Shopify Custom App Development: Know the Basics before Creating One
Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms that is currently used by more than 2 million businesses around the globe.
We’ve already discussed Shopify theme development in our previous blog. Now, the next important thing that we want to focus is on Shopify custom app development – the apps that help in expanding the functionality beyond the basic ones. Some of the enriched features that you can add to your Shopify store are:
- Managing customer accounts
- Setting up shipping options
- Promoting sales
- Running campaigns, and more on
Now, as the number of Shopify stores is increasing rapidly, so is the number of Shopify apps. Approximately, there are almost 7.5 thousand apps already available on the Shopify app store, and to your surprise, that’s not the end of it!
Today, merchants are looking forward to getting different apps designed and developed such that they can differentiate their online store from their competitors. Additionally, they wish to offer a better user experience to their visitors such that it results in more reach and revenue.
In this blog, we will cover important topics of Shopify app development, such as:
- What is a Shopify app?
- What are the purposes of developing the Shopify Custom Apps?
- What are the types of Shopify apps?
- What should be considered before developing the app?
- What are the stages of app development?
Let’s get started!
What is a Shopify App?
Have you heard about the WordPress plugin? If yes, then the Shopify app is somewhat similar to it. In simpler terms, it enables a Shopify store user to expand the basic functionalities of the main platform.
Shopify is one of the most popular and preferred e-commerce platforms that have millions of users with different needs and requirements. Thus, the app fills the gaps in expectations with the app.
Purposes of Shopify Custom Apps
If you’ve visited the Shopify app store, you would have seen its categories. Have you? If not, let’s take a closer look!
There are many categories in the Shopify app store, such as conversion, marketing, store management, merchandising, shipment, and more.
Each category is divided into subcategories. For instance, Conversion can be narrowed down to promotions, upselling and cross-selling, customer feedback, cart modification, recovering orders, and store alerts.
It gives the user an idea of what is to be found in a particular app.
Types of Shopify Apps
There are three types of Shopify apps available – public, custom, and private Shopify apps. You need to know this to understand which one would be best for your needs. Let’s get into detail!
- Shopify Public Apps: As its name indicates, the Shopify public apps are available to merchants for use. These can get listed in the search results in the Shopify App Store.
However, there are still some apps that aren’t listed in the store but still are available to be used by merchants. Also, you can get it installed directly from the developer’s website.
- Shopify Custom Apps: The Shopify custom apps are specifically designed for a merchant and aren’t available in the Shopify App Store. Their primary objective is to add certain features or functionalities to an existing Shopify store.
The custom-developed apps are limited to the nature of a business and how it operates. If you hire an app developer in this regard, he or she doesn’t need to gain access to your Shopify admin panel.
- Shopify Private Apps: Similar to Shopify custom apps, Shopify private apps also don’t get listed in its app store. These are made available only to a specific online store.
The Shopify private apps are developed only to fulfill the needs of merchants that aren’t fulfilled by the custom apps. Additionally, the app developer may need access to the API and your Shopify admin panel.
Considerations While Building a Custom Shopify App
If you’ve come so far by now, you would have decided to get a Shopify custom app developed, isn’t it?
To get your app successfully designed and developed, there are a few considerations that you need to keep in mind. When you partner with a Shopify app development agency, ensure that the below-mentioned factors get covered.
- Functionality: First things first, the custom app that you’re building must be fully functional. It means it should be well-organized for the crucial tasks and must be free of unnecessary complexities.
It should be able to drive the users straight to the result instead of wasting time on unnecessary steps. Moreover, include additional and unique features in the app.
- User-friendliness: While developing a Shopify app, consider your targeted user’s basic requirements like their languages, place of residence, different types of devices, and more. Build a solution that makes it easy for the users to operate. Additionally, offer good UX/UI design such that it’s easily understandable even to the most inexperienced user.
- Design: Your app’s look and feel should be such that it appears pleasant to the users. You must use considerate color, fonts, and design elements that attract users’ attention and also provides a unique experience for them.
- Trust: If you decide to build the app for other merchants, make sure that you’re transparent to them about its features and functionalities. Do not bluff them with advanced functionalities that can’t be installed. You need to be open to them about its offerings and price structure.
Stages of Shopify App Development
So, how would you start building your first Shopify app? To answer this query, let’s go through its subsequent stages.
Once you’re aware of what type of Shopify custom you need to build and who’ll be the users, follow the steps below.
1. Prepare a Plan:
Before you get into the technical part, ensure that you plan out the features and functionalities of your app because it will act as a basis for design and development. Some of the important factors that you must consider are:
- The main functionality of the custom app
- Features in MVP and full version
- Number of users served
- Number of templates
One of the factors that you must remember is that technology is evolving rapidly, and so are the needs of merchants and buyers. You must build an app that is future-ready.
2. Design the App:
The designing stage of the custom app requires a detailed analysis of users and their needs. To get an apt app developed, contact a dedicated Shopify custom app designer to prepare a custom storefront.
3. Develop the App:
Before you develop the app, you must have a Shopify Partner account. These apps are self-hosted, which clears that you can use any programming language to build the app. Moreover, take cost and future maintenance into consideration.
4. Test the App:
Once you get the app developed, you must test its different use cases, and perform its regressive testing, load testing, and stress testing. Ensure that you fix bugs on the way. Ensure that your developed app:
- Is easier & quicker to install
- Could easily handle 404, heavy traffic & input
- Can work with various Shopify themes
- Could be uninstalled & reinstalled in the same store
- Has valid URLs & redirects
- Has an efficient billing system
5. Submit the App for Review:
When you finally develop and test the Shopify custom app, you need to submit it to the Shopify App Store for further approval. The review team will check whether it meets its standards and checks it for functionality, authentication, or billing API.
The process of review may last for a week because of its core checking. Before you apply, ensure that you submit the below-mentioned details as well:
- Custom app name and the idea of creating it
- Visuals or detailed instructional video
- Screenshots of the app
- Advantages of using this app
- Brief description of its core functionality
- Pricing details
6. Monitor your App:
Every custom-built app requires to be monitored to ensure it stays stable and offers the best user experience even when there are heavy traffic or maintenance work going on.
To monitor its performance effectively, you can use some tools or take help from your developer to pinpoint any bugs that come along. Additionally, make sure that your app is compatible with the Shopify ecosystem. It should stand along the AARRR approach, which is, acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral.
When we talk about analytics, you can use one effective tool like Baremetrics that can help you analyze the metrics of your custom app built for your Shopify store.
7. Promote your App:
If you are thinking to opt for a public app that’s available for other merchants as well, you’ll need to promote it effectively to gain an edge over the competitors. Here are some ways that can help you in this:
- Ask the influencers to use the app and review them
- Partner with other similar Shopify apps
- Draft a blog that involves detailed analytics of your app
- Post about it in the Shopify communities
- Promote it on your social media channels
- Send email to the merchants with similar app preferences
One of the best parts of Shopify’s custom app development is that once your customer downloads the app and starts to use it, they become a continuous source of income. You can even scale the app to gain more profits.
Shopify custom app development has its hard points, but it is not as difficult as it seems to be. You can always take help from the developers to add outstanding functionality to your Shopify store through apps.
In case you plan to get a developed Shopify custom app for your online store, you can contact the professional Shopify app development company to get the desired app designed and developed.