Cross-selling is generally defined as the linking of similar products. In most cases cross-selling is known in various online shops which offer classic products – but also in the service sector and in the retail trade, cross-selling is a popular means of increasing sales and customer loyalty.

Why is cross-selling important?

Cross-selling is important in many ways and primarily helps the retailer himself. The basic goal of cross-selling products and services is to increase sales. We try to offer the potential buyer additional, similar or supplementary products and thus increase the shopping basket value in most cases.

Amazon Brand Guide

In addition to the hard sales figures, there are a few “soft factors” that are important for cross-selling. For example, cross-selling can help with customer retention and the acquisition of new customers. Especially online merchants with a very broad product portfolio can present themselves to potential buyers much better through target group-oriented and clever linking of the articles. In connection with big data, analytics and automations, cross-selling can be made more dynamic, especially in online shops, and can be significantly “pointed” at the target group.

Cross-selling is also important from the point of view of search engine optimization, because an important key figure in SEO is the number of page views per unique visitor. A clearly visible placement of suitable cross-references to other products measurably increases the click rate and thus also visit time in the online shop, which in turn has an effect on sales. The longer a visitor is in the shop, the higher the probability of a purchase order.

How does cross-selling (emotionally) work?

Cross-selling at Amazon

Amazon is a good example of successful cross-selling that works fully automatically. In the past, a separate department at Amazon provided the appropriate combination of products. For several years, algorithms have been working here that display similar and/or supplementary products to the visitor on the basis of user data.

Amazon constantly analyzes user behavior on its website and practically offers customers products “live” that match their buying and surfing behavior. Cross-selling at Amazon “onsite” is mainly done on the homepage (e.g. “Inspired by your shopping trends”) and on the product detail page (e.g. “Customers who bought this item also bought” or “Customers who viewed this item also viewed”).

So-called retargeting automatically displays products that the user has viewed but not bought, for example. Cross-selling at Amazon works particularly well on the product detail page, because this is where the purchase probability is highest. In addition to the placement of cross-references, Amazon also offers cross-selling and up-selling in product comparison tables. Vendors also have the option of linking their products with each other through self-created A+ content.

Mostly automated cross-selling at Amazon also works via e-mail in after-sales. After purchasing an article on the platform, the user will receive suitable / supplementary offers a few days later. For example, if you buy a reflex camera from Amazon, you will automatically receive the matching lenses, camera bags, memory cards or tripods as cross-selling offers.

Cross-selling in an online shop

Every online retailer has the opportunity to offer cross-selling products at their own web shop. Some shop systems such as Magento, Shopware, OXID or WooCommerce also offer the possibility of automating cross-references to products. The basis for this are usually the articles already viewed by the user within a customer-journey.

In addition, almost every shop platform also offers the possibility of manually linking items. This requires a little intuition on the part of the retailer, because the “wrong” products can even hinder the user in the purchase process. For example, if a cross-linked product is not currently available (“out of stock”), this can lead to a purchase being cancelled.

An example of successful cross-selling is the “About You” shopping platform. Here, suitable products are not only specifically presented side by side, but are even shown in action in a separate “story”.

Cross-selling in retail

Cross-selling is also a well-functioning principle offline to encourage customers to make additional purchases. A good example here are supermarkets, because product placement and sorting is not random, but based on a targeted system. Cheese is often offered next to sausage, alcoholic drinks next to snacks and fruit can always be found next to vegetables.

In larger department stores as well, the cross-selling principle has been working according to the same pattern for years, because here the products are sorted according to gender, purpose and/or price. If you take a look at the product assortment, for example at Karstadt Sport (a german retailer), the cross-selling is also obvious: running shoes are placed next to running trousers and tennis balls can be found directly next to the tennis racket.