How to Use Add-Ons to Sell More Handmade


It was 8 am in the morning and my husband and I were headed out to our cabin for the weekend.


We hadn’t eaten breakfast yet but decided we’d make eggs and hashbrowns once we got to our cabin.


But first…we needed coffee.


2 caffeinated drinks were what we agreed on as we pulled up to the drive-through but then the lady on the other side of the speaker threw us a curveball…..


“Would you like a chocolate chip cookie with your order?”


My husband looked at me, I shrugged, and he answered, “Sure!”.


I didn’t really think anything of it until we were waiting to pull up to the window and I thought: It’s 8 am, why are they even offering a chocolate chip cookie and why did we agree to buy one?


My mind is always in business mode so I asked if he saw what she did there and started getting into the psychology of that cookie sale.


It was an add-on sale (which I’ll explain in this article), but the add-on was suggested in such a simple and effective way.


So what was so clever about the barista’s add-on sales technique?


She took away options.


She didn’t ask if we wanted anything else with our order. And she didn’t ask if we wanted to add a cookie to our order. She asked if we wanted a chocolate chip cookie.


She made the decision super easy for us to make. Yes or no.


If she asked if we wanted to add anything else to our order we probably would have said no. We’re in line and don’t want to hold people up by looking over the menu, discussing what we could get and deciding on an option.


If she asked us if we wanted to add a cookie to our order, we may have hesitated but likely said no. Again, it leaves too many options open. “What kind of cookie? What are the options? Do you want a cookie? What kind do you want? Ahhh, forget it, we don’t need a cookie.”


But “Do you want a chocolate chip cookie?” It’s so easy to say yes. Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies? Even if I don’t want it right now, it will be a nice treat for later. How thoughtful of her to ask.


You may have experienced a similar sales tactic at the grocery store when the cashier asks if you’d like to donate money to charity.


Nobody likes to say no to charities but when there’s a lineup of people and you’re asked the question, you have to think about how much money is acceptable to donate? Do I look cheap if I give $10? What do other people give? How do I pay for it, I don’t have any cash on me…..”Ummm, not today thanks” is usually the easiest response.


Or some people feel pressured into giving and then feel annoyed, which could be bad for repeat business.


But when a cashier asks to add $5 or round up to the nearest dollar for charity, people are more likely to donate because it’s a simple decision; yes or no.






Add-ons are products a business can offer that allow a committed customer (someone with an item in their cart) to add to their order.


Cross-selling is the sales technique of suggesting those add-on products to customers to add to, or complete, or compliment, or care for, the item they’re planning to buy.


Although you’re not a cashier with multiple options to offer customers before they check out, this sales technique can still work for your handmade business.


The key point to remember when it comes to boosting sales using this sales technique is to limit options.


Although conventional wisdom may suggest more options equates to being able to accommodate more people and thus make more sales, studies show that just isn’t true.


*For more info on how limiting options can boost sales, check out: HOW LIMITING OPTIONS CAN BOOST SALES BY 27%


The more variety you add, the more decisions a shopper must make. Although it may seem like a simple decision, most of us can agree, we’re already dealing with information overload these days and no decision requires less brain power 😉


Here are the steps to take to implement add-on selling in your handmade business:






Offering too much variety is an occupational hazard of being a handmade business owner. We’re creative people and there’s no lack of ideas when it comes to what we can make. However, it’s really important to have a focus with your products.


If you have too many options for shoppers to decide between, they may not even decide to buy one item, which then makes it impossible for you to sell them another item during check out.


And if they do choose a product to buy out of the many choices, they may have decision fatigue (it’s a real thing). By the time they make it to the checkout, a negative response to “would you like to add _____?” may be more likely. Researchers found judges give less favorable rulings to criminals when it’s later in the day, due to the judge being drained from making many decisions.


Decision fatigue is sometimes taken advantage of by retailers, the most common example being at grocery stores. They know shoppers have just spent several minutes walking up and down aisles making decision after decision when it comes to food choices. Consumers have decision fatigue by the time they make it to the checkout and their willpower is depleted, making them more likely to give in and buy that candy bar or pop.


But that’s not the way you want to go with your handmade business. It doesn’t build brand loyalty, can leave customers disappointed with their purchase, and may even lead to returns.


The first step before you start thinking about what to add-on and how to sell it, is to narrow down your main product selection to increase the chances of your shoppers getting to the checkout and you having an opportunity to sell an add-on to them.


