Website features to help you get sales, part 2: Cross-sell and up-sell strategies

There are many website plug-in options these days to support cross-selling and up-selling. We look at different strategies and the pros and cons of having them on your website.

We’ve come a long way since “Would you like fries with that”, but the premise is the same: make a suggestion and the consumer might just say yes, especially if that suggestion is based on their personal interests and tastes or real choices other customers have made.

Amazon converts an estimated 10 per cent of its site visits into sales. An Internet Retailer survey found that around 35 per cent of those sales are attributed to cross-sell – products bought in addition to the item a customer originally intended to purchase.

There are a number of website elements and navigational tricks listed below to cross-sell and up-sell products that might work on your own website.

Recommendations for you

The website surfaces products in the same category or related to products you bought on the site previously. Recommendations use adaptive personalisation with implicit data collection – meaning your website uses a customer’s search and purchase history to select products related to items they were interested in before.

Pros: Recommendations are a good way to demonstrate your range and help customers discover items they might not have found themselves.

Cons: Recommendations only really work well for repeat customers, so check how many visitors are repeat visitors before adding this feature. It may also be more effective for smaller, more frequent purchases rather than long-lasting big-ticket items like cars or appliances. Recommendations also don’t work for one-off interests – for instance, when people are shopping for a gift for someone else and so looking at items they wouldn’t consider again.

See all your recently viewed items

Items a customer clicked on previously appear in a separate area alongside or below their current search.

Pros: Personal browsing histories can help customers who have been shopping around or considering options remember and find the item they want to buy.

Cons: Seeing recently viewed items is a handy shortcut for customers, but is it the best use of that real estate on your website? Would you do better recommending related accessories? You may want to A/B test to find out…

Customers who bought this item also bought…

This feature uses collaborative filtering to surface similar items or accessories that are related to a potential purchase.

Pros: Showing products that other customers bought or viewed gives customers some social proof (“Other people chose this too!”), showcases your range (with up-sell potential) and can help you cross-sell if it surfaces extra items like covers, batteries or matching items. In the world of fashion, for example, seeing other items that could be added to create a complete outfit is very tempting!

Cons: You’ll need reasonable levels of website traffic to have enough data to provide other product selections for every line in your online store. It might also distract a customer with other options to consider, rather than converting the sale.

Recent sales notifications

Your customers are browsing your website’s products when a box pops up telling them Someone Just Bought one of the store’s products.

Pros: This is the online equivalent of a busy store – it can create a sense of urgency, of validation and fear of missing out. It can also reveal an online store’s countrywide or international reputation. When “Someone from Brooklyn just bought … ” it gives the store some clout.

Cons: Some people find it irritating or pushy to have these pop-up boxes.

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