So you’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to set up your own online store using Shopify. Smart choice!
Shopify is known as one of the best ecommerce solutions thanks to its ease of use and reliability. What’s more, with 50,000 storefronts created in 7 years using the service (TechCrunch), you can be sure that you’re not alone. Sure, that means more competition, but it also means that there are existing options for pretty much any feature you would want to add to your online store.
Plugged In and Ready to Go?
With Shopify’s built-in features and customizable design, you can get started tweaking your store’s theme and adding products for sale right away. There are even built in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features and the ability to add Google Analytics to your site in order to track user behavior and traffic trends.
However, at first you may be frustrated by the relative simplicity of your storefront compared to others you’ve seen and you may feel limited by the basic options. Don’t despair though, because that’s where the Shopify App Store comes in.
Just like how your smartphone would be much less useful without the multitude of third party apps you can download for it, The Shopify App Store brings your ecommerce store to life. It contains over 249 plugins from third party developers which extend the functionality of your Shopify store.
There are some excellent free options but many of the plugins do come at a price, usually a monthly subscription charge. With minimal investment though you’ll soon be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the bigger stores in your niche and offer your customers all of the same options they do – giving you an unlimited potential to bring in the profits.
Beware spending too many late nights searching through the app store for that one killer app though. If your ecommerce store is going to be successful, you’ll need to stay focused on what’s most important – selling products. That’s why we’ve picked the top 5 essential Shopify plugins so you can get started making money right away.
As the philosopher Aristotle pointed out, Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does online business. Your no.1 priority when starting out with your ecommerce business is undoubtedly to attract customers to your online store, otherwise it might as well not exist. If you want to attract visitors, you need to be seen on the various social networks.
ShopConnection offers one of the simplest ways to connect your store with social networks and encourage customers to share your products there. Their free option allows you to install sharing buttons for the big shopping focused networks like Pinterest and Tumblr, and you can connect more services if you sign up for their paid option.
One of the best features of ShopConnection is smart buttons which mean each visitor sees the buttons for the sites they are currently logged into first, and you can also set default buttons for those who aren’t logged in. The upgrade also adds ‘follow us’ buttons to your order confirmation page.
Email marketing should be a key part of your store’s strategy for attracting and retaining customers. Mailchimp is one of the most user friendly email marketing providers around and Chimpified doesn’t deviate from that – it’s free and extremely easy to install, and once a customer agrees to receive emails from you they will be automatically added to whatever Mailchimp list you’ve synced to your store (you’ll need an account firs*). Of course, not everyone wants to use Mailchimp as their email provider. Some alternative apps include Mad Mimi’s Madify, Contactify from Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor’s Campaignified.
Reviews are a great form of social proof for your ecommerce store, and this app from Yotpo promises to encourage more of them, by making both leaving a review and sharing it on social networks super easy. This plugin also automatically sends an email to any new customers to prompt them to leave feedback. Taking into account the simple installation process and the fact it’s completely free, this is a bit of a no-brainer for ecommerce newbies.
A powerful Facebook presence could be the thing that propels your store into success – after all, almost everyone is hooked on getting their fix from Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild on a daily basis. Fliptabify allows you to showcase your products on the world’s biggest social network by installing a tab on your Facebook page which lets users browse your inventory without having to even visit your site. Their free plan allows for unlimited products and installation on unlimited Facebook pages. You may however want to pay for their ‘Power Plan’ as it allows “Like-Gating”. This means that certain products can be hidden until browsers like your Facebook page, increasing the chances of customers becoming engaged with your brand and staying in touch.
Every ecommerce store needs a recommendation engine to help customers find what they’re looking for and maximizes sales. Recomatic adds a recommendation module to your store and automatically uses past order data, products descriptions and titles, tags and categories to highlight the most relevant products for your customers. Recomatic does cost $24 a month, but as long as you have chosen your products well you should begin to see increased sales right away.
Just a Taster
Of course these are only five plugins to get you started. We’ve purposely picked some of the easiest and most affordable to help you get things off the ground, but there’s no doubt you’ll have other requirements if you’re serious about the success of your store. For example, if you need accounting plugins to track invoices there are plenty of apps available, including the likes of Freshbooks and Quickbooks.
We’ve already mentioned Product Options and SEO Meta Manager, which are two other essential apps to add to the list, and you can even use advanced apps like Wishlist to allow customers to save products so they can come back to your store and buy later – well, it works for Amazon! The options are massive and always expanding, which is definitely one of the advantages of going with Shopify for your ecommerce store.
You can get a good idea of what’s popular by searching Shopify’s app store yourself. It’s easy to browse, with user reviews and ratings, as well as detailed descriptions and video guides to the other apps that are available. But be careful not to sign up to many premium plugins before your store is bringing in enough business to pay for them.
This list is only a small selection, so we’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’re already signed up to Shopify.