You can absolutely run a successful and profitable handmade business offering just one product; I’ve seen it done many times. And many times, the fewer products a handmade business offers, the more successful it is.


So don’t let scaling your product selection down scare you. The fewer options your shoppers have to shop through means the easier it is to sell to them.


When you have 5 people looking over the 50 different types of products on your craft show table, they’re there for a while. How do other shoppers get in there?


A busy booth is great but when I’m at a craft show and I see a table with lots of lookie-loos, asking questions and taking their time, I’ll usually just head to another vendor. If a table is busy but people are moving through quickly, I’ll look over shoppers’ shoulders until there’s room for me to get in there.


If you must explain a different set of features for each product and you have 50 products, you could spend a lot of time selling one item to one person.


Sure the booths that have a large variety of products may look busy the entire craft show but their transaction per hour may actually be lower than a vendor who has just a few products to choose from.


If you believe you may have too much selection, here are some steps you can take to narrow it down:


Get rid of low performers

Always work off sales stats when making decisions on product changes. The best way to start narrowing your selection is to eliminate items that don’t make you sales. It’s a waste of your time to build stock in items you don’t sell and they take up precious real estate on your craft show table or website.


Look at your best-seller(s) and build your product selection around it/them. If you have several products and a few that do better, what are the commonalities among them? Do they all follow a certain theme, fall under a particular category or are they aimed at a certain customer? For example, if you sell jewelry, baby burp cloths, and headbands for little girls and you tend to sell more of the burp cloths and headbands, it may be a sign that moms are a good segment of customers to target.



Choose a category

Handmade businesses tend to look more professional when all of their products stick to one category or theme. The more variety you add, the more confusing your brand becomes.


For example, a creator selling paintings, jewelry, and scarves has products that fall under the categories: ART, JEWELRY, and ACCESSORIES. It’s almost impossible to become an expert in all three while simultaneously building a strong brand and a business that operates smoothly.


There are times when different categories of products can still create a cohesive line. And that’s when they’re all focused on a theme, instead of a category. For example, a graphic designer may offer their designs on fabric scarves and t-shirts (categories ACCESSORIES and CLOTHING). But even so, it’s best if all products still fall under one or two categories.


It’s important to have a signature style that extends to all your products (here’s how: HOW TO CREATE A SIGNATURE STYLE FOR YOUR HANDMADE BUSINESS) and to build collections of products that work together (check out: HOW TO CREATE A HOLIDAY COLLECTION FOR YOUR HANDMADE BUSINESS or HOW TO USE PRODUCT COLLECTIONS TO BOOST SALES).



Find a niche

To narrow your product selection down even further, it’s important to find a niche. It’s going to help give your products an edge and help you stand out from the competition.


You can find your niche by serving a specific person (e.g. making jewelry for brides)  and their needs (e.g. hypoallergenic jewelry for brides), by focusing on a subcategory or sub-subcategory of product (e.g. clip-on earrings), or a specific style (e.g. gothic jewelry for brides), etc.


There are many ways to find a niche, but it’s best to start with the specific person you will serve. Here’s how to find a profitable target market: HOW TO FIND A GOLDMINE OF CUSTOMERS.



Select your products

There are exceptions to every rule by my rule is to offer no more than 3 – 5 main products as a handmade business. You can still expand your selection by offering variety in each product. For example, instead of a jewelry maker offering 15 different types of necklaces, they could focus on three and offer 5 different types of stones, or offer 5 different types of necklaces, all in gold, silver or rose gold. They’re still offering the same amount of variety but they’re creating cohesion among their products and becoming more profitable.


However, the more types of products you add, the more:

  • Patterns/techniques/tools/etc. you must use, which slows down production
  • Packaging/tags you must create
  • Photos you must take
  • Descriptions you must write
  • Sales pitches you must prepare
  • Displays you must have room for on your craft show table
  • Etc.


If you’re interested in more direction when it comes to narrowing down your product selection and making the right choices to build a profitable product line, download the free sample chapter: MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT (which is from my ebook MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS).






Aside from your main product(s), you should also have a smaller add-on item. You don’t need to go crazy and have several different options for customers to choose from. One add-on item will likely help you boost sales; it just has to be the right item.


Once a shopper has made a decision and chosen an item to purchase, the key is to offer a smaller, easy-to-say-yes-to, item. This means something that is low commitment, doesn’t take a lot of pondering and doesn’t cost a lot of money.


