Best Ecommerce Tools: 39 Apps for Multi-Million-Dollar Results (Data & Use Cases)

Best Ecommerce Tools: 39 Apps for Multi-Million-Dollar Results (Data & Use Cases)

Selecting the right combination of ecommerce tools and integrating them seamlessly is crucial to executing a multi-million-dollar growth strategy.

Pura Vida Bracelets credits 11 ecommerce app categories for helping them get results like:

  • 50% YoY growth
  • Increasing email revenue 4X
  • Onsite search driving conversions near 20%
  • Reviews and UGC lifting AOV 11% and conversions 400%
  • Micro-influencers increasing referral sales 300% and slashing CAC 7X

“It’s a lot like the ingredients to a great recipe,” says Griffin Thall, co-founder of Pura Vida. “Each of the ingredients might taste great on their own but when you blend them together they combine to create a much more delicious dish and ultimately a better experience for everyone.”

Along with behind-the-scenes data, screenshots, and real examples from Pura Vida’s toolset, this guide includes 39 app recommendations (listed at the end of each section) for …

The best ecommerce tools to grow a multi-million dollar business:
  1. Email Marketing
  2. Email List Building
  3. Reviews and UGC
  4. Loyalty & Rewards
  5. Referral Programs
  6. Rescuing Abandoned Carts
  7. Social Commerce
  8. Personalization
  9. Onsite Search
  10. Ecommerce Subscriptions
  11. Real-Time Notifications

Download this article as a guide


Simple string … that’s what Pura Vida Bracelets look like on the surface.

Underneath, the bracelets represent an appreciation for simple living. They tell a story about a chance encounter that wound up turning into a life-changing partnership.

Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman were on a college graduation trip to Costa Rica six years ago when they came upon two artisans, Jorge and Joaquin, who made beautiful string bracelets but crammed themselves into a single room home with their families and lived in poverty.

The best ecommerce tools help power Pura Vida's empire on Shopify Plus

Image via Pura Vida Bracelets

Thall and Goodman each had a hundred dollars in their pockets and paid the talented but poor artisans to make them four hundred bracelets. When the two returned home to San Diego, they put their bracelets in a bowl and sold them at a local boutique. In just a few days the bowl was empty.

Since then, Pura Vida has earned …

  • 1.6 million Facebook fans
  • 1.2 million Instagram followers
  • More than $1,440,822 donated to various charities
  • 200+ full-time jobs for local artisans in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and India

After learning of his spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List, Thall marveled:

“We were just blown away, my mom was crying, and the staff was super excited. It’s a gift to have turned our passion into a multi-million-dollar company. But it also comes with struggles when you scale. That tension is why I love helping other companies.”

Part of Pura Vida’s accelerated growth is due to the ecommerce tools it uses to creatively and interactively co-create products with its customers. Tools that drive engagement, loyalty, and growth.

However, before peeking inside …

Want to hear directly from Pura Vida’s CEO?

Griffin Thall — CEO and co-founder at Pura Vida — recently participated in an exclusive AMA with Shopify Plus.

If you missed the live event, you can …

Watch the AMA now

1. Email Marketing

Despite declarations of its imminent demise, email marketing is alive and well. Pura Vida Bracelets and its partners are proving it.

Newly captured email addresses instantly leveraged via a technology stack that includes:

Pura Vida's ecommerce email marketing

Pura Vida’s beautifully designed and branded emails mix charity, product announcements, sales events, social engagement, seasonal elements, and more

Pura Vida leverages three ecommerce tools for their email marketing

The key is sending both high-performing automated sequences as well as personalized emails based on purchase history and other data points. This combination dramatically outperforms industry-standard open and click-through-rates:

Dashboard of Bronto email marketing ecommerce tool

Prior to partnering with Email Aptitude, Pura Vida was essentially sending one-off relatively generic emails to its entire list. Thanks to regular A/B experiments and its reliance on data, Pura Vida can now target based on order history, recency, similar products, or upsell and retention focused-offers like their subscription club.

Through its partnerships, Pura Vida has experienced:

  • 4X lift in revenue from email
  • 350% increase in email subscribers

The full story — including documentation — is available from Email Aptitude

“One of the things that’s been most impressive is how Email Aptitude has been able to really scale email optimization, using A/B testing and list segmentation to experiment with all aspects of our messaging,” Thall says.

