Mastering E-commerce Upselling: Your Complete Guide to Boosting Revenue [With Real-World Examples]

Picture this: a potential customer is just a click away from completing a purchase on your e-commerce site. In this pivotal moment, you have a choice: let them complete their purchase as planned or seize the opportunity to introduce them to a superior product for just a little more investment. It isn’t about aggressive selling; it’s about the strategic art of upselling. 

When done right, this tactic significantly boosts your revenue and enhances the value your customers receive from your store. In this guide, we’ll unravel the secrets of e-commerce upselling and explore how it can be a game-changer for your direct-to-consumer business.

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What is e-commerce upselling?

E-commerce upselling is a strategy that encourages existing customers to consider a higher-priced item or a complementary product, either while they’re browsing or after they’ve made a purchase. For direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, this is a powerful way to increase average order values and boost the bottom line, all without needing to acquire new customers.

Let’s illustrate e-commerce upselling with a simple example. Imagine a customer visits your website to buy running shoes and adds a pair priced at ₹1,200 to their cart. This is where you can step in: recommend a pair of waterproof shoes with superior soles for ₹2,000. This means your customer gets enhanced quality and additional benefits for just an extra ₹800.

Now, you might be wondering: why would a shopper want to spend an additional ₹800 when they initially chose a basic pair of shoes? This is where consumer psychology plays a pivotal role.

Your customers are likely well-informed. They’ve done their homework, and they are on your site ready to make a purchase, which means they are prepared to spend money. So, why not present them with a superior product option at a marginally higher price? If you can effectively communicate that this upgraded option provides significant value, they are very likely to consider it a fantastic deal and make the purchase.

Benefits of upselling

Retaining an old customer is 7x cheaper than getting a new one. The likelihood of successfully upselling and cross-selling to customers you already know is around 60 – 70%, a significantly higher chance than acquiring new ones.

There is a good reason behind this statistic. Upselling is essential for maintaining steady revenue streams, retaining customers and engaging new ones, and building long-term relationships with your customers. Let us explore the benefits in detail.

  1. Upselling increases your customer lifetime value (CLTV), which represents the total revenue you can expect from a customer throughout their relationship with your brand. 
  2. It helps you build a direct relationship with your customer as you offer them products that suit their needs. 
  3. It makes the shopping experience personalized for your customers 
  4. It facilitates more revenue, of course, since you’re spending less on acquisition and increasing order value simultaneously. 

And while you are understanding the world of upselling, it is essential to understand another closely-related strategy, cross-selling.

Upselling vs cross-selling: What’s the difference? 

Buying a French press coffee machine on Blue Tokai Coffee’s website will offer you something even better: French press equipment with your favorite roast coffee beans for a slightly higher price. 

Source: Blue Tokai

This is a classic example of cross-selling, when you try to bundle and sell different products in a similar category to the user who could benefit from it.

Upselling will entail providing better French press equipment options with a finer mesh or more coffee brew yield. 

Here is a concise way to put it: 

  • Upselling aims to elevate customers to premium product tiers 
  • While cross-selling enhances their purchase with complementary accessories and frequently paired products.

Here is an interesting fact, these two strategies are not mutually exclusive—you can use upselling and cross-selling together to boost your bottom line! First, upgrade them to a better coffee machine. Second, present them with multiple filters.

Understanding upselling and its benefits is easy. But actually implementing it and devising creative ideas to boost sales can be overwhelming. The good news is that we already have a detailed guide to help you upsell and scale your business. Read on!

E-commerce upselling tactics: How to upsell

Tactics #1: Create different product tiers

The principle of bundling in upselling is simple—to the customer, it should feel like paying more is paying less. They should consider an upgrade as a value addition at a justified price. To get them to upgrade to a higher tier, you need to create different product levels in the first place. 

Apple implements this strategy for all their product lines. While it may appear to be a high-end example, why not learn from the best? 

