How Upselling Can Improve Your Customer’s E-Commerce Experience

March 30, 2022
by Merikay Noah

Why Is Your Customer’s Experience Important During an Upsell?

We could discuss many upselling topics, but this one is critical for 2022. If your e-commerce customer doesn’t have an excellent upselling experience, they may not return.

In an increasingly digital world where products and services are scrutinized in the court of public opinion, customer experience (CX) is king. Gone are the days of blind-faith consumerism; customer demands are changing, and the organizations that adapt could gain an edge over those that don’t.” – from How To Improve Customer Experience by McKinsey&Co.

Your customer needs to feel like you know who they are while being upsold. That can turn them into a life-long customer who tells their friends about your e-commerce brand. You can’t buy that kind of social proof.

The Basics: What Is An Upsell?

Upselling generally means upgrading an order to a higher-level spend using the same product or including products that naturally work with it.

Example #1: You might offer a larger size with a more attractive price point, ounce-for-ounce.

Example #2: If someone orders a specialized shampoo, you might offer a bundle with a specialized conditioner, slightly discounted.

Upsells work more effectively with existing customers than with new customers.

New customers still don’t know you and you don’t know them, so it’s harder to identify what will please them. Get that wrong, and they might not come back because something feels off.

Existing customers have a purchasing track record, so it’s easier to know upsells that could appeal to them. If that upsell goes well, your customers may become your biggest advocates. On the flip side, they can become anti-advocates if they have a bad experience.

How Upselling Can Improve Your Customer’s E-Commerce Experience

How Can You Upsell an Order So Each Customer Feels Appreciated?

The key to customer-centric upselling is remembering that each customer matters individually. Companies that treat their customers as if they know them automatically create life-long customers.

Patagonia is a great example. It knows its customers and treats them like they are essential. Their customers, in turn, tell everyone how incredible Patagonia is!

Bottom Line? Social proof is everything in 2022.

How Upselling Can Improve Your Customer’s E-Commerce Experience

How to Make Upselling a Great Customer Experience

So, how do you create a great upsell for your customer? Here are some strategies to keep in mind.

1. Make it as straightforward as possible. Make customer interaction methods obvious. It may seem obvious to you, but will it seem that way to your customer?

2. Pictures matter. Don’t just tell them about it. Show them exactly what they’ll get.

3. Variety is the spice of upselling. If more than one product is easily compatible with the original choice, offer several options.

a) One option is using different price points for slightly different combos to increase the chance it will be attractive.

b) A second option is using different combinations of complementary products that you know your customer likes.

4. Combine upselling with cross-selling. This one is tricky. Ensure each option is closely tied to the chosen product. The farther away from that product, the more likely the customer will think your e-commerce brand has no clue what they want.

5. Use Price Comparison Tables. If the same product appears at different price points because each has different quantities, attachments, accessories, etc., this upsell option lets the customer choose which best suits their needs.

6. Offer free shipping with the upsell. Everyone loves free shipping. Customers know it’s not free, but they still can’t resist.

7. Use social proof. Again, people always believe their peers before they believe a company.

Always ensure any strategy used provides added value to your customer. And try to use The Rule of Three because three of anything leads to a more satisfying choice. We have no clue why humans are hard-wired that way, but we are.

A Personal Customer E-Commerce Upsell Gone Wrong

Here’s how one real-life personal upsell/cross-sell went very wrong.

The customer buys dog food online every month from the same website. The website offered three cross-sell options one day: a dog leash/collar, a pet gate, or a squeaky toy. The customer didn’t need the first two. Even though they ordered small-breed dog food, the squeaky toy was for a giant dog, which was weird.

The customer’s go-to pet food company makes treats, but the upsell didn’t offer those. Ironically, the purchaser had looked at those treats during that visit and thought about getting some. Instead, they went away puzzled by how tone-deaf the website seemed to be.

Here’s the kicker: The customer bought those treats on a different website a couple of days later.

They could have gone back to the usual website to buy them. Why didn’t they?

The e-commerce brand seemed to have no clue who the customer was after two years of repeated purchases so instead, they purchased the treats while visiting another website.

How many upsells have you missed?

Lessons Learned from That Poor Customer Experience

Let’s say your e-commerce website originally planted an idea in your customer’s mind but didn’t offer it in an upsell or cross-sell. If they don’t buy it before they leave your website, they will probably buy it somewhere else within a few days.

Help them buy it from your brand instead of a competitor.

Make it so simple and easy that your customer feels you know them better than any other website.

That’s when good upselling meets an excellent customer experience. They’ll love you for that.

It will be evident to you when it works because you’ll not only see an uptick in your sales analytics, but you’ll also see an improvement in customer retention and brand loyalty.

Bottom Line?

No one wants to do business in 2022 with a company that seems to have no idea who they are.

But everyone wants to do business with a business that shows it cares about them.

Be the business that understands what your customers believe they need. That is an automatic win-win for you and your customers.

Learn more about how AdQuadrant helps its e-commerce clients maximize their upselling potential while providing an excellent customer experience.

How can we help your company turn its upsells into a win-win for you and your customers?

About the author: Merikay has over 20 years’ experience in digital marketing. She worked with e-commerce B2C and B2B websites of all kinds, from Fortune 100s to small start-ups, at two of the top three search engines and at a Los Angeles ad agency. Her successful e-commerce book publishing website,, attracted an international audience of bookaholics for over eight years. She now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she works as a copywriter and loves to hike with her small but fierce doggy protector – Miss Lucy.

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