More than 1.7 million merchants and brands are using Shopify to power their ecommerce stores. It makes sense: Shopify is an incredibly flexible platform that lets stores of all sizes customize the solutions they need to grow a successful business. But for small brands that lack the technical resources to parse the 3000+ Shopify apps, it can be difficult to know which tools to use to maximize AOV, LTV, and customer retention. At Canal, we spend a lot of time working with ecommerce brands to execute best-in-class brand partnerships, so we’ve built a guide to the Shopify apps we recommend again and again. Let’s break our favorite Shopify apps down by function

Cross-sells and Upsells

Cross-sells and upsells are two slightly different actions that are often confused because they each occur late in the funnel, after a customer has already decided to purchase a product. But, the difference between cross-selling and upselling isn’t too complicated: 

What is Cross-selling and why does it matter?

Cross-selling is the practice of encouraging a customer to add another product to their order that complements the product they were already planning to purchase. A cross-sell is product recommendation to the customer, and is most effective when the recommendation is based on data on the customer’s shopping behavior. Cross-selling is an efficient way to grow average order value, and can help reduce shipping and handling costs (especially if the items can be shipped together).

A cross-selling example

Let’s say you are a brand selling kitchen supplies, including cookware and barware. If your customer adds a drink shaker to their cart, an effective cross-sell would recommend a set of drink stirrers. The drink stirrers are a complementary product to the drink shaker, because the customer can use them together. When the customer adds the drink stirrers to their cart, the two products can be shipped together, saving your brand money and making for a better customer experience all around!

Cross-sells vs. upsells

While a cross-sell encourages a customer to add more products to their cart, an upsell pushes the customer to add a higher margin product to their cart. 

An upsell example

If your brand sells several tiers of a similar product, an upsell can work well. For example, a mattress brand could use an upsell to convince a customer to upgrade the mattress in their cart from the basic model to the deluxe model. 

Upsells and Cross-sells both impact the bottom line

Both upsells and cross-sells grow your business’s average order value by increasing the dollar amount spent on a purchase. However, upselling typically directly increases the profit margin you make on an order, while cross-selling may not change the margin because additional products added to an order may have the same or lower margin than the products already in-cart. Upsells and cross-sells are not mutually exclusive — you can encourage the customer to both add more products and choose higher-value versions of the products they are already planning to purchase!

The best Shopify app for upsells and cross-sells

Rebuy

We love Rebuy’s customizable intelligent personalization that allows you to create effective cross-sells and upsells that grow your average order value and increase repeat purchases. Rebuy is easy to install without a team of developers, and delivers useful insights like conversion tracking. 

Canal

Canal helps you easily add products to your site from our network of trusted brands that your customers will love. While Canal isn’t strictly for cross-sells or upsells, adding new products to your assortment gives you greater flexibility to grow customer order values. Canal has an easy-to-use upsell function, too, so you can manage your third-party products and upsells in one place. 

Product Bundles

Adding product bundles to your ecommerce store, or bundling, is a great way to engage customers and grow average order value. Bundling is simple: to bundle products, you can list a group of products together as a single SKU, allowing your customer to purchase all of the products in the bundle at a single price.

An example of product bundling

Bundling is a really versatile tool for brands that sell a variety of product SKUS. For example, a makeup brand could create a bundle of their most popular skincare + makeup products and market it as the ‘essentials bundle.’ The result? This bundle creates novelty for the customer and also encourages larger cart sizes. 

Why you should bundle products in your Shopify store

Bundling products in your Shopify store is a win-win for your customer and for your business. For customers, bundles can lower the barrier to entry for a new product, make them feel like they’re getting a deal, and even improve the customer experience by grouping shipping and delivery. For your business, bundling can help clear out excess inventory, create a seasonal marketing moment, and even reduce warehousing and shipping costs. 

The best Shopify apps for bundling

Bold Bundle

Bold Bundle offers flexible bundling options including multiple discounts or set-price bundles. Use their smart automated bundles to understand and activate bundles your customers will love, all integrated into your existing Shopify inventory management system. 

Picky Story

Picky Story is a great no-code option if you want to incorporate upselling into your bundling strategy. Use Picky Store to create bundles, free gifts, ‘shop the look’ collections, and upsells. You can easily drag and drop widgets, stack discounts, and auto-apply your brand style. 

Subscriptions

Subscriptions are a powerful tool for ecommerce stores looking to grow their recurring revenue and increase customer retention. For brands that sell products customers purchase again and again, subscriptions are a particularly good fit. Subscription Shopify apps handle the logistics of signing up subscription customers and manage the timing of recurring orders. 

A subscription example

For a wellness brand that sells razors and blades, a customer could purchase a razor and sign up for a blade subscription monthly. Using a subscription app, the wellness brand can manage the logistics of sending a monthly blade kit to the customer. 

Why subscriptions matter in ecommerce

For brands, a subscription model creates a steady stream of predictable revenue that can be an advantage for lean teams. Subscriptions also help to retain customers without spending on retargeting campaigns to keep customers interested in your products. For customers, subscriptions offer a convenience factor that has proved extremely popular. 

The best Shopify apps for Subscriptions

Loop

Loop offers great flexibility across a wide array of subscription styles, including prepaid and complex subscription flows. The app can handle subscriptions at scale with easy customer migration and extensive implementation support. 

Recharge

Recharge lets you seamlessly integrate subscriptions into your existing PDPs. The app integrates with Shopify payments, top commerce tools like Klaviyo and Attentive, and offers customers flexibility to skip or pause subscriptions when they want to. 

Reviews

Unlike other, more complicated elements of ecommerce, reviews are fundamental to the purchasing process. Most consumers check reviews on the products they’re considering, and reviews can be a major selling point or a major reason not to purchase. 

Why the right reviews matter

Not all reviews are created equal. It’s important to collect rich reviews (with images and video, if possible) that tell the story of your product and provide social proof for future customers in your store. Reviews can help your store get discovered in a crowded online world, build credibility, and can persuade a reluctant buyer to make a purchase. Your brand’s response to reviews also demonstrates to customers how well you handle customer service inquiries and manage relationships. Reviews are also a great source of data on what your customers want to see from your brand in the future! In short, reviews are crucial as you build a consumer-facing business. 

The best Shopify apps for managing reviews

Yotpo

Yotpo offers a comprehensive list of review tools, including SMS collection, review incentives, Walmart syndication, and social publishing. Aggregate and respond to photo, text, and video reviews across your site, Google, and social. Easy installation and migration is a bonus!

Okendo

Okendo can manage reviews, Q+A, and even rewards for high-growth consumer brands. Mobile-first reviews and customer data collection mean you can maximize the utility of every review. We like the flexibility of Okendo’s widgets to maximize conversion by displaying reviews effectively on your site. 

Growing your ecommerce business can feel complicated without the right expertise. At Canal, we help the best brands connect to sell more, in more places. Interested in learning more about how the Canal Shopify app can make it easy to power inventory-free brand partnerships? Learn more.