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How to best suggest additional products to your shoppers

Written by Nicole Kohler on November 23, 2016 Blog, Managing products.

Once a shopper has decided on a product and added it to their cart, their first thought is going to be “great, now I’m ready to check out!”

At this same stage, your first thought might be “wait, don’t go yet! You haven’t even seen all my stuff yet!”

Motivating customers to purchase additional products is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. WooCommerce’s many solutions for suggesting, upselling, and bundling products together make it easy to show shoppers what else they should consider — and help you make more from every sale.

Let’s explore three of the best ways that you can add on to your customers’ purchases, from cross-sells to groups to bundles.

The flexibility of WooCommerce means you can package and promote products in multiple ways

We take pride in the flexibility of our platform. One of the things we love most about the collaborative effort behind WooCommerce is that it’s created tons of options for accomplishing almost anything — and this is no less true when it comes to upselling.

As this page in our docs shows, there are plenty of unique ways you can package and promote products. We don’t blame you for feeling confused by this list (sometimes we even question the best solution). But one of the best ways to sort out what to aim for is to think about what you’re trying to do.

If your goal is to get a shopper who’s considering a single product to potentially buy two (or more), you can eliminate several options from that list. What you’ll mainly want to look for are solutions that proactively suggest (but not force) additional products before or during the decision-making process.

Lucky for you, we’ve got a few of those. And plenty of them are built right into WooCommerce, so you can start doing them — and boosting your sales — without spending a dime.

We’re going to be focusing on three types of tactics in this post: cross-sells, Product Bundles, and Grouped Products. Read on to learn when you should use which solution, and how.

Why you might want to use a cross-sell

Cross-sells are products promoted within a shopper’s cart based on a product that has just been added. The functionality for cross-sells is available in WooCommerce right out of the box, so you can set them up as soon as you have a few products created.

An example of a cross-sell displaying to a shopper -- these two shirts are suggested based on what's in their cart.
An example of a cross-sell displaying to a shopper — these two shirts are suggested based on what’s in their cart.

You can set up cross-sells for products in WooCommerce by going to the Linked Products tab, then searching for the name of one or more products you’d like to suggest when that item is added to the cart.

Cross-sells are best used when you have data on what customers tend to purchase together, or which items customers tend to find complimentary. For example, if you sell shoes, you might know that shoppers buying a certain pair gravitate toward the same replacement laces, or seem to also like a similar pair in the same color.

By using cross-sells, you can use what you already know to make more sales, and show more shoppers products that they are likely to be interested in — and do so once they’re already thinking about making a purchase from your store, which is a big step on its own.

"If you like these shoes, we bet you'll like these, too." Cross-sells
“If you want these shoes, we bet you’ll want these, too.” Cross-sells capitalize on data you already have to help you sell more products that customers will love.

One thing to be mindful of with cross-sells: if you don’t have the data to support the products you recommend within the shopping cart, this tactic might not boost your sales much if at all.

For this reason, those running new stores might find one of the two options below a better choice.

When Product Bundles are the right fit

Product Bundles is an extension that we often recommend for its money-making potential: bundles of products at a discounted rate look appealing to shoppers, and they often lead to customers buying additional items they might not have otherwise considered.

The flexibility of Product Bundles is what makes it so appealing. Unlike cross-sells, the recommendation is made from outside of the cart — but in many cases, that’s a better time to do so.

For example, let’s say a shopper is looking at purchasing two new bath towels. They might perform a search and find that individual towels are $10… or they can purchase a bundle of two towels, a hand towel, and a washcloth for $25.

You can also recommend bundles from product pages. So if a customer wants to buy several towels in the same color, they might take a look at the related products (which, like cross-sells, are set up from the Linked Products tab) and spy a set of four towels at a discount.

Bundle
Bundles are flexible, can be recommended to shoppers on product pages or shown in search, and — if discounted — can help you boost your sales.

The key to a successful bundle is often a discount, or at least some kind of perceived value. In the example we gave above, a customer would likely be willing to pay $25 for four products over $20 for two — even if they didn’t “need” the hand towel and washcloth — because they believe those two additions to be worth the extra $5.

You could also think about this from the standpoint of digital music. Single songs are often sold for $1, but you can buy the full album of 10-15 tracks for $8 or $9. That’s a prime example of a bundle being used to get you to buy more — and you might not have even realized it.

Let’s move on to one more option you might find useful for getting more products into carts.

Advanced recommendations with Grouped Products

Finally, let’s explore Grouped Products. Like cross-sells, you can group products in WooCommerce without any add-ons or extensions. This lets a shopper add multiple products from a range you define to their cart in one fell swoop.

These products don’t have to be purchased in a group — customers can still buy them individually. But the idea here is to set up the group so you have a better chance at selling more.

The first step here is determining which individual products you think will work best together. For example, you might want to allow a shopper to purchase multiple cupcakes at once rather than buying them all individually.

A Grouped Product allows you to package single, simple products together -- and encourages buying more at once. Why buy a single cupcake when you can get a full box?
A Grouped Product allows you to package single, simple products together — and encourages buying more at once. Why buy a single cupcake when you can get a full box?

You’ll first set up a Grouped Product, then set up the child products that belong to it (if they don’t already exist). The child products will need to be grouped together, which allows them to appear on the same page.

Linking your grouped items together is a snap.
Linking your grouped items together is a snap.

Once your group is created, shoppers can choose which items from the group they’d like to add to their cart, whether it’s all of them, some of them, or none of them. So if you set up a group of each flavor of your cupcakes, a customer could pick two of one flavor, one of another, and five of another… or one of each.

