What Is Cross Merchandising in Retail? And How to Apply It?

If you are working in the sales or marketing sector, the term “Cross Merchandising” may sound familiar to you. If this is not the case, know that this is a concept that you absolutely must know when selling your products at your online store.

Here is all you need to know about this technique, which is widely used, particularly in digital marketing in order to boost sales.

What Is Cross Merchandising in Retail?

Cross merchandising is a widely used technique, especially in e-commerce and in the context of marketing automation operations. It has proved its effectiveness and is very popular with digital marketing professionals.

To put cross merchandising into operation, you just need to offer another product that complements the one purchased by the customer. Due to this sales technique your average basket increases and at the same time your turnover.

Certainly, cross merchandising is very popular today in the field of e-commerce, but let’s not forget that it started at the physical points of sale.

Indeed, sellers have become accustomed to inviting customers who buy to include in the products of their choice other items that complement them.

💡 For Example, those who bought shirts were invited to add cufflinks, a bow, or a tie to their basket. The same applies to those who bought a pair of shoes and got an offer to buy a box of shoe polish or any other product.

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The marketing strategy, in this case, consists of taking a product off its shelf and installing it on the shelf beside another product that complements it.

💡 Another Example, in retail stores, coffee is installed next to creamer, tea next to biscuits. In order to encourage customers to buy the batch.

These few examples give you an overview of the basic principle and implementation of a cross merchandising strategy, but there are obviously other better techniques to generate more profit.

If you are in e-commerce, you can obviously implement cross merchandising operations to boost your sales. You can even automate the action to increase profitability.

How to Automate Cross Merchandising?

When you want to implement the technique of cross merchandising in e-commerce, opt for automation allows you to increase your performance tenfold. To do this, you can use a manual selection system or use a recommendation algorithm.

Thus, the secondary product offered, in addition to the main product selected by the buyer on your online store, must be available on the product page presenting the concerned product, or in the customer’s basket.

All the customer has to do is to check the box corresponding to the complementary product to put it in their basket.

If you want your cross merchandising strategy to succeed, you can offer a pack sale with a nice discount.

How to Cross Merchandise on ExpandCart?

If you have an online store on ExpandCart, you can easily integrate your store with our “Automatic Related Products” application that enables you to show related products to your customers automatically to boost your sales in an effective way.

  1. Log in to your store from here
  2. Click on “Apps & Services” on the left-side menu.
  3. Scroll down till you find the application or search directly with the app’s name “Automatic Related Products”.
  4. Click on the blue button to install the application directly if you have a “Professional Plan”.
How to cross merchandise
How to Cross Merchandise on ExpandCart

Do Not Do This 🙅‍♂️

Do not oblige your potential customers, under no circumstances should you set up pre-ticked box systems, as this is an act classified as illegal in the field of online sales. Deceiving consumers is a bad idea and your reputation could seriously deteriorate with these low-level practices.

You should never force your customers to buy. Always give them the pleasure of free choice!

As part of the automation of your cross merchandising actions, do not hesitate to indicate on the product pages the discount rate that customers benefit from, based on the number of complementary products they add to their basket.

By so doing, you will have a chance to convince them to buy the products you offer by highlighting the savings they can achieve.

Why Apply Cross Merchandising?

Like most web marketing-related selling techniques, cross merchandising aims to increase the average basket and at the same time the turnover.

However, the benefits from this technique go beyond this. Through cross merchandising, you can also create an interaction between the products of your online store and achieve a better sale of accessories.

Indeed, accessories such as protective covers, hands-free kits, Bluetooth speakers, and others are difficult to sell. By offering them in a pack with smartphones and tablets, you will manage to sell them faster.

Highlight certain products, above all if you have a large number of products in your catalog. You will thus achieve a group sale while making all of your products more visible.

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How to Optimize Online Cross Merchandising?

Many professionals working in the field of e-commerce exploit the techniques of cross merchandising to increase their turnover.

For such a strategy to be effective, there are many criteria that you need to consider:

1. Choice of Products

If you want to convince your customers as part of a cross merchandising strategy, you need to carefully select the products you are going to offer them when they buy. Even if they are new customers, you need to understand their expectations, so that you can offer them products that may interest them.

Regarding the products, you must ensure that they meet this criterion 👇

An obvious relationship with the product purchased by the customer. The products you offer, in addition to a product chosen by a customer, must be related to the latter. Failing that, your business will be doomed to breakdown for lack of credibility.

