“Do you want fries with that?” Iconic McDonald’s phrase is probably one of the best examples of how successful cross-selling can bring significant additional revenues and profit.

In this article, we talk you through the process of cross-selling so you can increase the value of your current customer base today. 

What Is Cross-selling?

Cross-sell is a marketing ploy to motivate customers to purchase additional products or services.

The retailer delicately leads the customer to buy extra items related to the initial product: a tie with a shirt, headphones with a smartphone, fries with a hamburger, etc.

The cross-sale method directly echoes another marketing method called Upsell. It encourages the client to spend more by buying a more expensive model in the same product family. If a retailer suggests a premium version of origin purchase, that would be an example of Upselling.

The cross-selling promotion has become extremely popular in eCommerce (it is easier to suggest visually than in a physical store) and is well-known as “Related items”, “Bestsellers”, “New”, or “Special offers and product promotions” sections that Apple is actively using.

The example of cross-selling

How to activate the cross-selling potential? First off, explore your catalog for understanding which items complement each other. Next, define consumers’ shopping habits – how much they spend per customer journey, which types of products they purchase most, their favorite ways to shop, etc. 

With insights, it’s possible to draw a conclusion which product will work better when offered on other product pages. 

Why Do You Need Cross-selling?

Cross-selling is useful in both generating your income and foreseeing your customers’ desires. To succeed you need to know what your customers are looking for and offer complimentary add-on products at the right time that clearly show your understanding. Moreover, cross-selling reduces the risk of taking over the customer by the competitors. But first things first. 

So, let’s take a peek at the primary benefits of an effective cross-selling strategy.


By implementing a cross-selling strategy, you can maximize your income. The principle is simple: the more you suggest, the more buyers draw attention to additional items and take it.

Note! Do not offer the plethora of products in one section. Otherwise, the buyer will be confused, tired and will close the page. One product = 3 or 4 additional items.


When all your offers logically complement the desirable purchase, the client feels that you are taking care of him, and not just trying to make money. Cross-selling is good for both a retailer and for shoppers. If customers don’t know about additional products that would enhance their experience, you can help them. You show them on their customer journey the perfect options and they’re happy and buy recommended products. Your sales boost, and customers are totally satisfied with their purchases.

The main cross-sell skill is the ability to listen. As a retailer, your goal is to support your clients in achieving their goals, be it more times, peace of mind, or meet the challenge. 


The great thing about cross-selling is that there are various methods to realize it. If you develop the proper technique, it becomes a portion of the potential personal selling advantage that helps you to stand out from rivals. If your technique is smart and good, you’ll further deepen the previously mentioned customer loyalty that’s so significant.


One of the less obvious pluses of cross-selling is that it can actually increase the number and quality of leads in your pipeline. If you have satisfied customers, they will recommend you. These referrals can come internally within the current customers’ organization or even externally to a new customer in their network. 


Cross-selling can include some form of discount which means your company is getting less on any given additional items than if you are tempted to sell that same item alone. It’s worth noting to say, you may not have gotten a sale at all without cross-selling. So, as opposed to missing a multi-product sale you simply make less on each individual product but you still increase your overall profitability due to multiple products being sold. 

For example, If you sell payroll processing, say, for $100 a month and HR software for $100 a month and employee timekeeping software for $100 a month and you make a 50% margin on each as individual products, you’ll make $50. 

What is cross-selling

If in order to get a customer on board with all three you have to drop the price to let’s say $90 each you come out ahead significantly on profit as selling only one product for $50. Just turn into three products at $40 profit each or $120 total.

the definition of cross-selling

There are many great benefits to cross-selling. So much so that if you don’t have a cross-selling strategy today or aren’t executing the one you have successfully, it’s time to dive in and take advantage of this great approach.

Cross-selling Techniques

A cross-selling strategy provides current customers the opportunity to buy extra items offered by the seller or online platform. The idea behind cross-selling is to capture a huge portion of the market by meeting more of the needs and wants of each individual customer. It is often used in retail sales. During the shopping of a book in a given scope, there would be visible information that other books related to the one or similar scope were bought altogether with the selected item. 

There are two key cross-selling strategies:

Bundling. Try packaging products that mix well such as an Iphone, EarPads and say silicon case, to generate your sales and convince that a customer needs all three products for convenient use of the primary purchase. Moreover, offer attractive discounts for driving interest.

