17 Powerful Upselling Techniques: Channel-Specific Strategies & Stories

Imagine browsing your favorite online store, looking for a new coffee maker. As you're about to check out, a suggestion pops up for a specialty coffee blend that perfectly matches your new gadget. Intriguing, right?

17 Powerful Upselling Techniques: Channel-Specific Strategies & Stories

Imagine browsing your favorite online store, looking for a new coffee maker. As you're about to check out, a suggestion pops up for a specialty coffee blend that perfectly matches your new gadget. Intriguing, right? 

This scenario captures the essence of effective upselling—a strategy to enhance shopping experiences without being pushy.

Andy Rosenberg, who’s an omnichannel marketing consultant with over 10 years in the retail industry, puts it best: 

“The key to non-invasive upselling is offering the customer something that is going to make their current purchasing decision more valuable. If they are parting ways with both time and money to engage with your product, make both worthwhile by adding more to a single transaction experience.”

With this in mind, I will show you some of the most effective upsell ideas to make every transaction more rewarding.

How to upsell in retail

A sale seems like the easiest way to get folks to purchase more at your retail store, right?

And hey, you could even get one of those inflatable, arm-waving people!


Instead of just slinging a sale, try some of these more subtle retail upselling tactics:

Unit pricing 

Unit pricing in retail stores refers to the practice of displaying the price of a product in terms of a standard unit of measure, such as per liter, per kilogram, per pound, or per item. This allows consumers to compare prices between different sizes and brands of the same type of product more easily and make more informed purchasing decisions.

For example, if one brand of orange juice is sold in a 1-liter carton at $3.00 and another is sold in a 1.5-liter carton at $4.20, unit pricing would show the price per liter for each option ($3.00 per liter vs. $2.80 per liter, respectively), highlighting the better value per unit despite the different package sizes.

Picture of Chai Spice tea from the grocery store and the price.

Unit pricing can be used as an upsell strategy by guiding customers towards purchasing larger quantities or higher-end products that offer better-perceived value. 

Here’s how:

  1. Highlighting Bulk Savings: By showing the unit price, retailers can make it apparent that larger sizes or bulk packages offer better value per unit. This can encourage customers to buy more than they initially planned to secure a lower per-unit cost. For example, a larger pack of snacks might have a lower price per unit compared to a smaller pack, nudging customers to opt for the larger size.
  2. Comparative Value: Retailers can use unit pricing to compare different products, which helps to subtly promote higher-priced or higher-margin items that have better unit price efficiency. This can be particularly effective in categories where quality or brand perception plays a significant role in the buying decision.
  3. Tiered Pricing Structures: In scenarios where products come in multiple quality tiers (e.g., good, better, best), unit pricing can demonstrate the incremental cost differences between these tiers. Customers might be persuaded to purchase a higher quality (and higher-priced) item when they see that the per-unit price increase is minimal.
  4. Promotional Leverage: During sales or promotions, displaying the unit price reduction can make deals more attractive. It highlights how much more cost-effective a product is during the sale, encouraging customers to take advantage of the lower price while it lasts.
  5. Cross-category Comparison: Unit pricing can also help in upselling across different categories by allowing a direct comparison of value across unrelated products. This can be useful in areas like electronics or appliances, where customers might be encouraged to buy a more efficient or feature-rich model based on better long-term value (e.g., energy efficiency savings shown per unit of energy).

Tip: Prominently display the unit price savings on larger or premium products compared to smaller or standard versions. This encourages customers to perceive higher value in purchasing more or opting for a higher-end product.

Minimum-threshold sales

If you’ve ever shopped at Chapters/Indigo, you’ve likely encountered minimum-threshold sales. In these sales, if you spend $50, you usually get a higher-ticket item (like a throw blanket or tote bag) for a fraction of the cost.

I took a picture during my last visit:

Image of Indigo's offer for an essential tote at half the price when customers spend $30 or more.

At the sale display, Indigo also set up books priced at $30—the minimum amount to spend to unlock the sale price for the totes.

Getting a tote for 50% off is a hard opportunity to turn down. Suddenly, a $30 purchase becomes a $55 one.

Suggestion: Use these upsells seasonally to make it easy for shoppers to purchase gifts. For example, Indigo always promotes fuzzy blankets during the winter holidays, and this tote bag sale is right before Mother’s Day. 

