written by
Mohamed Tahboub

Five Powerful Upselling Examples to Boost Your Online Sales

Internet Marketing 12 min read

“Always Be Closing”.

The famous words spoken by Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake, in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross have been echoed by countless salesmen. In fact, I bet there is probably a sales manager somewhere in the world saying those exact words right now.

And while they are right (you should always be closing), there is another important phrase that’s uttered much less frequently: Always Be Upselling.

Upselling is a commonly used sales technique that has been around way before the arrival of the Internet and subsequent explosion of e-commerce. As in the physical world, upselling online is just as important and can be a highly effective method for maximizing profit - if you do it right.

In this article, I’ll cover some common upselling examples that are used online, as well as share examples of five well-known companies who have nailed their upsell strategy. But first, let’s make sure we are on the same page by answering the following:

What is upselling?

Upselling is a technique that is used to increase profit from a sale by offering the customer the chance to buy an add-on product, purchase product upgrades such as more advanced features, or get a better and more comprehensive version of the product (for example, a premium or gold package subscription).

Simply put, the goal of an upsell strategy is to give the customer a good reason to make an additional purchase or spend more money than they were originally planning to while at the same time providing something of real value to them - something that will improve their experience.

The last thing you want to do is lose credibility with your customers and leave them feeling like they have been tricked into spending more money with you.

If done right, upselling is not only about making more money for you - the seller. It’s also a way to provide the customer with more value and a better experience that encourages them to keep coming back.

Here are a few examples of upselling that are familiar to most of us:

  • Offering a more extensive car wash package that includes services like underbody flush, tri-foam conditioner and glossy black finish
  • Selling an extended service contract for an appliance or consumer electronics product like a refrigerator or laptop
  • Suggesting additional toppings on a pizza or supersizing a meal at the cash register
  • Offering hotel room upgrades and early check-in or late check-out with mobile booking

Now, some may argue that there is a difference between upselling at the cash register versus online checkout. While the techniques may differ slightly and the digital world offers more tools for creating upsell offers, the bottom line is the same:

  1. Your upsell offer needs to enhance, supplement or provide additional value to the customer’s current purchase or experience.
  2. The upsell offer should not feel pushy or intrusive to the customer.
  3. The customer should feel good about accepting the upsell offer.

Effective upselling examples used by businesses

In the world of eCommerce, there are many examples of upselling at checkout that can be used to boost conversions. One of these is one-click upsells. This is when you offer an additional product that is complementary to the one that the customer selected.

Another is pre-filled checkout pages. This technique is very effective because it speeds up the checkout process for the customers who have shopped on your site before.

By having some of the fields on the checkout page prepopulated (such as the customer’s country, postal code and email address), you save the customer time and make it easy for them to shop with you.

Additionally, you can show the customer a complementary product or upgraded version and make it easy for them to add it to the cart before completing their order.

More and more we are seeing examples of upselling at checkout that involves the use of AI (artificial intelligence). These apps collect relevant data about the customer and present promotional offers, discounts or coupons based on the product that the customer is most likely to buy. The more personalized you can get with your upselling techniques, the better!

For more examples of upsell apps, check out 14 Best Upsell Apps that Will Bring You More Money.

I hope that by now we can agree that if you want to increase sales and keep your customers happy and coming back to your site, you should integrate an upsell technique into your sales funnel. Often, the best time and place to do this is at the checkout page.

If you can get the right offer in front of the right customer at the right time and the right place, you will almost certainly succeed in making that extra sale.

Now, let’s look at some of the best upselling examples that you can draw inspiration from and incorporate into your own online selling strategy.

Here are five brilliant ways that leading brands are leveraging upselling techniques to bring value to their customers and increase spend at the checkout.

#1 BMW’s “customize your car before purchasing” offer

The BMW website enables its customers to configure their cars before making a purchase. It’s a clever upsell tactic that gives buyers an option to customize their car based on their preferences.

For an additional cost, the customer can upgrade different parts of the car, including the wheel, seats and other elements. Even better, they can see right away what those upgrades look like.

Why it’s brilliant: It gives the customer control over what their car will look like.

Everyone loves personalization. Having the ability to choose what your car will look like gives you a sense of additional value. You are not just buying another car that thousands of people are driving. It’s a car that reflects your unique personality. Brilliant, isn’t it?

Does the upsell offer have perceived value? YES

Is the upsell offer personalized? YES

Is the upsell offer easy to visualize? YES

#2 Amazon’s “customers who bought this item also bought” recommendation

This highly successful upsell technique has been used by Amazon for years. If you’ve shopped on Amazon before you probably noticed that if you add a product to your cart, you will receive an automatic messages showing you “customers who bought this item also bought” with suggestions for buying similar products.

Often, an additional marketing technique will be used, such as “take advantage of the 15% discount” or “only 4 items left in stock - order soon” and similar messages.

Why it’s brilliant: This upsell strategy works great because it speaks directly to the customer’s needs and preferences.

It’s presented in a friendly and helpful manner rather than being pushy and hard to bypass. Also, the customer can easily click on the suggested products to get more information, learn about the features, read customer reviews, and more. It gives the customer power to engage with the product in the way they want.

Does the upsell offer have perceived value? YES

Is the upsell offer personalized? YES

Is the upsell offer easy to visualize? YES

#3 ProFlowers’ “upgrade to the deluxe version” offer

Another digital business that we can take inspiration from when it comes to upselling is ProFlowers, an online flower shop delivering flowers globally. After picking a flower arrangement, the shopper is asked if they would like to upgrade to the deluxe version.

This can include a bigger flower bouquet, a more expensive vase or additional decorations. All these upgrades make the gift look more attractive. Just like the Amazon upsell example, flower shops can show similar products purchased by other customers.

