Add-On Upsells – A Win for Everyone

Earlier this week we launched an add-on upsell feature for Detailed Image.

With detailing products you often need an add-on product to use the product that you’re purchasing. Buying a wax? You’ll need an applicator pad. Buying a quick detailer? You’ll need a towel. A buffer? A backing plate and pads. And so on. We saw a huge opportunity to not only increase our average order value and sell more of these small (typically high-margin) items, but to make the customer’s experience a better one. No one wants to buy a product, receive it, and then realize that they can’t use it!

The challenge was that to really do it right we couldn’t take any shortcuts. The suggested add-ons had to not only work with the product, they had to be the ideal suggestion. We wanted it to give them the same suggestion that they’d get if they emailed in and asked “Hey, I’m buying this wax, what do I need to apply it?” So, that’s basically how we approached it. I worked closely with Reece, who answers the majority of our customer service, to create product relationships and custom text to show you that what we’re recommending you is perfect for the product you’re buying.

The other part of making the system useful was making it not do annoying things. It won’t show you the upsell if you already have that product in your cart, or if it’s out of stock, or if the overlay can’t fit on your mobile screen, or, in the case of our Cart page, if you’re already being shown that same item as an upsell for a different product. Relatively easy filters to program in really help to prevent that negative sentiment. I know I’d be pissed if I was suggested something and then got to checkout to find out that it’s out of stock!

A few days in, the numbers are looking great. Customers are adding these suggestions at a higher rate than expected. However, it’s just a few days so I’ll withhold final judgement for a month or two.

Below are some examples:

On Item Pages

After a customer adds Optimum No Rinse (ONR) to their cart, they’re shown the following upsell. Notice how we confirm that the original item has been added, suggest what they need, and then tell them why they need it with a specific reference to ONR (“pairs perfectly with ONR”).

Detailed Image Item Page Upsell

On The Cart Page

Just before checking out we’re showing a “Recommended For You” section. If there are add-ons that match items in your cart, we’ll show you those as we do in the image below. If not, we show popular low-cost add-on products like towels, applicator pads, and air fresheners.

Detailed Image Cart Page Upsell

Gift Certificates!

During Father’s Day or the holiday shopping season, we have the option of turning on a Gift Certificate upsell.

Detailed Image Gift Certificate Cart Page Upsell

On The Home Page

We’ve had a “Recommended For You” section on the homepage for a while. It looks at the products, brands, and categories you’ve viewed, and attempts to show you the most relevant products for you. In the example below, I viewed a Porter Cable buffer, which is in the first slot. The next two slots are the two upsells that we have for the product, and the following slots are from the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section on the product page, which are auto generated.

Detailed Image Home Page Upsell


We followed the 60% rule from this ConversionXL post when determining our add-on upsells:

The rule of upselling is this: you only offer related products (Apple offers smart cover for iPad, and doesn’t try to sell you an iPod), and the offer must be at least 60% cheaper than the product they just added to their shopping cart.

For example, if someone buys a bucket they might want/need a Grit Guard, but it’s only about 15% cheaper so we left it off for now. If this is super successful we may try “breaking the rules” a bit to see what happens.

I also found an article on Upselling Techniques from ConversionXL to be very helpful when planning out this project, as well as the results of this Product Page Usability study by the Baymard Institute.

Update 4/26/2015 – a few days after my post, KISSMetrics wrote a great post entitled The Art of eCommerce Upselling that also provides an in-depth look at upselling techniques

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Commenting Rules

I'm honored that you found this post interesting enough to leave a comment. Before posting, I have a few ground rules:

  • Please keep your comments as relevant to the post as possible.
  • No personal attacks or any other nastiness.
  • Your first comment is subject to my approval.