Tip: If you don’t want to discount products, you can take a different approach: giving away bonus loyalty points when customers spend a certain amount. PC Optimum always does this at the stores they partner with.

Ad for getting bonus PC Optimum points when you spend $75

Membership programs work well for retail stores, but the perks must be interesting. In other words, customers aren’t going to spend $50 per year on a membership if the only perk is free shipping.

No, you need a list of perks and benefits for customers who sign up, and it needs to feel exclusive. 

You can see how Barnes and Noble promotes its paid membership program in-store, offering perks for both online and off.

Some perks you can consider: 

  1. Exclusive Discounts and Offers: Membership programs often provide exclusive discounts, special offers, or higher percentages off on purchases than non-members. This exclusivity can encourage members to spend more to take advantage of these benefits, increasing their purchase frequency and volume.
  2. Tiered Benefits: By creating different membership levels (e.g., silver, gold, platinum), retailers can encourage customers to aspire to higher tiers, which might require more spending or more frequent purchases. Each tier could offer progressively better rewards, such as greater discounts, free shipping, or access to exclusive products.
  3. Loyalty Points and Rewards: Many membership programs use a points system where customers earn points for every dollar spent. These points can be redeemed for discounts, products, or other rewards. Customers might be inclined to buy more or choose more expensive items to accumulate points faster, leading to upsells.
  4. Early Access or Exclusive Access to New Products: Members can be given early or exclusive access to new products or sales, encouraging them to purchase before or more than the general public. This can create a sense of exclusivity and urgency, prompting higher spending.
  5. Free Shipping and Returns: Offering free shipping and hassle-free returns to members can remove barriers to purchasing higher-priced items or trying new products. Customers might be more willing to make larger or more frequent purchases if they know they can return items easily and without cost.
  6. Special Shopping Experiences: Members could receive invitations to special shopping events or early store hours, enhancing the shopping experience and building loyalty. Members might encounter additional upselling opportunities during these events through personalized recommendations or product demonstrations.

Tip: Offer instant rewards for new sign-ups. When customers are at the checkout, provide them with an immediate benefit if they join your membership program right there. I’ve purchased a paid membership with Indigo using this exact tactic. 

When I was about to checkout with a $200 purchase, the sales associate told me about the membership program for $39/year. 

If I bought the membership, I’d get 10% off my purchase right then and there, meaning $23 in savings. “The membership practically pays for itself,” she said.

Not only did I purchase the membership, but I’ve made it a point to return, so I feel like I’m making the most of the benefits I paid for. 

Product bundles integrated with Shopify POS

One of the easiest ways to upsell in retail stores? Product bundles.

“But product bundles mess up my POS system.”

They don’t have to. 

Here’s my favorite example:

While in the city, Simple Bundles’ CEO visited Glossier’s New York location. (Glossier has been a long-term user of Simple Bundles because of the Shopify POS integration.

In Glossier’s physical retail store, bundles have a dedicated wall, mirroring how online sets are displayed. 

Image of Glossier's Makeup Set bundle on display in its retail store.

Simple Bundles’s native integration with Shopify POS allows associates in brick-and-mortar stores to select customers' exact bundle options, streamlining the checkout process.

Even better, if a customer selects three items from a bundle shelf, the sales associate can quickly find that bundle on their POS device.

Then, the full bundle and its contents are shown on the customer’s receipt.

This saves store associates from looking for each item in a bundle individually and manually adding a discount.

Image of a receipt from Glossier, showing the bundle purchased.

Tip: Use strategic placement and visual merchandising to highlight the bundle's value and convenience. Position bundled products in high-traffic areas of the store, such as near the entrance, at the end of aisles, or by the checkout counters. 

Train sales associates on how to upsell

Sales associates aren’t just there to check customers’ items out—hence the job title, sales associate. 

But you also can’t be overly salesy when shoppers are trying to browse. 

What should you use? During sales training, teach a game called “Who, Who, and You.”

This idea comes from Rebekah Kondrat, Managing Partner at Rekon Retail. I asked her how this works, and she said: 

“First, build rapport with the customer, then find out WHO they’re shopping for (self, family, friend, etc) then ask WHO ELSE they’re shopping for. This makes the customer stop and think about surprising another friend or family member. Lastly, what do THEY want that day? After all, if they’re shopping for others, they should also reward themselves. This game works really well during the holiday gift season.”

