It can be tempting as a new shop owner to install a bunch of apps that promise to help you grow your site - especially if your launch doesn't exactly dislodge incumbents within the first two weeks. There are literally thousands in the Shopify App Store and new ones added daily. However, this can also add cost in the form of monthly app fees, clutter your User Interface (UI), and even slow down site performance.
We put some thought into what apps or partners can best help setup a site or shop, and there are a few that we have used more often than others. So if you are contracting your project out or building it yourself, hopefully these tips will providing a starting point. This list is growing as we are exposed to new types of projects and requirements, and is by no means exhaustive.
We have affiliate agreements with many of them, so if you try one because of us and are kind enough to click through our link and earn us a free cup of joe, we thank you, but it has no bearing on our choices. We hope you will share your feedback with us - good or bad!
Online Store / Site Platform
Shopify is arguably the best platform for small business owners, entrepreneurs and store owners to launch their online presence. It enables non-technical users to quickly, easily, and inexpensively setup and run a world-class site or shop.
In addition to the platform, Shopify has a vibrant and expanding network of apps and developers constantly bringing new features and alternatives for its customers. With few exceptions these apps can be easily installed and configured by end users.
Currently almost a million sites or shops use Shopify concurrently, and we use Shopify exclusively for all our projects - online stores, blogs, corporate sites.
This app is great for small and large volume shops. On a basic level, it aggregates all your shop's shipment tracking - regardless of carriers - into one location, and also enables your customers to track their package shipping. You can also upgrade and have it alert your customers as their packages clear different shipping milestones and reach delivery. It is free to start and pricing scales with volume.
Choosing your domain name is much more strategic than your domain service, but equally necessary. While GoDaddy is also great for domains, we like Google's G Suite because in the same location you also get a productivity and collaboration toolkit - Google Docs, Sheets, Hangouts, Calendar... and other key services for running a small business. The setup process is quite easy - in fact, for integrating Shopify, it is streamlined.
Campaign Segmentation and Analytics / Newsletters
While we use MailChimp because it is the easiest Email Service Provider (ESP) to set up & integrate, it lacks the analytics and automation tools that Klaviyo brings to its customers. These extras are key to help a shop owner understand how the campaigns are performing and how to setup the right campaigns for each different customer profile.
Klaviyo comes with a number of lists and segments pre-baked for your convenience, such as Recent / Engaged Subscribers. You can also track on a customer level their behaviour in response to your campaigns, such as when they click on a campaign or a particular product page, providing you the opportunity to manually or automatically trigger an action based on the behaviour.
Professional Email Template
I highly recommend using this app to customize the notification emails that your shop sends to customers. And so would nearly 30 thousand of your fellow Shopify users.
You can effortlessly match the emails style, colors, and font with those of your store, and customize the order confirmation email sent to all customers when they make a purchase.
Importantly, you can also include discounts or promotions into the emails to encourage repeat purchases.
And it's a one time fee - no ongoing monthly charges.
Site / Shop Premium Themes
New shop owners often slum around in the free themes initially, perhaps hesitant to commit money upfront, yet find it normal to spend $30-$50 per month on apps that provide basic functions.
Out of the Sandbox (OOTS) provides themes that make your site look professional, and incorporate many features that you might otherwise need an app for.
Look no further than the OOTS themes - they are constantly rolling out new themes and adding new features to existing ones. If you like the look of the Atlantify site, it uses the OOTS Artisan theme.
On-Site Displays / PopUps / Embedded Forms
If a simple, standard popup is not enough to engage and capture your visitor's contact information, consider the wide array of alternatives that Privy offers with its drag and drop form designer. Especially if you don't aspire to learn CSS.
Not only does Privy go beyond other clunky popup or form alternatives, it actually enables inbound marketing campaigns when used as a stand-alone or integrated with Drip or HubSpot.
And Privy works on dozens of platforms like Shopify, WordPress and others with little effort to install. This helps explain why it is used by 200 thousand sites!
Prospect.io is a solution that is great for small companies and entrepreneurs with B2B sales efforts. It combines both Sales Intelligence (access to prospect's work email and phone) and Sales Enablement (drip email automation campaigns) into an integrated solution.
Pricing starts at $99 per month and flexible contracting that can adjust to short term needs.
Site Building / Personalization
Shogun helps non-technical types build site pages using a visual drag and drop tool that is integrated with your Shopify site or shop - whether your theme is using a free or premium theme.
We have used it to build landing pages used for inbound marketing campaigns with embedded forms integrated with Privy and MailChimp. The results could not be better, and the pages are very easy to setup and blend in with the look and feel of your site.
Shogun also has pre-built templates for storefronts, landing pages, product pages and collections that you can modify to meet you site's needs. It's easies to use than you might think!