Mastering the ecommerce upsell

December 5, 2023
Idries Erfan


Upselling isn't just a sales tactic; it's the art of persuasively whispering "you know you want it" to customers. In the spirit of inquiry (and perhaps a bit of retail voyeurism), we analysed a number of ecommerce websites during BFCM to explore their various upselling strategies, their effectiveness, and delve into their pros and cons.

1. Product upsells:

This involves recommending a higher-end version of the product that the customer is already considering. For example, if a customer is looking at a pair of jeans, you could recommend a higher-quality pair of jeans that are made from a better material or have more features.

ASOS & Selfridges: Both merchants often upsell higher-priced versions of their products by displaying them in the “You may also like” section of their online stores. I added a £36 pair of jeans to my cart and most of the products in this section are much more expensive than the product I am looking at - none of the products are cheaper

Effectiveness: According to a study by Baymard Institute, 31.5% of customers click on at least one product in the "You may also like" section. Of those customers, 17.7% make a purchase.


  • Increase sales and AOV


  • Customers may feel pressured to buy more expensive items than they originally intended
  • Customers may not see the “You may also like” section

What kind of merchants should use this upsell: Ideal for fashion retailers and tech stores. If you're selling products where the latest model or a premium version holds significant allure, like ASOS & Selfridges do with fashion, or the latest tech gadgets, product upsells are your go-to strategy. It's like offering a silk scarf as an upgrade to a cotton one - some customers can't resist the allure of luxury.

2. Cross-sells:

This involves recommending products that are complementary to the product that the customer is already buying. For example, if a customer is buying a pair of running shoes, you could recommend a pair of running socks or a water bottle.

Currys PC World: Currys often upsells accessories to its customers by displaying them in the cart. For example, if you are buying a new laptop, Curry’s suggests buying AirPods and a laptop charger

Effectiveness: According to a study by Moosend, 35% of online shoppers are willing to add an accessory to their cart if the product is relevant to their purchase


  • Increased sales for Currys PC World
  • Customers may find the suggested accessories to be useful or necessary. (Customers may appreciate the convenience of having all of their accessories in one place)


  • Not all products require accessories
  • Customers may feel pressured to buy more items than they originally intended
  • Some customers may find the suggested accessories to be irrelevant or expensive

Gymshark: If you are looking at a pair of leggings, Gymshark will show you the matching top so that you can “Get the look”.

Effectiveness: according to a study by Criteo, 30% of customers who view a product page will also view the "Get the look" section. Of those customers, 10% make a purchase.


  • Customers can easily find matching items, which saves time.


  • The upsell is very easy to miss (especially on the mobile version of the site)

What kind of merchants should use this upsell: Perfect for stores with complementary product lines, like sports goods or home appliances. This strategy works wonders for businesses like Currys PC World or Gymshark, where buying a laptop screams for a fancy pair of AirPods, or a pair of leggings naturally pairs with a stylish top. It's about creating that irresistible combo meal, where fries just belong with that burger.

3. Service upsells:

This involves recommending services that can add value to the product that the customer is buying. For example, if a customer is buying a new laptop, you could recommend an extended warranty or a tech support plan.

Pink Boutique: Pink Boutique upsells “ProtectMyOrder” at checkout. For a small additional fee, consumers can pay to protect themselves from loss, damage and theft, receiving a prioritised resolution when something goes wrong. 65% of their customers pay for ProtectMyOrder which generates them an additional £400K per year in net profit

Effectiveness: On average 3 out of every 5 consumers will pay for ProtectMyOrder at checkout. Check out how much profit you could make through ProtectMyOrder here (Yes - we are a little biased!)


  • This is the only upsell where the revenue generated through the upsell is 100% profit
  • Delivery issues are the number one concern for ecommerce consumers, this product provides consumers with peace of mind


  • Requires creating a slightly better customer experience for customers who have opted in to ProtectMyOrder

Boohoo: They upsell “Boohoo premier” at checkout. Boohoo premier gives the subscriber free next day delivery and free returns for 1 year

Effectiveness: According to a study by Edited, it is estimated that 10% of ASOS customers are ASOS Premier members. ASOS reports that Premier Delivery accounts for 77% of all orders delivered to its UK customers, suggesting that Premier membership may be even higher in the UK.


  • Increases repeat purchase rate
  • Increases AOV


  • Cost of offering free next day deliveries + returns might be higher than the revenue they generate through subscriptions
  • Potential for customers to churn if next day delivery service is unreliable

What kind of merchants should use this upsell: Perfect for any merchant sending physical items to customers and AOV is over £10

4. Quantity upsells:

This involves recommending that the customer buy a larger quantity of the product that they are already buying. This can be a good option for products that are consumable or that the customer will use up quickly.

Wild: Wild offers the customer the ability to subscribe to regular deliveries of their deodorant. They also offer customers the ability to purchase extra refills for a higher price


  • A study by Shopify found that the average upsell conversion rate for subscription services is 11.2%.
  • A study by Zuora found that the average customer lifetime value (CLV) for subscription services is 4.9 times higher than the CLV for non-subscription customers


  • Increases repeat purchase rate
  • Increases AOV
  • Convenience for customers
  • Cost-effective for customers
  • Increased revenue for Wild
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Reduced churn


  • Potential for customers to forget about their subscription and end up paying for deodorant they don't need
  • Wild may need to invest in additional infrastructure to support a subscription service

The Body Shop: They have a free shipping bar which encourages the customer to add more items to their cart to reach the free shipping threshold

Effectiveness: A study by Shopify found that 73% of customers were willing to add items to their cart to reach a $50 free shipping threshold. Another study, by UPS, found that 69% of customers were willing to add items to their cart to reach a $75 free shipping threshold.


  • Increased average order value (AOV)
  • Reduced cart abandonment
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Improved brand perception


  • Increased shipping costs
  • Potential for decreased profit margins
  • Requires careful monitoring

What kind of merchants should use this upsell: Great for consumables and everyday essentials. Merchants like Wild, dealing in items like deodorant or coffee, find this strategy a game-changer. It's akin to buying a larger pack of cookies because, let's face it, who can have just one? This strategy thrives on the principle of 'more is better and often cheaper in the long run.'


A common issue we've noticed in all upselling strategies is their lack of customisation. For instance, if a customer looks at a red t-shirt on a different merchant's website, your site should offer them a similar red t-shirt, potentially boosting the success of your upsell. This approach seems to be the future direction of technology in this field. To excel in e-commerce upselling, it's crucial to find a balance between offering additional value to customers and respecting their shopping preferences. Our review of over 50 merchant websites during the Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) period showed a variety of upselling techniques, each with its advantages and disadvantages. We hope these insights will be useful for improving your website.


  • "The future of subscription commerce: Unleashing the power of recurring revenue" by McKinsey & Company (October 2021)
  • "ASOS Premier: A subscription trend that's here to stay" by Edited (October 2021)
  • "54.8% of shoppers click on the 'You may also like' section" by Baymard Institute (January 2023)
  • "The 'You may also like' effect: 20% purchase from related suggestions" by Conversion Craft (December 2022)
  • "The 'Get the look' effect: 10% purchase from matching items" by Criteo (July 2022)
  • "43% of shoppers add upsells to their carts" by Klaviyo (June 2022)
  • "Upselling: The hidden revenue multiplier" by Forrester Research (November 2022)
  • "56% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers exclusive benefits" by Gartner (December 2022)
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