and Cross-selling?

While both upselling and cross-selling can generate revenue, each has a distinct purpose.

The purpose of upselling is to increase the value of a single purchase. The purpose of cross-selling is to increase the total items a customer purchases. Upselling upgrades a single product to a more premium version. Cross-selling encourages customers to buy more (complementary) products. 

✍️ In short, upselling focuses on value. Cross-selling focuses on volume.

When deciding which technique to use for your business, consider customer intent and your business goals. 

  • How often are certain products bought together? 

  • Do your customers intend to buy a single product or many products? 

  • What combination of upselling and cross-selling most often results in higher average order value? 

Answering these questions will help you decide how to organize your upselling and cross-selling strategy.

Whichever mix of upselling and cross-selling you choose, you'll enjoy a few key benefits.

Upselling and Cross-Selling Creates Benefits for Your Customers (and Your Ecommerce Business)

Integrating an upselling and cross-selling strategy into your marketing strategy can produce major benefits for your business.

Here are just a few advantages to consider.

1. Better customer experience

Two of the most appealing aspects of ecommerce are ease and convenience. Your customers don't want to scroll forever looking for the right product. Cross-selling and upselling reduce decision fatigue. They also decrease the need for your customer to keep scrolling and researching.

And trust us, when you save time for your customers, they'll appreciate it. 

But how do you know which product offers will enhance customer satisfaction? Use your data! When your merchandising is powered by AI, you help your customers discover products they'll actually buy. 

ℹ️ Learn how AI product recommenders automatically display personalized recommendations that strengthen customer relationships and boost revenue.

2. Stronger customer loyalty

Not everyone has a personal shopper, but cross-selling and upselling can make it feel that way. Personalized recommendations based on data like past purchases or recently viewed items let a customer feel known and understood. Plus, research shows it costs 6X - 7X more to get a new customer than to keep an existing customer.

Bottom line?

Personalized product suggestions create a better experience and earn you loyal customers for life.

3. More sales

You have no problem getting people to visit your site, and a lot of them even make purchases. But one-item shopping carts aren’t the goal, here. After all, you’re looking to grow your store fast and shatter your sales records!

Good upselling and cross-selling strategies lead to an increase in sales revenue. Look at Amazon, the pioneer and champion of cross-selling. You may have heard by now—personalized product recommendations have accounted for 35% of Amazon’s revenue. Even one extra item in every other cart adds up and can improve the average order value (AOV). 

Here's the thing.

Personalized upselling and cross-selling enhance the customer experience and increase customer lifetime value. Over time, they help you increase revenue, improve customer satisfaction, and support your marketing strategy.

Next, we'll feast our eyes on some cross-selling and upselling examples to help you sell the lights out.

Ecommerce Personalization: The Complete Guide for Founders, Merchants, and Marketers

Your ecommerce personalization journey starts here.👇


Upselling and Cross-selling Examples

Knowing when and where to offer upsells or cross-sells depends on your business needs. Luckily, there are several great methods to try so you can find the right combination for your store. 

But for now, let's look at a few upselling and cross-selling techniques designed to increase customer loyalty and revenue. As you browse, think about how each offer might encourage customers to buy more products and discover new ones.

ℹ️ Learn how AI and machine learning (ML) can personalize your cross-selling and upselling strategy to every customer.

What is an example of cross-selling in ecommerce?

Cross-selling efforts are foundational to a smart merchandising strategy. To maximize your sales opportunities and increase sales revenue, work towards adding personalization at key points along the customer journey. A good way to start is to add personalized recommendations to the PDP (product detail page).

Have a look below at how Flaunt cross-sells complementary products on the PDP.

The Fanjoy store featuring upselling and cross-selling in the Rebuy Smart Cart™

The product viewed is an iPhone case. Based on Flaunt’s historical sales data and shopping behaviors, it’s likely the customer viewing this case will also buy a screen protector and/or a phone ring. So, Flaunt wisely cross-sells these items on the PDP.

Showing items frequently bought together helps buyers envision the complete package. Understanding your existing customers and showing personalized cross-sell offers can enhance the effectiveness of your cross-selling efforts. For an even more personalized experience, display products the shopper has recently viewed.

Now, let's look at an example of cross-selling in the shopping cart.

If your customers have added items to the shopping cart, then purchase intent is high. Take advantage of this opportunity by cross-selling complementary products. 

Fanjoy uses an intelligent cart flyout to cross-sell complementary items. In-cart offers help increase average order value and reduce cart abandonment. See for yourself! Fanjoy used personalized upselling and cross-selling to increase average order value by 11.7%.

smart cart fanjoy example

Well-executed cross-selling strategies boost sales and improve customer satisfaction, ensuring your customers receive complementary products that enhance their primary purchase.

What is an example of upselling in ecommerce?

This first upselling example is from OLLY. While in-cart cross-sells help OLLY customers discover new and related products, the vitamin brand grew subscription revenue by 63% with in-cart subscription upsells. Notice variant selectors let you choose serving sizes without leaving the cart. (This helps to increase conversions and reduce cart abandonment.) Not bad!


The Olly store featuring cross-selling and subscription upselling in the Rebuy Smart Cart™


Our next example is from immi. The instant ramen brand used well-designed, on-brand pop-up upsells to increase subscription opt-in rates by 5-10% and average order value by 24.55%. The immi team also saw customer lifetime value improve and a $3 increase in average revenue per customer (ARPC). Yum! (Read the immi success story.)


The immi store featuring pop-up upsell by Rebuy


Not a subscription business? Neither is Au Vodka. But they love to use bundle upsells on the PDP to boost order values and increase product discovery. The Pineapple Crush page displays a bundle of items "frequently bought together." After all, you'll need glasses to enjoy those spirits.


The Au Vodka store featuring a dynamic bundle by Rebuy on the product detail page


Our final example comes from G.O.A.T. Foods. When a customer completes an order, you have 100% of their attention. How does this fast-growing snack brand seize the moment? With post-purchase upselling and cross-selling to enhance customer satisfaction when it counts.

G.O.A.T. Foods loves using both upselling and cross-selling in their post-purchase offers. Notice the post-purchase offer in the middle is for a single product (Australian Red). The other two are upsells encouraging customers to buy the more premium product. (In this case, sampler packs worth about 3X more than the single product.)


Licorice.com checkout page and post-purchase offers featuring upselling and cross-selling by Rebuy
Licorice.com (a G.O.A.T. Foods brand) uses upselling and cross-selling by Rebuy on the checkout page and in post-purchase offers.


This strategy is paying major dividends for the snack brand. (Read about the G.O.A.T. Foods success story.)

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Upselling and cross-selling work best when they are relevant and tailored to your customer.
  • Bundling like items together at a discounted price is an effective cross-selling tactic.
  • Use data to personalize the shopping experience for your future customers. Why? Customers are 80% more likely to buy from brands that offer personalized experiences.

Want more examples? Visit our Inspiration Page and our Case Study Page.

Enhance the Shopping Experience With AI-Powered Upselling and Cross-selling

Your customers want amazing shopping experiences. By offering personalized product recommendations with proven cross-selling and upselling techniques, you can provide an amazing experience to every customer...every time. And that benefits everyone.


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