Visual tutorial. This strategy is a trend among fashion, lifestyle, and cosmetics industries, where users rely on visual tips. Create videos and high-res photos to demonstrate all pros of the product and make customers feel that the whole set is ideal. A case in point is the “Trend gear” option or “Shop our collections” for clothing brands.

Best Time to Cross-sell: Myth or Reality?

Understanding when to cross-sell is as significant as the primary sale itself. If you offer an extra product to a client at the bad time, you can scare him away. That’s good or bad but there is no one right way to define the appropriate time to cross-sell.

But all the same, by keeping the key purpose of cross-selling in mind — to encourage a customer to buy more — you can understand when the client is ready shopping and reciprocate your efforts. In short, the perfect time for cross-selling is when the sale makes complete sense to the buyer.

Note! Just look at it from the customer’s point of view when solving what to offer. Cross-selling is ideal when you make out all customer’s needs, wants and preferences.

As an Instagram promotion agency, if you have a client who has just registered, you may offer useful modules to help drive new followers. If a customer buys a new laptop, you might offer screen cleaning wipes.

On balance, there is no perfect moment for companion selling, but there are a ton of bad times, and it’s your choice to figure out when to pop the question.

Steps for Cross-Selling to Customers

Below is a brief beginner’s guide that outlines all the information on how to apply cross-selling correctly. As you move forward with your company’s sales, you may find that these cross-selling ideas help you build upon the achievements.

Define which products your customers can buy together.

To cross-sell effectively, think of those items that naturally combine, like coffee and a piece of pie. What coffee and pie are usually bought together? Pay special attention to the price of the products you combine, as cross-sell products cost about the same.

Determine customers are ready to engage with you. 

Not all clients are vulnerable to cross-selling. As Harvard Business Review reports, there are two kinds of customers that are better to delete from your cross-selling listing: service demanders and revenue reverses. 

Who are Service Demanders? They are the ”I would like to talk to your manager” kind of person. They usually call you for each question without trying to solve the problem on its own. 

As for Revenue Reverses, they buy your product but then get it back. There is a pattern – the more they purchase, the more they bring back, which would have time and money lost. 

In a nutshell, to create a correct and effective cross-selling strategy, you need to target the right audience. Defining cross-sell clients starts with collecting and analyzing information that you pick up from your clients at every phase of customer purchase history. 

By using different tools for CRM and AL-tools, your online platform automatically engages with your customers that have expressed their interest in some items. The beauty of these tools is that there is no need to configure a new campaign all the time. Plus, your marketers can focus on the more personal interactions in which robots are powerless. 

Come up with a cross-selling campaign and customer journey. 

Once you’ve identified customers who are ideal applicants for cross-selling, the next step is to find an individual approach to each client.

Imagine you’re shopping as a VIP client who is enrolled in a loyalty program. You have access to an exclusive private sale category and you’re offered a personalized banner promoting triple bonus points. For this product, you’re given special VIP pricing and you’re presented with tailored cross-sells. 

Thus, the purpose of a cross-selling campaign is to make communication with users as effective and catchy as possible. Knowing all customers’ needs and wants, you need to understand exactly what is really important for your customers, how to promote the product, and create the content, and you can make more personalized offers and advertising. 

How to Cross-Sell in Retail?

It’s probably not surprising that cross-selling, if not used properly, can drive away actual and potential buyers instead of generating more income. To significantly increase average revenue per user, you must adhere to the following cross-selling tips:

Answer the question “Who is my buyer personas?” 

Any retailer needs to know his audience to achieve different marketing goals and make every customer happy with the product or service. By segmentation customers and studying their behavior and requests, you are always one step ahead, knowing the algorithm for their further actions. Predicting their steps and showing/suggesting exactly what they want increases not only web site traffic but also awareness and brand loyalty. Moreover, the client will always return to the place where he is understood without saying. 

Map out a customer journey

The customer journey is another level of understanding of your customers. When they gain initial success and value from the acquired product or service, they will start telling other individuals about it and attract leads. At that stage (so-called adoption), they’ll be glad to hear your cross-sell or upsell suggestion – that encourages them to spend more money. 

Offer cross-sells that make sense

Actively listen to customers’ needs and wants, define which of your items or services could meet them a challenge, and suggest additional products. In other words, using the cross-selling approach, you need to learn how to shift the focus from your own needs and help the buyer to purchase products and services that are really useful for him, creating a basis for repeated visits and purchases.

