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Masterclass: how cross-selling in e-Commerce increases margins in 2023

Published on
July 27, 2023

Expand your margins and maximize your revenue potential in e-commerce! Welcome to our informative masterclass on cross-selling, an important practice in online commerce. In today's digital marketing landscape, finding innovative ways to engage customers and increase your bottom line is critical.

Our whitepaper presents the best approaches from 2023 to help you take advantage of cross-selling. We'll show you how to increase your profitability through clever product combinations, effective customer targeting and the right implementation of cross-selling strategies. Join us on a journey of discovery into the world of cross-selling and learn new ways to maximize your sales.


The main objective of cross-selling is to increase sales per order by offering the customer additional goods or services that might fit the corresponding need when purchasing a particular product. This can be achieved by presenting complementary products, such as a protective case for a smartphone or a fitness bracelet to a nutrition guide. It is also possible to offer products from completely different areas.

Sometimes certain items are offered just above or below cost price in order to subsidize items with higher profit margins. The success of cross-selling is based on the fact that customers who have already purchased from a company are often willing to buy additional items there. Thus, it is primarily about re-activating existing customers, although new customers can also be captured by cross-selling. Therefore, cross-selling is often a part of customer relationship management.

The biggest challenges in cross-selling

Although cross-selling offers promising benefits, companies must also overcome some challenges to be successful. One of these challenges is overcoming customer resistance. Some customers may be skeptical of the added value of additional products or services and have concerns about benefits or costs.

Another challenge is targeting the right customers. Not all customers are equally open to cross-selling offers, and it is important to identify those who are most likely to be interested. This requires extensive analysis of customer data to understand individual preferences, purchase history and behavior patterns. Companies need to be able to collect and analyze relevant information about their customers to create tailored cross-sell offers. This requires advanced data analytics methods and tools to gain insights and generate personalized recommendations. The following studies provide exciting insights into consumer behavior:

  • One of the biggest challenges in the context in customer resistance. According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, only 5-15% of customers are receptive to cross-selling efforts.
  • Customers are often skeptical of the added value of cross-selling offers. A survey conducted by MarketingProfs found that only 20% of customers believed the recommendations were relevant to them.
  • Crucial to the success of cross-selling is accurately targeting the right customers with appropriate offers. A CEB survey found that 85% of customers do not respond to cross-sell requests that are not tailored to their needs.
  • Up-selling, selling a more expensive version of the same product, is often confused with cross-selling. However, research by Accenture found that cross-selling can be up to 20 times more effective than up-selling in increasing sales.
  • Effective cross-selling requires a deep understanding of customer needs and the products or services offered. A study conducted by Bain & Company found that only 10% of customer service representatives are proficient in cross-selling, highlighting the need for additional training and support.
  • Analyzing customer data is critical to identifying cross-selling opportunities. However, only 15% of companies are able to effectively use customer data to drive cross-selling initiatives.

Solutions for your challenges: best practices 2023

Product bundling: Clever bundling of complementary products can encourage customers to buy additional items that meet their needs. A successful best practice includes careful selection of products, clear communication of the benefits of the bundle, and attractive pricing.

Data analysis and customer profiling: By evaluating buying behavior, preferences and demographic information, targeted cross-selling offers can be developed. Detailed customer profiling enables the creation of tailored recommendations and precise identification of customers' individual needs.

Customer segmentation and personalization: Classifying customers by interests, purchase history, or demographic characteristics makes it possible to create tailored offers. A personalized approach and individual recommendations increase the relevance of cross-selling offers and promote customer loyalty.

Easy implementation options: Integrating cross-selling into the online store and working seamlessly with other systems and partners is made easier through the use of plug-ins and APIs. Technical solutions can save companies time and resources, allowing them to quickly reap the benefits of cross-selling.

Tracking KPIs: Continuous tracking of metrics such as conversion rate, average order size, and revenue share through cross-selling allows companies to evaluate the performance of their strategies and make adjustments as necessary to achieve even better results. Privacy compliance best practices: Protecting customer data and complying with privacy policies is paramount. Best practices include implementing appropriate security measures, handling customer data transparently, and obtaining required consent. Confident data management helps minimize customer concerns and build customer loyalty.

Privacy compliance best practices: Protecting customer data and complying with privacy policies is paramount. Best practices include implementing appropriate security measures, handling customer data transparently, and obtaining the necessary consents. Confident data management helps minimize customer concerns and build customer loyalty.

Best practices for efficient warehousing via partners: Efficient warehousing is essential for an extensive product range in cross-selling. Reliable partnerships that ensure fast delivery and efficient inventory management are an essential foundation for this. By making optimal use of these partners' resources, warehousing capacity can be expanded while reducing costs and effort.

Case studies: efficient and effective cross-selling in companies

Amazon's "Frequently Bought Together": Amazon effectively leverages cross-selling by displaying a "Frequently Bought Together" section on product pages. By analyzing customer buying behavior and data, Amazon suggests complementary products that are frequently purchased together with the item under consideration. This cross-selling strategy encourages customers to add more items to their cart, which increases the total order value and boosts Amazon's ROI. Cross-selling and upselling account for 35% of Amazon's revenue and are a key factor in the company's profitability.

Spotify's "Discover Weekly": Spotify, the popular music streaming platform, relies on cross-selling through its "Discover Weekly" playlists. These personalized playlists are compiled based on users' listening habits and preferences. In addition to recommended songs, Spotify includes suggestions for related artists, albums, and playlists that match the user's musical tastes. By cross-selling additional music content within the playlist, Spotify encourages users to discover and explore new music, which can lead to increased streaming activity, longer session duration, and higher subscription rates.

Apple's "Complete the Set”: When customers buy a new iPhone, for example, Apple also presents them with matching accessory products such as cases, chargers or wireless headphones. By using the "Complete the Set" concept, Apple encourages customers to optimize the overall experience and functionality of their device with the recommended accessories.

Netflix's "Recommended for You": Based on a user's individual viewing habits and preferences, Netflix compiles a list of "Recommended for You" titles that might fit their interests. These targeted recommendations encourage customers to watch additional movies and series, resulting in longer usage time and higher customer retention.

The importance for Onlineshops

Cross-selling is particularly important in e-commerce. Online stores with a broad product range can rely on cross-selling by referring customers to new products, matching items, or complementary goods. With the help of Big Data or data-driven marketing, cross-selling can also be optimized through valid customer data. One example of this is the ability to suggest suitable products to logged-in users in a web store based on their previous purchases. Cross-selling can also be integrated into e-mail marketing, with many online retailers sending personalized e-mails to customers containing references to further items. An optimized cross-selling strategy is part of an effort to improve and individualize the customer experience. As such, this sales tactic plays a significant role in customer evaluation, which in turn influences the reputation and success of an e-commerce company.

Conclusion and future outlook

Cross-selling is a powerful marketing strategy that can help companies increase sales, improve customer retention, and provide a more satisfying customer experience. Personalized recommendations, product bundling, loyalty programs, and dynamic cross-selling are some of the most effective cross-selling techniques. Although cross-selling can present challenges, such as customer resistance and targeting the right customers, companies can overcome these by investing in data collection and analysis. In addition, they should provide a personalized and consistent experience across all touchpoints and make relevant and valuable cross-sell offers. The essential foundation for a promising cross-selling campaign is a powerful tool that will always support you in the endeavor. Especially if you are planning to expand your sales channels to include an online store, it is essential to collect and evaluate data thoroughly.

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