Ecommerce Tools for Email Marketing

2. Email List Building

Pura Vida relies on Justuno — a conversion rate optimization suite — to increase sales and grow its email list.

Previously, Thall had to manually request performance reports from Pura Vida’s conversion optimization partner to gauge the success of specific campaigns. Not having the data necessary to make decisions at his fingertips prevented Thall from moving as fast as he’d like and also, Thall suggests, cost the company sales.

With data transparency a top priority, the team selected Justuno because the platform offers merchants full access to real-time campaign performance reports including high-level metrics on acquisitions, clicks, conversions, and more.

For more, you can check out Justuno’s other conversion-rate optimization success stories here

Importantly, Justuno was also able to recreate Pura Vida’s collection of high-performing and thoroughly tested interactive pop-ups designed with a mobile-first strategy in just a week.

Visitors landing on the Pura Vida site now see a gamified version of the company’s email capture tool that asks visitors to spin a wheel to unlock prizes like discounts, free shipping, or mystery offers

Since partnering with Justuno, the pop-up’s performance has improved significantly, in part, because the Pura Vida team can adjust its targeting rules at a moment’s notice to optimize opt-ins — something that wasn’t available in the company’s previous platform.

“Before, when a customer came to our site and left, they wouldn’t see the pop-up offer again or wouldn’t see it for 30 days,’’ Thall says. “Justuno gives us the ability to be slightly more aggressive in triggering messages.’’

Since partnering with Justuno Pura Vida has achieved the following:

  • Email capture increased 150%
  • Conversions from emails increased 164%

“Since moving to Justuno, we tripled our performance and have understood customer behavior during times of rapid growth,” Thall says.

Ecommerce Tools for Email List Building

3. Reviews and UGC

Pura Vida uses Yotpo to earn authentic customer reviews, turn trust into sales, and leverage UGC to market smarter.

In addition to helping Pura Vida improve its search ranking and convert more shoppers into customers, Yotpo also assists in customer retention which is a hallmark of top-performing ecommerce merchants.

To generate reviews for Pura Vida, Yotpo uses what it calls Mail After Purchase (MAP) to automatically email customers after a purchase and request they make a review.

Besides making upsell recommendations based on the customer’s purchase, the MAP is customizable, mobile-first, and allows customers to write a review right there within the MAP itself. This one-step submission, according to Yotpo, removes the friction that can come with asking a person to visit a separate site to leave a review and results in 9X more customer reviews.

When a customer leaves a review, it automatically appears on Pura Vida’s site beneath the product being reviewed:

In addition to reviews, customers can also ask questions which can be answered by verified buyers.

Since partnering with Yotpo, Pura Vida reports the following:

Reviews

  • 209,760 reviews
  • Average star rating of 4.68
  • 85.8% of reviews are 5 stars

Yotpo reviews ecommerce tool

Engagement

  • 25.6% of site traffic engages with reviews
  • Average order value is 9.7% higher than those who don’t
  • Conversion rate is 10.6%, 500% higher than those who don’t

Traffic & Sales

Yotpo channels have directly driven more than one million customers to the Pura Vida store via Facebook integrations, social sharing, couponing, review request emails, and promoted products.

As Thall says:

“Since we started our partnership with Yotpo, we’ve been able to easily connect with and leverage relationships with new and existing customers like never before.”

Yotpo is continuing to lead the user-generated-content vertical, helping us to drive higher engagement, interest, and conversions on and off site for our business.

Ecommerce Tools for Reviews & UGC

4. Loyalty & Rewards

In 2015, Pura Vida began to use S Loyalty to reward shoppers with a beautifully branded loyalty program — Pura Vida Points — and build an engaged community of customers who loved their designs and helped spread their vision of a more connected world.

By earning 10 points per $1 spent, customers can use their points to redeem rewards and get discounts when they made their purchase.

Customers who engage with Pura Vida's loyalty program:

  • Spend 10X more than the average (Q2 2018)
  • Rewards redemption increased 47% YoY (January-June)

S Loyalty offers high-volume merchants the flexibility to choose their own redemption levels and types of rewards. Once established, a branded overlay allows customers to redeem discount codes and choose how and when they are rewarded:

Ecommerce Tools for Loyalty & Rewards

5. Referral Programs

To amass an army of micro-influencers on Instagram that significantly reduce CAC (customer acquisition costs) and increase sales, Pura Vida partners with Refersion.

