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97. Must-Have Apps for Your Shopify Store

Looking to expand the functionality of your Shopify store but not sure what app to use? In this episode I’m sharing my favorite Shopify apps for common requests from online store owners. 

I’m sharing my favorite Shopify apps for:Quizzes, Product Reviews, Product Bundles, Subscriptions, Additional Discounts, Rewards and Referrals, Cross-Sells, Email Marketing, and even how to jazz up your Shopify Notification emails. 

Plus, if you’re ever looking for a Shopify developer, I’m sharing two resources where you can get quick support from someone for a reasonable price without the usual retainer required from bigger agencies!

If you want to hear my must-have tools for the backend of your business to create systems and smooth operations, check out episode 96.

What You’ll Learn

  • Which features you need an app for vs. those that may just require a theme upgrade
  • The apps I have personally used and love for specific features + functionalities
  • Tools you may not even realize you need and the best apps available on Shopify

Episodes Mentioned 

Must-Have Tools for Your eCommerce Business

How to Find Influencers from Your Existing Customer Base with Gatsby

The Magic of Referral Marketing + How to Do it Right with Referral Candy

Shopify Online Store 2.0 + What it Means for Merchants

Jessica on the Cart Overflow Podcast

Links Mentioned

Klaviyo Email + Back-in-Stock*

Gorgias*

Pre-Hook Quiz Platform

Gatsby Influencer Discovery Platform

Selly Cross-Sells + Bundles

Reconvert Cross-Sells

Back-in-Stock

Smart Search + Filter by Searchanise

Product Search + Filter by Boost

Native Subscriptions

Appstle Subscriptions

Recharge Subscriptions

Options by Shop Pad

Bundle Builder

Bundles by Gazebo

Ultimate Special Offers

Afterpay*

Sezzle

Orderly Emails

Spently

Free Shipping Bar

Stamped*

Smile

Yotpo

Referral Candy*

Shopify Developers:

Store Tasker

Hey Carson


Read the Full Episode Transcript

If you didn’t already listen to last week’s episode, the Must-Have Tools for your eCommerce business make sure you go back and check that one out. In that episode I focused more on the back end systems of your business while this episode is going to be more about the front-end experience of your website. Whether it’s to improve the customer experience or the overall performance of your website, as long as it’s customer facing we’ll be talking about it here.

Gorgias

Starting with one overlapping tool, Gorgias is an all-in-one customer service platform. I just wanted to mention it quickly here because of its chat functionality which works well for a lot of eCommerce businesses. 

I go deeper on the platform in last week’s episode: Must-Have Tools for Your eCommerce Business

If you want a direct intro to them, reach out to me on instagram or in the eCommerce Badassery Facebook Group and I’ll get you in touch with them!

Pre-Hook

Next on the list is a relatively new player in the space, a quiz platform called Pre-Hook. I first discovered the platform when I was a guest on the Cart Overflow Podcast hosted by Pre-Hook’s Founder Gen. He is such a sweet guy and of all the quiz platforms for eCommerce I’ve encountered it’s definitely my favorite. 

Not only does it offer a lot of flexibility in the quiz creation process and let you show curated products to your customers, but it also syncs to Klaviyo in real time allowing you to collect your customer’s answers as profile properties that you can then use for segmentation and dynamic content. 

There are other platforms that let you do this, but Pre-Hook is the only one I’ve come across that syncs in real time vs. having a delay of up to 15 minutes, which means if you use a quiz as a list building tool, you can actually customize the customer’s welcome email with the data you collect about them through the quiz… it’s pretty cool right! 

Gatsby

Another must-have tool. I did an episode with the founder Brett if you want to learn more about this platform. 

Gatsby is a way for you to identify influencers from your customer base by collecting their Instagram handles on your email signup forms and even right after checkout. This definitely works best if you have a significant amount of traffic, so it’s not for you if you’re just getting started, but it’s definitely changing the way eCommerce companies do influencer marketing and allows you to finally do this at scale. 

Selly

Another must-have app for your Shopify store. This app allows you to do cross-sells and upsells after Add to Cart and Post Purchase. It also has one-click bundle options, price breaks, and even lets you offer discounts with specialty landing links and more. 

It’s definitely one of the best cross-sell apps with the best reporting. The only other app I’ve used that had really good reporting was bBold Ipsell, but their customer service leaves a lot to be desired so I struggle to recommend them anymore. 

Other apps I’ve tried don’t actually tell you which cross-sells are performing so it’s hard to optimize your offerings, rendering it somewhat useless. Selly is definitely my #1 go-to. 

Another app that is pretty popular with some bigger merchants called Reconvert. I have not personally used it, though it is on my list of apps to test this year. For some of you it’s going to be complete overkill depending on your needs. And it does charge based on the number of orders you have per month vs. Selly’s flat fee, which is based on the Shopify plan you’re on. 

