Upselling the Post-Purchase Experience

Eoghan Shanley
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You’ve likely heard about upselling before and the benefits it can bring to your eCommerce platform. But if not, let’s quickly break it down. So what is upselling? Upselling is a technique of persuading your customers to upgrade their purchase to a more expensive premium version/alternative to what they are purchasing. For example, if you sell power tools, and a customer is buying an electric saw but there is a newer one with a more powerful motor, and that charges quicker; you might suggest they upgrade their purchase to this product. If you have ever purchased a laptop online, you have likely experienced this when suggested with a version with larger RAM size. 

Through the use of upselling, you can increase your average order value (AOV) with minimal effort. When done well, it not only increases your AOV, but can increase your relationship and brand image with your customers. However, poor use of this technique can be overwhelming to your users and seem aggressive. Upselling at its core is a strategic use of persuadable design, and the key to it is using it strategically. Upselling should only be done at certain points of the customer journey, and not benefit one-side. Increasing your AOV is inherently a one-sided benefit to your business, as your users do not experience any inherent benefit in spending more, however, when done correctly it can provide value by helping users select the product most suitable for them and their needs. 

At what point of the user journey should you upsell?

Great question. Traditionally, there are two main points in which you would typically conduct an upsell, and these are before and during a sale. These are typically referred to as pre-purchase upsells. The user might encounter these on the product page or the cart page. Usually, they would appear after an item has been selected for purchase (so generally added to their cart). These pre-purchase upsell moments are also great for adding cross-sell items such as free gifts or small, low-risk purchases (batteries for a toy are a great example). But upselling can also occur at another point of the customer journey and that is post-purchase. Post-purchase upsells occur after a customer has completed a transaction and typically would appear before the thank-you page post-checkout. They can even be merged onto the thank you pages, and offer a flexible way to provide discounts, or highlight compatible products for the user to better make use of their purchase. For example, if a user purchases an electric saw, you might suggest they purchase goggles, gloves, overalls, a hard hat etc. An advantage of using post-purchase upsells is that they don’t pose any risk to the initial conversion, whereas pre-purchase upsells may potentially read as aggressive to users. So post-purchase upselling sure sounds like a no-brainer, right? But are there any cons to it?

Illustration of a man being presented with upsell options post purchase

The pros and cons of post-purchase upselling

Just like most features and integrations for eCommerce platforms, there are both pros and cons to using post-purchase upselling. So let’s discuss them. 

Pros

  • As mentioned earlier the initial purchase is not impacted. By waiting till after they place their order, users do not experience any disruption to their original purchase journey, which may occur when using pre-purchase upsells. 
  • Post-purchase upsells also tend to act as a form of one-click purchases, as generally users are not asked to resubmit their payment details. As a result, they tend to have increased conversion rates. 
  • Building on the higher conversion rate, post-purchase upsells also tend to see a higher AOV. They essentially act as another form of impulse purchasing and as such help to maximise the AOV.

Cons

  • Upsells can quickly fatigue your users. Typically the use of post-purchase upsells combined with pre-purchase upsells feel to users like they are being constantly hit with sales. And as such, they can feel a bit of fatigue. When this happens it can ultimately damage their perception of your brand and thus your overall conversion rates. 
  • Personalisation and relevance are required. When you don’t personalise a purchase to your user’s situation (think of the saw example earlier) it can act as a point of friction to your users and thus may discourage them from making any future purchases on your platform. And when you consider that return users tend to have higher conversion rates, this isn’t ideal. 

For some, the cons listed may outway the pros or pose too much of a risk to consider implementing post-purchase upsells. However, there are ways to go about introducing these to your eCommerce platform that will minimise the risk of any negative results. Here are 3 things to consider when implementing these.

  • Discount products and codes are an easy way to provide value to your customers, and not make the upsell attempt seem aggressive or overwhelming
  • Free gifts go down a treat and can be great additions to the items you are upselling. 
  • Recommend products that are complementary to what was purchased so that the experience feels more personal for the user. 

So as discussed, each type of upselling comes with its own pros and cons, and the only way to know if it is right for you and your business is to consider it within your existing customer journey and to consider how you would use it and for what. Once you have weighed up these considerations you should have your answer to whether or not upsells, and particularly post-purchase upsells are right for your business. Still not sure, or need help in implementing this feature on your eCommerce platform? Well, get in touch with our team of experts who will be more than happy to help. You can get in touch with us at alastair.brodie@monsoonconsulting.com or calling us on +353 (0)1 4750066

Eoghan Shanley Profile Picture

Eoghan Shanley,

Junior UI/UX Designer