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How to Maximize Sales from Your Online Store PART II

Up-Sell, Cross-Sell and Down-Sell

In order to meet customers’ diverse needs and keep your conversions as high as they’ll go, you need to identify every possible selling opportunity.

Considering and implementing various strategies for selling ensures that your customers get what they need from you and have a positive experience buying from you, as well as keep your e-commerce business thriving.

Rakuten.com Cross Selling


Up-selling refers to offering upgrades, complementary items, or items that are related, but more expensive. An example would be offering a high-priced wine to a customer who asks for a wine recommendation; suggesting a higher priced luxury item like a watch or jewelry as a better choice than the lower-priced one the customer is considering; or the fast food worker asking if you’d like to try a 99-cent apple pie along with your meal.


Is there another product that your current purchaser could use? Cross-selling means offering the customer a totally different item from what they’re currently purchasing. Although different, the other item might help them solve a similar problem or achieve a similar task.

Examples would be a mobile dealer offering a mobile service plan to someone who has just purchased a mobile phone; an insurance company offering a life insurance policy to a customer who just bought health insurance; or a PC dealer offering accessories to a customer who just purchased a computer. In all of these examples, the seller is offering something else they feel the customer can use.


Down-selling is the opposite of up-selling. With down-selling, you’re offering a less expensive item or a good deal. Examples include a fast food worker offering you a lower priced value meal as opposed to the items you’re buying separately to save you money; a hosting service provider offering you a simpler plan because they believe you don’t need the added features; or a car dealer suggesting a more reasonably priced model rather than the BMW, which the customer initially wanted but found the price too prohibitive.

The down-sell offers a huge advantage over the up-sell and the cross-sell. You don’t make the quick buck, but instead you get the customer to buy in. They’re now no longer a prospect, but an actual purchaser and you can build a relationship with them. You also gain their trust.

Repeat Sales

There are a number of strategies you can employ to guarantee repeat sales in the future. It’s much easier for you to cultivate repeat customers than to rely on first-time purchasers. You can use buyer tracking software to offer similar items as suggestions. Try setting up an email marketing campaign where customers can sign up for exclusive deals. Through your email marketing or other channels, offer those who have bought from you bulk discounts, automatic monthly billing and other special deals. Most of all, offer stellar customer service and make sure everything your customers want is in stock at all times.

Harry’s Auto refill plan


These sales techniques can be done ethically or unethically. It’s easy for a clever salesperson to up-sell or cross-sell in order to increase their earnings. But you should always put the customer’s needs first. If you do this, you’ll start your relationship on the right foot and you’ll brand yourself as a company that takes care of its customers.

Things to do…

For each of your main products or services, brainstorm different products and services you can offer through cross-selling, up-selling, and down-selling.

Now take a look at which products have the best potential for repeat sales and make note of ideas for boost those repeat purchases.

Excel at Customer Service

One of the surest ways to boost sales consistently and keep customers coming back is to offer excellent customer service. People will not only buy from you, but they will also tell others about you and help you spread your brand image. Customer service is especially important in e-commerce, where there is no face-to-face contact with customers.

Nike.com Contact Us

Be Available

Make your contact information clear and easy to find, and follow up quickly whenever someone contacts you. Don’t shy away from customers when they have a question or concern. Customers expect a quick response from you. Make responding and dealing with customer issues your first priority.

Provide a FAQ

Add a good FAQ (frequently asked questions) page to your site. Try to anticipate the questions people might have and answer them before they ask. This cuts down on customer service tickets since people can often get their questions answered here. You should keep adding new questions that are asked to your FAQ list so that it grows over time.

Lead by Example

If you, at the top of your company, make customer service a first priority and handle customers’ issues and questions as if they were your own, you’ll set a good example for the rest of the people in your organization. You set the standard for how your organization deals with customers.

Turn Mistakes into Opportunities

Every company messes up sometimes. When you bungle something or a customer is angry, don’t despair. Every mistake is also a golden customer service opportunity. Make it your mission to help the customer in question be completely satisfied with your handling of the situation. This can help to create loyal customers who know that your company cares about them.

Don’t Fear the Public

Don’t worry if a customer service mistake is broadcast on the internet or social media. Many companies treat it like a disaster when a customer complains or makes negative comments publicly. But your quick response, speedy resolution of the problem, and determination to make the customer happy will also be public. You can turn a situation like this into an opportunity to show others how much you care about your customers.