Why it’s brilliant: The upsell strategy is making the customer feel good about their decision to upgrade to a more expensive flower arrangement.

When you are ordering flowers usually it’s for a family member, friend, loved one or a person in your life that you care about. Sending flowers to someone’s home or office is a thoughtful gesture and, of course, you want the bouquet to impress them.

When you are shopping online, you can easily see what the flower arrangement you selected looks like compared to the more attractive, deluxe version.

Putting these items side by side for comparison and giving the customer the option to upgrade before placing the order is a perfect way to increase their spend while at the same time making them feel good about their choice to upgrade.

Who doesn’t want to spend the extra $20 to put a big smile on their significant other’s face?

Does the upsell offer have perceived value? YES

Is the upsell offer personalized? YES

Is the upsell offer easy to visualize? YES

#4 MasterClass’ “students who purchased this course also purchased” recommendation

Just as Amazon encourages its customers to keep shopping by presenting them with products that may be of interest, MasterClass presents its customers with similar courses that go well with the course they selected.

Technically, this tactic is considered a cross-sell; however it is one of the most commonly used to boost profits. Showing similar courses purchased by other students is an effective way to get the customer to continue browsing the site, click for more information and make an additional purchase.

This technique is used by many successful e-commerce websites because it has been proven to work over and over again.

Why it’s brilliant: This strategy gives the customer more options for additional purchases and add-on courses.

If you are in the business of selling online courses, e-books or educational materials, you will find this upselling tactic to work really well. And you can go one step further by introducing a limited time offer.

One of the best ways to persuade the buyer to act immediately is to let them know that they can purchase an additional course at a discount but only for a limited period. For example, you can say: “Purchase the Introduction to Upselling Online course for half the price if you sign up today”. You can also show the number of spots that are left in the course: “Only 3 spots available” or “More than 85% of the course is full”.

One downside is that in the case of online courses and similar products, it is not always easy to help the customer visualize the upsell offer. Unlike purchasing flowers, a car or consumer products, online courses are not tangible making it challenging for the seller to present it visually.

Does the upsell offer have perceived value? YES

Is the upsell offer personalized? YES

Is the upsell offer easy to visualize? NO

#5 Elegant Themes’ “choose a cheaper package” offer

Here’s another really great, but often overlooked tactic that’s used to upsell digital products. It’s used by Elegant Themes, an e-commerce site selling WordPress themes and plugins.

By offering a cheaper package or subscription right at the start, Elegant Themes is cleverly capturing customers who may not be ready to purchase the more advanced, higher priced package.

At checkout, the seller has the opportunity to tell the customer that they can upgrade at any time. Additionally, they can present them with upsell offers for add-on products that are reasonably priced and, therefore, more likely to be purchased.

Why it’s brilliant: Instead of losing customers who may be turned off by the expensive yearly subscription, Elegant Themes is bringing customers onboard through a more basic package.

The reality is that not all your customers may have huge budgets to spend on your product. Perhaps your digital product is mainly suited for enterprises/businesses and individuals with a high disposable income.

If you can create a more basic version of your product that is better suited to customers with a lower budget, you have a better chance of growing your customer base and your profit. Once the customer begins the purchasing process, the opportunities for upselling at checkout and post-checkout are numerous.

However, keep in mind that this upsell example does not offer personalization and is not easy to visualize. The main purpose of using the “cheaper package option” is to prevent potential customers from losing interest and leaving your site without making a purchase.

The key strength of this tactic is showing the perceived value to the customer. If you can show the customer that they will get something useful and beneficial without spending a fortune on it, they will see your offer as fair and worthwhile their time and money.

Does the upsell offer have perceived value? YES

Is the upsell offer personalized? NO

Is the upsell offer easy to visualize? NO


Upselling is one of the best techniques to get your customers to increase their spend with you and enjoy an even greater value for their purchase.

With the right tools, a well-planned strategy and a little bit of creativity, you can implement highly effective upselling strategies that deliver results - happy, returning customers and growing profit!

The five examples of how to upsell that I covered in this article, BMW, Amazon, ProFlowers, MasterClass and Elegant Themes are just some of the many ways you can improve sales at the checkout.

As we saw, in the first three cases the upsell offer has a perceived value for the customer, it’s personalized to fit the preferences of the buyer and is easy to visualize. All of this together yields better conversion rates.

The last two upsell offers, MasterClass and Elegant Themes, while not easy to visualize, both have a very strong perceived value for the customer.

All successful e-commerce businesses know that the key to maximizing profit includes building powerful upsell offers. But the ones who are the best and most profitable are those who upsell to the right customer, at the right time and in the right way.

As I discussed in this article, making an upsell offer when the customer reaches the checkout page is one of the best tactics for gaining a higher sale. You are getting the customer’s attention just before they finish placing the order and while they are still in the “shopping mode”.

Just make sure that your upsell offer provides real value to the customer. Customers don’t like to be tricked or feel like you only see them as a source of income for yourself. They want to receive real value for the money they spend with you.

There are many cost-effective apps that can help you with upselling at the checkout. LeadCart is one of them. It’s a simple, yet powerful cart solution that helps online businesses convert more sales and maximize profits.

LeadCart is a great product for entrepreneurs selling everything from online courses, info products and consulting services to e-commerce vendors and companies selling SaaS solutions. You can take advantage of many conversion booster features, including one-click upsells, order bumps, pre-filled checkout pages, coupon codes, and more.

Can you think of more great upselling examples?

Let me know in the comments section below. I love hearing about creative ways in which online businesses are growing their business.

And don’t forget – Always Be Upselling.

Interested in LeadCart? Get your LeadCart early access right now!

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