Some Examples of Cross-selling Online

A boring listing of extra products that make the initial purchase cooler? No. In this case, you will fail. What really works is when the user understands which additional benefits he gets by using your items. 

The secret is to visualize all these additional benefits.

Which begs the question, how to apply this rule to an online store?

Take a peek at some examples!

#1. You May Also Like

The check-out form at an online store suggests the client add a related product or a required accessory not included in the product being purchased.

How to put cross-selling into practice

#2. A follow-up Email

The cross-selling method can be successfully implemented in an email marketing funnel. In this case, the most effective tool will be a newsletter with a suggestion to supplement the product.

The effective email marketing mechanism includes:

First off, after the customer has made a purchase, you send a standard email message with the order number, delivery information, contact details, etc. This email must be supplemented with a section of related products or services. 

Next, within 2-3 weeks send an email with suggestions of the most appropriate and irreplaceable add-ons to the purchase.

If your customer ordered a shampoo, during several days you can offer to buy other items such as a conditioner, frizz control products, curl-enhancing sprays. Your goal is to make your client absolutely happy after a buy.

How to implement cross-selling in an email funnel

#3. Best Sellers

Informational social influence is the main moment for online stores. We are social beings and we don’t want to buy a pig in a poke. Plus, public opinion plays an important role. This tactic comes from our tendency to be influenced by others.

If a product has success, you feel that you make the right choice. The “other clients bought” phrase coupled with nice comments is fuel for the sales.

The example of cross-selling from Kiehl's

#4. Get Our Look

This idea is extremely popular among clothing stores or decoration. A T-shirt is shown with say blue mom jeans to tempt you to have the ‘full armour’. If your niche is fashion, always show images with the whole look and then suggest the additional items in the bag as cross-selling. More than one customer will desire to take the whole set.

The example of cross-selling from Adidas

Recom.ai Cross-selling Shopify App 

Recom.ai is a powerful cross-selling marketing tool to help retailers maximize their income and understand their customers better. The app provides personalized recommendations and additional items on your store.

With cross-selling, you can encourage your customers to add more products to their shopping carts, build confidence in your company while increasing average order value and enhance customers’ product experience. 

Are you ready to make a greater revenue with smart cross-sells? Let’s roll! 

You May Also Like

Sometimes customers are confused and don’t know what they want to buy. The “You may also like” option can make things right and help your customers find desirable items. On top of that, having related items on a page is not common, what makes you different from your competitors. The beauty of the option is that it shows really smart suggestions based on sales history, oders, and collections.

Cross-selling & upselling widgets

New Arrivals

The key goal of this widget is to report on new products. Informing about novelties is an extremely important element in building a communication strategy with potential and current customers. Such announcements drive visitors’ interest and streamline the search for actual content.

Top Sells

It’s another way of interaction with your clients. We are social creatures, and best-sellers are perceived as a quality mark of the highest level. Moreover, so-called social enhanced recommendations can help merchants understand what shoppers are looking for, reviewing, and purchasing. This in turn allows the retailers to ensure the shoppers explicit recommendations that can generate more sales.

Trending Now

The “Trending now” option has some similarity to the previous plugin but these widgets display for 30 days. Time-sensitive categories provide the impulse to purchase without a second thought, and they are good for seasonal recommendations.

Cross-selling & upselling widgets

Last Viewed 

It’s all about boosting customer loyalty and strengthening relations which in turn can enhance customer lifetime value and retention. Widget keeps all viewed products, therefore simplifying navigation and helping make a buying choice.

Similar Look 

It is a super-cool widget driven by Artificial Intelligence. It analyzes the look of the product and delivers similar looks. Remember that the new generation of consumers want to get individual recommendations that meet their needs, wants, and preferences. If your niche is Fashion, Jewelry, and Furniture, the “Similar Look” option will be great. 

Those entrepreneurs who care about the effectiveness of the site and the level of its converion, use various techniques to delay the user on the site, and encourage the target action. In this subtopic, I’ve talked about a Recom.ai widget pack which essence is to attract more attention, drive the traffic, and build love communication with customers, be it guest visitors or VIP clients.

Wrapping It Up

All of these cross-selling techniques are powerful tools, but you must find the ones that will work best in your situation. This may depend on your niche, your market position, your target market, and more. Try different methods and you will be surprised how cross-selling can increase your company’s sales and retain more customers.