The application helps businesses easily track sales commissions owed to influencers, ambassadors, or anyone else helping to sell.

Otherwise known as super customers because they also purchase more frequently, Pura Vida has leveraged Refersion to assemble an army of 110,282 ultra-motivated brand evangelists dying to promote the company’s products.

Since Refersion integrates natively with the Pura Vida’s Shopify Plus account, Thall and his team can focus solely on motivating reps. To do so, Pura Vida structured its program in tiers so reps have to make a sale before they receive Pura Vida Bracelets swag:

  • Tier 1: After a rep’s first sale, they receive five Pura Vida Bracelets, a rep sticker, and marketing cards
  • Tier 2: After their third sale, an exclusive Pura Vida charm bracelet
  • Tier 3: After a rep’s fifth sale, a special Pura Vida Bracelets Staff logo t-shirt

To recruit new reps, Pura Vida starts with Instagram ads:

Afterward, Pura Vida motivates ambassadors with an email campaign that illustrates the rewards program members are working toward. Besides welcoming new reps with the discount code they’ll use to make sales and earn commissions, Pura Vida constantly follows up.

For instance, when a batch of reps earns their way from Tier 1 to Tier 2, Pura Vida sends all of the reps an email highlighting the accomplishment which reminds and motivates them as well:

To further drive engagement, they give each rep access to an exclusive Facebook-Instagram group for brand fanatics only.

As Pura Vida begins scaling the program internationally, it has learned that micro-influencers can actually be significantly more valuable than larger influencers that brands are constantly trying to bribe to post about them.

Micro-influencers …

  • Aren’t asking for $1k-$10k a post
  • Rather, they want inclusion in something special
  • Lack the egos well-known influencers often possess
  • Are truly passionate about your brand and have the trust of those they influence rather than the illusion of trust

Since amassing and motivating its global army of sales reps who can be trusted with the Pura Vida brand, Thall reveals the program is producing lucrative financial results:

  • Sales from reps have increased 300% YoY
  • AOV is approximately 11% higher than non-ambassador orders
  • Customer acquisition is $3 versus a CPA 7X higher in other channels

“It is so much cheaper to acquire new customers with reps that it makes no sense not to do it,” Thall says. “The scalable grassroots marketing our reps do fattens our profit margins and might one day allow us to spend less on paid media!”

Ecommerce Tools for Referral Programs

6. Rescuing Abandoned Carts

Naturally, Pura Vida uses email marketing to rescue abandoned carts. But they also rely on ShopMessage for automation via Facebook Messenger.

An official Messenger Platform Development Partner and serving brands such as American Eagle, Fashion Nova, and MVMT Watches, ShopMessage turns conversations into purchases by enabling ecommerce businesses to:

  • Recover abandoned carts
  • Build a Messenger subscriber base
  • Trigger personalized conversations by onsite behavior

For example, if a customer views a product on Pura Vida but does not purchase, Pura Vida will automatically send this customer a message on Messenger to offer a discount.

With one click, customers can get back into the Shopify Plus checkout with their cart reconstructed and a discount automatically applied.

Customers love these messages because they receive a discount and are given an easy way to checkout through a one-click link that reconstructs their cart. This initial conversation becomes the basis for future conversations around new product releases, limited edition drops, and engaging content.

ShopMessage has yielded:

  • 26% clickthrough rate
  • Over 400,000 messages sent
  • 10% lift to top-line revenue from subscribers logged into Facebook

“ShopMessage has been a game changer for Pura Vida,” says Thall. “The abandoned cart flow through Messenger totally outperforms email and gives us a deeper relationship with our shoppers. I already recommend ShopMessage to every Shopify store owner I talk to.”

Similarly, the business also uses Retention Rocket to rescue abandoned carts and automate marketing through SMS. The ecommerce tool sends on average 987 messages a day with a conversion rate of 14.6%.

Ecommerce Tools for Abandoned Carts

7. Social Commerce

Pura Vida is a company Thall proudly says has been built on social media.

Off-site, they leverage paid advertising, influencers and micro-influencer marketing, as well as beautifully branded organic posts:

Onsite, they engage in social commerce by using Foursixty, a tool that allows merchants to turn their brand and user-generated Instagram content into shoppable galleries that live in multiple locations within their online store.

