Shopify is the world’s largest eCommerce platform.
There are over 1 million stores that run on Shopify, which is a staggering 20% of all eCommerce globally.
It has a really low bar of entry for shop owners that are just starting out
There are hundreds of free and paid templates (save money on development) and dedicated Shopify partner agencies that can handle marketing for you (save on an in-house marketing team).
The challenge is - there are over 4,000+ different plugins or Shopify apps and you have to know which one to use to grow your business.
We wrote this post for the beginner eCommerce owner that is just starting out and wants to launch on new marketing channels, as well as for the middle-sized eCommerce brand that is looking for that added edge to outperform its competitors.
Here are some of the best apps that will help your brand grow way beyond your ROI goals and achieve the sales you’ve been dreaming of.
95% of shoppers globally start their product research on their mobile device before moving to their desktop computer or visiting a physical store. The trend is even bigger during the holiday season, with 66% orders coming from mobile devices during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend.
LiveRecover is a brilliant concept. Shoppers abandon their carts all the time, and you don’t get a chance to change their mind in a personable way (other than email). This app sends a message to every person that abandons your cart/checkout process automatically. Once your shopper responds, LiveRecover gets a live agent to solve their issue, offer them a discount, and save the day.
Pricing: $49/mo + 5-10% of the revenue generated by the app
Cartloop is similar to LiveRecover but takes SMS abandonment messages a step further. This app provides a dashboard that tracks every issue or reason a customer cited that caused them to abandon the site and helps your business improve over time. It also helps your business catch the issues before they become systemic and course correct.
Pricing: 15% or $29/mo + 10% of the recovered carts by Cartloop
Smsbump is an enterprise-grade SMS platform that has more advanced features like targeted SMS campaigns, automation, custom flows and advanced tracking of every single message. It’s made for medium to large eCommerce brands that really want to properly develop this channel.
Pricing: free plan + starts at $19/mo
Email marketing is the most powerful marketing channel. Studies show that it generates $44 for every dollar spent, which is a 4400% ROI. It’s made even more powerful when combined with other channels like SMS, chat messages and push notifications. Here are some of the best email apps on Shopify that also give you some of the features of other channels.
Klaviyo is the go-to email marketing platform for eCommerce brands. It’s fairly simple to use, has all the campaigns and flows that you need and is fairly inexpensive. They recently launched the ability to send SMS campaigns so you can combine both channels into one.
Pricing: starts at $20/mo
Fam is a really unique tool that was developed by the Sumo team. It’s like an automated marketing assistant that gets all of your email marketing done for you. It lets you customize a few templates and then creates beautiful email campaigns for you, to go out at the most optimal days and times.
It’s pretty basic, so you won’t find any advanced customer segmentation features here, but it’s powerful enough to increase your revenue from email marketing while you focus on other things. Email marketing takes a lot of time and effort and this cool email automation tool can save you hours of hard work every week.
Pricing: 5% of revenue generated from emails sent by FAM
Drip is a step-up from an email marketing platform. It combines some incredible SMS and push notification features to let you manage the entire omnichannel experience of your customers. It lets you segment your customers, email each segment an automated sequence, and A/B test it all.
Omnisend is a full marketing platform that can handle all of your email marketing, SMS campaigns & automation, web push notification and Facebook audience retargeting. It has some really powerful features like A/B testing, automation splits, custom events, conditional content blocks and personalized recommendations for each customer. It’s the most powerful way to personalize every single customer touchpoint.
Pricing: starts at $16/mo
Chat messages & chatbots
Chat messages provide another great way to personalize your communication with your customer and to improve the bottom line. Studies show that 69% of consumers prefer to interact with chatbots to get their questions answered quickly. Messenger conversations with shoppers have a 30% better ROI than retargeting ads. Chatbots can also save brands up to 30% on customer service costs.
Chat messages are even more successful when you combine them with email marketing and SMS. Here are some of the best chat apps to use for your Shopify store.
OctaneAI is a great chatbot platform. It has all the features you need to fully automate this channel - welcome messages, automated answers, product finder, shipping notifications, and cart abandonment campaigns. It also has a really cool AI shop quiz that allows you to engage your customer with a few questions and then present them with the best product based on their answers.
Recart is another great chatbot solution. It has a lot of the features that OctaneAI has, a really different interface, and a more sophisticated automated flows. With Recart, you can create a Messenger ad that leads to an automated conversation and a scheduled follow-up. Super powerful.
User-generated content (UGC)
You know that you’re doing something right when your customers post images of themselves with your product. 48% of shoppers say that UGC is a great way to discover products, it’s 35% more memorable than other media, and have shown to increase visit durations by 90%!
That means you could almost double the amount your shoppers spend on your site if you just post some nice pictures of customers using your product. Here are some of the best tools that let you display UGC and automate the whole process.
This is one of my favorite UGC apps. It’s sweet, simple, and has a load of automations you could use. Loox lets you display all of your user-generated content and reviews in one gallery page on your site, using a nice Loox sidebar, on your Facebook page, and include in your email campaigns.
