Upsell vs Cross Sell—Tactics To Boost Your Bottom-line

Updated · Mar 04, 2023

In today's ultra-competitive business environment, it's vital to capitalize on every opportunity you have to maximize your ROI and grow your company. 

This means taking advantage of any and all marketing leads as quickly as possible, since a lead that passes you by may not return. 

To help you make the most of your marketing leads, there are three key tools that can help:

  • Upsell
  • Cross sell
  • Downsell! 


When it comes to upsell vs cross sell, many people confuse the two, taking them to be the same. That’s not the case.

When you “upsell” you offer a customer a more expensive product or service than the one they are looking to buy. It could be a more premium version of an item or a higher-tier subscription plan. 

For example, a customer might be buying a pair of headphones. Noting this, you could then offer them a wireless version that’s more expensive. The goal with an upsell is to try and get the customer to buy a higher ticket, seeing as they’ve already expressed interest.

Upsells are only advisable when dealing with a “hot lead”.

If a visitor to your store is new, a bold upsell could have the effect of driving them away, which could negatively affect your conversion rates, always a tough nut to crack.


On the other hand, cross-selling is the practice of selling related products to a customer who has already made a purchase.

This is a safe move because a customer who has already bought something from you is more likely to buy from you again, especially if it’s an item that’s immediately useful.

Clothes are an cross sell products, as well as electronics.

If you look at the gaming market, there are entire companies dedicated to creating gaming peripherals. Similarly, with services, you can offer add-ons.

Bundle deals can be a way to sort of upsell and cross-sell at the same time.

Bundles are normally priced so that the offer is cheaper than buying the pieces individually. Often it’s enough to nudge a customer to make a higher purchase. 

eCommerce upselling and cross selling are a way to keep the pressure up to maximize a lead, but what about saving a sale that’s in danger? That’s what the next tool is for.


Down selling is the practice of selling a less expensive product or service than the one originally requested.

This typically happens when a customer's budget doesn't allow for the original purchase or if they begin second-guessing the decision.

A real-life example would be if a customer is looking at a luxury car but can't afford it, the salesperson might suggest a less expensive model. 

This tool can be an effective way to still make a sale when you sense the customer pulling away.

Later, when the customer has committed you can attempt cross-sales, or an upsell on other items in the future.

Which Strategy Should You Use?

Upsell vs cross sell vs downsell?

As you can see, each of these tools is a little different and suited to different scenarios.

Ideally, you should work to include each one in your marketing toolset.

Best of all, these tools are accommodated ecommerce tools like landing pages, and sales funnels.

Sales funnels take a variety of forms, and you can construct many of them for product upsell, cross-sell or downsell depending on a customer's behavior. Is a customer clicking through?—upsell. Is a customer attempting to back out?—Downsell. 

Other tools, like email marketing solutions, can also come into play. If a customer has bought something, set your email tool to automatically offer a related product.

Perhaps your customer has abandoned their shopping cart. In this case, send them an email nudge with a downsell of a cheaper alternative. 


eCommerce upselling, cross-selling, and downselling are all valuable tools that can help businesses boost sales and profits.

It's important to understand the difference between these concepts so that you can use them in the most effective way possible.

Remember, ecommerce is about taking a diverse set of tools and solutions and adapting them to your strategy.

That’s becoming increasingly easy as platforms and the landscape at large shift and becomes more modular.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.