Tuesday 1st December 2020
The Shopify Apps You Can’t Live Without.
The Shopify App Store is brimming with apps for your different requirements. Each one offers the promise of extending your website’s functionality, automating tasks and helping scale your brand.
But you’ve got an eCommerce business to run and we doubt you have the time to filter through the thousands of apps available. So how do you select the ones that will support the result you want?
That’s where we can help! As a Shopify Plus partner, we have plenty of experience testing, using and implementing third party Shopify apps. Channelling our many years of building Shopify websites and offering first-hand retail guidance, we’ve collated the top Shopify apps to build the eCommerce solution you seek.
Do you need that Shopify app on your website?
Before we dive in, let’s take a step back and consider why you’re looking for a Shopify app in the first place. Our Technical Director, Tom Smith, offered his words of wisdom on the subject stating:
“We follow a general principle of the fewer apps on your site, the better. Where possible, you should try to do things without an app as quite often, they are simply an unnecessary overhead which can slow down your site.” – Tom Smith, Technical Director, Statement
That’s why, when we create websites, we aim to build the solution you need within your site. As a result, we’re very selective about the apps we apply to the stores we work on. After all, we’re all about providing the very best site performance and, in some cases, this means supplementing our efforts with a first-class app.
Whether it’s site management, social proof, personalisation, customer support, site search or loyalty, there’s an app for every occasion. Some of them we consider as ‘must-haves’ on any Shopify store, others we advise having a conversation around to understand your needs to find the best approach for your business.
Apps for site management
Effective site management is a must-have for your eCommerce store allowing you to manage data and more technical elements such as meta fields. While Shopify has plenty of native functionality to aid you with your site management, these apps can provide the extra helping hand you need.
An app that we advise every merchant to use on their eCommerce store is Accentuate Custom Fields. This app essentially enables easy management of all meta fields - the extra pieces of data that apps can attach to various parts of your site such as products, customer accounts and orders. Meta fields are highly useful for storing information that doesn’t fit with the standard Shopify admin.
Accentuate can be used to:
- Add custom fields: Your customers can access and edit custom fields defined by you such as nickname, shoe size, birthday etc. when they’re logged into your store.
- Link different content forms together: Any form of content such as a product page or blog post can have a number of meta fields. Accentuate can be used to define custom fields and cross-reference content including products, collections, articles, blogs and images. This makes it ideal to build related products or link blogs to specific products.
- Product tagging: Products can be automatically tagged or untagged as you enter values for your custom fields allowing you to filter collections by custom field values on your storefront.
From a site speed perspective, this app is extremely useful as all the overhead is in the back end rather than the front end, so there’s no risk of slowing your site down.
Another must-have app we regularly deploy for our clients is Excelify. This app enables the bulk import and export of data to and from Shopify making it ideal for site migrations. For example, if we’re supporting a client through a Magento to Shopify migration like we did for NEOM, we would use Excelify to export the data from Magento and import it into Shopify.
Excelify also offers a range of pre-built tools to support the Magento to Shopify migration process which we often deploy alongside our in-house built systems to make the transition even more seamless. Even on projects where our clients conduct their migration in-house, we always advise the use of Excelify to manage their data.
Unlike many data migration tools, Excelify has been designed with accessibility in mind. With an easy to use interface, this solution offers a range of helpful features including time estimations of how long a data import or export has remaining. Additionally, we find that the Excelify’s team are always on hand to provide guidance to our development team with an open Slack channel available for direct communication.
Apps for personalisation
With Shopify, there are no personalisation functionalities offered out-of-the-box. But what the platform lacks in native functionality, it makes up for in-app options with numerous high-quality personalisation apps available to merchants.
This is an area we frequently have conversations around as each app works differently and the correct choice for your store heavily depends on your requirements and budget. Here are examples of some of our most commonly used apps that can help you create a personalised shopping experience for your users.
You may have heard of Nosto. While this isn’t Shopify’s only personalisation app, it is one of the most popular. As a market-leading personalisation solution, Nosto enables merchants to deliver personalised shopping experiences at every touchpoint of the customer journey.
Using the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, Nosto offers a range of products for your online store including:
- Onsite product recommendations
- Onsite content personalisation
- Segmentation and insights
- A/B testing and optimisation
- Onsite pop-ups
- Personalised emails
- Mobile app personalisation
The Nosto app can aid you in creating a more personal, enjoyable and intuitive onsite experience through valuable insights and recommendations. Integrating this app with Green People’s website, Nosto fuels their ‘Handpicked for You’ selection to improve cross-sell and upsell opportunities on their product pages.
Apps for site search
Currently, Shopify’s out-of-the-box site functionality is relatively simplistic and relies on product tags to filter items. While the platform is working on making its offering more comprehensive, we usually recommend the added benefit of an app to get the most from your website’s search functionality.
Site search plays a key role in meeting user expectations and creating an optimum customer journey.