Price: starts at $9.99/mo
This is another great app. It has a lot of the same features ut also lets you display your UGC reviews onto Google Search, Google Shopping, Facebook, and Instagram (for both organic and paid ads). You can also incentivize your customers to write a review by offering them a discount.
Price: starts at $29/mo
Pixlee is a great app for medium to large size brands that really know what they are looking for. If you’ve already started some influencer campaigns and have a few UGC images coming in, then this app is perfect for you.
Pixlee scans Instagram according to your chosen hashtags and finds any mentions of your business. It then imports it to your galleries and displays it on your collection and product pages. It also has an automated feature where it asks people for permission to use their images in your marketing campaigns. It also has a robust influencer discovery feature, so it’s really an all-in-1 solution for UGC + influencer management.
Reviews & social proof
Next to UGC, reviews are the most powerful thing you could display on your site. research shows that on-site reviews increase conversions by 74%. Why? Because they provide social proof to your shoppers that other people bought your product and were happy with it.
There are a bunch of other tools that can help you get that social proof and improve your conversions, here are some of our favorites.
Some of the tools we mentioned above combine UGC with reviews, but if you are looking for a great reviews-only tool, Judge.me is the best. It literally runs your entire review program automatically and the best part is that shoppers are able to leave their review write inside an email.
Price: Free + $15/mo.
Yotpo is a more comprehensive review + UGC solution. It has all the features that Judge.me has plus a bunch more. You can get reviews for both your product and your brand as a whole (which is important for Google My Business profiles and rich snippets). You can also respond to reviews and create your own Q&A section, complete with customer images and videos.
Pricing: free plan + starts at $19/mo
Another great form of social proof is what we call nudges or notifications, which get displayed on the bottom left side of the screen. They can display a variety of messages - that a customer just bought the same product, a discount, or how soon the product will be sold out. They increase urgency and trust and are based on your actual store data.
What I like about Nudgify is that you can change the colors and formats of every single notification. It’s one of the only social proof notification apps where everything is customizable.
Pricing: Free + starts at $9/mo
Ultimate Trust Badges by Conversion Bear
Speaking about trust, every site needs proper trust badges. Those little banners that display a Paypal logo, the credit cards that the site accepts, and some kind of secure shield that shows that the site is trustworthy.
Usually, these banners stick out like a sore thumb, but this beautiful app lets you adjust the colors of these badges to your branded colors.
The number one killer of eCommerce brands is the cost of customer acquisition or CAC. If you want to decrease your customer acquisition cost you need to get better at interacting with your customers post-sale and at upselling your customers.
There are several ways you can do that - display similar product recommendations in your emails, on your checkout page, on order confirmation emails, and offer coupons to encourage your customers to come back and purchase again.
Here are some of the most innovative Shopify apps that have all of these features and more:
This app is an upselling machine. It has every upsell feature you would ever want. From order tracking widgets to social sharing widgets, coupon codes, reorder buttons, surveys, and optimizations to your checkout page.
Pricing: Free + starts at $7.99/mo
If you just want to focus on the upsell widgets you would display on your site, and not jump into all the other bells and whistles, then this app is for you. BOLD has several apps on the Shopify app store, all really good quality. This one offers a really great customizable upsell widget that allows you to schedule offers in advance and set it up in minutes.
What happens when you’re stuck and your sales aren’t going up? You’ve tried ads, influencer campaigns, and PPC, and nothing is working. The problem could be your site. You may be bringing loads of traffic to it but none of it is converting.
That’s when you know that you should focus on improving your site through conversion rate optimization. Here are a few key apps that will help you fix your existing pages and make the changes quickly.
If you want to increase your conversions the first place you need to look at is what your users are doing on your site. This neat app lets you create recordings of actual users browsing your site and creates heat maps for your site pages to identify areas for improvement. It also lets you create visitor polls to collect data directly from your users about what works and doesn’t work on your site.
Use LuckyOrange to see where your users click, what elements aren’t clear enough, and eliminate any “barriers to entry” as they come up. This app won’t solve it all but it will give you all the insights you need to start tackling the problems and improving your conversion rate.
Pricing: Free + $10/mo
If you want your users to convert you need to have good landing pages on your site. And sometimes you want to build a quick marketing funnel for a specific project or channel, and don’t want to turn it into a massive site redesign.
That’s where Shogun comes in.
It’s a brilliant drag-and-drop landing page builder that lets you create pages, blog posts, and product pages. There are pre-built themes, you can customize each page for mobile, and then run A/B test each new page you create. This is a conversion marketer’s dream.
Cart abandonment often happens when a user switches devices. One shopper may start looking at your site on their phone when they are in the car, save something, leave your site, and then come back to it in the evening on their laptop.
The problem is they don’t remember what they picked! To decrease this frustration the Persistent Cart App fixes this situation by saving carts from one device to the next. It asks the user if they want to merge and see their cart from their previous visit, and offers a nice little top bar with a quick discount.
It’s a quick yet powerful addition you could make to your conversion arsenal. One that will improve the user experience, decrease their frustration, and improve your bottom line.
Reveal by Omniconvert
This is the newest up-and-coming app from the team at Omniconvert. They’ve seen too many eCommerce brands crash and burn by putting all of their eggs into social media ads. If a brand wants to succeed and grow long-term they need to focus on CLV (customer lifetime value) and start focusing on their customers to increase returning purchases and referrals.