An add-on item will:

    • Increase your items per transaction – instead of selling one item to each customer, you sell two or more. Selling more items per person means less work for you but increased profits.
    • Add a lower price point to your product line – this gives an option for those with a smaller budget and is great for gift giving; they can bump up the value of their gift with minimal effort (e.g. if someone wants to spend $50 on a gift but the pair of mittens they’re purchasing are only $40, if the mitten vendor also offers $5 hand warmers, the customer can add those to their order instead of shopping with other vendors to spend ten more dollars), or they can buy an add-on item on its own for a smaller gift or stocking stuffer.
    • Compliment/complete/care – a great add-on item will complement an item a customer has already picked out (e.g. a loofa to go with body wash), complete it (e.g. a frame to go with an artist’s print) or care for their item (e.g. a polishing cloth that doubles as a storage bag to go with a silver ring).
    • Bundle – you can also create an add-on option without adding new products to your lineup. Instead of asking if a customer would like to add a different item, you could ask if they’d like to take advantage of a value offer. It may be offering a slight discount if a shopper purchases 3 items instead of one (e.g. would you like to buy 3 soaps for $12.99 instead of the 2 for $10?) or having a gift set that groups 2 or more items together in a nice package and costs slightly less than buying each one separately.


If a vendor is about to sell a pair of earrings, “would you like a necklace to go with that” may be a bit too big of an add-on. The shopper has likely already seen a selection of necklaces but decided to go with the earrings instead. Plus, the necklace is likely more expensive than the earrings so it’s a bigger commitment for them to make.


Generally, the more expensive the item, the more thought it requires.


But if instead, the vendor asks, “Did you want to add a matching ring?” or “would you like to add a gift box/card/wrapping?” or, “would you like to add a travel pouch to protect the earrings? It also doubles as a polishing cloth”, they may have more customers saying “yes”.


Although most add-on items typically cost less than main items, there are times an add-on item may be a similar price or even more expensive than the main item.


For example, a soap vendor may sell $5 bars of soap as their main product and offer a $7 soap dish. Although the add-on product is more expensive than the main product, it’s still not a big-ticket item that requires a long contemplation period or someone questioning whether it’s worth the investment or not.






Although some may go rogue and shop products out of their natural order, most people follow a flow as they shop.


You’ll notice this as you walk through a retail store. There is usually a display front and center of a store that draws shoppers in, gets them to slow down, and gives them the space to take in their new surroundings. Sales associates may say “hi” to shoppers in this zone, but they almost never use any sales techniques in this area.


Imagine stepping into a store and someone saying “Hi there! Have you heard about our great deals? We also have this brand new arrival I think you’ll love.” A bit too much right off the bat.


Once a shopper is in the store and has decompressed they tend to turn right (based on studies) and then follow a path to make a lap around the store.


When a customer is near the back of the store, they’re more committed. Higher priced items that often require a salesperson to sell can be found near the back of a retail store.


And smaller, add-on items are kept near the cash desk. This helps prevent theft (here are 10 tips to prevent theft at a craft show), since a cashier is usually near the smaller, easy to conceal items, and it also gives shoppers product to browse while they’re waiting in line or having their purchase rung through.


Your craft show table and online shop should follow a similar approach and showcase the add-on items near the end of the shopper experience.



Craft Show

In MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS, I explain how to break your craft show table or booth into zones. Zone 3 should be considered your checkout and where you place your smaller, add-on items. Even if you only have a few feet at a craft show, you can still create zones.


On a small craft show table, the end of the table shoppers reach last (going with the main flow of traffic) would likely become your Zone 3. This is where you bring shoppers over to as you wrap their product and complete their transaction, giving new shoppers space to browse your main products.


Displaying your add-on products in your Zone 3 gives people smaller items to look over while waiting for you to gather change, wrap their purchase, or process their credit card.


It’s a similar sales technique grocery stores use at their checkouts. Although your grocery list likely doesn’t include: “gum”, “candy bar” or “gossip magazine”, you’re more likely to pick them up because they’re right there, they’re easy to grab, and they’re only a couple dollars.




Consider adding a new functionality to your website that allows you to display add-on items during the shopping cart phase (as well as on their own page if needed).


If you’ve ever ordered flowers for delivery online, you will have seen this sales technique used. Once you select flowers, place them in your basket and check out, you’ll go through an additional step in the checkout process where you’re presented with “You may also like:”, “Would you like to add:” or “Add-ons:”


They may have a tab on their website to shop these items, but presenting them as a step in the checkout process increases their sales.