Tip: Make sure sales associates are well-versed in the product's features, benefits, and potential uses. This allows them to confidently explain how a higher-priced or additional item could better meet the customer's needs or enhance their experience with the primary product.

Checkout line displays

While waiting in the checkout line for five minutes, it’s so easy to pick up an additional 1-2 low-cost items. You need a bookmark for that novel, right? Or a new makeup brush for that blush (I’m looking at you, Sephora).

Image of Sephora retail store's checkout line with displays for mini products.

A key tip for upselling products with checkout line displays in retail locations is to focus on impulse buys by featuring small, lower-priced items that complement purchases commonly made in the store. 

The checkout area is a prime spot for encouraging last-minute purchase decisions. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  1. Select the Right Products: Choose items that are easy to add on without much consideration—like snacks, drinks, travel-sized products, or popular accessories. These should ideally be products that don't require a lot of deliberation about price or functionality.
  2. Thematic or Seasonal Relevance: Align the products with current seasons, holidays, or themes. For instance, sunscreen and sunglasses in summer, or hand warmers and lip balms in winter. This makes the products relevant and timely, increasing the likelihood of an impulse buy.
  3. Educational or Demonstrative Displays: If space allows, use part of the display to educate the customer or demonstrate the product’s use. For example, a video loop showing the effectiveness of a gadget or visual charts that quickly convey product benefits can trigger impulse purchases by showcasing the value.
  4. Strategic Product Pairing: Place items that naturally complement purchases typically made in your store. For example, if it's a bookstore, display bookmarks, reading lights, or small journals at the checkout. If it's a clothing store, consider items like jewelry, socks, or belts.

These tactics leverage the psychology of shopping by tapping into the customer's last-minute decision-making process, boosting the average transaction size through effective upselling.

Best upselling techniques for ecommerce

Ever wonder how a simple tweak to your online store can turn a casual browse into a higher AOV purchase? Let’s discuss several fan-favorite upselling strategies for ecommerce stores.

Product bundles

Product bundles are one of the lowest-lift, highest-value upsell strategies for your ecommerce store. And there’s no limitation with how creative you can get, so bundles are one of my favorite upsell page examples.

Bundle types:

  • Build a box
  • Cross-sell bundles
  • Custom bundles
  • Digital products
  • Fixed bundles
  • Gift boxes
  • Infinite option bundles
  • Mix-and-match bundles
  • Multipacks
  • Mystery boxes
  • Physical products
  • Sample packs
  • Subscription boxes
  • Upsell bundles
  • Variant bundles
  • Wholesale bundles

Pricing you can set: 

  • BOGO
  • Bulk pricing
  • Cart discounts
  • Custom pricing
  • Discounts
  • Dynamic pricing
  • Fixed pricing
  • Flat discounts
  • Percentage discounts
  • Quantity breaks
  • Subscriptions
  • Tiered pricing
  • Volume discounts
  • Wholesale pricing

Don’t just take it from me: some brands increase revenue by 15% to 20% from bundles alone, and others see more than half of their monthly revenue attributed to bundles.

Bave, a self-care brand, is one of these businesses.

“Our preferred method of upselling involves our bundle offerings. These bundles allow customers to choose their desired scent and/or combine products at a reduced price. Since introducing our bundles, they've significantly boosted our sales, with 68% of sales in the past month originating from these packages,” shared co-founders Joe Henshaw and Reece Best. 

Bave's product bundle page on its website.

Using Simple Bundles to create these offers, Bave gives its customers the flexibility to assemble a product collection that meets their needs, whether mixing various fragrances or combining products for a particular regimen, such as Shower Gel and Body Butters.

Bave's Shower and Body product bundle, showing a user selecting their scent.

Tip: “While we aim to offer as many bundle options as possible, we also recognize the importance of not overwhelming our customers with too many choices. We maintain straightforward and uniform naming for our bundles to avoid confusion,” said Joe and Reece.

Bonus: use seasonable product bundles

Seasonal bundling is a great way to sell a customer on multiple products. This upselling strategy is one of Andy Rosenberg’s favorites.

