Does the term cross-selling seem obscure to you? However, it is a sales technique that we face every day and not only on the internet. When a waiter comes to offer you a coffee to finish your meal, it is a form of cross-selling. When the seller suggests a belt in a store that would go well with the new pants you are about to buy, it’s still cross-selling!

We therefore call cross-selling the commercial technique which consists in suggesting to a potential customer one or more products complementary to the one he is about to buy. This method, also called cross-selling or additional selling, is particularly suitable for e-commerce sites. This can be seen, for example, on most major retailers’ sites such as Amazon, when they show you items also purchased by other customers who have shown interest in the same products as you.

Cross-selling vs. up-selling, what difference?

Good for cross-selling you understand, let’s move on to up-selling. This is another commercial technique which consists in suggesting not a complementary product but a more advanced (and therefore more expensive!) Version of the product which interests the customer. An example ? You want to buy the new Clio and your dealer is trying to sell you the “all options” version with the biggest engine: up-selling! Again nothing new on the web where up-selling has become commonplace.

cross-selling at Amazon

In merchandising there is a third approach at the crossroads of up-selling and cross-selling, it is the bundle. The practice of the bundle consists in proposing a package comprising the product which interests the customer, possibly in a premium range, by adding several accessories or complementary products. Generally the price of the bundle is lower than the sum of the prices of each element composing it to make it all the more attractive for the customer.
bundle example

Issues and objectives of additional and cross-selling:

As you can see from the cross-sell areas that abound on e-commerce sites, the practice of cross-selling has many advantages.

  • Boost your average basket: The average basket is one of the obsessions of e-merchants because it reflects the average expenditure made during an order. Cross-selling is a great way to increase the number of products purchased simultaneously and therefore this famous average basket.
  • Increase your margin level:Complementary products sold in cross-sell are often accessories on which the margin levels are much higher than on the basic products. Cross-selling in this case increases the overall margin level achieved on a sale.
  • Give visibility to the products of your choice:When you set up cross-sell areas on your site you obviously have a certain level of control over the products that you are going to promote. You are free to use cross-selling to highlight each period certain products whose sale is of particular strategic importance.

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How to set up cross-selling?

What products to sell in cross-selling?

As we just mentioned, the choice of products that we present in cross-sell is important. Depending on the technical means deployed and the scope of your product catalog, you can either specify a list of products from which to pick to fill the spaces dedicated to cross-selling, or define a set of rules defining which products can be displayed in cross-sell. and under what circumstances.

In addition to the accessories which have an obvious advantage in terms of complementarity and margin, we can think of two types of products which seem interesting to push in cross-sell:

  • The bestsellers: Your bestsellers are the most attractive products on your site. Unless you take into account behavioral rules (for example a choice of cross-sell products based on other products previously consulted by the visitor), your best-sellers are one of your best chances of attracting the average visitor to your site.
  • Products to be destocked: Cross-selling is a great way to increase the visibility of a product on its site. If you need to get rid of certain references, cross-selling could help you.

What are the best areas of an e-commerce site for cross-selling?

Cross-selling can be practiced on several pages of your site. To obtain a certain level of relevance and efficiency, it is nevertheless necessary to place the cross-sell areas on pages where the visitor has already expressed an interest in a given product. We will think in particular of the following elements:

  • Product sheets: The cross-sell area is usually placed just below the main product information that is visible above the waterline. The cross-sell area then becomes visible as soon as the visitor scrolls the page. Alternatively, a side column is sometimes used in the form of a sidebar for cross-selling purposes.
  • Add basket layers: When a visitor adds a product to his basket, the e-merchant can display an interstitial page for him to choose between seeing the contents of his basket and continuing to browse the site. This page is a good opportunity to present some complementary products to the one that the visitor is about to buy.
  • The basket page: The shopping cart page is a mandatory step for the final purchase. Like supermarket checkouts populated with chewing gum, your basket page allows you to offer all visitors an additional product. Why not test some of the best-selling references on your site here?

How to draw the customer’s attention to cross-sell products?

In addition to the location of the zone, several elements must be taken into account to achieve an effective cross-sell.

We will first work carefully on the graphic rendering of the area. It must be visible enough to attract the attention of as many visitors as possible, but it must not disrupt their navigation. For example, it should not be more visible than the next step button on the cart page to avoid losing orders. The dedicated area, the colors chosen, the number of products presented or the size of the visuals must be considered to adjust the visibility of the area. A / B tests can be performed to check what works best on your site.

It will then be a question of choosing an appropriate wording according in particular to the location of the cross-sell area (product page, basket page, etc.) and the link existing between the products offered and the product of interest to the internet user. Usual wordings range from simple and obscure “Related Products” to longer … longer things like “Customers who bought this item also bought”. If possible, we will try to add a touch of context to a hint of brand identity to personalize the wording: example at La Redoute with their very ready-to-wear formulation “Complete your look” on a clothing product sheet.
example of contextualized wording for cross-selling on a product sheet

Should you automate cross-selling on your site?

Regarding the automation of cross-selling, it all depends on the scope of your product catalog. If it’s limited, you can consider manual cross-selling, but otherwise automation will allow you to achieve a much higher level of performance.

Cross-selling is part of the logic of personalizing the user experience in order to increase spending on the site. The more cross-selling takes into account relevant data (navigation and purchases of the visitor as well as all those who are interested in the same products) the more it will be able to present attractive products in real time at each stage of navigation. This is where automation comes into its own.

Depending on the type of technical solution used, several forms of automation are possible:

Cross-selling plugins for Open Source solutions

Several open source e-commerce solutions have plugins allowing you to integrate cross-selling functionalities on the pages of your site. Using a plugin suitable for your CMS should be relatively simple and save you time. These plugins are however generally chargeable.

Among the e-commerce solutions with suitable plugins we can cite Prestashop or Magento. Here is for example a module offered for Prestashop.

Cross-selling automation software:

If you do not use an open source platform for your e-commerce site and you still want to automate your cross-selling there are several software that can help you. These are usually fairly comprehensive marketing automation software packages that will open up new perspectives for you in terms of personalizing the customer experience.

This software is based on your product catalog, and according to the more or less complex rules that you will define for each cross-sell area, they will present to each visitor the selection of complementary products which are most likely to interest them. . Most of this software is based on a learning logic that allows them to improve their understanding of your users’ expectations and to become more efficient over time. During advanced settings, however, be careful to check that the operation turns out to meet your expectations.

Some examples of solutions that will allow you to automate your cross-selling:

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