Joey Devilla 04/13/2012

The Questions Shopify App Developers Should Ask


We're going to start looking for the next set of apps to be funded by the Shopify Fund soon, and a number of people have asked about the sort of apps we're looking for. We're looking for apps for which the answer is "yes" to at least a few of the questions listed below. If you're thinking about writing a Shopify app, keep these in mind:

Does the app help shopowners make more money? If your app does this, shopowners will definitely be interested; in fact, this is probably the number one question in their minds when they're considering your app. An app can help shopowners make money in a number of ways. Possibilities include:

  • Does it bring in more customers? One way to do this is to extend the shop's reach beyond its own web page. There are a number of apps that integrate Shopify with a shopowner's Facebook page, and there are also apps that let users easily add "widgets" to other web pages (personal sites, blogs, and so on) so that customers can start the purchase process on those pages.
  • Does it help increase the number of sales? One example is the category of "abandoned cart" apps, which give shopowners the ability to find customers who've filled their carts and went through most of the checkout process, but didn't make that last step of providing a credit card number and making the purchase. They can then contact these customers and try to convince them to take that last step.
  • Does it help increase the money customers spend per sale? Customers spend more money when they can easily find what they want, and especially when they can find related items in a shop. You could write an app that shows customers specific products based on the search keyword that brought them to the shop or on their browsing history.

Does the app make shopowners' lives easier? Anything that lets shopowners do less work (especially tedious error-prone work) or make better decisions is welcome. Consider these questions:

  • Does it give shopowners better insight into what's happening with their shops? Shopowners love getting information about their shops: reports, the ability to sift through information in different ways, being able to tell whether a promotional campaign is working, knowing what their conversion and abandonment rates are, and so on.
  • Does it help with tedious, repetitive and error-prone tasks? Every line of work comes with some kind of boring task that needs to be done over and over again, and it's these tasks where people are likely to make some kind of simple, but potentially troublesome, mistake. This is especially true for shops, which have big collections of data to be entered or edited. Apps that help automate these tasks or at least help shopowners catch errors made while performing these tasks are helpful.
  • Does it "mind the store" when the shopowner is busy or away? We're not talking about artificial intelligence here; instead, we're talking about apps that watch the shop and make adjustments based on simple rules or notify the shopowner when certain events happen (e.g.: when certain products become out of stock or a customer makes an unusually large order).
  • What about shopowners who also have brick-and-mortar stores? We're interested in helping people with brick-and-mortar stores expand into the world of ecommerce. Any app that helps integrate their existing systems with Shopify, whether it's point-of-sale machines, inventory software, accounting software or any other application they use for their brick-and-mortar store is useful.

Does it enhance the customers' shopping experience? Customers make purchases and return visits to shops that give them a good shopping experience, so any app that helps in this area is a good one. If you're trying to come up with an app in this area, answer these questions:

  • Does it improve communications between the customer and the shopowner? Examples of this sort of app include one that gives customers the ability to talk to a sales representative when they have questions about a product or a post-purchase survey. 
  • Does it provide personal touches that will bring the customer back? Examples of this sort of app include one that sends a "thank you" note to a customer after a sale, or one that sends out the occasional marketing email tailored to the customer's preferences and purchase history.
  • Does it simplify the shopping experience or make it more pleasant? Examples of this sort of app include letting people set up "wish lists" for items they'd love to receive as gifts, ones that let customers participate in "points" programs or an app that lets customers personalize items they buy, either with custom text or images.