Many people who use Shopify have a love hate relationship with the platform. They love that it is easy to setup and manage. They hate that it lacks some capabilities out of the box that should come as standard.
Most of the time, to fix some of these missing functionalities plugins are all you need.
Here is my list of recommended Shopify apps for smaller stores.
By default, Shopify does not allow you to easily print order sheets and packing slips. This app allows you to create custom printing labels for your orders.
It’s free too.
To set it up, just install the app. The default templates that come with the app will suffice to get you started. If you want to customise the templates even further, you’ll have to use your knowledge of HTML to add new lines or content.
Interestingly, the Order Printer plugin was developed by Shopify itself – so they seem to know about this issue. It is strange to me why they made it an app and not a regular function.
If you are a reseller, you will probably want to offer the ability for customers to rate your products. Use the free Product Reviews app to allow customers to choose a star rating on your products.
This plugin, also created by Shopify, is free.
Integration is a little tricky. You will need to enter a line of script in your theme to make the stars show up on your category pages and for the feature to show on your product page.
Shopify provide in-depth instructions on how to install this app here.
Collecting reviews is a hassle. Get this app as soon as you can and automate the review collection process.
The Product Reviews Addon lets you create and automate review request emails. What is unique about this app is that customers can create the review for their specific product within the email itself. They will only need to click once to submit.
This is different to other solutions where customers will need to click through to your site, find the product and then leave a review.
Of the other review plugins out there, this is the best I’ve found.
The customer service is also outstanding. I was able to reach them directly by email and one of the team members (Tommy) helped my client to manually setup a retroactive review request, beyond the usual settings allowed by the plugin.
The app is free for the basic features though I recommend you upgrade to at least basic for $15 a month to make use of the forms customisation.
Your website is hosted with Shopify. That is great for your hosting security, but unfortunately this doesn’t protect your webforms from spam.
Shop Protector analyses user behaviour on your website to root out spam and malicious users. They also have great support which is not standard for most plugins.
If your forms are being spammed, this $5 a month plugin is well worth it.
What happens once you’ve dispatched your orders? Who knows?
AfterShip does. This app tracks all your tracking codes in one simple dashboard and flags any orders that have delivery problems.
You can set it to send you email alerts too. So you can pre-empt your customer service by notifying customers that they need to contact their courier.
AfterShip is free for their basic plan. For small stores, this is all you will need.
Handling returns and exchanges is probably in the top 3 most important eCommerce activities. Sadly, Shopify doesn’t provide any strong options for this.
For awhile, there weren’t really any excellent returns management apps for Shopify either.
I am currently testing Returns Magic. It creates a section on your website where customers can search their order number and email, then submit a return through Return Magic’s easy interface.
This really is the main value of the app. Many Shopify apps skimp on the usability and design of the apps in favour of an ‘engineering solution’ – something slapped together to monetise a developer project on the platform. But this app gives your customers a good, smooth returns experience.
The plugin starts from $10 a month and scales in cost by number of returns.
If you want to collect email signups, or connect registered users to your MailChimp mailing list, you’ll need to use the MailChimp plugin for Shopify.
It is super simple to install. Just download the plugin from the app store and in the plugin settings, select which list you want subscribers to sync with.
If you do business with customers in Europe, generally you will need to comply with GDPR.
Not to get into anything too specific, but part of compliance means notifying users how and when you are collecting their data. Unfortunately, it seems the most common practice for this right now is by cookie notification bars.
Image Source: Upsell
Once installed the GDPR Banner plugin prompts you to choose the style, wording and destination link to create your own cookie notification bar.
A great thing about this particular plugin is that you can choose not to show the cookie notification bar to anyone outside of the EU.
There are a few apps that I am not entirely sure whether they are worth the effort. Either they are particularly buggy or they do not provide much value for their cost in both time and effort to implement.
Yes I think product image zoom is a great feature. But I think these should come from the theme itself, if possible.
When trying to implement a variety of zoom plugins, I found most of these were buggy or did not look professional.
Ultimately, for one of my clients we implemented a zoom function ourselves from scratch into the theme and this has been much more reliable.
For one client, we have had the Facebook store function of Shopify active for years. And how many sales through this channel?
Creating another channel is probably just an unneeded maintenance task and a distraction for customers. Ultimately, the shopping experience on your website should be better than the tab on Facebook so it makes sense that you should channel customers to your own store.
Wishlists seem to be a common feature on many sites. The idea is that you can collect data on what items are most frequently wish listed. Perhaps, following brands like J. Crew you may want to push users to create an account and collect their email.
Unfortunately I haven’t found any apps that do either of these two things well.
And consider the alternative. If there is no wish list, shoppers are more likely just to use the cart as a wishlist where they add items of interest to then whittle them down before checking out.
That’s not so bad?
Wishlist apps tend to be a little buggy and require a lot of help to style correctly. I suggest you avoid these until your store is large enough to properly implement a more expensive solution and harvest the data.
While it is a great solution, sadly Shopify does not come complete out of the box. Use great quality plugins to extend the power of your Shopify store and fill in any feature gaps.
There are some great plugins out there so be sure to read the reviews (like mine) before implementing.
Are there any great apps that you’ve tried? Please share your experiences in the comments below so that everyone can benefit!