Upselling & Cross Selling: Restaurant Examples For C‑Stores To Follow

February 7, 2022 | Bounteous x Accolite

In our first blog post on this topic, Convenience Store Upselling and Cross Selling, we introduced the impact technology has had on upselling and cross selling. Upselling and cross selling in a digital environment is easier, more consistent, and more targeted than doing so via any other method like signage or employee suggestions. And the best news?  Convenience stores just beginning their digital evolution don’t have to start from scratch. Many restaurants started a similar journey a few years ago. Anyone just starting out can learn a lot from the most digitally-savvy restaurant brands to see what they are doing, how and why.

Let’s look at five restaurant examples to uncover digital approaches for upselling and cross selling, then understand how lessons from these leaders might apply to convenience stores. Domino’s, Chipotle, Subway, Pizza Hut, and Wingstop all offer great digital experiences.

Keep It Simple

How Domino’s shifted consumer expectations and ingrained a new behavior by training the ordering process

In keeping with the Domino’s brand identity, their upsells are efficient and in line with the main goal: a conveniently-ordered and delivered pizza. The ordering process walks the consumer through “steps” (all optional) that enable the consumer to add on drinks, sides, desserts, and combo upgrades. Offers are static, meaning they do not change depending on time of day, customer behavior, or location. Interestingly, the Domino’s desktop experience includes more upsell moments compared to their mobile/app experience. This is likely a purposeful choice to keep the mobile experience “light” for those consumers on the go. Still, even the desktop channel is streamlined compared to other restaurant digital experiences. Convenience reigns supreme.


How Chipotle applies its customized in-store experience to digital upsells

In keeping with the Chipotle brand identity, cross sells and upsells are woven into the Product Detail Page (PDP) and feel like part of the customization process. As consumers customize their item, adding extra protein or a premium topping feels like a natural extension of making the item their own. The premium items, such as guacamole and queso blanco, are offered right alongside the included toppings, like cheese and lettuce. Micro-animations, like the swipe for double protein graphic make upgrading intuitive and easy. Lower price points to upgrade eliminate any obstacles for the consumer to take advantage of the upsell. Getting each customer exactly what they want is the most important aspect of Chipotle’s upsell philosophy.


How Subway applies many different approaches throughout the consumer journey to drive as much upsell and cross sell as possible

Subway presents both upsells (make your sandwich larger or better) and cross sells (make your sandwich part of a combo) at several different points throughout the digital experience. Like Chipotle, Subway uses the PDP to entice consumers to add ‘extras’ to their sandwiches such as guacamole, bacon, extra cheese, or double meat. Subway also adds a full-screen prompt showing further upsell offers, which are unique to customers based on the type of sandwich they have ordered.  Once the consumer leaves the PDP, Subway again shows a full-screen prompt between the PDP and cart to offer cross sells like drinks, chips, and combos.

Group Order

How Pizza Hut drives cross-sell for family occasions

In keeping with Pizza Hut’s brand identity, digital offers are heavily focused on combos that make sense for a family or group of friends sharing a pizza. Offers tend to be higher-priced and are made on a full-screen page between PDP and cart. Items are displayed dynamically, meaning that what is shown changes depending on what is in the cart. Similar to Domino’s, the desktop digital experience offers more cross sells and upsells than does the mobile/app experience, likely also to keep the experience “light” for those on the go. Pizza Hut then makes a final effort within the cart, where they show a single cross-sell item as the consumer is concluding their transaction. “Pizza night should be special” Pizza Hut counsels, and their digital experience prioritizes the group setting this wisdom implies.

Ordering Reimagined

How Wingstop formulates their digital experience to make use of all digital advantages

Digital is part of Wingstop’s brand identity, with their goal being 100% digital transactions. Their digital offers are woven seamlessly into the process, showing up when appropriate and always customized for the consumer. While adding an item in the PDP, consumers are offered dips and sides as part of the flavor customization experience. The PDP then offers opportunities to add sides and drinks to the main item. Finally, the PDP shows options as a carousel at the bottom of the page. All offers are dynamic – meaning they are related to the product already in the cart. The carousel shows up again at the top of the cart page, again with customized offers for the consumer to consider focused on cross-sells (“Recommended Additions”). Wingstop’s app and mobile experience are truly “digital first.”

Applying Restaurant Digital Learnings to C-Stores

Based on years of experience helping restaurants migrate digitally, Bounteous has identified success patterns that convenience stores can learn from.

Vertical after vertical has gone through an e-commerce transition. First, retail. Then, restaurants. Now, convenience stores. Consistent patterns emerge as brands and industries become more digitally-enabled. Bounteous has developed a Digital Maturity Model to describe the evolution of brands through digital transformation. The four stages include:

  1. Initiation: Digital presence is functional, yet predictable, relying on standardized templates while engagement is siloed across channels.
  2. Foundation: Moving to a custom platform, empowered by best-of-breed software and a unified view of the customer as a foundation for digital growth.
  3. Acceleration: Using data, tech and insights, these brands experiment across the web, mobile apps and digital marketing for cross-channel experiences.
  4. Innovation: Digital competence is a point of differentiation with brands finding unique ways to engage customers and drive incremental value.

Stepping back from these examples, what can C-stores learn from Restaurants as they enter the digital upsell and cross-sell arena?

  1. Your digital experience should match your brand identity. Your digital experience should not be identical to your physical experience, but it should be coherent with what you stand for. Chipotle and Wingstop in particular stand out as doing this well.
  2. Classic upsells are the simplest way to get started with digital sales. Making core products bigger or better with low price-point upsells makes guests happier with their resulting purchase. Chipotle and Subway do classic upsells well.
  3. Guide users through steps. Explicitly making side and drink selection steps in the digital experience help to create a mindset among consumers that combos are “part of a standard ordering process.” Domino’s and Chipotle are great at using steps to their advantage.
  4. Make your recommendations “smart.” The more relevant a recommendation feels with the core item(s) in the cart, the more likely a consumer will say yes. Wingstop and Pizza Hut’s approaches are both bolstered by “dynamic” logic that makes the upsell and cross-sell items feel like a natural addition to the base item(s).

With deep experience supporting digital transitions for brands like Wingstop and Domino’s, Bounteous can help convenience stores looking to take advantage of digital upselling and cross selling as part of a larger digital engagement strategy, integrating lessons learned in other verticals to the digital ordering experience for convenience consumers:

  1. Experiment with Presentation – Bounteous leverages multivariate or “A/B” testing to experiment with new presentations (full screen, modal, steps), implementing at scale the winning experimentations
  2. Be Dynamic – We use rules or algorithms to inform the products that are presented and/ or the sequence in which they are presented
  3. Make It Natural – Our strategy incorporates upsell within your customization and/or checkout process in a manner that makes it feel like a natural, logical step that has consonance with your brand and in-store experience
  4. Try Low Price Points – We recommend offering upsell or lower-priced combo items to make it easy for users to say “yes!"