9 upselling techniques to explode your average order value

March 28, 2017

How would you like to increase your online sales by 10-30%?

Upselling techniques have the power to do just that.

Want proof? In 2006, upsells accounted for 35% of Amazon’s annual revenue!! I mean, come on. There’s no reason not to offer upsells on 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 offer upsells on your store right now at the click of a button? Check out our Shopify Upsell app!

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

The Difference Between Upselling and Cross-Selling

I wanted to explain this really quick since these two terms tend to be used interchangeably. But there is a difference.

Upselling means upgrading the customer from one item to a higher-priced (and better) item.

For example, you might give them the option of buying a laptop with a faster processor for some extra $$.


Cross selling means adding complimentary items to a purchase.

So instead of offering to upgrade to a different item than they’re currently buying, you offer a complimentary item like a printer to go with their laptop.

While both are important, this post is focusing on upselling techniques. Although we will discuss a few cross-selling best practices as well!

9 Upselling Techniques to Implement Right Now

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

Going to a website 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 hurt your sales, not help.

Remember: The purpose of the upsell is to offer your customer a better experience. It should be something they would genuinely benefit from, not just something to get deeper in their pockets.

What you don’t want to do is what GoDaddy did. eConsultancy wrote a case study on how GoDaddy constantly asked their customers to buy more. Just look at this (they really did this!):

This is bad, m’kay? Keep it to one ask, maybe two, of highly relevant upsells.

#2: When upselling, don’t increase price by more than 25%

As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to go from a $100 item to a $300 item. It generally doesn’t work, unless you know your customer really well and know exactly what they’d need.

Instead, if you sell a $100 item, don’t upgrade them higher than a $125 item.

Note: The “rule of 25” is just a rough rule of thumb. If it’s $130, that’s probably still fine. The idea is simply not to shock them with a crazy higher 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.

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

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

#5: Offer a product bundle

Another cool upselling technique is to offer a product bundle instead of a different product. While this borders on cross-selling, it’s still a great tactic to drive sales.

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

#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…

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.

Want to incentivize your store right now? Check out the Sales Motivator Shopify app.

#7: Tap into your customers ego

Everyone, whether we admit it or not, is egotistical. I mean, I’m one of the best damn writers to ever walk the face of the Earth! (Kidding… sort of.)

Because people have such a strong ego (especially in the western world), we want our products to show off how great we are. Here’s the kicker.

This is true even if no one sees the products we buy!

Take Dollar Shave Club, for example. While they heavily promote their $1 razor, they also have a premium $6 and $9 version.

The $9 version is even called “The Executive.” By giving their products premium names, they’re trying to play to people’s egos. “Well, if executives get this razor, so should I! I’m important!”

Come up with names for your products that will make people feel important for owning it. Talk about how only people of a high status buy your upsold product.

#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 mouth). Not only do their customers get to try the product to see if they like it, but they’ll also feel a strong push towards buying 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 as you choose products to present.

  • 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!

For example, Apply upsells you to a better, faster computer. This upsell is highly relevant, but it also makes the customer’s life better. Maybe they don’t mind spending a few extra dollars for the better product!

Bonus Tip: If you're still struggling to get more upsells, or simply want to increase your conversion rate further, try adding reviews to your upsell window. If you don't have any reviews, check out this guide on how to get more reviews.

The Shopify Upsell App to Make Upsells a Cinch

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 hoping you’ll take action on this new information and implement these upsell techniques in your store.

We offer a Shopify upsell app called Product 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!


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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