To see it more clearly, if your customer buys a Smartphone, inviting them to add a watch to their basket would be completely illogical because the Smartphone has the clock function. Suitable products would for example be a compatible protective cover, headphones, car holder, etc.

2. Bestseller Products

It is not without reason that some products are making remarkable sales numbers. They are of good quality and most importantly, they are useful.

By leveraging these products as part of your cross merchandising strategy, you will have a better chance of convincing your target customers to add them to their shopping cart when buying.

3. Products Scheduled for Destocking

To be able to replenish certain products in your store and continue to offer an up-to-date product catalog, you must perform destocking.

Owing to the complementary sale, you will not only succeed in promoting these products, but you will be able to sell them while achieving a good turnover.

Obviously, you have to offer a substantial discount as part of this marketing strategy. This situation does not pose any problem, because who starts destocking, necessarily says discount.

4. Products Offering a Large Margin

Now, you are cross merchandising, but this is not a reason to sell at a loss. Always make sure you stay a winner even though you give your customers a discount. To do this, choose the items that give you a good margin. You will then achieve significant profits.

5. Choice of Location

Cross Merchandising is one thing, but you still have to find the right location in order to awaken interest in your targeted customers. On online stores like Amazon, the cross merchandising offer is presented directly on the product page that attracted the buyer’s attention.

If you decide to put your offer directly on a product page, the best practice would be to insert it right at the end of the product page. You can also put it in a sidebar to make it more visible.

💡 Let’s take a look at an example of cross merchandising in retail from Amazon.

I searched for a plastic cup for my kind and I chose this one 👇

cross merchandising example

The store recommended me more related products that may capture my interest or may I figure out suddenly that I’m really in need of one of them. 👇

cross merchandising example

Other strategic locations are possible, specifically:

  • Shopping cart page
  • Basket layers
  • Landing page
  • In a follow-up email

If you choose to make your proposal for complementary products in the follow-up email that you send to your customers, you must take good care of the content of your email. Emails should never take the tone of harassment.

6. Use “Call to Action” buttons

One of the best practices to set up cross merchandising, is to use the “call to action” button. If you find the right formula, you will easily be able to invite your target clients to add other products to their cart. For example, you could say: “Do not hesitate to complete your order with this high-quality Bluetooth headset and enjoy a better user experience.”

Preparing for Your Next Cross Merchandising Campaign

Want your cross merchandise campaign to be a success? Start with the basics and create a personalized offer for each target customer. Take into account the buying habits of your targets, and do not neglect the interest of other Internet users who have the same profile as your target customer.

Don’t hesitate to use A/B tests if you want to measure the effectiveness of the Cross Merchandising technique you are exploiting. You will be able to better assess its impacts as well as the benefits you can achieve. Make sure your cross merchandise offer is both relevant and tailored.

Regardless of your desire to sell your products, follow these tips:

  • Never give your customers the impression of being harassed or they risk abandoning their cart.
  • Be methodical, direct, but also a salesperson.
  • Highlight the advantages that your targets will benefit from by adding the complementary products that you offer them to their basket.

More Cross Merchandising Tips and Best Practices

You want to cross merchandise in order to increase the sales volume made at your online store. Here is exactly what you have to do:

  • Highlight the main products you offer through the creation of interesting product pages. Make sure that each description is written uniquely and highlighting a particular product.
  • Recourse to a professional web copywriter to create files that precisely meet your vision.
  • Wisely select the products that you will add to each main product.
  • Choose as complementary products related to the main product, accessories, or even products that have had the best sales or bestsellers (even though they have no connection with the purchased product).
  • Introduce your cross-merchandising offer in the form of a pack and offer a discount to your target customers to motivate them. Automate your Cross Merchandising strategy, so that it applies every time customers buy from your website. Don’t hesitate to replace products that are not of interest to customers in order to optimize results.

In Conclusion

Suppose you run an online fashion store.  If a customer buys a trendy shirt, for example, you can offer them the tie that goes with it or the pants that suit them. You can even take it one step further by offering the latest fashionable jacket.

Also, note that you can also do up-selling as part of cross merchandising. It is a technique that aims to move upmarket on the buyer’s side in order to generate more profit.

Always, remember to put the customer experience and the navigation experience at the center of each of your actions, no marketing operation can be effective if it is too intrusive and especially the irrelevant ones. If you are still uncertain, seek advice from e-commerce professionals who will have undeniable experience with the different levers.


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