Skip to content

Retail Upselling and Cross-Selling: How to Increase the Value of Every Sale

retail upselling - increase the value of every sale

If you work in retail, you may be well aware of the importance of steering shoppers to the fitting room soon after they have entered the store. There’s an excellent reason for that – customers make the final purchase decision on an apparel purchase in the fitting room. And that’s just for the items that caught their eye from the window.

Once a customer is in the fitting room, they are a captive audience. However, it’s important to make sure they don’t feel trapped. There’s a fine line between attentive and annoying, and sales associates must learn how to stay well back of that line.

The most successful retailers take advantage of a customer’s time in the fitting room by encouraging them to turn that purchase of a single item into a larger sale. How exactly do they do that? Through the fine art of upselling and cross-selling!

[xyz-ihs snippet=”TOFU2-Retail-Technology-button”]

The Difference Between Upselling and Cross-Selling

The terms upselling and cross-selling are often used interchangeably, but they’re two different practices. To understand how to increase the value of every sale, it’s important to know the difference. Simply put:

  • An upsell encourages the customer to spend more money by buying a premium or upgraded version of the product.

You have experienced upselling without noticing it. It might have happened the other night when you were asked if you wanted the premium brand of liquor in your cocktail. It’s a subtle but lucrative strategy, and it can work just as well in your store!

Upselling directs the customer to higher quality, more expensive shoes. It encourages the purchase of the larger package of socks because it’s a better value. The shopper still gets what they came for – they just spend more money than they otherwise would have.

  • A cross-sell increases the value of the sale by adding items that are well suited to the purchase. This includes suggesting a tie to go with the shirt, or a belt to go with the pants. It’s letting the customer know the leather jacket they are considering will last longer with the application of a waterproofing treatment.

Cross-selling is helpful to clients because it highlights the array of products found in your store while they’re already in shopping mode.

The most important thing for sales associates to keep in mind when upselling or cross-selling is that these tactics can’t be used just as a way to push more products. Customers will see through that, and instantly be put off. Instead, there must be an authentic effort to be helpful.

[Tweet “Retail Upselling and Cross-Selling: How to Increase the Value of Every Sale #retail”]

When Cross-Selling and Upselling are Most Effective

We already know that once a customer has entered the fitting room, they are in The Decision Zone, ready to make a final go/no-go call on a purchase today. Many sales associates try to capitalize on this frame of mind with a knock on the door to (usually unhelpfully) ask “How’s it going?”

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think of your shopping experiences:

  • Has a knock on the door 10 seconds after you get in the fitting room ever been welcome? You’re half naked and still figuring out the buttons on the shirt you’re about to try on! It’s way more annoying than helpful.
  • Do you feel like that knock on the door is based on your needs, or is it at the sales associate’s convenience?

Does it surprise you to learn that door-knocking is useful as a fitting room strategy only 2% of the time? Probably not! The fitting room is the perfect time to build on the relationship between the customer and the sales associate, but it has to be natural.

Rather than just asking “How’s it going?” at an inopportune time, a savvy sales associate can continue the natural flow of a conversation. The fitting room is also the perfect opportunity to talk about the store’s loyalty program, and how it can start saving the customer money on their purchase today.

Advanced Strategies for Upselling and Cross-Selling

retail upselling increases sales valuesMaternity stores realized that moms-to-be were likely to buy their maternity wardrobe in one fell swoop if they knew how a garment would fit in a few weeks or months. It’s why they started keeping faux baby bumps in the fitting room that “advanced” the pregnancy by a few months.

Successful retailers also keep carefully selected, versatile accessories in the fitting room for associates to use in demonstrations. They keep “look books” on hand so customers can see what might work well for their needs and their style. The sales associates can then make suggestions tailored the customer’s particular tastes.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”TOFU2-Retail-Technology-button”]


Retailers win when associates engage clients in a meaningful conversation with helpful upselling and cross-selling suggestions in the fitting room. The most important thing for sales associates to keep in mind when implementing upselling and cross-selling tactics is that it has to be an authentic conversation based on the customer’s needs.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”Try-It-On-CTA”]

Recent Blogs