Foursixty galleries live in five places on Pura Vida’s site:

1. On the footer of the homepage

2. Also on the footer of collection pages

3. As a dedicated “Shop Our Instagram” page

4. Within product detail pages

“Styled on Insta” showcase product-specific Instagram posts

5. And, as a cart-page gallery

Foursixty’s dynamic cart-page gallery decreases abandoned carts by showcasing a personalized feed of Instagram photos that feature items contained within the customer's cart.

Why is this app so valuable?

Quite often, an Instagram post features multiple items. In the case of Pura Vida, that might mean an image contains multiple bracelets or a swimsuit. Foursixty allows Pura Vida’s social media team to “tag” multiple products within a post which empower customers to shop for exactly what they want and nothing more.

Further, Foursixty’s feature set allows customers to add items to cart right away, enabling them to buy in the moment that their purchase desire is at its highest.

In the example below, this Foursixty post allows a customer to identify exactly which bracelet is being worn in the image, see whether it is in stock, and then add it to her cart right away, removing the need for unnecessary clicks to product pages.

Since partnering with Foursixty, Pura Vida reports:

  • Foursixty conversions have contributed to ~17% of online revenue
  • After engaging with an image in a Foursixty shoppable Instagram gallery, 11% of sessions will click through to the point of sale
  • 5% will add item(s) directly to their carts

Foursixty is by far the best shoppable Instagram app on the market.

“I’ve tried just about all of them and Foursixty does it just right. Foursixty’s customer service was second to none and made it easy to get everything set up and off the ground. I would highly recommend this app for any brand. Just install it- you’ll be more than satisfied.”

Ecommerce Tools for Social Commerce

8. Personalization

Much of Pura Vida’s success is due to the way it personalizes the customer experience.

To scale personalization, Pura Vida relies on Nosto, which analyzes customer behavior, learns their likes and dislikes, and enables merchants to deliver automated, personalized recommendations.

For example, can see Nosto’s work on Pura Vida’s collection and product pages by way of recommendations highlighting products other customers are interested in as well as products a customer has recently viewed.

Pura Vida has been using Nosto more than a year and includes the following results:

  • More than 1.6 million clicks
  • 24 million recommendations
  • 7.9% recommendation conversion rate
  • CTR on homepage greater than 10%
  • Average of more than 10% overall revenue generated
They were the first to launch geotargeted bestsellers with Nosto. The first to launch fallback recommendations. And the first client to use Yotpo-Nosto integration

    Nosto is all about connecting customers with products that matter to them. It acts just like a good in-store sales associate would — but powered by super smart algorithms.

    “At the same time, personalization also lifts a huge burden from our merchandising team by automating homepage recommendations and product page cross-sells.

    Ecommerce Tools for Personalization

    9. Onsite Search

    With an ever-growing number of SKUs, Pura Vida relies on InstantSearch+, a powerful onsite search tool, to help visitors find exactly what they’re looking for instantly.

    Importantly, InstantSearch+ also helps Pura Vida boost conversion rates by making real-time product recommendations as visitors are searching for items.

    Here’s what InstantSearch+ looks like on Pura Vida’s site; notice the visitor hasn’t finished typing, yet InstantSearch+ is already making multiple recommendations:

    Ecommerce site search tool on Pura Vida

    InstantSearch+ helps Pura Vida make smart recommendations by leveraging its search algorithm that analyzes user search behavior over time to auto-complete user searches and suggest more relevant searches and products.

    Besides making what it calls “Amazon-like” site search recommendations, InstantSearch+’s drop-down menu also allows users to filter their searches or select “popular searches” to see items others have recently looked for.

    In one three month period, visitors conducted more than 182,000 searches that have yielded the following results:
    • The average conversion rate since installing InstantSearch+ from search users is 18.11%, more than double that of non-search users (7.75%)
    • Shoppers who use search on the site are more than twice as likely to make a purchase
    • Search is responsible for more than 24% of the store’s revenue

    As Thall explains:

    “I have to say the service I get is epic! We had very specific style requirements such as color swatches as a refinement and the Support team delivered in days. Quite impressive!

    “Having used other site search solutions in the past, the move to InstantSearch+ gives visitors to my site a super fast autocomplete experience and a results page that not only has the right items but also any blog posts associated with what they’re looking for.”

