Shopify, the very popular e-commerce website platform, has a fairly extensive app market. Most large e-commerce providers provide an ecosystem for third party developers to create apps that improve or enhance the platform’s overall abilities. In Shopify’s case, the app market is large, but required, since Shopify’s core product is so incredibly simplified and barebones.
Before working with Shopify, we had built our own e-commerce website starting in 2008 and continued to customize it. As web developers, my business partner and I had built many projects together so building our own print website made sense to us. Years later, in 2014, we horridly realized we had pretty much created a Frankenstein monster of code making it difficult to implement even the smallest of changes or new features. After experimenting with many solutions, we chose Shopify due to it’s simple interface, API and buffet of available apps.
Shopify, and others like Volusion and Bigcommerce, are not designed for print companies. I can tell you that much right now. However, all three can be manipulated enough to make it work. In the end, we had compelling reasons for choosing Shopify, and the Shopify app market was a part of that decision. After extensive testing and usage, we can vouch for the following apps, and their developers, and we absolutely could not survive on Shopify’s platform without them. Enjoy!
Order Manager (This app has been discontinued to the public)
Developed by Bold Apps and launched in December 2013, Order Manager filled a major gap in Shopify’s ecosystem. Before this app, there was no decent method of creating custom statuses for orders. For businesses that actually create their products, this was a huge problem. Our orders may go through many different stages before final production actually begins, and it was pivotal for us to communicate with customers through the process while keeping ourselves internally organized. Order Manager also allows store owners to create custom orders on the fly.
Before Order Manager was released, we almost left Shopify due to it’s inability to handle custom statuses. We had experimented with tags, concocted an interesting way to handle statuses within Desk.com, and we tried other apps that failed miserably. We hope Bold continues to improve this application because it could become the most powerful single portal for store owners using Shopify.
Note: This app has been discontinued by Bold Apps.
Product Options and Quantity Discounts
Both of these apps are also provided by Bold Apps. The group has a knack and understanding of essential apps to produce for Shopify storeowners. I’m not necessarily impressed with the actual interfaces they provide, but the apps do address serious holes in Shopify’s platform practically making them a utility. I feel obligated to mention that features such as product options and quantity discounts are standard features with Bigcommerce and Volusion.
Product Options allows storeowners to work around Shopify’s variant limitations. I personally think the variant system is genius, but it isn’t enough for companies like us who need to offer many options to customers. As of this writing, Product Options is the only app that allows prices to be attached to options (other than variants).
Quantity Breaks allows us to set up rules for collections or products providing discounts based on quantities or bulk purchases. This feature is limiting since the the breaks consume variants, but a useful and necessary feature nonetheless. Not to mention, it can be a huge time saver.
One huge reason we stopped developing our own e-commerce website was shipping. Writing code to work with UPS API’s, sending tracking information, calculating rates, label generation and using multiple carriers was a nightmare to maintain. Combining Shopify and Shippo completely negates all past shipping related headaches and saves us a huge amount of time. Shippo gives us the following benefits.
1. Maintain our negotiated rates with UPS.
2. Take advantage of Shippo’s discounted rates with USPS.
3. Automatic label generation which saves time.
4. Seamlessly use multiple carriers.
5. Send tracking information to customer while fulfilling order within Shopify.
6. Create custom shipments and find the lowest rates.
Shippo claims to be free, but it does cost .05 per label generated through the app which is still worth every penny. In other USPS related apps we tested, we were required to open a Stamps.com account and make deposits, but that is not required with Shippo.
Omnisend (formerly Soundest)
For years, we have always trusted MailChimp for all email marketing. That has changed. The email marketing app, Omnisend, makes sending emails to Shopify customers quick and hassle free. As good and respected as MailChimp is, that system does not allow us to quickly import specific Shopify products into an email template. Soundest does this with ease and saves us time and trouble. Soundest is great for our needs as Shopify store owners, but I can’t think of a single reason why anyone else would use Omnisend over MailChimp. In fact, we still use MailChimp to support our blog.
Constant Contact does have an app with Shopify, but we are not users of that system although we are experimenting with it. Constant Contact is an extremely popular way to handle email marketing and customer surveys…
Conversio (formerly Receiptful) is an awesome app that we absolutely love. There are so many tools available for a reasonable price, it is ridiculous. This app allows us to create better receipt emails, schedule dynamic follow-up emails to current and prospect customers and request feedback for each individual order. We are deeply reliant on many of these tools and recommend them to any online retailer.
Zapier is one of the most impressive apps we’ve encountered. It basically allows you to connect or transfer data from one web application to another with ease. Send Shopify orders to Desk.com or ZenDesk, Send Wufoo forms to Google Base, Tweet new Shopify products automatically and much more. Zapier works with hundreds of platforms and only the imagination will limit it’s usefulness.
Lucky Orange For Shopify is a great app for monitoring customer behavior. The app records and stores each interaction and provide a live chat function. It’s a pretty nifty app, but we found it slowed down our website and refrained from using it. I suggest using it temporarily during times of questionable conversion rates or traffic decreases.
Words of Advice
At first, Shopify apps were frustrating for me. Some of the apps require extra code to be inserted and can be difficult. Some apps do not work properly and can slow down a website’s download speed. Eventually, we found wonderful apps with amazing solutions, but that takes time and patience. We recommend new storeowners thoroughly test apps before fully relying on them
We’d love to hear about the numerous apps you find important in Shopify. If you have anything to add, please email us at email@example.com.