Shopify is by far the best ecommerce platform that we have ever worked with, in fact it is so good we built our entire business around it.
For existing merchants the transition from one platform to another will always be a challenge ( more on that in a later post ) but once inside of the Shopify eco-system you should never want to leave.
As we know from dealing with so many merchants the availability and quality of Shopify themes makes getting up and running a breeze the hardest part is choosing the right one for your business. The real beauty of themes however is that you can choose to change as often as you would like in the knowledge that you can always revert back should you see a change in your conversions or hit some bumps along the way. Whether purchasing from ourselves, Out of the Sandbox or Pixel union you know that you will always receive the best possible support and are paying for quality.
What makes Shopify even better however is the API and the abundance of apps that have been created to connect to your store to extend it's functionality to any level.
With so many apps now available it is hard to know which are the right ones to choose, what will benefit your business and what will cause the biggest headaches.
Many apps for Shopify work silently in your store admin and have no touch points with your theme, take order printer for example this works within the orders section of your admin only, it integrates with your sales and has no code requirements whatsoever so can be installed easily with no help. Many install to a theme with a simple copy and paste but we are working with code so things can always go wrong, but with the following tips you can save yourself having to pay your designer to fix things.
When app installs go bad
App installs can go wrong and will do if you let them. This is not necessarily an issue with the app or the theme that you are using but we are dealing with 2 different things, built in different environments by 2 different people, it isn't always as simple as mashed potatoes and gravy!
Here is a quick check list for installing an app that requires you to make any changes in your theme.
1. Backup your theme
This is simple and missed by the majority. Click on Themes in your dashboard.
Next to your live theme you will see the Menu icon represented with 3 blue dots... click on this and choose: Duplicate theme from the menu to make a backup that you can revert to... By default this will be prefixed with... "copy_of" We suggest renaming this to something that is easy for you to work with later if needed.
2. Read the documentation.... Twice!
you have heard the rule measure twice, cut once well this applies here. You are adding code to something that relies on code - make sure to read the instructions and look very carefully at where you are adding the code to be plugged in... Taking a moment to read what you see in the code will give you a better understanding of where you are placing things.
3. Save and test.... A lot!
So many store owners will add this app, then that app, then another app and then just one more without looking at the site until all have been placed in. We get over 100 emails a week on this alone, "I Added a few apps and the popups on my site don't work, Shopify said it is a theme glitch"... If you are a theme developer, your eyes probably just rolled but it is true... don't bulk install apps without testing, use this best practice:
A: Have your store open in one window, the theme admin in another.
If something goes wrong you can always CTRL + Z / CMD + Z your way backwards a few steps or use the Older revisions link at the top of each template to roll back.
B: If you are adding code to the collection.liquid template, test your collection pages thoroughly afterwards, likewise if you are placing code in the product.liquid template, test your product pages.
C: If you are placing code in the theme.liquid template test everything but look for these tell tale signs of a problem...
Do my lightbox popups work?
Do product prices update when i switch variants?
When i add a product to the cart, is the right variant selected?
Testing the store after each app install will save you time, what may seem simple can cause hours of frustration if not applied correctly and could cost you a lot in lost revenue.
We work with hundreds of store owners on a weekly basis and know the problems you face when the install goes wrong, code gets pasted into the wrong line or you come across a theme and an app that really don't want to get along with each other.. This can happen but what makes the difference is support.
As a store owner you don't want to sit in the middle of a fight between the theme developer and the app developer who are blaming each other for bad code, all you really want is a theme that delivers and an app the compliments it adding in any missing functions.
Based on our experience we have a list below of apps that we know well, work well, offer great functions and that are given the same high level of support that we offer to our customers using our Shopify themes.
Notable mentions within this for quality, excellent customer service and downright awesomeness go out to: Bold Apps, Rare.io, Johannes & Nexus Media.
Product description tabs
A very simple and effective tool for splitting product descriptions into multi tabbed content allowing for more unique content per product.
Allows you to add recurring orders and subscription revenue to any product or the entire shopping cart within your shopify store.
Ever been held back by Shopify's 3 option / 99 variant limit - this is the app to use for unlimited options, option groups and bulk editing.
The best app for bundling products, we see a lot of swimwear and lingerie stores using this for combining Tops & Bottoms without the inventory headache of creating each as it's separate option.
If you are have products being sold in several retail outlets, this app is the best to use to spread awareness of where customers can see, feel and purchase your products in-store.
Imagine watching every customer in your store, understanding what they like, when they shop and when they most frequently visit or purchase from you.. Rare.io gives you just this, by integrating with your in-store tracking this app provides predictive email marketing based on what your customers want to see rather than what you expect they might like, with proven increases in conversion and excellent help this is our go to app for email marketing on steroids.
Have a need for a multi-lingual store? Langify is what you need for this. Based on the excellent feedback we have received on the support offered we would definitely recommend this app.
Back in stock
The original back in stock app, that signs customers up for automatic email updates when their size comes back in. We have seen this in action on many stores and the ROI is incredible. Gives you the ability to recover lost revenue from out of stock items.
The best free app out there. Installs in seconds with a simple cut and paste, integrates with Google to show live review data on your SERPS and built by shopify so you know support is always at hand.
Print invoices, packing slips and labels for your sales
Integrates and connects your Shopify store to Google Merchant center. You may have some in-store house-keeping to do before everything syncs but once done this is a powerful tool that will increase visibility of your products.
So that's the quick round up. There are a lot of apps out there and many that we have missed on have not yet discovered we know. If you have a suggested app or are an app developer that would like to get add some awareness shoot us a comment below to start the conversation.