eCommerce Lifestyle

How To Source Products For Cross-Sells


Want to make more money than your competitors?  Then start cross-selling today!

In today’s episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast, Anton shares what cross-selling is, and how to source products to cross-sell on your own eCommerce store.

As always, if you have any questions and suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Don’t forget to share this with someone who needs to hear it.

What's Covered in This Episode:

  • Difference between upsell and cross-sell
  • Bold Product Options
  • Cross-selling low-ticket products
The podcast is also available on all major podcast players including, Stitcher and Spotify.

Links From This Episode:

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What's up, everybody? Anton Kraly here, and welcome back to the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast. In today's episode, we are going to be talking about how to source products that you can use on cross-sales on your store. Now, this is a topic that came up last week when I was hosting a coaching call for members of my program, Drop Ship Lifestyle. Somebody asked, "Anton, I saw, in one of your lessons online, you talk about cross-selling. How am I supposed to find these products, though?" It's a fair question, so definitely going to answer it, but before I do that, I just want to explain what a cross-sell is and what it makes sense, and kind of where it would work on your store, really regardless of what you're selling.

The way most people think about this is actually wrong, but let's just say you build an online store, right? And let's say on your online store, you are selling stand-up desks, okay? So you have a stand-up desk store. Now, what an upsell would be is if somebody searches online for a white stand-up desk, they click your ad for the white stand-up desk, they go to your store, they see it, and let's just say the one they land on is, I don't know, 500 bucks, right? Good product, but it's a $500 one.

Now, maybe on your store you sell multiple stand-up desks like you should, and maybe you have a version or a variant that is a little bit, maybe, more heavy-duty, maybe it supports more weight. Maybe it's longer or deeper or it has some extra benefit, right? Maybe it goes taller or it goes shorter. Now, if what you were trying to do is get your website visitor to replace the product they're looking at with an upgraded product, that would be an upsell. So in that scenario, you're taking them from the main product that they want, what I typically call the foreproduct, and you're sending them to the more expensive one.

So that is what an upsell is. Now, a cross-sell is different. With a cross-sell, you're not trying to get them to replace what they already have. You're trying to help them to kind of add onto it or build it out, you could think of it that way. One story I've shared before from a book that I love, listened to the audiobook many times, not about business, but it's called A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and it's about him and one of his buddies hiking the Appalachian Trail. Maybe you've heard me talk about this before; I just love the way that you could take this story and use it on your store.

But before he went and hiked the Appalachian Trail, he went to a sporting-goods store, I think it was an REI, but whatever, any sporting-goods store, and he went there and he went to buy a backpack. You're hiking, you got to keep your stuff in a backpack, you can't bring luggage, unfortunately. So he went to the store and he found a backpack, and when he went there, he was looking at it, he was checking them out, and a sales associate went up to him and he said, "Oh, I see you're looking at whatever product. Yeah, that's a great one, you could definitely get that, I would recommend it, people love it. But I just want to know, what kind of straps would you like for it?"

And in the book, it's a funny book, but he's like, "What are you talking about, straps? I'm buying a backpack, it doesn't come with straps?" And the guy's like, "No-no-no-no, this style of backpack, this class, this level, it doesn't come with them, but we have all these different options and different colors, some that are more durable, all different types, right?" So basically, what happened there was a cross-sell. He's buying the core product, and then the sales associate, in that case, offered him the straps.

Now, after he picked the straps he liked, the sales associate said, "Okay, what type of waterproof case would you like?" He's like, "What are you talking about, this backpack's ... " Whatever. $200, it's not waterproof? And he's like, "Oh no-no-no, you have to buy this thing that you put on top of it, and that will make sure that it's waterproof, so when you're out on the trail, all your stuff doesn't get destroyed." So then, okay, he had to buy that. And then I think there were a few more things, but one of them was clips, little clips that you would hook on if you were hiking or climbing that you can hang stuff from your back with.

So basically, he went through this story in the book of how the sales associate went on and on and on, and before he knew it, he had to spend a lot more money than he thought he was going to, which on one hand, yeah, people might be like, well, that sucks, I thought I was going to spend 200, now I spent 300 or whatever it was in that scenario.

But with this specific case, what I love about it is if, let's just say hypothetically, he would've went online and ordered the backpack that he thought he wanted and he would've spent, whatever it was, 200 bucks, then he would've got delivery in the mail that had the backpack that was $200 and then realized, wait a minute, where are my straps, right? This thing's not waterproof, I don't have any clips to hang my water bottle or towel or whatever else he wants to hang? And then he would be frustrated as a customer. So that's the way I think about cross-selling on our stores, and that's the way I think everybody should think about cross-selling on theirs.