If you’re selling through an Etsy shop, you don’t have as much control and can’t alter the checkout process. However, you can offer add-on options by adding “variations” to your listings.


When I purchased a new work bag for my husband, the vendor used the variation dropdowns to select the add-on option of monogramming the bag. It was an option I noticed when checking out and it automatically increased the price of my order when I selected the monogram option.


The other option on Etsy is to use your product description (check out: PRODUCT DESCRIPTION TEMPLATE, EXAMPLES, & SAMPLE) to link to other Etsy listings. Simply copy and paste the link from the add-on item listed on Etsy.






The last step is to find a way you feel comfortable asking for the sale.


I know selling isn’t easy for a lot of handmade business owners and most of us are happy to get the first sale, we don’t want to seem pushy by asking them to add more to their order.


But you’re simply asking a question that the shopper can reply “yes” or “no” to.


If they reply “no” and you follow up with a “are you sure? Come on, you’ll really like it.”, then you’re getting a bit pushy 😉


Here’s how to sell the add-on at craft shows and online:



Craft Show

It’s really important you ask for the sale with each craft show shopper (here’s how: HOW TO ASK FOR THE SALE AT A CRAFT SHOW without being pushy) and then follow up with the add-on offer.


Remember, the more decisions a shopper must make, the less likely they are to make one. Keep your add-on selection to a minimum so it’s an easy question to ask and an even easier one to answer.


A wreath maker may offer wreath hangers in a basket in their Zone 3 and simply say “Would you like to add a wreath hanger to your purchase for $4.99?” while they’re cutting off the price tag and wrapping the wreath.


You don’t even have to make eye contact while you sell your add-on! 😉


Not that I’m suggesting no eye contact is a good sales technique, but the point is: it’s an easy question to ask and there’s no need to feel uncomfortable while you ask it.


If there’s more than one option when it comes to your add-on items, you may need to put a little more effort in to make the decision easy for the shopper.


For example, a jewelry maker may offer rings to add-on to their necklaces. If there are 3 different colors/metals/stones to choose from, they may pick out the ring that matches the necklace the shopper picked out, place it in front of the ring tray and ask if they’d like to add a matching ring to their purchase, suggesting they love this one as an option.


By picking out which ring they’d suggest being paired with the necklace, it lessens the decisions the shopper must make, making them more likely to say “yes”.


“Would you like a ring too? They’re all in this tray…” forces the shopper to choose between several rings and take longer to make a decision. They then have time to think about:


Do I want one? Do I really need it? I could just tell her I already have too many rings at home, that way she doesn’t think I don’t like the rings. People are waiting behind me, I better just hurry up and say no.


Try your best to present your add-on offer in a way it’s easy to reply “yes” to and that won’t require follow-up questions.




If you have a website and can add an “add-on” step to the checkout process, get a little creative with the wording so it helps sell.


Instead of “you may also like”, you may try:

  • These are my best sellers
  • Customers always come back for these items; get yours now!
  • Polish off your look with…
  • This toner completes your morning skincare routine
  • These are going fast, last chance to grab one


Again, the key is to keep the options to a minimum; one add-on option is perfectly fine. You can play around to find the right balance for your business and products but a good rule of thumb is no more than 3 options. Many more and you’re giving them too many decisions to make.


When selling on Etsy and presenting add-on options in the product description, be sure to sell the add-ons.


Tell shoppers the benefits of adding the item to their cart.


For example, the add-on of monogramming a bag may be presented in the description as: Let people know this bag was made specifically for you by adding the monogram options to have your initials stamped into the leather.


A gift-wrapping add-on may be presented as saving the shopper time by having you gift wrap the item for them.


Because you can’t ask the question on line to get a “yes” or “no” answer, you’ll have to put a bit more effort in to sell the add-on. Keep the focus on the customer and let them know what’s in it for them by adding that item to their cart.




For more ideas on products you can offer to add-on (and these ideas don’t even require you to make new products), check out:


When you’re not even able to get to the add-on stage because you’re having a hard time getting a shopper to commit to buying one item, down-selling may come in handy. Check out:



Have you ever had a similar sales technique used on you? Did you say yes? 😉 How would you ask customers if they’d like to add an add-on item? Share in the comments!




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One Comment

  1. Wow, so helpful! I see how I can use this technique in my business right away. Thank you so much for this article.

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