9 upselling techniques to explode your average order value

How would you like to give your online sales a big boost?

Upselling techniques have the power to do just that.

In 2012, Amazon saw a 29% increase in sales after introducing its version of upselling: product recommendations, like the "Frequently bought together" panes.

But upselling isn't reserved for the likes of Amazon — you can use the same techniques as the billion-dollar behemoth to sell more to every customer who visits your store.

In this post, I’ll guide you through the most powerful upselling techniques with some tips and tricks to maximize your conversion rates.

Want to start offering upsells on your store today? Check out Bold Upsell! You can install the app on your Shopify store and try it free!

Now, let’s make some sales! But first...

The difference between upselling and cross-selling

I wanted to explain this since these two terms tend to be used interchangeably. But there is a difference. Let's go over the definitions real quick.

Upselling is persuading your customer to buy something more expensive.

So technically, an upsell is substituting an upgraded and more valuable version of the item they just selected. For example, you might give your customers the option to buy twice as much of the same roast of coffee for a just a couple more dollars.


Cross-selling is persuading your customers to buy something additional.

So instead of offering to upgrade an item they’re already buying, you offer an additional complimentary item like a pack of coffee filters to use with their coffee!


Cross-sells are often referred to as upsells, but cross-sells are never referred to as "true" upsells.


9 Upselling techniques you can use right now

You know what’s one of the most annoying things in the world?

Visiting an online store and having pop-up after pop-up offering you another product, a bigger this, a faster that.

That’s why our first upselling technique on this list is…

#1: Be tactful, damn it!

Harassing your customers with an offer on every page will hinder your sales, not help them.

Remember, upselling should improve your customers' experience — not make it annoying. Your upsell should be something that will genuinely benefit their lives, not just take more money out of their pockets.

What you don’t want to do is what GoDaddy did here. A case study by eConsultancy shows how GoDaddy constantly asked their customers to buy more. Just look at this (it really happened!):

go daddy upsell


Too many options, too much copy, and just generally obnoxious. This is bad, alright?

Keep it to one — maybe two — highly relevant upsells. Anything more will probably just annoy or confuse your customers.


#2: Don’t scare them away with a big price jump

As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to upsell them something way more expensive than their original choice, like suggesting they pay $300 instead  $100. It generally doesn’t work, unless you know your customer really well and know exactly what they’d need.

For example, if you're selling a $100 item, don’t offer an upgrade or cross-sell item that will bring their total to over $125.

Note: This is just a rough rule of thumb. If it’s $130, that’s probably still fine. The idea is simply not to give them sticker shock with a crazy high price.

#3: Upsell into a subscription

You don’t have to offer a bigger, better product in order to upsell your customers!

A subscription service can be just as good as an upsell — maybe even better because they increase customer retention and bring in recurring revenue.

If you sell any kind of product that needs to be replenished; think skincare, coffee, supplements, even socks; offering your customers a regular delivery is a great way to get them more value and get you recurring revenue. 

Organic meal replacement mēle offer a discounted subscription rate to entice their customer to go with a recurring order. 

Subscription boxes are becoming a major player in the world of eCommerce because they offer convenience. Never having to remember to buy shampoo or toothpaste? Count me in!

Related Reading: The Rise of The Subscription Box Economy (How to Get More Subscribers)

#4 Make it easy

It should be super easy for your customers to add your offer to their purchase. That's why you should use an upsell app that easily adds the item to their cart. 

Upsell apps, like Bold Upsell, allow you to strategically choose when you offer upsells. For example, you can do a "true" upsell at the product page, then do a cross-sell at the cart page, all with the click of a button.

Some apps (like ours!), allow for one-click upsells after checkout. That means customers can instantly add an offer to their purchase AFTER they checkout. These offers usually convert very highly because customers don't have to enter their payment information again.

#5: Offer a product bundle

Another cool upselling technique is to offer a product bundle instead of a different product. For example, buy-one-get-one offers can entice your customer to buy a little more so they can snag a deal. 

Make sure you pick you product bundles strategically so you're offering them something useful, and you're not scaring them away with a big price jump (tip #2). 

If you want to offer product bundles on your Shopify store, check out Bold Bundles!

#6: Incentivize your upsell

Online shoppers are a spoiled bunch. They expect free, fast shipping on every order. You can use this to your advantage… especially if you already have free-shipping set up on your store.

Instead of succumbing to the “free shipping, every time” method, offer free shipping as an incentive for your shopper to spend more. You know they want free shipping, so give it to them… just not for free.

For example, you could offer free shipping on orders over $50. Now when you offer them an upsell, they'll have more of an incentive to accept it!

Want to let every customer who visits your store know about special offers? Check out Sales Motivator for Shopify.

#7: Use a recommendation widget

As we discussed earlier, product recommendations are a great way to increase sales.

Displaying a row of personalized recommendations, similar to Amazon's "Frequently bought together" widget, is a great way to entice people to add more items to their order, or show off new products.

One of our apps, Bold Brain, gives you the option to add recommendation widgets to your store. You can choose from six types of recommendations, including most frequently bought and related products. 

#8: Leverage reciprocity

For those of you who don’t know, reciprocating means returning a favor for a favor. That’s right — people actually do that!

Reciprocity is an INCREDIBLY strong tool when it comes to online sales.

That’s because reciprocity is wired directly to our psyche. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely explains,

“Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct. If somebody does something for you, you really feel a rather surprisingly strong obligation to do something back for them.”

Now the million dollar question is...

How do you leverage reciprocity in your upsells?

Give away stuff for free.

For example, superfood supplements brand ALOHA offers a free 5-day sample of their products.

This sample gets their stuff in their customer's hands (and tummy). Not only do their customers get to try the product, they’ll also feel obligated to buy something because they were given something for free.

#9: Upsell your most sold, most reviewed, or most relevant products

We’ve covered how to upsell. But what should you actually be upselling?

Remember: When offering a product as an upsell, it should add value and improve your customer’s life. Keep that in mind when you choose products.

For example, Apple upselling you to a better, faster computer. This upsell actually helps the customer. Maybe they don’t mind spending a few extra dollars on the better product!

Here's how you can determine what products can make great upsells: 

  • Your most sold products are simply great products. You know your target audience loves them based on raw data — sales volume. Can’t go wrong with these.
  • Your most reviewed products offer social proof, which has been shown to increase conversions.
  • Showing irrelevant products, regardless of how many reviews or sales they have, probably won’t convert. Make sure the products you show are relevant!

Bold Brain can help you use this technique by providing you with advanced analytics about how your store is performing and how your products are selling. 

Bold Upsell: it makes upselling easy

Alright, I have to admit something…

Writing this article was a little selfish for us.

While you get to learn all kinds of information for free (awesome, right?), we’re also hoping you’ll take action on this new information and implement these upsell techniques to make your store better.

We offer an app for Shopify called Bold Upsell that allows you to offer upsells on your product and checkout pages in the click of a button. It works like this…

If you’re interested in increasing your online sales, we’d like to offer you a free trial of Bold Upsell so you can get started right now.

Are you still here? What are you waiting for?! Get out there and increase your online sales!


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Bill Widmer

Written by Bill Widmer

Bill is an eCommerce content marketing and SEO consultant. He's run several stores and worked with many well-known brands including A Better Lemonade Stand, SaleHoo, and Lifehack.

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