Look at the features of both of them and then start to think through how you’re actually going to use it. Often we can get starry eyed at the functionality of a platform and we pay for all these extra bells and whistles that we never use. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing to choose a platform that can grow with you in order to future proof yourself, but I like to give you options and let you know what to look out for. 

Back-in-stock tools

Especially useful if you sell out of your best-selling products often or you run into some supply issues with your vendors. You can even use back-in-stock notifications to pre-launch your products by having people sign up to be notified when the item is finally available. 

There are other ways to do true pre-orders, but this is a great workaround when you’re just getting started. 

For traditional back-in-stock notifications, I will usually just use Klaviyo’s built-in back-in-stock functionality. No need to get another app to manage this when it’s already taken care of in an app you already have. 

If you don’t use Klaviyo, yet then check the app called Back-in-Stock. It’s a super simple app, works like a charm, and has great reporting, making it easy for you to see which products are most popular and which alerts are generating the most revenue for you.

Depending on what theme you use, you might actually have a pre-order functionality built in. On some of the premium themes, putting products in a specific collection called pre-order will automatically change your add to cart button to a pre-order button. 

Search app

Shopify does have their own built-in search, but it’s functionality is limited, especially if you have a really big catalog of products. If you want fancy things like autocomplete, the option to filter search results, synonyms and even keyword-based redirects, you’re gonna need an app for that. 

The two most popular in the Shopify ecosystem (not including enterprise tools like SearchSpring) are: 

Subscription Tools 

If you want to offer subscriptions in your business you have a lot more options than you did a few years ago. Ever since Shopify opened up their checkout API, a lot of new players came into the subscription space because it was so much easier to build the technology to work with the platform. Before that change my go-to recommendation was always Recharge Subscriptions

When Shopify’s checkout API was updated, allowing apps to integrate directly with the checkout, I started researching two new apps, Native Subscriptions and Appstle Subscriptions.

  • Appstle’s customer service was much more responsive and they were releasing features at record speed based on customer requests. They were also more affordable than Native especially for a business that was just getting started.
  • Native have stepped up their game and even adjusted their pricing, to be more in line with what Appstle was offering.

At this point they look pretty neck and neck in terms of features and pricing. 

Recharge Subscriptions is also back in the game now with a new pricing model that is much more similar to what it was years ago when I used it for my subscription box business. You can actually get started for free with no monthly fee and only pay a % when you actually have subscriptions.

From my experience these are all great apps. I still personally lean toward Recharge because they have been in the game for such a long time.

Infinite Options by Shop Pad

If you have a lot of variants or need to collect custom information from your customer about the product they’re purchasing, like personalization for example, you need Options by Shop Pad

It’s also a great option if you need to add on custom upgrades like gift-wrapping or a personalization fee. I’ve seen this used by a lot of different merchants. Some who do print on demand for example and need a lot of different variants. Or a subscription box seller who needs to collect sizing information when the customer places their first order. 

It’s definitely the go-to for businesses that do personalization like engraving names on jewelry, or customizing drinkware. I have even seen jewelry businesses use it for bundling purposes when a customer is choosing different length chains for their necklaces for example. 

It’s definitely a versatile app that solves a lot of different pain points for Shopify sellers so it’s definitely a great app to be aware of even if you don’t need it right now. 

Bundling apps 

There are a lot of different apps out there that can help you manage this, depending on the experience you want to create. I can probably do a whole episode on this, but I’ll start out with a few of my favorites for a few different common use cases. 

Selly 

If you just want to add some simple bundles to product pages with predetermined items they can easily add on, that’s a great place to start. 

Bundle Builder 

If you need something more complex, like for a build-a-box situation where you want them to go step-by-step through a bundle building experience, try out Bundle Builder.

Bundles by Gazebo

If you just want to create a pre-built bundle product that you can list separately while still selling the individual pieces as their own products, and have your inventory secretly managed in the background, try out Bundles by Gazebo. The developer of this app is super sweet, and is mostly a one-man show. I find the customer service from smaller developers like this to be much better over all. 

Admittedly it takes a bit to set it up from the start, since you have to tell the app which items to sync with which bundles, but it’s a really clean and easy way to manage bundles on the front end for your customer. It also makes it easy to exclude these bundles from additional discounting since they’re technically separate products that you don’t have to make eligible for discounts. 

Ultimate Special Offers

Another app that I used back in the day, which seems to have expanded its functionality is Ultimate Special Offers. The two main reasons I used this app: 

  1. It combined discounts into one discount at checkout getting around the one discount code per order issue of Shopify. 

Now many of you may not actually want discounts to stack, which makes perfect sense. there were a lot of times we didn’t want them to either, except for when we ran certain promos similar to a Victoria’s Secret panty promo for example. Buy 5 pairs and get them for a total of $25. If you were use a discount code for this, but they were purchasing other items that weren’t a part of the promotion, they wouldn’t be able to use their regular discount on the non promo items without placing a separate order which is a bit of a bummer for the customer. 

