Shopify Apps offer a tremendous ability to customize your store to meet your unique business needs. That way, instead of every single store looking and functioning exactly the same, you can create a unique combination of theme + apps to make your store your very own.
Because of this flexibility, there are thousands of apps in the Shopify App Store that can help improve the functionality of your Shopify storefront.
But before you go downloading every bell and whistle that you can possibly think to add to your e-commerce site, it’s important to understand the potential negative impact these apps can have on your overall store performance.
From store design, marketing automation, conversion rate improvements, to inventory management, there is likely a Shopify App for that. And the temptation to get drawn in by the cool factor of what an app can do is overwhelming.
Simple things such as adding a countdown timer for your current sale – there’s a Shopify App for that.
Creating a dynamic post-purchase nurture stream to drive customer lifetime value – there’s a Shopify App for that.
Watch how users interact with your storefront to see where they might be stumbling on the road to conversion – there’s a Shopify App for that.
Boost global sales with language and currency recommendations - there's a Shopify app for that too!
Shopify apps are so impactful that 85% of Shopify merchants say they rely on them to run their businesses. And developers have created thousands of Shopify apps, helping merchants start businesses, sell more, scale-up, and save time. Source: Quora
It is easy to browse through the available apps on the Shopify App Store and get excited about the functionality that is offered. You might even feel like a kid in a digital candy store.
BUT TOO MANY SHOPIFY APPS CAN DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD
But here’s the downside… Shopify apps are built for all Shopify customers. That means that they have to be coded for nearly every theme variation that currently exists on the Shopify ecosystem.
Therefore, a simple function that may require only a few lines of custom code to execute on your site can end up taking up tons of processing space (and time) that can cause your site to slow down. And everyone in the e-commerce world knows that a slow site costs a company money.
Plus, if there is one line of code in the most recent update which isn’t quite aligned with your theme – especially if you’ve done any Shopify theme customization – it can cause the App to generate error, leaving users with a broken experience that can be damaging to your brand. Worst case scenario, it can stop your entire site from loading – halting sales entirely.
THE RIGHT SHOPIFY APPS ARE THE RIGHT CHOICE
That’s not to say that all apps are bad. There are some essential apps that do the job efficiently, effectively, and with far more ease to implement than generating custom code for every single action you want the site to do.
The trick is to pick only the apps that really enhance your site, and to not go overboard with App fever.
To aid with that, these are the best 7 Shopify apps that all stores should consider:
- Klaviyo | Email Marketing Automation
- Oberlo | Dropshipping product marketplace
- Referral Candy | Turn your customers into your brand ambassadors
- Tidio Live Chat | Live Chat with built-in auto-response bots
- Yotpo | Product and website reviews
- Burst | Free stock photography for your Shopify store
- SEO Optimizer | On page SEO support
Not that you necessarily need all 7. You may already have a logo. You may not need drop-ship products. Or, perhaps, you don't want to monitor a live chat program all the time.
The trick is to balance what your site needs to drive business without going app-happy.
Plus, you should try to balance front-end apps with back-end apps.
Front end apps would include those add-ons that create additional functionality on your e-commerce storefront. Most of the store design, cart customization, image gallery, and page builder apps would classify within this category and will have the greatest impact on your customer’s experience with your site. They can also have the greatest impact on site speed and stability.
Back end apps would include those that process behind the scenes to provide a better customer experience with very little impact on the retail e-commerce site.
Cart abandonment email apps as well as inventory management, shipping notifications, and financial apps would normally fall within this category. Backend apps and still have a significant positive impact on your business, with less of an impact on the user’s journey from browsing to buying.
For example, the Klaviyo Marketing Automation app uses data from Shopify (and other apps) to segment your audience so that you can send targeted emails and other notification based on the user’s behavior before or after the sale takes place.
Most of the Klaviyo interaction takes place after the user has left your site, as it attempts to bring them back to buy… again and again.
TIPS FOR PICKING THE ESSENTIAL SHOPIFY APPS FOR YOUR STOREFRONT
When deciding which apps to add to your Shopify store, here are 5 key things to consider.
- Do You Really Need It – Use apps to focus on essential business drivers. This includes tools that will help your site get found in search results, convert browsers to customers, and keep customers coming back to buy more. Although these goals can take many forms, try to avoid adding apps just because they look cool. For example, if your business follows a traditional retail model, there is likely little use for an app that offers volume or tiered discounts to target the reseller market.
- Ratings and Reviews – Check the reviews of the app to make sure other users are happy with its performance. And aim for an app that has enough reviews to cover a good cross-section of Shopify users. An app with less than a dozen reviews may be too new and too unproven to risk adding to your store, unless you absolutely need the functionality it offers.
- Check Compatibility - Certain apps are built for specific themes. Make sure that the app you are choosing is compatible with your customized setup. When searching for apps, you can select the “See only compatible apps” filter to eliminate apps that are not intended for your Shopify theme. Unfortunately, unlike WordPress, Shopify does not include a compatibility check on the App description page, so confirming compatibility can be tricky!
- Cost / Benefit – Although many apps are free (or – at least – offer a free trial), it’s important to estimate the potential revenue impact against the cost of the app. You could blow a big chunk of your budget on the wrong apps, with very little to show for it.
- Never Duplicate Apps – There are several versions of the same app that offers slightly different features, but you should not bog your site down with multiple apps that offer the same benefits. Pick the one app that does the job best. It may take time through trial and error to find the version for your storefront, so make sure you uninstall the apps you have decided not to use.
- Can It Be Custom Coded - Although apps may feel like an affordable option to add functionality, if they hurt the overall performance of your Shopify website, they may be costing you more than you think. It may be worth figuring out how much it would cost to develop that custom app functionality for your website. The upfront cost may be higher, but there would be no ongoing cost AND it would be built to maximize the performance of your site (at least, if it's done right it will).
IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE
It is very rare that a Shopify storefront can operate without at least a few apps that help drive functionality. But picking the right mix of apps to help improve your customer’s experience with your website and your brand is important to creating a unique and powerful e-commerce engine for your business.