When considering site search, it’s important to think beyond just the search box. Instead, consider product findability as a whole such as category filtering and faceted filtering across your product pages. There are a handful of apps we regularly implement for site search that vary in pricing and functionality and so our recommendation depends very much on your budget and requirements.
Boost Commerce’s Product Filter and Search app has been specifically built around Shopify. With introductory level pricing and a range of functionality, this app is an effective choice for many Shopify merchants. Designed to generate more sales, Boost Commerce enables shoppers to find the right products within seconds of landing on a site.
Through advanced filtering options, smart full-text search, upsell and cross-sell functionalities and built-in analytics, Boost organises your filter and smart search to quickly connect your shoppers with the products they’re looking for.
Algolia operates in a similar manner but is considered a more enterprise version and has been built around general site search functionality rather than solely for Shopify. While the app may cost merchants more on a monthly basis, it does offer a wider variety of functionalities.
Leveraging AI, Algolia provides a suite of tools that allow you to analyse, optimise and merchandise the user experience. We connected this app directly with Highgrove’s Shopify store, to help create a frictionless browsing experience through search autocomplete, typo tolerance, filters and facets.
- Intelligent eCommerce search functionality
- Smart category navigation
- Advanced merchandising
A long-standing partner of ours, we have implemented this solution for many merchants. It’s important to consider that this is one of the more expensive site search options and can be trickier to work with so may need the guiding hand of an experienced development team.
Apps for reviews, user-generated content and social
As social proof and user-generated content (UGC) continue taking the eCommerce world by storm, there’s no wonder there are countless apps up for grabs when it comes to reviews, ratings, UCG and social media.
Powerful and persuasive, social proof is capable of driving awareness, building trust and converting users into loyal customers by using customer content across a website. There are a number of ways this can be done such as showcasing reviews and ratings, authentic UGC and communications with users which many Shopify apps can help you do effectively.
Apps for reviews
There are many high-quality review platforms available for your eCommerce store. With the help of a Shopify expert, we recommend assessing each one to review how closely they link with Shopify and your requirements. Most of these platforms will have a Shopify app that will automatically sync orders and communicate with customers to gather reviews and UGC.
Remember, if you’re planning on changing eCommerce platforms, ensure your chosen review solution is compatible with both your new and old platform. For example, if you’re migrating from Magento to Shopify, how will your reviews be transferred? This is a key question that needs to be considered, otherwise you run the risk of losing those well-earned ratings and reviews.
The leading eCommerce marketing platform, Yotpo, is an official Shopify Plus Technology Partner helping Shopify merchants increase their sales by showcasing customer content onsite. The app offers:
- Community Q&As
- Onsite reviews
- Customer questionnaires
- Review request emails
Yotpo can collect, distribute and analyse customer feedback by extracting reviews and using smart displays to engage with shoppers. Using their on-product review widget, you can showcase your best reviews to create a more enticing shopping experience that will help to influence your audience towards converting.
With advanced filtering technology, reviews can be filtered based on various factors such as age, gender and rating to quickly find relevant information. Green People use the Yotpo app on their Shopify store, allowing customers to filter through reviews to select those most applicable to the individual.
By automating the collection of reviews and UGC through post-purchase emails and content capture forms, Okendo can help you step up your social proof game. Even better, all customer-facing elements of this solution can be customised to ensure complete alignment with your brand.
Apps for social
Social platforms have become allies for eCommerce businesses. An online community at your fingertips, the likes of Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok are home to tons of UGC. Leveraging this content onsite, these apps can help you bring a social element to your website.
An app designed to produce curated, shoppable Instagram galleries, CovetPics is a must-have for eCommerce businesses today. This app can not only be used to curate homepage hero galleries and automate product pages, but it can also be used to invite customers to upload their own visual content.
Ideal for brands that showcase visual content on their sites such as Cloud Nine, we integrated this app across their blog pages for a more interactive, inspiring experience.
UGC made shoppable, FourSixty makes it easy for customers to shop Instagram posts and UGC across your website. Merchants are even given the ability to find brand advocates and influencers to track their Instagram activity.
Okendo also features a range of UGC tools within the platform. For example, the app allows you to encourage customers to leave reviews on social media that can then be showcased across your site. It also links with FourSixty which creates an effective solution to gather and promote UGC.
The Yotpo app offers a variety of functionality to leverage social proof in the form of UGC including customer photos and videos from across various social channels to build trust with your audience. This content can be used across your homepage, product pages, social accounts and even checkout to boost your conversions.
Apps for loyalty
Every brand wants loyal customers. These apps are designed to increase engagement and conversions with your already existing customers to grow brand loyalty. With many different options available, we have a number of favourites – your choice heavily depends on exactly what it is you need the app to do and your budget.
A solution created to increase customer intention and engagement with existing customers, LoyaltyLion helps merchants build unique referral and reward programmes. Customers can be rewarded with points for a range of actions including:
- Site visits
- Social activity
- Birthday celebrations
As the only loyalty app to integrate with all of Shopify Plus’ features, LoyaltyLion is an account managed solution and therefore can incur a higher cost. However, they do offer a free plan which provides access to basic features.