  1. It lets you post banners on your product pages to promote the offers you’re running 

A great way to make sure your customers are seeing all the offers you have for them. This is another one of those apps you only need if you have these specific use cases, but it’s nice to know that it’s available should you ever come up against these limitations. 

A financing app

Something like Afterpay lets your customers pay for their purchase in installments while you still get paid upfront. It’s really a must-have at this point. So many websites offer this option to their customers that it’s almost expected now from the customer’s point of view. 

There are a lot of other options out there as well like Klarna, QuadPay, and even Shopify has their own version if you’re using Shopify Payments. 

If you sell a high-risk product like adult novelties, check out Sezzle as they are more willing to work with high-risk businesses. Your rates will likely be a little bit higher, but most of the other platforms won’t even work with high-risk businesses.

If you use my Afterpay link, you’ll get a 30 day intro rate of 3%.

Social proof apps 

There are a few other features that people ask me about, like those little notifications that say “so and so just bought x product in city and state.” 

I have not personally used one of these before, so I really can’t speak to their impact on business performance, but considering so many people still use them, it’s safe to say it’s worth a shot to test it. For me as a customer, it doesn’t really have any affect on whether or not I will buy or not buy from someone, I’d rather see product reviews. But I do understand the appeal in terms of social proof and showing how other customers are interested in your products. 

I don’t have any specific recommendations, but search sales pop in the app store and you’ll find a bunch of different options. 

Customizing the Shopify notification emails

If you didn’t already know, you can actually do this inside of Klaviyo. Under your templates there are Shopify notification templates that you can edit. You just export them and copy and paste the code into your Shopify notification templates. 

You can’t use ALL the Klaviyo features, because those emails don’t have access to the data that Klaviyo has… but it does give you a visual way to edit those emails which you don’t get in Shopify. 

You can also check out Orderly Emails and Spently. In addition to letting you edit the way the emails look, they also let you add recommended products and discounts for follow up purchases as well. In the US you can include some marketing information inside your transactional emails. But don’t go overboard here. Try to keep it no more than 10-15% of the email having marketing content, though I think the law may allow up to 30. This may be different outside of the US, so definitely check your local laws before adding any marketing content to your transactional emails. 

A shipping threshold calculator

This can definitely help get that AOV up and encourage people to add more products to their cart. The most popular one is Free Shipping Bar from Hextom. Sometimes the install on its own is a little funky and overlaps your existing website header instead of pushing the content down, but it should be a quick fix with a developer that you can find on Store Tasker or Hey Carson. These platforms are both great places to get quick one off jobs completed by a developer at a reasonable price.

Rewards and loyalty apps

My favorite right now is Stamped because it works perfectly with their review app and you can actually reward points for reviews instead of giving out coupons. But there are lots of great ones like Smile and even Yotpo after they acquired Swell a couple of years ago. All of these are great apps and it really just comes down to personal preference. 

They all also have the option to add a referral program which gives your customer’s unique links to share with their friends and earn rewards with you. If you decide you want a referral program, but don’t want a full-blown rewards program then definitely check out Referral Candy. They are the OG of referral platforms and you can learn more about them on Episode 80: The Magic of Referral Marketing + How to Do it Right with Referral Candy

Shopify’s built-in features

Some features just require an update of the Shopify theme that already has those features built in. In some instances they just need to invest in a premium theme, which is totally worth it because it’s a one and done fee vs. paying an app on a monthly basis. 

Other cases just need to upgrade to the newer version of their existing theme. Usually this is for features like mega menus, color swatches, or zooming in on images for example. Before you go looking for an app for simple features like this, I encourage you to check out the latest version of the theme you’re using and see if it’s already built in. Theme developers are usually releasing theme updates a few times per year. 

I don’t recommend you upgrade every single time, because it does take some work to recreate your home page and the theme settings, but you’ll definitely want to keep your eye out for big changes and functionality additions. The more you have natively in your theme, the less apps you need and the less chance you’ll run into app conflicts and such. 

Shopify builder in Shopify 2.0 

With the addition of native metafields and more flexibility in building out pages, these are two more types of apps that you’re not going to need anymore once you upgrade: metafield apps and page builders. 

I dive deeper into this on Episode 67: Shopify Online Store 2.0 + What it Means for Merchants

So those are my favorite Shopify apps for different types of functionality you might want to add to the front end of your store. Did I miss any? It’s possible. If so, hit me up on Instagram and let me know. 

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Jessica Totillo Coster of eCommerce Badassery eating gelato on stairs in Rome Italy

Hey, I'm Jessica eCommerce & Email Marketing Strategist

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. Learning from the top experts in the digital marketing & eCommerce industry I love working with female entrepreneurs and teaching the secrets of 7-figure eCommerce businesses.

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