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Why Cross-Selling Is So Important on Your Ecommerce Website


If you’ve got an ecommerce website, it’s very likely that your cart software has a feature that allows you to cross-sell or up-sell products.

Somewhere on a product page or maybe the shopping cart, you can display a message something like this: “You might also be interested in…” along with a selection of related products for sale. If you’re not using this feature, stop everything else you’re doing on your website (on-page SEO, PPC campaigns, social media promotions, improved descriptions, everything!), and start setting up cross-selling TODAY.

There are 4 main reasons why, and they all add up to more conversions and more revenue from your website:

1. Increase Your Average Order Size

Cross-selling helps you increase your average order size. This is the first level of cross-selling and what most people think about when discussing the topic of cross-selling and up-selling, so let’s get it out of the way. Cross-selling can take a few different forms: offering a related add-on, offering a higher priced alternative, or offering a similar item that the customer might also like. The first two are also known as up-selling, while the third is close to the traditional definition of cross-selling.Having a section on your product pages or shopping cart where you can show potential customers things like, “Customers Also Like,” “You Might Also Need,” “Shop the Complete Look,” or “You Might Also Like” allows you to provide a curated shopping experience. Does your website visitor know that they’ll also need the wires and batteries with that new gadget? Can you make it easy for them to find the matching headband and belt? Is there a higher-priced alternative you know that they’d love, if only they saw it? Think of cross-selling as your way to show a website visitor around your storefront! Be as helpful as possible.

Some strategies for increasing your average order size through cross-selling:

  • Display other items in the same “collection” by a brand or designer
  • Display more items from the same brand.
  • Try putting your own collections together with suggestions like, “Goes great with” or “Shop the Look”
  • Make it easy for customers to buy everything they might need like accessories and extras
  • If your store and business have the capability, offer gift wrapping or other premium add-on services

2. Make Shopping Easier for Your Customers

Increased exposure of products makes shopping easier for your customers and makes customers more likely to buy those products once they’ve found them! Most online store owners imagine a very orderly and logical visit to their website, and it goes something like this: a customer gets to their store and lands on the Home Page first. They clearly read through all of the categories in the menu, and then sit patiently through all of the slides or banners displaying new arrivals and specials, so they have a very clear understanding of ALL that the store offers. If you’ve ever done any shopping online, you know this is a fantasy. Visitors might pop onto your site from a search, directly onto a product page, or page 2 of a list of products. Maybe they clicked a banner on the Home Page, but it wasn’t quite what they expected. Perhaps they followed a link shared by a friend on social media and have no idea what kind of products you sell. Cross-selling and up-selling both give you a chance to show off a little bit more of your store before the notoriously short attention span of the online shopper is lost!

Some strategies for increasing exposure through cross-selling:

  • Consider adding complimentary items to your cross-selling section. For instance, on a page for a summer dress, show sandals, sunglasses, handbags, and other matching accessories, in addition to a couple of your best-selling summer dresses. This way someone who came for the dresses, learns that you also offer these other types of items.
  • Add new products to your most popular products. You’ve already put in the work driving traffic to some of your most popular products with SEO, paid campaigns, and old-fashioned word of mouth, so why not leverage that success by showing off brand new items on your most popular product pages to get a jump start on sales.
  • Show off lesser known brands on more well-known brand items. Maybe all of your customers know about a particular gadget brand, but don’t know about a great new alternative? Use cross-selling to show off these off-brand options.
  • Display different types of products that would appeal to the same shopper. For instance, show off the vintage bookmarks with the antique bookends, or cross-sell the clever kitchen gadgets with the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

3. Time on Site, Part 1: SEO Benefit

One of the most important things you can do once you’ve driven visitors to your site is KEEP THEM ON YOUR SITE! One surefire way to ensure that someone will stay on your ecommerce site and explore is by giving them something of interest to click on next.

Once someone has clicked onto a new page, three very important Search Engine Optimization metrics improve: your Bounce Rate decreases, and your Time on Site (or Average Visit Duration) and Pages Per Visit increase. These are each key metrics for improving your website’s overall search engine rank. Cross-selling is a proven method to increase these crucial measures of engagement. By providing website visitors with compelling, relevant content at just the right time, your chances of increasing their engagement (and your SEO) are quite high.

There are a couple of additional SEO benefits to cross-selling. First, adding relevant cross-selling links and content on product pages provides you with important internal linking (or “link juice”) which improves your entire site’s rank for the keywords and phrases involved. And second, especially if you are selling products online that are not unique (for example, a popular brand of electronics or automotive parts), having the additional relevant content on product detail pages via the use of cross-selling or up-selling, helps your pages stand out from others with unique content in Google’s index.

4. Time on Site, Part 2: Emotional Investment

The final benefit from cross-selling leverages psychology and human behavior to help you increase your conversion rate. Specifically, the more time a visitor spends on your website exploring and adding items to their cart, the more they become emotionally invested. Visitors are less likely to abandon a cart the longer they’ve spent on your website, simply because they’ve already invested time and energy into the process. People generally don’t like to feel like they’ve wasted their time; you can capitalize on this customer impulse by keeping them engaged longer and increasing their emotional investment.

With all of these possible benefits, cross-selling and up-selling should definitely be part of your overall strategy for increasing conversions and sales on your ecommerce website.

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