The Best Shopify Apps & Plugins Even if You Use WordPress
A 24/7 shopping window, available anywhere there’s an internet connection, and an unending variety of products and services — these are the hallmarks of online businesses.
But as an online business owner, there are downsides: not having an in-person connection with your customers, keeping up with new and ever-changing tools like social media, and keeping track of inventory across multiple channels.
Platforms like Shopify are here to alleviate these downsides for online businesses and make the entire process of running your online business smooth, engaging, and productive.
Shopify was founded in 2006, and since then, they’ve grown into one of the must-use platforms for online businesses. One of the reasons why is that they’ve seamlessly integrated the ability for developers to build apps specifically for Shopify.
If you’re interested in building and selling your own app, you can do that.
If you’re a business owner interested in creating or building your online business, you can find apps or plugins that help with everything from accounting to marketing tools to analytics to shipping.
There are so many different components to running an online business. Shopify apps make it possible for you to get up and running in no time, which is especially great if you’re a beginner. And if you’re expanding your online business, Shopify apps can help you with that, too.
There are over 1500 apps you can use to make your online store run better — that’s a lot of options. We’ve distilled that list into ten of the most popular Shopify apps to build and grow your online business.
These ten apps provide a look across the different types of services you could use to build your online business — each is introduced with a brief overview and pricing information.
Best Shopify Apps
Having the ability to directly connect with your customer when they’re not on your website is critical. MailChimp is an email marketing service that helps you collect and maintain lists of your customers’ emails, and helps you create email campaigns that work.
Mailchimp lets you tailor marketing campaigns based on your customers’ buying behavior and automate some of the tasks that go with customer engagement, such as welcoming new customers and reminding potential buyers of abandoned carts.
The app provides tons of data on things like open rates on your emails and what customers are clicking on. It can also help you keep a clean email list, removing emails that keep bouncing.
Email can be an important tool in growing your business, since a good email can make you stand out from your competitors. It can also help strengthen your brand.
The app is free, but you must have a MailChimp account to use it.
If you want to engage with your customers through email, integrating MailChimp with your online store is a good way to go.
If you’re anything like me, SEO — or search engine optimization — seems a little like magic (it’s sufficiently advanced technology, right?). There are little spells and incantations you can weave throughout your website that help it show up in online searches.
Or, to quote our friends at Shopify: “Basically what it is is a measurable, repeatable process that is used to send signals to search engines that your pages are worth showing in Google’s index.”
And, like me, if you grok that but still don’t quite get how to do it or how to do it well, there’s an app for that. Plug In SEO analyzes your page and tells you what’s wrong in terms of maximizing your SEO. But — and I find this even more helpful — it also teaches you as it tells you how to fix it.
Let’s look an example, which they let you do to test the app. Over at their main page, you can check your own website, or you can use one of their examples. (It’s possible I had way too much fun seeing what the app said about whitehouse.gov.)
The way the app works is simple and clear. It tells you what’s missing, what’s wrong, and what’s working.
In the case of whitehouse.gov, for example, what’s missing is alt tags on the the page’s images. The app gives you key points, tells you how the missing alt tags are used in general, and provides some best practices.
Then Plug In SEO tells you how to fix the problem yourself in clear language (Add an ALT tag to all images on your site. Some you may be able to set in your content management system, others might require a developer to change your code). Or if you’d prefer, there’s a handy button to hire someone to fix it for you.
The app is free, but you can upgrade to more features for $20 per month, or you can hire a Shopify expert to help you out.
If you need to know the why as well as the how, even if you want someone else to fix the problem for you, Plug In SEO is a good app to have.
Speaking of creating alt tags for your images, another helpful app on Shopify is ALT Text, which generates alternative text for your online products.
Writing short alt text for your images is tough — it’s a little like writing a headline for your online dating profile. It should be descriptive, but short, snappy, and mostly there to help more people find you and your products.
Alt text is also important because it helps people who can’t see the images understand what they are; for example, text readers for the visually impaired will read the alt text field out loud to describe the image.
In short, don’t ignore or blow off your alt text fields. They’re vitally important to some online users and they can be useful for SEO.
This free app takes some of the work out of generating good tags, making your life easier and your business operations more efficient.
If your business involves shipping, Aftership is an app you should take a look at. It allows you to track all your business’s shipments from one place, and it lets your customers track their orders.
The app generates a tracking number for each order, and you can give that number to your customers so they can track their order through your website. The customer can see the status of the delivery, the expected delivery date, and who is delivering the package.
