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5 Effective Cross-Selling Features for Online Stores

With the convenience and ease that online shopping provides, shoppers know they can get the items they want with just a click of a button – no hassles, no wasted time.

But the speed in which customers proceed to checkout can present somewhat of a double-edged sword for online retailers.

On the one hand, it’s good because it means that customers complete purchases quickly. But on the other hand, it also means that customers don’t really have the chance to see your other merchandise. Because if a customer focuses only on buying a particular item, then an online retailer misses out on the additional revenue that comes from a customer seeing and liking other items enough to buy them as well.

By positioning your merchandise in a way that grabs the attention of customers, especially the ones who concentrate only on the goal of locating a product and checking out, you gain crucial cross-sell opportunities – which translate to more sales. Check out our tips below on the e-commerce cross-selling techniques that capture the interest of even the most single-minded shopper.

1. Featured Products

If you think about it in brick-and-mortar store terms, your e-commerce store’s home page is your store entrance – so it’s important to put that crucial piece of virtual real estate to good use. Putting a designated section front-and-center on your home page that showcases specific products is a great way to catch the eye of shoppers – especially when there’s a “Featured Products” title above it.

By using that title, you convey a sense of importance or uniqueness to the items themselves – you’re essentially saying that these products are special and deserve to be prominently displayed. Naturally, this stirs up curiosity – why are these products featured? What’s so great about them? And curiosity is an inevitable driver of action – shoppers are motivated to check out these products for themselves, and if they agree that the product really deserves its title, then they are also motivated to purchase.  

It’s important to not clutter the home page with too many featured products – keeping a fairly select product grouping reinforces the distinctiveness of the individual items (and besides, cluttered home pages are a basic no-no when it comes to e-commerce site design).

Featured Products

A Featured Products section on an e-commerce store’s home page is a helpful way to draw attention to other merchandise.

2. Customers Who Bought This Product Also Bought These Products

People like to be in-the-know, especially on the latest styles and trends. It’s not fun feeling left out, or feeling like we’re behind everyone else. Displaying a merchandise section on a product page that says “Customers who bought this product also bought these products” taps into that feeling.

By adding this section to a product page, you first build trust with the site visitor by showing that customers – i.e., real people – are actually buying the product. Even if an online retailer has a sterling reputation, the fact that online shoppers can’t physically inspect merchandise before buying means that purchasing still carries a bit of risk. Seeing that other people have already purchased the product alleviates some of that anxiety.

This section also helpfully points people toward the direction of other merchandise that is relevant to that specific product, or other merchandise that is popular, etc. Appealing to both curiosity and the desire to be up-to-date, this feature is an effective motivator in getting customers to check out the items that other people are buying – “Why did the people who bought this particular item buy these other ones?” And it’s also an effective motivator in getting customers to purchase – “Well, if all these other people are buying this, then it must be worth it.”

Customers Who Bought This Product Also Bought These Products

Including a “Customers who purchased this product also purchased” section on a product page establishes trust with the merchant as well as encourages customers to check out other merchandise.

3. Popular Add-Ons

Along the same lines of “Customers who bought this…”, including a section for “Popular Add-Ons” is a good push toward getting customers to scope out and buy other merchandise as well. While “Customers who bought this…” can encompass a somewhat broad classification, “Popular Add-Ons” is an even more targeted message – it says that people purchased other items that specifically go with this particular product.

If people are buying other items that work compatibly with a product, then it shows that buying the other items add value to the purchase. And if those items are designated as popular, then it conveys to the shopper that a lot of people are buying them – which means that a lot of people recognize, and are reaping, the benefit of purchasing all of these items together. 

4. Bundled Promotions

One of the lingering aftereffects of the recession is that people are more mindful of their budgets. Since shoppers are more careful with their spending, they want to make sure they are getting the best value for their money.

Bundled promotions are a powerful way to move merchandise by appealing to bargain-hunters. A bundled promotion is when a merchant offers free or discounted rates with the purchase of one or more items. For example, “Buy A, Get B Free”. Giving this type of special offer to shoppers is so attractive because it a) enhances excitement (“Wow, I get this item along with this product? That’s so cool!”), and b) eases shopper guilt (“Well, getting this item along with this product is such a great deal that I should get this”). 

A bonus tip: To make a bundled promotion even more compelling, add a time limit. When shoppers see that there’s only so much time left to take advantage of an awesome deal, they naturally want to make sure they don’t miss out.

Bundled Promotions

Bundled promotions are attractive because they communicate that shoppers will get more value from their purchase. By adding a time limit, merchants create a sense of urgency to buy, which drives customers toward the virtual checkout line.

5. Customer Reviews

Customer reviews aren’t just about warnings these days – people like to share their experiences. By sharing those experiences, customers are equipping other potential buyers with valuable knowledge – and when a shopper feels well-informed, it makes them more likely to buy.

Not only are customer reviews helpful in getting shoppers to seal the deal, but they can also point shoppers toward the direction of other merchandise. For example, perhaps a customer review on a shirt says how comfortable and nice that shirt is; and perhaps that review goes on to mention how great the shirt is paired with that company’s pants and high heels. With one single customer review, a shopper has received both an assessment of the main product in question, and endorsements of other products in the retailer’s inventory.

Such suggestions are especially important because this is cross-selling in an organic, honest way – your customers are not being forced to contribute reviews. Therefore when customers do post reviews,  shoppers trust them. If a shopper trusts an opinion, then they are going to really pay attention – including if a customer advises buying multiple items to go along with a particular product. 

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are a helpful way to cultivate customer engagement and set the stage for effective, organic cross-selling.

Understanding the Customer

Finding out what your customers want and understanding their buying patterns are crucial in developing effective cross-selling strategies. Because if you don’t understand what is driving a shopper to visit you, then you won’t know how to communicate how your offerings meet their needs. By paying close attention to your customers’ shopping behavior and actively listening to what customers are saying –suggestions, rave reviews, complaints, etc. – you set the foundation for important revenue-driving cross-selling opportunities.  

If you would like more information on how to optimize your e-commerce cross-selling, please email us at ecommerce@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRMeCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 7 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

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