Another app we commonly deploy for loyalty functionality is Smile which encourages your customers to engage and share within your brand community. Through loyalty, referral and VIP programmes, customers have access to exclusive perks and discounts when they interact with your brand.
Setting up and customising your own unique loyalty programmes, you can:
- Offer points for actions such as creating an account, placing an order, celebrating a birthday or leaving reviews
- Save abandoned carts and invite customers back with point reminders
- Allow your customers to redeem their points for discount codes or free gifts
- Encourage your customers to refer a friend using personalised referral links, pop-ups and emails
- Monitor referral traffic and sales with app analytics
- Grow customer retention with VIP statuses and perks
Apps for wishlists
Our go-to app for wishlist functionality, Wishlist Plus. It offers second to none reporting and insights for merchants. Using this app, you can see how many people are engaging with the wish list feature and what products are getting added to wishlists most frequently. Commonly used by fashion brands, ASOS utilise wishlist functionality across their site:
This solution also links in with Shopify Flow, Shopify’s exclusive app for automation, which enables merchants to automate specific actions. For example, if a user adds an item to their wishlist, Shopify Flow can automatically add that individual to a list in your email marketing platform to deliver tailored content direct to their inbox. Or, if a favourited item comes back in stock, Shopify Flow can automatically notify those users who have it on their wishlist.
Apps for subscriptions
Subscription services have experienced a boom. Brits now spend more than £2 billion every year on subscription services with the average person spending £60 per year on this service. Shopify’s checkout previously didn’t support subscriptions. Instead, customers were forced off-site to checkout when purchasing a subscription which meant that apps were required for subscription management.
However, as subscription services have grown in popularity, Shopify has recently released new APIs to develop how subscriptions work and now allow customers to purchase a subscription within the native Shopify checkout. Subscription apps are still required to manage this process, using Shopify’s API to trigger repeat payments.
ReCharge is our go-to subscription management app which has been designed to help businesses seamlessly scale their subscription offering through:
- Subscription boxes: For businesses that offer monthly boxes, ReCharge’s toolkit can be used to manage set delivery dates, cut-off dates, inventory forecasting and order management.
- Subscribe and save: A common subscription model, ReCharge offers merchants the ability to add subscribe and save functionality to product pages to offer discounts for products that are purchased on a regular basis.
- Recurring products: One-time purchases can easily be turned into a subscription with this recurring products feature.
Apps for customer support
There should be various forms of customer support available to your users on your Shopify store. Many apps have been created to make this process easier by handling all customer channels in one place for easy management and fast communications.
For example, if a customer requests a refund, you can click on a button within the app rather than having to open up Shopify and process the refund within the platform as well. This frictionless experience saves you time and doesn’t keep your customers waiting.
Gorgias also integrates with other platforms including Yotpo, Smile and LoyaltyLion. Rather than having a support desk where you have to open up each of these platforms individually, you can simply see all these channels in one place using the Gorgias app.
Possibly the most well-known customer support platform, Zendesk offers a wide range of functionality that makes it a popular choice with many merchants such as British fashion retailer, All Saints.
Including onsite live chat, integrations, Facebook chat, phone and email all in one place, Zendesk makes it simple to manage your customer communications. Although there is an app available for Shopify, it is not tailored to the Shopify platform.
Apps for stock management
When it comes to stock management, there are a wealth of nuances and processes to consider which are unique to each merchant. As a result, when we’re asked which app would be best suited for stock management functionality, we often steer away from giving specific recommendations. Instead, we encourage having a conversation to determine exactly what functionality you require.
As a Shopify Plus agency, we work with a variety of ERPs, order management systems, warehouse management systems and stock management systems. Whether you need help integrating a system with your existing platform or you need guidance selecting the right one for your business, we can help.
Stock management app examples
While we avoid giving single recommendations on stock management apps, Shopify does integrate with a range of solutions.
There are enterprise-level options such as NetSuite which is a more complex and extensive ERP. An entry-level app that is more affordable but still offers powerful functionality is Linnworks. Linnworks is great for product and order management, but it’s not an ERP so it very much comes down to what you need your solution to do for your business. An option such as Bright Pearl, which we integrated for Bouncepad, sits in the middle of these two solutions offering extensive functionality around order management, inventory and warehouse management.
Over to you
Shopify apps have the ability to extend the functionality and performance of your website to create a better customer shopping experience and increase sales. However, with so many apps available, it’s important to analyse your options before integrating any with your store. It all comes down to finding the best apps that suit your unique business requirements and will complement your site’s performance, not damage it.
As a premier Shopify Plus agency, we have plenty of experience crafting high performing websites for eCommerce brands. Leaning on our past years of first-hand retail experience combined with our expertise of the Shopify platform, we can guide you into selecting the right apps for your store. Get in touch with our eCommerce experts today if you need a helping hand.