How to Use Upsells to Maximize Revenue Per Customer in Your BigCommerce Store

“Would you like fries with that?”

If you’ve ever ordered a meal at McDonald’s, you’ve likely heard this phrase, and probably even said “yes” some of the time. It’s highly effective and generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue every year for McDonald’s from their existing customers.

Savvy eCommerce entrepreneurs and marketing managers have found that the same principle of upselling works just as well in eCommerce stores. Customers are impulsive, and a significant percent of customers will add additional products to their cart when prompted by a strategically created upsell offer after they’ve selected their primary item(s).

On our BigCommerce store, PremiereCollectibles.com (America’s largest autographed bookstore), we generated an extra $30,427 (USD) of revenue from upsells in the month of September alone using the Easy Upsell app available in the BigCommerce app store.

We create an upsell offer for every major new release book that we add to our website. In the offer, we suggest 3-6 books that someone purchasing a specific book would potentially like as well. Approximately 5% of customers end up buying one or more additional book. The analytics dashboard below from the Easy Upsell app shows some of the statistics for the month of September.

Analytics dashboard for Premiere Collectibles for the month of September during which 979 upsells were successfully converted for total upsell revenue of $30,427 (USD). This revenue is a complete bonus on top of the revenue from the core items in the customer’s carts.

Upselling is a simple concept and the revenue adds up quickly. We’ve made it work well with books on Premiere Collectibles, but it works in just about any type of eCommerce store, as long as you do it right.

Upselling isn’t a hard art/science to learn. There are just a few key factors to consider when creating an upsell:

1. Successful Upsells Add Value

The most important element of a successful upsell is that it adds value for the customer. There are several way to add value via upsells:

  • Offer A Good Deal: Offering a discount on a related product is a tried-and-true upsell method. When shown a headline like “Your Cart Qualifies for a Special Offer” above a discounted price on a relevant item, many customers will take advantage of what they perceive as a limited opportunity to get a deal. The image below this list shows an example of an upsell offer promoting a deal.
  • Suggest a Related Product: If a customer is about to checkout with a specific product in their cart, you know that they’re interested in that type of product. You can use an upsell to promote a related product which could be an accessory to the product they’re purchasing (i.e. a phone case when buying a phone), or a completely different product within the same general category (i.e. a bracelet when buying a shirt). On Premiere Collectibles, we generally offer other books within the same genre. If someone is buying an autographed sports book, we’ll point out other autographed sports books that are available.
  • Promote Free Shipping: If your store offers free shipping on orders above a certain pricing threshold, you can use an upsell to suggest additional items that will get them to the free shipping level.
Offering a good deal is an easy way to add value via an upsell. On Premiere Collectibles, most books are priced at $30, so these books for $10-$15 are an easy impulse purchase.

2. Upsells Must Be Timely

Upsells work best once a customer has decided to purchase a product. Before that, you can show related products on the product page, but that’s not an upsell–it’s just helping the customer choose their first product. The best time to offer an upsell is when a customer adds a product to their cart or when they go to checkout. (The Easy Upsell app settings allow you to choose between showing upsells upon a customer clicking “add to cart” or going to checkout.

3. Upsells Must Not Be Too Gimicky (And The Copy Matters)

Customers don’t like being “sold” too hard. The best type of upsell simply notifies customers in a matter-of-fact way about other products that may be of value to them, or a deal that may be available. Instead of saying “Wait! Don’t Miss This Deal!” in the headline, you can say “Your Cart Qualifies for a Special Offer”. In the description below the headline, you can say something like “You can add X product to your cart for X amount of money off!”

When you’re not offering a discounted product as the upsell, all you need to say is something like “You might like this too:” and then give a brief description of the product in the description text. The example below is a good demonstration of this.

This upsell offer suggests related products in a matter-of-fact way. It’s not being “pushy” about them–it’s just pointing out that they’re available. This offer converted at 5.21%.

4. Upsells Must Be Realistic

There are exceptions to this, but most customers who are purchasing a $30 item are not going to add a $500 item. Upsells that are around 20%-40% of the cart value usually work well, though depending on the products and niche, upsells up to 100%+ of the cart value can work too. The smaller the upsell cost is compared to the cart value, the more impulsive customers are likely to be.

If you want to “shoot for the moon” and try to upsell a much higher dollar product, just make sure you’re making an informed decision about it. In our eCommerce bookstore, we experimentally offered a $500 limited edition book signed by Derek Jeter (alongside two $30 sports books as other upsells) on a $35 book signed by Joe Namath. We successfully upsold two of the $500 Derek Jeter books, along with many more of the $30 upsell books. (For those in other countries unfamiliar with US sports, these are “legendary” athletes in baseball and American football.)

Parting Thoughts

The possibilities for upsells are endless, and the savvier an eCommerce team is at digital marketing, the more they’ll be able to get out of upselling, especially when using the Easy Upsell app on BigCommerce. You can start a 30-day free trial of Easy Upsell from the BigCommerce app store here. The first month after the free trial, a 500%+ ROI is guaranteed. The Easy Upsell app team is standing by to offer free consultations on maximizing the potential of upsells in your store, so feel free to reach out!