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The right way to cross-sell products

The right way to cross-sell products Mike Perla

As an e-commerce company, you know the true value of cross-selling is to increase the amount customers spend during a visit on your site. You've heard the stats that prove cross-selling is a tactic that should be analyzed and tested. Your competitors are doing the same -- 70 percent of e-commerce sites use cross-selling. The king of cross-selling, Amazon, attributes 35 percent of all sales to this tactic. But it's not about simply implementing this tactic; you have to understand how cross-selling benefits your customer.

What is cross-selling?

For those 30 percent of retail companies unfamiliar with the tactic, cross-selling is the practice of selling an additional product to an existing customer. It's that "Products You May Be Interested In" section when you are close to checkout, or it's the salesperson explaining why you might want to add something else to your cart. For those that are not retail or e-commerce companies, the strategies behind cross-sells and add-ons are important to apply to sales techniques.

When add-ons don't add up

Too often e-commerce sites present add-on items to potential customers that lack relevancy or context. Relevancy is vital to engagement. Cater to your prospective buyers and pay attention to products they have been viewing or plan to purchase. Ultimately, the products you are attempting to cross-sell should be limited in number, deliberately chosen, and correctly positioned.

Learn from the methods brick-and-mortar stores employ

Imagine walking into an electronics store with the goal of purchasing a better receiver for a home theater system. You locate the home theater section, find the aisle displaying the available receivers, and you start comparing them. If you were to go through a similar process online, this moment would take the form of a product comparison feature.

Upon making your purchase decision, a salesperson recommends additional products you need in order to take full advantage of your new receiver's capabilities. He also explains the products necessary to integrate it with your current home theater system, such as optical audio cable, lower gauge speaker wire, HDMI cable, etc. You appreciate such recommendations because you now have what you need to set up your home theater, and you won't have to return to the store later.

The cross-sell is your online version of the helpful sales person

Let's apply the electronic store example to your online cross-selling strategy. This helpful salesperson would most likely recommend a single optical audio cable even though multiple brands are available. When presenting a potential online customer with add-ons, there should not be multiple options of a single product type presented. Add-ons are meant to ease the overall decision process, not complicate it. You want your customers to make decisions quickly, so don't bog their brain down with multiple add-ons that serve the same purpose.

Deliberately chosen and correctly positioned add-ons

When possible, add-on items should be deliberately chosen for a product or series of products. If you want to cross-sell potential customers at a high rate, you have a much better chance when the product add-on items are purposefully selected by a knowledgeable individual.

Often sites title their add-on items as "Recommended Accessories" or "You Might Also Want." Neither of these headers is very persuasive. How, exactly, are the items recommended? Try "Accessories Recommended by Our Tech Experts." This provides more context, and it positions the products as being selected by an expert; they're not just haphazardly selected add-ons.

When developing a cross-selling strategy, think of your customers and their purchase decision process. It's important to walk through not only the steps they take online, but also how would they be persuaded to purchase additional items in a store.

Mike Perla is the director of conversion optimization and creative at Fathom.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

With more than 10 years of experience as a designer and developer, Mike joined Fathom Digital Marketing team in 2006. Always an innovator, he immediately led Fathom’s rebranding and website design. He currently leads the conversion rate...

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