If you were to zoom out and look at the ecommerce landscape over the last 10 years, one of the reasons you would immediately notice behind Shopify’s ascent would surely be its app ecosystem. Shopify intentionally chose to build its product around the Pareto Principle – the core product would handle 80% of the things that the average ecommerce merchant required, and then the fringe 20% was handled by third-party app developers. The benefits were twofold: first, while competing ecommerce platforms spread themselves thin trying to build everything at a mediocre level for everyone, Shopify was able to focus on building best-in-class technology for core ecommerce requirements and second, the Shopify ecosystem became a flywheel to attract powerful third party products and agencies who, in turn, became Shopify’s greatest merchant acquisition channel.
If you’re looking to customise your Shopify experience, read on for three categories of apps that you should explore.
Conversion Rate Optimisation Apps
One of the most frustrating experiences in ecommerce is when you’ve done your research, interviewed potential customers, built the brand that you truly believe will achieve product-market fit, and then when you launch the site…crickets. It’s inherently difficult in ecommerce to understand what a customer is thinking while they’re shopping your product because you’re not face-to-face with them as you would in classic brick-and-mortar retail. “Lucky Orange” is a Shopify app that has saved me countless times when launching a new brand – it allows you to watch a brief screengrab of a visitor interacting with your website. It’s a powerful tool to understand where your customers may be getting confused, where you may be seeing dropoff, and ultimately a preliminary dataset on how you may be able to optimize your conversion rate.
The flash sale timers and “only 10 remaining” pop-ups of yesteryears’ dropshippers are…surprisingly effective. That being said, when you’re building a brand you naturally don’t want to use these disingenuous conversion tactics. A better alternative is Proof, a clean sales pop-up that notifies customers when a product has been purchased while they’re browsing the site. You can play with the settings to reach the perfect balance of frequency, content, and design of the notification, but the ultimate objective is to use social proof to nudge a buyer who might be just on the line.
Customer Support Apps
Ecommerce continues to get better and better at emulating the in-person purchasing experience, and Gorgias is leading the way in the realm of customer support. Customers need varying levels of support depending on what type of product you’re selling, but one thing is always clear: in a world of infinite options, they hate to wait. Gorgias allows you to view customer service requests across email, live chat, and social in one place, so you can cut the administrative work of juggling multiple mediums and focus on what you do best: support your customers.
Callback Request is a perfect example of how Shopify’s App Ecosystem continues to move the needle on ecommerce innovation. This app’s use case is highly dependent on what you’re actually selling, but if it’s a fit, it has the potential to be transformative for your business. As a buyer, it’s difficult to justify a complex purchase online (think: B2B, furniture, special clothing, expensive jewellery) if there are close alternatives in-store. The opportunity cost of a bad-buy due to misinformation or a misunderstanding is too high. Instead of letting customers just bounce off your site, Callback Request lets shoppers leave their phone number and context on their situation so that you can call them back and service them 1:1 over a quick call. If your average order size can justify this kind of individual attention, we highly recommend exploring phone calls as a tool to optimise your conversion rates.
Lead Capture Apps
Privy began as an exit-popup app that has quickly grown to be a significant revenue driver for hundreds of thousands of Shopify merchants. The premise is simple but effective: grow your email+SMS list with strategic pop-ups, nurture them through automated flows and ultimately convert more site visitors to paying customers.
Although Privy now has an SMS marketing component, Postscript is still my favourite SMS app on the Shopify App store by far. Postscript realizes that SMS isn’t just the new email – customers hate when brands intrude into such a personal medium with daily discounts and irrelevant product drops. Instead, you can use Postscript to intelligently segment your SMS list, set-up automated flows that nurture buyers instead of just constantly selling to them, and build a real relationship with your buyers through an extremely personal medium.