“As an example of seasonable bundling, consider how homeowners need tools to take on the winter for their backyards. Not only does the bundle offer a built-in incentive to purchase everything in advance, but it’s also created to solve a universal problem. Make sure to do it before the heart of the season when everyone else is already messaging similar campaigns. In other words, be the first,” he said.

Emphasis on ‘be the first.’

Shop the look 

I've often wondered why more clothing and accessories brands don't feature a "shop the look" section on their product descriptions.

Admittedly, I'm not the most fashion-savvy shopper. When I spot a shirt or pair of pants online that catches my eye, I immediately check out what else the model is wearing.

Too often, I find myself scouring the website for the rest of the outfit—an effort that is both time-consuming and, frankly, a bit frustrating. More often than not, I end up abandoning my shopping cart because the extra time allows me to second-guess my need for the outfit.

Dear merchants, capture your consumers' initial excitement by making their shopping experience as seamless as possible. Implementing a "shop the look" feature can significantly streamline the process, helping shoppers quickly find and purchase a complete outfit without the hassle.

Dynamite's Shop the Look section on its product description page.

A key takeaway from all of this is that you shouldn’t wait until the end of the buying journey to push an upsell. 

“We call that ‘would you like fries with the that’ selling,” explains Rebekah Kondrat. “If the customer has already made up their mind and has their payment method out, the answer will almost always be ‘no’ to adding that additional item. Bring in additional items or items at a higher price point early and often.”

Tip: Include clickable links or buttons that add all the featured items to the cart with minimal effort or allow customers to select individual pieces from the look. 

Free shipping threshold 

By setting a minimum purchase amount that qualifies for free shipping, you create a tangible incentive for customers to add more items to their cart. 

For example, if free shipping is offered on orders over $50, a customer with a cart total of $40 might be motivated to find additional products worth at least $10 to avoid shipping costs.

Dorsal Bracelet's product page showing a banner for free shipping on orders over $40.

Don’t forget to advertise this incentive, though. Dorsal Bracelets (as shown in the image above) always post its free shipping announcement on the website banner. That way, customers are constantly reminded that they can get free shipping if they spend $40 while browsing through products.

Tip: Strategically place items slightly below or near the free shipping threshold throughout the shopping experience, such as in product recommendations or during the checkout process, to prompt customers to consider additional purchases.

Cart upsells

Cart upsells are like a last-ditch effort for customers to purchase an extra product. 

“When brands upsell directly in the cart, it helps customers visualize having already added the products to their cart,” explains Pia Mikhael, a paid ads expert and freelance media buyer. “For brands that have ‘accessory’ products that go hand-in-hand with their ‘flagship’ or main product, this is a great way to upsell your accessories.”

Here’s a cart upselling example Buxom Cosmetics.

Buxom's cart page showing recommended items to add.

Post-purchase page upsells

Another of Pia Mikhael’s favorite tips is using an upsell on the post-purchase page. There are four compelling reasons every retailer should consider these one-click upsells:

  1. One-click upsells are timed to capitalize on peak buying motivation.
  2. They eliminate the need for customers to re-enter their payment information.
  3. These upsells do not disrupt the initial purchasing process.
  4. They can be customized effortlessly according to the items purchased.

“The post-purchase page is great if your product has a longer LTV. You could either rope them into a subscription, or you can get them to buy a few more products after their initial purchase (with a discount),” says she says. “Not only are you getting your customers excited about a discount on products that they were likely going to buy again later, but you’re also hitting them when their dopamine is high—right after they’ve made a purchase.”

The proof is in the pudding. While Pia Mikhael can’t share the name of the exact brand she’s working with to do these upsells (unfortunately frieNDAs don’t apply here), she can share the results: 

Over a 30-day period, the post-purchase one-click upsell saw a 3.5% conversion rate and generated over $30,500 in revenue alone.

Tip: Ensure the upsell offers closely relate to the original purchase. For instance, if a customer buys a smartphone, offer accessories like cases, screen protectors, or earphones as one-click upsells.

Note: If you’re using Shopify’s Shop App, you can create a post-purchase offer that gives returning customers an in-app discount that they can use at your store, such as free shipping, fixed discount amount, or percentage off.