    Ecommerce Tools for Onsite Search

    10. Subscriptions

    After a few years of rapidly growing their business, Thall wanted to turn those passionate one-time customers into long-term repeat buyers. The perfect solution for this, he figured, was to launch a subscription offering.

    His idea was the Pura Vida Club, a membership which includes a monthly subscription box of exclusive Pura Vida bracelets.

    To launch their subscription box offering, Pura Vida utilizes the Bold Subscriptions platform. It's one of the easiest ways to get a fully integrated subscription offering on a Shopify Plus store. You can make one or all of your products available to be purchased as a subscription, with any options for dates, frequencies, expiring subscriptions and more.

    Pura Vida offers some of their products exclusively through the subscription program, so customers need to be a part of the club to receive these special bracelets.

    When a customer subscribes, they’re shipped a surprise pack of bracelets on the 15th of every month.

    Pura Vida's ecommerce tool for subscriptions

    If you want to learn more about ecommerce subscriptions, take a look at Bold’s Pura Vida case study or our own ecommerce subscriptions article on the Shopify Plus blog

    With Bold Subscriptions, everything is automated: the billing, order creation, credit card decline retries, and emails.

    Subscriptions are one of the most exciting, and fastest growing aspects of our business,” Thall says. “It’s also given us a ton of stability that has allowed to grow with confidence we wouldn't have otherwise.

    There are three key features of the Bold Subscriptions platform Thall suggests are especially valuable:

    1. Customers can log in and manage subscriptions easily
    2. Staff can manage subscriptions for customers as well
    3. Bold Subscriptions integrates directly with Shopify Plus seamlessly

    Importantly, the backend houses a collection of powerful tools that allow merchants the reporting and analytics necessary to analyze churn and predict next month’s sales. It also assists merchants with inventory forecasting so they know how much product they’ll need to fulfill subscriptions in the next 7, 30, 60, or 90 days.

    “It’s the backbone of our entire subscription business,” Thall says. “It makes everything about managing subscriptions super easy. The Bold Subscriptions platform is the best out there. It has allowed us to scale, we can rely on it, and the team behind it is amazing.”

    Ecommerce Tools for Subscriptions

    11. Real-Time Notifications

    It’s an acronym for fear of missing out ...

    But Fomo is much more, providing Pura Vida and more than three thousand other ecommerce merchants with a unique form of social proof designed to lift conversions.

    It’s a one-click plugin that attempts to create urgency by displaying key customer behaviors in real time.

    The idea is to make a merchant’s store feel “busy” by alerting visitors that other visitors on the site just completed a desired action like:

    • Someone just made a purchase
    • Someone just left a 5-star review
    • Someone just signed up for a newsletter

    It’s instant social proof and allows merchants to, according to the company, get the credit they deserve and use recent conversions to convert others currently on the site.

    Here’s what Fomo looks like on Pura Vida’s home page:

    The alert bubbles up from the bottom of a page and, in this case, lets users currently on the site know that a Pura Vida customer named Patricia in Ohio just purchased a Rose Gold Wave Pack.

    Since installing Fomo, Pura Vida’s reports that visitors who see a Fomo alert:

    • Average order size 11% higher than non-FOMO customers
    • Conversion rate of 13.97%, 203% higher than the site’s average

    Fomo makes it feel like our store is really busy by showing real time purchases. Visitors who see others making purchases are really influenced by that and are more likely to become customers themselves.

    box

    Still have questions?

    Perfect. Because Griffin Thall just hosted an exclusive AMA with Shopify Plus, and you can watch it here …

    Watch the AMA today

    What’s In Your Ecommerce Toolbox?

    The apps in the Pura Vida toolbox work in tandem to create a personalized user experience underpinned by UGC that allows verified buyers and loyal customers to do the marketing on behalf of Pura Vida.

    Additionally, Pura Vida makes it easy and seamless to check out from social sales channels like Instagram making the user experience one that is authentic, organic, and free of traditional marketing speak.

    The unique way these apps combine UGC and social to power the user experience differentiates Pura Vida Bracelets from its peers.

    It allows the company to forge relationships with consumers based on trust rather than shallow marketing and positions Pura Vida to offer new products to a customer base eager to give the company more of its attention and treasure.

    About the Author

    Nick Winkler is a contributor to the Shopify Plus blog and founder of The Winkler Group, a strategic communications firm that provides content marketing services to the world's best-known brands, businesses, and marketers. Get more from Nick here.

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