Sell With WP has a great tutorial on grouped products which is helpful for understanding how they’re different than bundles, and when you might want to use them.

Not sure which suits you best? Consider what your store needs

As we mentioned toward the start of this post, it can be a bit confusing to sort out which method of upselling is going to suit your store best. But if you think about your needs, you can more easily make a choice.

You definitely want to sell more products. But are you aiming for this because your customers aren’t seeing everything you have to offer? If that’s the case, cross-sells might be the best fit, because they’ll help you get more products in front of your customers when they’re already interested in buying from you.

On the other hand, if your shoppers seem to already be aware of what you sell, but are only buying a few pieces — like two towels or a set of glasses — you can use bundles to encourage them to spend just  bit more, while giving them the feeling that they’re saving a lot of money.

Use WooCommerce and its extensions to promote your products effectively

There you have it — three different ways you can suggest products to customers. Between cross-sells in the cart and groups on the product page, these tactics will give you the ability to boost your sales by using what you already have… that is, great products!

Have any questions for us about the difference between cross-sells, bundles, or Grouped Products? Or any thoughts of your own about this topic? We’d be happy to hear from you in the comments.

20 Responses

  1. Chucks
    November 23, 2016 at 10:55 pm #

    I run a shop and motivating customers is sure my issues. But i will apply these tips.

  2. Donald Vo
    November 25, 2016 at 4:57 am #

    You could also create a video with whatever you’re selling on a featured items page as too. Goes well with your “recommendations” tactic

  3. Mwiinga
    November 25, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    I’m a huge follower of your posts, Nicole, and I always learn something brand new.
    thank you for your good work, and keep it up..

  4. Ben
    November 25, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Thanks for your article! I have some reflections..

    When using cross-sells, don’t you more or less have to setup WC to go to the cart on Add to Cart to make them see each change to the cross-sells as they add products? Some customers can even skip the cart all together if you have a checkout button like in the Storefront theme.

    Doing this take a lot of manual work. Does anybody have experience with the extension Recommendation Engine? I’m thinking about it but not sure if it’s right for my shop. Or which of it’s three options would be the best if any. https://woocommerce.com/products/recommendation-engine/

    • Ben
      November 25, 2016 at 9:41 am #

      The only issue I have with Recommendation Engine is that I have this category structure:
      Mens clothes->sub categories
      Womens clothes->sub categories
      Childrens clothes->sub categories
      I think this would be more powerful in my shop if I could limit the related products to the same main category.
      Some customers buy for their children while others don’t and they don’t want to see children’s pants next to men’s shirt just because some other customer viewed/purchased them together.
      Do you see what I mean?
      Is this possible somehow? So only viewed/purchased product show which are in the same main category?

  5. seoemportoalegre
    November 25, 2016 at 11:55 am #

    First i need to say thank for the article n that your tips are awesome!
    my store to grow too need quality photos, i believe that have importance to sales.

    thanks!

  6. Sunil
    November 25, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

    I am looking for a plugin that pops up on the “cart” page for upsell. Something that can have embedded video sales promotion or sales text ………..

    Will appreciate recommendation. I am using woocommerce with Beaver Theme and Beaver Page Builder

    Any help/recommendation will be appreciated.

    Thanks

  7. Ben
    November 26, 2016 at 1:44 am #

    I see lots of shops displaying cross sells on the product page, more than upsells. What’s your thought on that? Is that a bad thing?

  8. Laurie
    November 26, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    Great tips! Thank you!

  9. Chiedu
    November 27, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

    Thanks for this tips

  10. Lukeman
    November 28, 2016 at 7:22 am #

    Thanks for this tips. Please ensure i get a constant updates via my mail. Thanks once more for the tip

  11. FREEMAN
    December 2, 2016 at 4:13 am #

    A great write up deserves an appluse

  12. Matt
    December 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    This is an eye opener, very inspiring

  13. Tim
    December 13, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    Hmmm… Interesting!

  14. Kristof
    December 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    We are looking forward to have the ability to use Product Variations as cross-sell and up-sell. For this one webshop, we have 2 products and about 30 variations. We would love to up-sell to a more expensive variation, but that is not possible now.

  15. Chris
    December 13, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

    great article nicole! it is so much easier to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. lots of opportunities are missed by not offering recommendations, cross sells or upsells.

    and i’m not just talking about money. i’m a student of jay abraham and he teaches the strategy of preeminence – where if you truly believe in the ability of your product to improve your client’s life, you have an obligation to do all you can to get it in their hands.

    our company provides a 1 click upsell plugin for woocommerce so we’re working with store owners all day, everyday. everyone we work with has seen an increase in sales precisely because of what you’re teaching here. thx again!

    • Marina Pape
      December 19, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

      This is such awesome feedback, thanks Chris. Nicole will be delighted to read it when she is back from some well earned holiday rest 🙂

      ‘If you truly believe in the ability of your product to improve your client’s life, you have an obligation to do all you can to get it in their hands.’

      That is so true!

  16. Dimira Teneva
    December 20, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

    A great article – a must-do for every shop owner. When done thoughtfully, cross- and up-selling can bring huge revenue bumps for online stores.

    I say thoughtfully because often we see completely unrelated products being offered as cross-sells. That gives value neither to customers nor to sellers. It just doesn’t convert.

    The hard part is to offer products that customers see as related and are interested in. How can you know which are they? I work at Metrilo (https://woocommerce.com/products/metrilo/) and our tool shows correlations between products: what two products are most often bought by the same people. This way, you can bundle up the products that really go together in the customer’s mind. Hope this helps!

    • Marina Pape
      December 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

      That’s a really insightful comment, Dimira. Thank you for adding your thoughts 🙂

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