WordPress Plugins to Upsell and Cross-sell in e-Commerce Stores

When a WordPress site is brand new, you’re often just thankful to see people visiting it. Then, you give it a few months, organic and referral traffic starts to build, and visitors start buying stuff from the site. That’s perfect! But now that you have willing visitors and willing shoppers, what do you do next?

Well, if this were a brick-and-mortar business you had built from the ground up, you’d have a bunch of sales people walking around the store to assist your customers. While they would, first and foremost, be there to provide them with support (if needed), they would also be on the lookout for those prime upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

It might sound like:

“If you travel a lot for work, you may want to upgrade to the multi-location gym membership so you can use it no matter where you are in the country.”

Or maybe like this:

“Ooh! That’s a nice-looking dog collar and one of our top sellers. If you take your dog on a lot of hikes, you might need the matching harness. It’ll give you better control and make it more comfortable for him or her on those long treks.”

Or even this:

“You know, we’re giving away this fun, new video game with every purchase of a PS4 and controller. This bundle will end up saving you $50 and you’ll get all three items for what you’d normally pay for the game system.”

But on a WordPress site, you don’t really have this kind of opportunity to inspire guests to spend more–at least not in the person-to-person sense. (Granted, you can do this with live chat, but that might not always be a welcome conversation for every visitor.)

Since you can’t rely on visitors to convince themselves to spend more, you need a way to provide subtle motivation that pushes them in that direction. Which means using WordPress plugins to create upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Upsell vs. Cross-sell: What’s the Difference?

For those of you unfamiliar with these sales concepts, let’s break each of them down:

The Upsell

An upsold good or service is one which is sold at a higher monetary value than what the customer had originally sought out.

For products, this is what that might look like:

This is the MacBook Air from Apple:

Upsell and Cross-sell - MacBook Air
The standard web page for the MacBook Air. Looks simple enough, right?

When customers click on the “Buy” button, they’re given two storage options:

Upsell and Cross-sell - MacBook Air Storage Options
Then Apple says, oh, but maybe you want some more storage with that?

Apple also allows them to upgrade storage and processing power even further:

Upsell and Cross-sell - MacBook Air Processing Upgrades
And then makes one last ditch effort to upsell the customer on more power.

Each of these upgrades are still part of the original product and do not alter or suggest anything different than what the customer originally set out to get. Instead, the focus is on giving them even more value with an upgraded product.

The same can be done with services. You see this all the time.

Take BlueHost web hosting, for example:

Upsell and Cross-sell - BlueHost Plans
You’re familiar with these pricing tiers.

The upsell opportunities are available right there as customers consider which plan they want for their website. And, unlike a product where the specifications are usually set in stone, services can always be upgraded and upsold–and you don’t need the customer to call in with an issue or question in order to do it.

For instance, here is what I see in BlueHost when I look at my web hosting upgrade options (which I encountered after only two clicks through the site):

Upsell and Cross-sell - Upgrade BlueHost Hosting
Then BlueHost later asks, maybe you want to upgrade the plan you’re on?

As you can see, there is always room for customers to take that upsell, especially if they’ve gone to your website looking for improvements to whatever you already sold them.

The Cross-sell

Now, a cross-sell is a little different. While you’re still working to increase the purchase size of your customer’s order, you’re doing it by presenting them with well-chosen options that complement their item or selected service.

Let’s use the same examples from above.

Once the customer gets through the customization of their computer’s specifications, they’re going to encounter this Accessories page:

Upsell and Cross-sell - MacBook Air Product Cross-sell
It’s a seamless transition from upsell to cross-sell, so much so that customers might not realize these are optional add-ons.

None of these are necessary items as the purchase of the laptop provides customers with everything they need to use it. However, some of these accessories would greatly improve their purchase, especially if they use this laptop while they travel for work.

Looking at the BlueHost example again, the cross-sell is handled similarly.

Let’s say a customer has chosen the web hosting plan they want to purchase. Then they get to the checkout page and encounter this:

Upsell and Cross-sell - BlueHost Package Information
You think you’re done. You have web hosting and a domain, but then BlueHost hits you with more options.

What they’re doing here is saying, “Look, you have a web hosting plan and domain name. Cool. But you’re probably going to need this stuff, too. If you purchase all these add-ons now, the bundle will save you money if you decide to purchase them down the road.” And that’s a really smart approach. They’re not forcing these add-ons on anyway. They’re just showing them why it’s a smart decision to buy them now.

Other Opportunities

I would suggest looking at other ways to upsell and cross-sell that might not be considered the traditional format.

Cross-selling doesn’t always need to be a product that directly complements a product, or a service that complements a service. Take this Vizio sound bar as an example:

Upsell and Cross-sell - Vizio Cross-sell
Feels lazy or clumsy? These cross-sells might look attractive to you.

There are two cross-sells introduced here:

  1. The “expert setup” service.
  2. The protection plans.

Then there are upsells that don’t look like the traditional upsell. Here is another example from Amazon:

Upsell and Cross-sell - Amazon Subscribe and Save
Of course, there is the recurring subscription that’s always a welcome upsell feature if you buy enough of a product.