You don't want to have somebody go to your core product pages, whatever that is, whatever niche you are in, and then give them a base product with no options to upgrade or build it on. Instead, what you want to do, what I want to do and what I would recommend you do, I should say, is allow them to almost have this in-person expert-level of support and guidance, so instead of just giving them that base thing they search for, try to take them through the process that a professional expert sales associate would take them through in that case in REI, right? A sporting-goods store. Try to recreate that online.

So I'll tell you what tool we use for that in just a minute, but I also wanted to go through, obviously, how to source products, like where you find these cross-sales, and also why it's so important. So a couple of reasons: the first is simply because you'll find this, whatever niche you're in, if you do this even right after this podcast, just go on Google go to your competitors' stores, you'll notice many of them are not doing cross-selling because it is an extra step of work, and maybe some people just don't know to do it, maybe some people are lazy. The truth is, you don't really need to do this to have a profitable store, this is extra, it's on top. But what's good about that is it allows you to make more money than your competitors, and it also gives you a higher profit margin.

So let's just go back again to this example here, and let's say it's that backpack example. Going to go up here. And you have your backpack example, and all of your competitors are selling this thing for 200 bucks. Let's just say net profit after all expenses is 30%, so $60 net profit, and that's what everybody is making and you're okay with the 60 bucks, not complaining. Well, if you're the store that offers the cross-sales, maybe they add on an addition $100 of actual cost to your customer. That'll also add another $100 onto your revenue; that would also add, potentially, another $40 to your net profit. So while all your competitors in this scenario might be making 60 every time they sell one of these things, you, on average, might be making 100.

Now, what's good about that? Well, obviously it's more money in your bank account, but a side effect of that is now you have more income, you have more profit at your disposal, in this case an extra 40 that you can choose to do what you want with, right? You can take that out as profit, you can go lease a car, you can go on vacation, do what you want. Or you can put more money into ads and really take out your competitors.

So the people that only want to spend maybe 200 will still find you because you could spend more on ads, and as Dan Kennedy said, he who could spend the most on ads wins. So you can get those sales, you can capture all of the cross-sell sales because you're the one offering that, and what's cool about it is it actually benefits your customer.

If you think back to that story I just told you from the book, it's actually helpful. That's the way you should approach cross-sales, right? Not in a way that it's like, how much money can I squeeze out of somebody on my store, but what can I offer them that would actually make sense for them, that would benefit them, things they actually probably want or need, even if they don't know they want or need them, that will then make them happier with you instead of the other store they buy from, where they get something that maybe isn't as complete as they thought or doesn't live up up their expectations?

Instead, you can be the store that, yes, charges more of it, but that actually gets your customers what they want and gives them the best experience. So I think that's really important to keep in mind. Now, let's get on to the topic of how to actually source these products.

Let's just say, we'll go back to that stand-up desk example, all right? You're selling stand-up desks, that's your store, and you have one, let's just say it's the $500 stand-up desk, that's what it costs, people can buy it on your store. And now you want to start thinking of, what can I cross-sell to my customers that can help to complete their experience? So I've bought a bunch of stand-up desks over the years online for my home office, for our office in Austin in Texas, for our studio in Charlotte in North Carolina, so I've been through a bunch of check-out processes for these, and I've seen some really great ideas.

Just to take you through some of them, maybe as they're going through that product page, this is where, by the way, you introduce cross-sales. Like, literally on the product pages. So one of the things that you can offer people would be a, what do they call it ... I'm literally looking at one right now, I have it on my desk. But it's like a memory strip that saves presets, right? For different heights so people can know, okay, I want this one to be stored for sitting and this one to be stored for standing, so that's one thing that you could potentially offer as a cross-sale. Remember, it's a cross-sale because it's not changing the actual product they're buying, you're not trying to get them to upgrade the product to a different variant, you're giving them something that enhances their experience with it, right? Perfect example, the memory strip.

Something else: I'm sitting on it right now, but an adjustable stool for stand-up desks, so you can use it, it goes up and down with your desk, you can have it set at all different heights. It's supposed to be more ergonomically friendly, something that would definitely make sense to cross-sell to customers on a stand-up desk store. Something else that I bought when I bought my stand-up desks was a built-in power strip, just to make it easier to plug in the monitors, the computers and whatever else you got going on there.

Other examples are the lamps, so clamp-on lamps for the desk, that's a perfect example for a cross-sale. And another thing is monitor arms. All of these things are potential cross-sells. So which ones do you offer, which ones do you not offer? Well, the way I think about this is, taking it back to the backpack example, you want to take people through a process, right? What would make sense for you to offer to them first, what's the first thing? In the backpack example, it would be the straps. At a bare minimum, if you're buying a backpack, you need straps or else you're walking around bear-hugging the thing.