Focus on the Customer

Always stay focused on the customer and their experience with your company. Handle customer service issues from their point of view, not your own. You never want to appear to be putting the company’s interests ahead of your customer’s.

Offer a Clear Refund Policy

Apple.com Refunds policy

Create a refund policy and state it clearly on your website. It isn’t always good business to offer refunds, but neither might you want to have a “no refunds” policy. One alternative is to offer a discount or other deal rather than a full refund. Decide what is best for your company. Whether you’re lenient or strict about refunds, the important thing is that your policy is clearly stated. You can refer to this policy when there is a customer service issue.

Use customer feedback to improve your products and services, and make a point of doing it publicly. This shows that you respond to customer concerns and that you’re trying to make your products best meet your customers’ needs. Let people know that you’re interested in their ideas and input.


There are many different ways you can provide excellent customer service. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and imagine the experience of buying from you. Create solid customer service protocols and make sure that your staff understands them. Always strive to make improvements in your service wherever possible.

Things to do…

Review your current customer service level on and off your e-commerce site against the best practices listed in this chapter. Identify where you need to add or make changes on your site.

Next, review the list you made and identify what changes you can make to improve customer service overall.

Take Advatage of Social Media

Social media is an indispensable tool for spreading your brand, cultivating relationships with your customers, and driving sales. Every e-commerce website should maintain an active social media profile.

If you’re not already active on social media, it can seem daunting. If you’re not familiar with social media, sign up for a popular social media site like Facebook or Twitter and spend some time “lurking,” or reading other people’s posts and looking at other user’s profiles until you get the hang of it.

If you already use social media personally, promoting a brand through social media is not terribly different, but here are some tips on doing it effectively.

Target Facebook Page

Choose the Right Sites

There is a tremendous variety of social media websites and you don’t need to join them all. Instead, choose a few that are right for your brand. Which ones are right for you? Start with the most popular sites, which at the time of writing are Facebook and Twitter. Use other sites that are related to your brand and that are used by your customers.

Engage, Don’t Promote

Use social media to engage your customers and build relationships, but not to promote. Of course, you’re promoting indirectly, but your activities on social media should be mostly of a non-promotional nature. It’s okay to post promotional content periodically, but most of what you post on social media should be designed to engage people and encourage them to share and interact.

Be There and Socialize

Doing social media well requires you to post and interact constantly and consistently. Devote some time to interacting on social media daily. You can automate some aspects of your social media presence, such as scheduled updates, but you need to be there to monitor what goes on and respond accordingly.

Images and Videos

The most engaging content on social media is multimedia. Videos and images get shared much more than text-based content. Infographics are also shared a great deal. Since visual content is the most shared, focus on finding or creating multimedia content to share.

Ask People to Share

Sometimes it takes a little nudge to get your content shared. In your posts, include a call to action urging people to share. Do the same with your other content such as blog posts and YouTube videos.


Before you start actively using social media, decide what you’d like to achieve with it. Would you like to build a list of networks or nurture leads to eventually become buyers? Is your goal to spread brand awareness and build a strong relationship with your potential customers? Write down a statement describing what your goals are with social media, and then it’s much easier for you to understand what to do there.

Things to do…

Review your current social media related to your e-commerce site. Note changes or additions you can make to use it more effectively based on the tips shared in this chapter.

In the worksheet, just change the names of the social networks at the top of each column to correspond to the main ones you use.

Email – Your Biggest Success Factor

It’s important not to underestimate the power of Email Marketing to your e-commerce site’s success. An astonishing 7% of all e-commerce transactions are attributed to it! Why is that? Partly, it’s because email is still one of the more personal and favored forms of communication. It’s also under your control, so long as people stay on your email list. You’re not at the mercy of a Google ranking or a social media newsfeed filter.

If you aren’t already building an email list and marketing to your e-commerce customers, then it’s not too late to start. And if you are doing email marketing, there are a number of tips you can easily incorporate into your own campaigns right away.

Find the Right Software

If you’re happy with your current email marketing platform, that’s terrific. However, you should make sure it has the features you need moving forward to do an effective job in boosting your e-commerce sales.