Source: Apple

When purchasing an Apple product, the website strategically displays cross-comparisons of different product tiers. Shoppers can clearly see the benefits of upgrading—for example, paying just about 20% more could give them additional storage space and a faster charging experience. 

If you have a product tier, you can also use the strategy to entice your customers to buy the higher priced products. This approach also emphasizes the importance of clever product placement. Let’s have a look at it next. 

Tactics #2: Get the right product placement

Upselling is more than just presenting options. It is the perfect balance of when to present and where to present. Upselling too early in the customer journey can push them off; you should only present offers when the customer is interested in you. 

Consider these prime spots for showcasing your upselling offers:

  • On the cart page, when the customer is about to hit the ‘Buy’ button, introducing a higher tier option can help you capitalize on their ready-to-buy mood
  • On your product’s page, when customers are already browsing for better deals and options
  • Via email, for customers who have subscribed to your mailing list, personalized upsell offers can nurture their interest over time
  • On the Out-of-Stock product page, instead of letting customers leave, why not direct them to a better alternative

Blur India uses a product placement strategy to upsell. Here is what a shopper who wants to buy lip gloss initially sees:

Source: Blur India

And after just about five seconds of scrolling, they get an irresistible offer, a great example product selling on the product page.

Source: Blur India

Sugar Cosmetics, another e-commerce beauty brand,  uses the cart page to its advantage with an upselling pop-up:

Source: Sugar Cosmetics

Here is an observation worth noting: these examples are not randomized but use data to understand a customer’s journey. Strategic upselling makes it feel like you’re after the shopper’s satisfaction, not just money.

Tactics #3: Personalize your upselling strategy

It is crucial to understand that randomly recommending products is not upselling. The process should feel tailor-made for the shopper.

So, what can count as personalized upselling? It’s about offering better options that aligns closely with the customer’s current purchase and makes the purchase worthwhile. If your upselling attempt feels gimmicky, it risks annoying customers and can decrease your CLVT. 

Mamaearth hits the nail on personalized upselling. They perfectly balance their profits and customers’ expectations and offer lightning deals on a 600ml shampoo bottle to someone looking to purchase a 400 ml bottle. 

Source: Mamaearth

At just 100 rupees more, this is too good a deal to refuse for someone looking to buy shampoo. This is just one of the ways to craft the perfect upsell offer. There is definitely more; keep scrolling.

Tactics #4: Offer Discounts and Free Shipping

Discounts and free shipping can be the key to unlocking opportunities. With these options, you can push customers to consider options they would have never considered. 

Here’s how discounts and free shipping can contribute to successful upselling:

Incentivizing Larger Purchases:

Offering discounts on larger orders or bundles can motivate customers to spend more to avail of the reduced price. For instance, a “Buy One, Get One 50% Off” deal can encourage customers to purchase an additional item they might not have considered initially.

Tiered Discounts:

Implementing tiered discount structures, where the discount increases as the order value increases, can encourage customers to add more items to their cart to reach the next discount level. 

Free Shipping Thresholds:

Setting a minimum order value to qualify for free shipping can drive customers to add more items to their cart to reach that threshold. This approach increases the average order value and provides customers with a tangible incentive to buy more.

Limited-Time Offers:

Time-limited discounts or free shipping promotions create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to make quicker decisions. Urgency can prompt customers to consider higher-priced options they might have otherwise postponed.

Personalized Offers:

Analyzing customer purchase history and behavior enables you to offer discounts and free shipping on items that align with their preferences. Tailored offers are more likely to resonate and lead to higher conversion rates.

Abandoned Cart Recovery:

Sending targeted follow-up emails with discounts or free shipping offers for items left in a customer’s cart can remind them of their interest and nudge them towards completing the purchase.

Read: 3 Abandoned Cart Email Templates For Your E-commerce Brand

Clear Communication:

Ensure the discounts and free shipping benefits are clearly communicated to the customers during the shopping experience. Display the potential savings prominently to capture their attention.