In this case, the manufacturer is saying, “Hey, we know you like this product so much (or, at least, we believe you will), so why not subscribe and save yourself the hassle of remembering to buy it when you run out? We’ll even tack on extra savings, too.”

Not only are they inspiring customers to spend more (because, for all they know, the customer would’ve just bought one shampoo and then picked up the rest at CVS), but now they’re making it all so much more convenient.

For WordPress Developers

As a WordPress developer, I’d advise you to consider ways in which you can upsell and cross-sell too. For instance:

You could use WordPress training as a service cross-sold alongside your typical web development plans.

Or, when presenting a proposal to a prospective client, you could offer them an option that’s like:

WordPress website development = $10,000

And an alternative that looks like:

WordPress website development + SEO + 1 month of maintenance = $11,000

They may not have asked for the SEO or the maintenance plan, but you’ve had the foresight to anticipate their needs and offered them another option that would save them money and increase the value of your service.

If you want more ideas on how you can make money upselling and cross-selling WordPress services, check out this list of 18 creative ways to do so.

WordPress Plugins to Create Upsells and Cross-sells

Upselling and cross-selling are obviously good for a WordPress website’s revenue intake. However, there’s also the effect it has on your client relationship.

Think about it: you present the customer with something that will improve their purchase and, consequently, their lives. They didn’t have to call anyone. They didn’t have to fill out a contact form. They didn’t have to talk to a sales associate in person. They simply traveled around your WordPress site and found those valuable add-ons or upgrade recommendations waiting for them. Needless to say, these opportunities are fantastic for building trust with one’s customer base.

Now, it’s a matter of getting the right WordPress plugin installed so you can automate all of this.

  • Easy Digital Downloads Extensions

    If you read this post that covered the 6 best WooCommerce alternatives, you may already be using Easy Digital Downloads in your e-commerce development workflow. If that’s the case, and if you want to present your clients with upsell and cross-sell options for their sites, know that there are options you can use in the plugin’s premium extensions. Specifically:

    • Recurring Payments which gives you the chance to offer subscriptions for digital downloads.
    • Recommended Products which you can not only use to present helpful suggestions, but you have more control over what’s presented. That way, customers won’t see items they’ve already purchased and you can also make decisions about what to recommend based on your data.
  • MarketPress

    Another WooCommerce alternative suggested in that article was, of course, MarketPress. For those of you with a WPMU DEV membership, you already know how awesome this e-commerce plugin is. However, did you know you can display related products to customers as they shop? By using associated tags and categories, you can program the site to make relevant suggestions.

  • WooCommerce (Free)

    Within the free WooCommerce plugin, there is a tab called “Linked Products” in the Product Data section of the page. Here, you can choose other products to upsell or cross-sell on your WordPress site.

    The one thing I do want to mention here, however, is that the upsell and cross-sell promotions actually look quite similar to one another in the example given by WooCommerce. I don’t necessarily think that’s a problem, so long as you understand the difference between the two and when it’s appropriate to push each of them to your visitors (see examples above).

  • WooCommerce (Extensions)

    Let’s say you like the inherent upsell and cross-sell opportunities present within WooCommerce, but you want more options. This is when you should familiarize yourself with the premium WooCommerce extensions.

    Here are the ones you might need:

    Cart Add-ons
    The shopping cart is the final step before customers move on to checkout, so this is a great time to make one last ditch effort to drive up that final ticket price. With the Cart Add-ons extension, you can create a “You may also like” section that displays top sellers, related products, and so on.

    Chained Products
    The Chained Products extension can be used when you want to create bundled packages. The products within the package should still be sold individually, so that customers have the choice of how they make the purchase. However, presenting the bundled option helps them see the value in getting all the related products at once.

    Checkout Add-ons
    The Checkout Add-ons extension is meant to give developers the power to create new and custom fields at checkout, which includes building in upsell and cross-sell opportunities. I wouldn’t recommend using this for something like a product or service upsell. That time has come and passed. Instead, use this for things like upgrading to expedited shipping or adding gift wrapping to the purchase.

    Product Add-ons
    The Product Add-ons extension is what you would use to give customers more choices about customizing their purchase. Want to add upgraded specifications to a product? Want to offer training or support for a service? You can customize your product’s add-ons with this extension.

    Subscriptions
    And, of course, if you want to give customers the ability to turn their purchase into a recurring subscription, you’ll need this Subscriptions extension to do it. This extension also empowers customers to choose if they want to upgrade or downgrade their subscription, which would also lend itself well to generating more revenue.

  • Booster for WooCommerce

    For the most part, WooCommerce has the basic upsell and cross-sell capabilities covered. And the extensions above can handle the rest. However, if you want a little something more, but don’t want to have to pay for it, you can use this plugin. There are two features of interest here. The first is the product add-ons and the second is the related products. With each of these, you can give WooCommerce upsells and cross-sells an extra boost.

Wrapping Up

If there’s anything I’ve learned from my many years working in sales and marketing, it’s that you should never stop selling. Even if you have what seems to be the simplest of products or most straightforward of services, there is always something you can add that enhances that offering.

Suzanne Scacca
If you’ve used upsell and cross-sell features in WordPress before, have you found one of the two to be more successful in driving up profits?