A good email marketing service provider will give you the ability to create segmented lists to allow you to focus your marketing appropriately, schedule emails so that you can create the perfect communication when it suits you, and allow you to keep track of analytics to see what’s working with your campaigns.

There are a number of different email marketing software packages available to you and it’s a good idea to test a couple to see which one fits before you make a large investment or a switch to a new provider. Most will offer a free trial to give you a good idea of whether or not they’ll work for you.

Take the Time to Test Your Target

Focusing your email marketing to specific demographics will go a long way to increase your conversions. A lot of marketing software packages will provide you with the ability to test different subject lines, content and email aesthetics to see what works best with different parts of your customer base.

Try to segment your customers appropriately. Think about who they are and where they’ve come from. Perhaps some of your customers are generally younger and more interested in certain products or services that the older generation would generally dismiss. If they’ve made purchases in the past, segment based on what they’ve purchased and what categories those products fall into.

Knowing details about who you’re selling to and what appeals to them will not only allow you to bring the right product to the right person, but will go a long way in establishing relationships with your customers.

Use Email Marketing to Tackle Cart Abandonment

Another great benefit of email marketing is that it allows you to follow-up on why sales are left uncompleted. You can set up a rule to send an automated email to someone on your list who has visited your cart or checkout, but failed to make it to the sale confirmation page.

You can then inquire as to why they haven’t completed the sale and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Following up in this way lets the customer know that you not only value their business, but also their feedback.

Travelocity Email Marketing

Get Rewarding

Showing that you value loyalty is a simple and effective way of building customer relationships and increasing sales. For those customers who have elected to sign up for your mailing list, reward their interest with discounts, offers and freebies. They’ll not only be more inclined to provide you with return business, but also recommend that their friends or family members sign up too.

Offering a 20% off coupon or special holiday sales on a consistent basis will create a group of customers who look forward to receiving your emails.

If you are going to offer freebies, make sure you can deliver. It’s good to provide something that’s unlimited and free to create such as electronic material. You don’t want to promise something that might run out of stock and leave you empty-handed.

Plan Your Publishes

It’s important to know when you’re emails will be most effective and schedule accordingly. Most emails are opened between 2-5pm daily; but it’s key to know a little more about your niche market, what time zones they are in, and what their habits are.

Do a little research and look at your own statistics to ascertain which days your customers are most active, during which times you see the most conversions and which key words or phrases are more effective.

Once you’ve established some kind of schedule, it’s important to be consistent. Customers will grow to expect something from you at certain times and this type of consistency will breed trust. Remember not to overwhelm your customers with hourly emails – find the key balance.

Another Use for the 80/20 Rule

Email is an incredible method of building relationships and you should always prioritize that over actual promotion. Try to incorporate a rule of 80% information and 20% promotion.

Your customers will resent being repetitively pushed into a sale, so use your email marketing methods as more of a means to an end. It’s good to incorporate helpful information to establish yourself as a company that has your customers’ best interests at heart.


It’s no good spending time creating and sending emails if they’re just not effective. Keeping track of click-through rates and conversions will allow you to see what you’re doing right and tweak the parts that are less effective.

Analytics are another aspect of a good email marketing service provider, so make sure the software or platform you use is easy to track and understand.

Keeping on top of how well your emails are received will allow you to constantly provide your customers with a level of quality that they will come to associate with your company and brand.


While we’ve discussed many different tips for increasing your e-commerce profits in this article, email is one that many people tend to let slide. However, it is the secret weapon that can make the biggest impact on your revenue. It’s an easy way to stand out from your competitors, since so few do a really good job at email marketing.

Spend time getting to know your customers and what they prefer. Make sure your email service has the features for segmenting, measuring, and testing. And regularly refine your email strategy and make changes based on the results you are getting.

Most of all, don’t forget that email marketing is first and foremost a method of keeping in touch, building your brand reputation and building relationships with your customers, so don’t make your emails all about promotion. Offer the types of relevant, valuable information that your customers are looking for.

Things to do…

Review your current email marketing for your e-commerce site against the tips shared in this chapter. Identify where you will make changes or additions.

If you aren’t currently building an email list and sending regular emails, research a few email service providers based on the criteria discussed in this chapter and pick one to try. Follow their tutorials for getting started.

Next up: E-Commerce Summary, Conclusion and Checklist

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