Business owners can also automatically generate updates for their customers, sending them emails letting them know where their package is and when it will arrive.
While it seems like a simple thing, transparent communication with your customers on things like when their package will arrive helps you build trust with them, and in turn creates loyal customers.
If you don’t know what kind of inventory you have on hand, you may lose customers. Stitch Labs helps sellers manage their inventory, which is especially useful if you have shops across multiple channels.
The app lets you track demand, available supply, and purchasing. You can sync your inventory across channels, and keep an eye on how much product you have on hand and where your inventory is located.
It’s a stress reliever for you as a business owner, as it helps you check multiple places for inventory. It also helps you serve your customers better, which in turn helps you grow your business.
It’s one of the more expensive apps, starting at $499 per month, but if your business depends on having the right inventory at the right time in the right location, Stitch is worth it.
Getting visitors to your site is one thing. Keeping them and turning them into customers is another. One way to hook them is to offer them something in return for following one of your social media platforms.
Better Coupon Box does that by offering your site visitors a pop-up coupon with a discount for following one of your social media accounts.
You can customize the theme of your coupon box, and target it to new or returning customers.
Smile.io (formerly SweetTooth)
It’s easier to sell to existing customers than to recruit new ones. You’ve already convinced them to give you a chance; so if you can continue to build on that foundation of trust, you can create a loyal returning customer.
Smile.io is designed to help you do that by offering your customers a rewards program that fits their needs and your business. They offer three types of programs you can implement:
- Design points: Build customer loyalty by letting them earn points towards rewards
- Referrals: Turn existing customers into your best promoters
- VIP programs: Show your best customers extra love
Smile.io promises a seamless integration with your brand, and if you also have retail locations, it works across both online and brick-and-mortar stores.
The app starts with a free plan based on up to 500 program members, then moves to tiered pricing based on the number of members signed up for your program.
Chances are, you’re looking for ways to use social media to promote your business and engage with your customers.
Outfy makes that process easier by giving you a one-stop location for scheduling and monitoring posts on multiple platforms. You can also set up an autopilot mode that can automate your posts.
The app starts off with a free trial. After that, you can purchase a package of credits, which gives you a price per social media share (one credit equals one share).
One interesting thing about Outfy is the sheer number of social media platforms you can connect with the app. In addition to the standard Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can also connect with Fancy, Wanelo, and Weheartit.
If you have international customers, you want to make their shopping experience as easy as the customer’s down the block.
This currency converter automatically lets shoppers see prices in their local currency, based on their location. It’s free, or you can spring for the elite version, which adds multiple features, including the ability to enable checkout currency notification, show a price by hovering over the item, and the ability to change a currency for a given country (for example, Euros for the UK instead of GBP).
When you’re shopping online, you probably check the reviews to see what other people are saying about the product.
True story — when doing research for this article, I read through each of the apps’ Shopify reviews to see if the app was worth including in this article.
Yotpo is designed to make the review process easy for your customers. It engages them on an easily accessible mobile platform, reminding them to leave a review.
Customers can drop their own photos into their reviews, and can also engage directly with both other customers and your business’s employees. Customers can ask and answer questions, which creates a sense of community. Business owners can also respond to reviews, creating more direct engagement with their customers.
Creating that sense of community and engagement with your customers is important to growing your business. It’s the equivalent of building a group of regulars in a brick-and-mortar store. Making your customers feel like they belong is part of building trust in your product or service, and turning your existing customers into your best marketing tool.
Yotpo is another app that starts out free, and then increases to tiered plans.
Shopify and WordPress
In 2016, Shopify introduced the WordPress plugin, integrating your Shopify store right onto your WordPress site. The plugin was a big hit.
If you use WordPress and are now thinking, awesome, I can use Shopify too, well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you can still use Shopify. The bad news is that the easy way to do so just got a little harder.
This is because Shopify’s e-commerce plugin is being discontinued as of June 30. You will still be able to sell using Shopify on WordPress, you will just need to create a Buy Button and embed the code on your site.
It’s a few more steps. You generate the code and then embed it in your WordPress site. Shopify notes that it is customizable for your brand and connects directly with Shopify’s secure shopping cart platform.
Building Better Online Stores
E-commerce has changed the way customers interact with businesses. Because the face-to-face interaction happens virtually in online businesses, business owners have to work even harder to build and grow a successful business.
Especially if you’re new to the online business world, there are a lot of platforms and apps you can use to make your business run better and create an outstanding experience for your customers. As one of the most popular platforms, and with over a thousand apps available to customize your online business site, Shopify is well worth exploring.
Photo credit: lemonpink