Subscribe and save

If your product has a high long-term value (LTV), consider offering subscription options alongside one-time purchases. For instance, companies like Innosupps offer a single purchase and a subscription model for regular deliveries of their supplements. 

Innosupps' product page showing customers they can purchase items in bulk to save.

This provides a clear upsell opportunity where customers who are already going to buy one bottle may be tempted by an offer to save when they subscribe and purchase multiple bottles at a discount. 

Plus, some customers may prefer not to commit to a subscription but are open to periodic bulk purchases. "So you’re still squeezing out the extra revenue per customer,” says Pia Mikhael.

Tip: Place the highest-value bundle in the middle of three purchasing options (like in the example above of Innosupps). Many customers will be naturally drawn to the center as the first place to look.

How to upsell products on mobile apps

Many of the upselling tips you use on your ecommerce site work well for mobile, but I want to show you a few specific ones that worked for me.

Cart upsell (free item)

Similar to a “spend $X to get free shipping,” you can also play around with free items in the cart with a similar message. This is a good way to eliminate low-cost extra stock from a previous season. 

Halara does this in its mobile app, letting shoppers know that if they spend more, they’ll get a free item. They also swap these items out often, so there’s always something new to upsell.

Halara's mobile app cart showing customers if they spend more they'll get a free item.

Tip: Use phrases like "Limited offer" or "While supplies last" to encourage customers to increase their cart total immediately to qualify for the free item.

Renewable VIP badge

One of my favorite upselling tactics is Dynamite’s renewable VIP badge. Every time you spend $200, you get a 25% off coupon. Not only does this incentivize me to make repeat purchases, but it’s a good nudge to spend just a smidge more to unlock the badge (which I can use on my next order). 

Do you see how the cycle repeats?

Dynamite's mobile app, showing the VIP page for loyal customers who can earn a discount for spending more money.

Tip: Pair the badge with exclusive member-only perks. Beyond the 25% off coupon, consider offering additional incentives such as early access to new products, exclusive sales, or special events only available to badge holders. This increases the perceived value of reaching the spending threshold and builds a sense of exclusivity and community among members.

Matching sets product category

Another upselling tactic from Dynamite that I think is smart is its “matching sets” product category. 

Dynamite's matching sets category on its mobile app.

This approach cleverly encourages customers to buy coordinated pieces together, simplifying the shopping process and increasing the average order value. 

(Can you tell I’m a big fan of Dynamite?)

Tip: When a customer adds a piece from a matching set to their cart, automatically suggest the matching item in a non-intrusive popup or a dedicated section of the cart page. This gentle reminder can encourage customers to complete the set before they check out.

Coupon bundle for installing mobile app

For new Halara customers, the brand offers a neat incentive for anyone willing to install the mobile app: a coupon bundle. 

This bundle gives customers immediate access to coupons worth $100, but there’s a catch. The first coupon, which offers 5% off the customer’s first order, can be used on any minimum amount. 

After that, customers can only use each coupon if they spend a minimum amount, effectively encouraging them to increase their spending to fully benefit from the savings offered.

Halara's bundle coupon on its mobile app.

Tip: Stagger the coupon values and minimum spend thresholds to encourage incremental increases in spending. Start with a lower-value coupon for a modest minimum spend to get customers started comfortably. Then, scale up the discounts and the required spending amounts for subsequent coupons. 

Tools to upsell in Shopify

Now that you’ve got an epic list of upselling ideas, how can you implement them with your store? Here are a few upsell tools to check out: 

  • Reconvert: Add one-click upsells, post-purchase upsells, and discounted upsells to your checkout and thank you pages.
  • Checkout Blocks: Drag and drop Checkout Blocks to show upsells, free shipping, custom fields, custom content with Liquid, & block unsupported addresses.
  • Simple Bundles: Increase AOV by offering infinite bundle options, such as mix-and-match, multipacks, subscription sets, curated sets, volume discounts, and wholesale packs, in minutes.
  • Aftersell: After the initial purchase, show irresistible post-purchase offers that shoppers can accept in one click, without re-entering payment information or going through checkout again.  
  • Rebuy: AI-powered product recommendations & search: cart, checkout, post-purchase upsells, and A/B testing.
  • Shop App: Customers can use the Shop app to track packages, discover new stores and products, make purchases using Shop Pay, and engage with your brand.

Have fun with your upsell strategy!