You can utilize existing and new customer reviews to further push such offers.

Tactics #5: Crafting the perfect upsell

Upselling isn’t just about increasing the value of a single transaction; it’s about creating an opportunity to enhance your customers’ experience. To ensure your upsell doesn’t just grab attention but converts effectively, a few essential elements should be seamlessly woven into your product communication.

  • Personalize the copy: Speak directly to your customer’s unique preferences and needs. It should feel like a recommendation from a trusted friend, not a sales pitch.
  • Visualize value: Use engaging graphics to illustrate the benefits of the upsell.
  • Highlight savings: Emphasize how much customers will save by choosing the upsell.
  • Use scarcity wisely: Introduce urgency without compromising trust – genuine limited offers leave a lasting impact.

Clearly illustrate how the upsell provides more features, benefits, or solutions for a relatively small price increase. This value proposition should resonate with customers, making them feel they’re making a wise investment rather than simply spending more money.

Juicy Chemistry, an Indian skincare e-commerce brand, does upselling quite right with their Anti-Acne Kit. 

Firstly, they present the kit as a better alternative to buying just one acne care product for holistic skincare. They position it as a better option with a pricing and copy strategy.

Source: Juicy Chemistry

They go ahead and include major specifications, relevant graphics, details about the kit and even an entire morning and night routine to facilitate easy adaptation into anyone’s skincare regimen. 

Source: Juicy Chemistry
Source: Juicy Chemistry
Source: Juicy Chemistry

Once you have cracked the code to presentation, you can explore further upsell options with dynamic pricing.

Tactics #6: Leveraging customer reviews and testimonials

Customer reviews and testimonials can go a long way in the upselling process. Imagine a shopper finds a product on your page with low reviews. Instead of demotivating the purchase, you can upsell and provide alternative recommendations with better reviews and ratings. This will motivate the customer to still purchase from you instead of closing that tab. 

In this realm, Amazon is the master of upselling. Amazon boosts its sales revenues by showcasing alternative products with superior ratings. Consider a shopper who is exploring iPhone case covers on Amazon. They click on an excellent product but notice the rating is relatively low. Amazon showcases multiple other cover options with better ratings and reviews. And the best part? The recommendations are easily accessible and only a few seconds of scrolls away. 

Source: Amazon

Tactics # 7: Measuring and optimizing upselling performance

Implementing upselling strategies without tracking and measuring is like navigating uncharted waters. Tracking allows you to gain invaluable insights into what’s working and what needs a course correction. 

Here’s a foolproof strategy to use data and insights to improve your upselling performance.

  • Identify your key metrics: Key indicators include the increase in average order value, the percentage of customers who accept upsells, and the overall revenue generated through upselling. 
  • Segmentation magic: Divide your customers into segments based on their behavior, preferences, and purchasing history. This allows you to tailor your upselling strategies to different groups, increasing the chances of resonating with their unique needs.
  • Conversion rate clues: Analyze which upsells have the highest conversion rates. Is it the upgraded product with additional features, the discounted bundle, or the exclusive package? This data unveils the preferences of your audience, enabling you to replicate success.
  • Focus on cart analysis: Dive into your customers’ cart. Analyze what they’re already purchasing and identify complementary products that you can seamlessly upsell. By understanding their buying patterns, you can strategically position upsells that enhance their shopping journey.


Every e-commerce brand should embrace the value of upselling in some way or another. They are a sure-shot way to boost your bottom line and generate sales and brand following. As the curtain falls on this guide, remember that the journey to upselling excellence is continuous – a journey where innovation, insights, and customer delight converge to shape a thriving e-commerce future.

We at Velocity, India’s largest revenue-based financier, are here to help you even more. We offer growth capital of up to Rs 4 crore to D2C and e-commerce brands. Businesses with healthy revenue streams can get instant funds and can make repayments as their revenue grows. To get instant funds for your business, you can apply here!


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