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From the Little Stream Software blog
This month I planted five peashrubs. These are large shrubs that make a bunch of small flowers and some edible peas.
The flowers aren't the greatest.
The peas are supposed to be edible but pretty bad tasting.
So why plant them and why plant so many?
The benefits of the peashrubs are their fast growth, ability to be cut back heavily, and that they produce plant food (nitrogen compounds). This means they can be cut back and fed to other, more important plants.
In my case, the apple, pomegranate, and plum trees. The trees that are tasty and I want more of. By giving up some resources (space, water, $4 per shrub) I get a lot more in return.
Since they help the important baby plants to grow, they are commonly called nursery plants.
Your Shopify store probably has something similar in your product catalog. Some so-so products that aren't great alone but they facilitate selling your better products and building better customers.
That might be due to price framing. Or bundling. Or attracting organic traffic.
If you removed those nursery products, your store would perform worse-off overall.
With plants it's relatively easy to identify nursery plants. Observation and scientific research has discovered 1,000s of them based on what specific area you need help with.
With your own products, it's much more difficult to identify these nursery products. You might notice a negative impact on your store by removing them but that's drastic and can be hard to recover from. A/B tests can work with some larger, high-traffic stores but oftentimes they won't be conclusive even after months of testing.
One no-risk option is to measure how customers behave after buying those nursery products. If they go on to spend more over their lifetime vs customers who didn't buy them, you can spot the nursery plants easily.
This can be done in Repeat Customer Insights. Its product report (which I need to give a better name to...) checks which products were bought in the 1st orders, 2nd orders, etc and then maps out all of the customers lifetimes. You end up being able to see which products influence the behaviors you want (high spends, high AOVs, repeat purchases, etc).