So try to think about that with your products: what's the logical order that a customer would want to add things on? What are they most likely to add that would benefit them the most, and have that be, I'm not going to sort these out because I don't sell stand-up desks, so I don't really know, but have that be the list in which you present things. So the first cross-sell, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth. And the way that you can show these is either having them all displayed at once right by the add to cart button, so people can add them on or not, or you can actually use what's known as conditional logic that will only show certain options if others are selected. Let me explain what that means.

Let's say you think, in your stand-up desk store, that a stool would be the most likely for somebody to take. Okay, well, then what you would do is, right by the add to cart button on your stand-up desk page, is show them the stool and give them the option to add that. And then you would use conditional logic where, if they added that, then show them the next thing. So if they add the stool, then offer them a lamp. And if they added the lamp, then offer them a memory strip, right? Whatever that sequence looks like for you.

And I said I would mention the tool we use for this, it's called Bold Product Options. So it is paid, I think there's a free version, I'm not even sure. But Bold Product Options is what we use for cross-selling on our stores, it works, does what it's supposed to do, so I would recommend it. Also, I should say, if anyone's listening to this and you're a member of Drop Ship Lifestyle, be sure to check out the full lesson on lead value optimization. I'll link to that below this podcast when it goes up on all of our podcast feeds; I go deep into all of this.

But next step, right? You know what the products could be, what you can offer, how do you source them? Where do these upsell ... not upsell in this case, cross-sell products come from? The thing you'll want to do, always, I guess, as a default, is try to source them from the same companies that the product comes from. So let's just say you should sell ... you know this if you're a member of Drop Ship Lifestyle, but you should sell for at least 20 different brands on your store. But to make this really simple for podcast reasons, let's say you only sell for three brands, you have brand one, you have brand two, you have brand three

What you should do, again, in most cases, is for brand one, on those product pages, you should offer cross-sells from brand one. So on brand one products, cross-sell one, cross-sell two, cross-sell three would all come from brand one. And the reason this makes sense is because then you can combine shipping, everything would ship together. It's easier for the customer, but it would also save you shipping costs, like supplemental shipping costs. So that would be ideal.

And then for brand two, again, for all of those product pages on your store, what you would want to do is have cross-sales, even if you just had one cross-sale ... a lot of times, I gave, like, five examples before; a lot of the times you'll literally have one cross-sale, and that's totally fine. But let's just say for brand two, you had cross-sales one, two and three. Ideally, those pages will show cross-sale options from brands two and so on and so on, right? Again, just ease of shipping, less shipments, you save money on shipping, more profit for you.

But with that being said, there's going to be a bunch of suppliers that you work with that might not have a good cross-sell opportunity. And there might be some suppliers that you work with where they have products that you typically wouldn't sell as stand-alone, maybe because the price is too low, but where the margin is great. Let me just give you an example, right? Let's say you were selling, another example I give a lot, you were selling stand-up paddleboards, and one of the brands you sold for made paddles, the actual paddle people use, that everybody loves, and the MAP price, the price you would sell it for, is 150 bucks, and your cost of good sold, let's just say it was 50, right? Let's say it was a really high margin paddle.

150 would be MAP, meaning what you sell to customers for, and let's say 50 was your costs of goods sold, your COGS. So that would mean you would have $100 margin there before shipping. As you know, probably, I'm assuming all podcast listeners know this, but we offer free shipping on all of our stores, so here, you have to see if it could work for you. Now, let's just say the way the paddle's shipped, I don't know, maybe it screws together, it was three pieces shipped with UPS or FedEx, and on average costs 30 bucks. Well, if that was the case, right, $30 average shipping cost, then you would still be left with, on average, a $70 margin on that paddle.

So what I would recommend there is for your suppliers on your hypothetical paddleboard store, the suppliers that don't offer cross-sale opportunities within their product collections, then use that one. Add that on to those brand pages, because you know your margin is still there. So that is how we do it, guys, that's the difference between cross-selling and upselling. Those are some examples of possible cross-sales, and that is how we source them.

Again, whenever possible, have the cross-sale products match the specific supplier you're selling for on those product pages, and if cross-selling isn't an option because your suppliers don't carry the right products or products that make sense for cross-sales, then look for high-margin opportunities from your other brands. And if the margins are there, you could definitely plug them in as needed.

That will do it for this podcast episode, guys. As always, if you are not subscribed yet, just go to whatever podcast player you use, search for eCommerce Lifestyle, click the subscribe button, we have two new episodes that go live every week. And for everybody that is just getting started, be sure to go to, where you could find our entire back catalog. Thank you, everybody, appreciate you, and I will talk to you in the next episode.