The Upsell Strategy That Converts Like Crazy

Whether you realize it or not, upsells have been around forever. From car salesmen to online retail to the McDonald’s drive-thru (“yes, SUPERSIZE me!”), businesses of all kinds love to ask customers if they would like to “add fries” to their purchase.

Multi-step funnel and long-form marketers have been working the upsell game like there is no tomorrow. Have you ever tried to buy the latest book from an “online guru” only to be put through 3 upsells and 2 downsells?

The thing is, upsells like anything else, can be abused and overused, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are extremely effective, and when done right, they actually serve the customer incredibly well. Think about how a perfectly placed upsell actually adds convenience and savings to your life as a customer.

Unfortunately, many most ecommerce businesses large and small don’t actually have an intentional cross-sell or upsell strategy.

If this is you, keep reading. When done well, upsells and cross-sells can do wonders for your average order value, and there is a new way to utilize upsells and cross-sells that you should definitely consider. In this article we’re going to discuss the types of strategies and how to implement them.

What are Upsells and Cross-sells in Ecommerce?

In the ecommerce world, there are basically two ways that brands ask customers to “supersize” or “add fries” to their selection:


An upsell is an offer that appears after a customer picks a product and the brand asks if they want to upgrade to a better or more expensive product instead, at a one-time discount. This is effectively the “supersize” by McDonalds.


A cross-sell is when a customer selects a product and the brand offers a one-time discount on product(s) that go well with their selection. This is effectively the “would you like fries with that?” by McDonald’s. And, yes we all would… thanks for asking.

Where can upsells and cross-sells appear?

There are 3 places where it’s typically appropriate to offer an upsell or cross-sell. 1 & 2 are the most common and come with the downside of decreasing conversion rate by putting another obstacle (decision) in the way of the purchase path. The third option is great, but it requires you to “re-sell” the customer after they’ve completed the purchase. However, there is a new way that few brands know about or utilize, and it can be an awesome addition. We reveal that after these 3.

1. Add to Cart

These additional product options with an offer appear when a customer clicks the “add to cart” button on a product.

2. Beginning of Checkout

These additional product options with an offer appear on the shopping cart page prior to a customer starting the checkout process.

Note: We rarely recommend this method as we typically want no additional barriers and decisions for the customer to make once they decide to begin checkout.

3. After Purchase

In this scenario, the customer receives product recommendations and a discount in an email that is delivered via a post-purchase email sequence based on their recent purchase.

The issue with upselling or cross-selling at the add to cart action or at the beginning of checkout is that it often creates friction and reduces conversion rate. And selling after the purchase is complete just doesn’t have anywhere near the same take-rate on the offer. However, there is a new option— the post-purchase one-click upsell— which provides a much better experience for the customer and much higher conversions for the brand.

The BEST Way to Upsell and Cross-Sell: Post-Purchase One-Click Upsells

With a post-purchase one-click upsell, we make the upsell or cross-sell offer immediately after the customer clicks the final “complete purchase” button. We give them the option to add the product we’re offering to their order, and if they choose not to, their order completes as it normally would.

Here’s how it works

As soon as customers click “purchase” at checkout, an interstitial page with a one-time offer appears. At this point, they can easily add the offered product to their order. If they add it, they will be charged and then directed to the “thank you” page. If they decline the offer, they will still land at the “thank you” page and their purchase is not affected.

This is a powerful option. It offers the seamless ability to upsell, but with zero friction or dips in conversion rate. It easily has the potential to increase average order value by 50%. Of the brands that we have implemented this with, we typically see at least 10% of customers accepting the upsell offer, which is quite significant. However, you must be transparent with your customers. If you are sneaky or trick a customer into making that purchase, it will only make it more difficult for you in terms of negative reviews, customer service complaints, and more.

So how do you implement it? Keep reading.

Best Practices to Remember

The number one thing to remember when you’re using upsells and cross-sells is to always put the customer first. Marketers often walk a precarious tight-rope where it can be easy to become greedy. It can be tempting to leverage upsells to increase average order value at the expense of your customers. Don’t do it. This doesn’t work for building your brand in the longterm.

Your best bet is to use upsells and cross-sells wisely to enhance your customers’ experience and truly provide a great value and a great deal at a great convenience. If you put the customer first, truly wanting to provide a great offer, it’s a win-win. The customer will get better products at a lower price, and your brand will start seeing higher average order value.

Even if you use these tools with the best of intentions, listen to your customers’ feedback. If they hate it, then stop! It’s not worth losing faithful customers or turning off new site visitors.

How to Implement One-Click Upsells

Here at Metacake, we work with a variety of ecommerce store platforms, but as certified Shopify Plus partners, many of the brands we work with are on Shopify. As of the time we’re writing this article, to utilize the post-purchase one-click upsell strategy as we’ve described, you do need to be on a Shopify store and use one of two apps.

  • Zipify One-Click Upsell, created by our friend Ezra Firestone. This app has been around the longest and really pioneered this concept for ecommerce stores.
  • Bold Cashier, which is an app that allows for customer checkout in Shopify and includes the option for a one-click upsell. Although these apps are not yet completely perfect, both are great tools and worth exploring.

One important thing to consider is that both Zipify and Bold Cashier use an alternative method of checkout. Many merchants love Shopify because it has spent millions of dollars perfecting a checkout that never fails. When you use an alternative checkout, you do put your checkout experience in the hands of one of these 3rd parties. For this reason, we recommend turning off upsells during promotional periods or during seasons of high sales volume to minimize the risk of an app going down and causing you to lose revenue.

How to Choose Your Upsell Offer

Wondering what types of offers work best in an upsell? This varies by brand, product, and price point, but we typically recommend that your irresistible offer is no less than a 30% discount in order to be intriguing to the customer.

Of course, to employ this strategy you must have a product line with more than just one product in it. Assuming you have this, choose your offer by simply giving the customer value and convenience (while keeping your margins in check). This could be an upgraded model of a product, a value added service to go along with a product, or an accessory to compliment a product. Don’t ever underestimate the possibility of customers wanting more of the same product. Offering quantity discounts, and different variations of your product (for example, if you have a fashion brand) can be extremely effective.


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