Reveal lets you quickly segment your list of email subscribers and customers into segments - the customers that are most likely to purchase again, the ones that are on the fence, and the group that’s about to leave you and never come back again.
You can then use Reveal to retarget these specific segments with email campaigns, create lookalike audiences on Facebook, and send a timely chat or text message. It’s a really powerful tool to get a handle on how many customer “ambassadors” or fans you have, and how you can increase that number to build an even stronger customer base.
Advertising presents a huge opportunity for any eCommerce store, not only because of the wide variety of channels but also because of the automation that’s possible to execute. Here are some of the best advertising apps on Shopify that will help you not only improve your ads but save money on hiring more advertising experts.
TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. It just signed a partnership with Shopify to create shoppable feeds and let brands take advantage of its 100 million active users in the US alone. This app lets you create your own TikTok shopping feed and helps you monetize influencers and content on the platform.
Want to bring your Facebook and Instagram ads to the next level? Tired of spending weeks trying to find a good designer? Then this app is for you. Use Socioh’s templates and design interface to touch up your ads, and get real suggestions based on your store’s data.
Socioh also manages your dynamic ads for you, creates smart retargeting flows, and much more. Wanted to get smarter about advertising but never had the time or resources? Check out this app.
Pricing: starts at $99.99/mo
This app lets you not only automate your Facebook and Instagram ads but also helps you power up your Google retargeting ads (using Google Display Network). It also has a really powerful dashboard and analytics feature that helps you look at all of your ad data and identify new opportunities to increase your revenue.
Pricing: Free plan + starts at $9/mo
Online marketplaces provide new avenues for your products and open doors to new audiences. Research shows that 63% of shoppers start their product search on Amazon and then go to the brand’s website.
Most brands think that they are losing out on brand awareness when they start selling on these marketplaces when in fact the opposite is true. The world’s top brands launched on marketplaces in order to bring traffic back to their site. Shopify has an entire list of online marketplace apps that integrate your catalog and help you start selling in more places.
Here are our favorites.
Etsy is a beautiful marketplace that is built for handmade and unique products. It’s not for everyone, but if you fit in this category then you can score in a big way on this marketplace. Also, recently Etsy opened it up for brands to sell manufactured products if they were designed by someone in the company. This app can help you set everything up.
Pricing: Free + starts at $39/mo
Pinterest is one of the most powerful platforms for eCommerce brands. 85% of women use Pinterest to plan life moments (compared to 40-50% for Instagram and Facebook) and 58% say that it helps them make purchasing decisions. The platform has its own Shopify app that lets you manage your pins and run your Pinterest ads in one place.
Google Shopping has been one of the most powerful ways that the search engine integrates shopping into the search experience. It looks easy, but it’s quite difficult to get it right. You need a really good app to sync your Shopify inventory to the channel. Use this app to manage your Google Shopping feed, make sure that everything is in order, and update your inventory and pricing.
Pricing: Free + starts at $29/mo
Push notifications are another really powerful marketing channel to use to amplify your reach and increase your bottom line. These look different on desktop and on mobile. On desktop, they show up when the user opens their browser. They show up on the top right corner of the screen. On mobile, they show as a text message and create a very personal way of bringing your users back to their carts and helping them convert.
Pushowl is a really easy to use app for push notifications. Use it to set up cart abandonment flows, segment your customers and send different messages based on triggers, and send welcome flows to your new customers. You can do all of that without having to have your user’s email on file, that’s the beauty of it.
This neat little app creates a new marketing channel for your brand that could bring a ton of sales in a very short period of time.
Pricing: starts at $19/mo
We’ve all heard that subscriptions are an incredible business model. They work quite well for software (SaaS) but eCommerce? Really? Yes! Brands like Birchbox and Manscaped have created eCommerce products and sell them as a subscription.
You don’t have to start out as a subscription-only brand, you can launch an exclusive membership with a subscription offer for several of your products, or for a specific line. PayWhirl lets you add a subscription option to your site and lets your customers view and manage their subscriptions in one place.
Video content is the most engaging type of content you could have. In fact, 55% of online shoppers use video content to make a purchase decision. With more than half of your site visitors expecting to see video content, you have to make sure that you have some quality videos on every product page.
The challenge is that making videos is costly and difficult. This is where Promo comes in. Promo is the most popular video creation app on Shopify. Use this app to pick from hundreds of video templates, create beautiful videos for your products, and then share them on your social media pages and publish them on your site.
Popups are an absolute must for any eCommerce store. Studies show that an average popup has a conversion rate of 3%. But if you optimize your popups correctly you would have an 11-13% conversion rate (which is what I got by using the following 2 tools)
Here’s the story:
I was working at an 8-figure eCommerce brand where the executive team was completely against popups. We just launched a new Shopify store and I wanted to test this out. So I launched 2 different popups and within 2 months our sales went up from $20k/mo to $70k+/mo. Our conversion rates were 13%.
Here are the tools that I used:
Sumo is the best app to use for popups, hands down. They have an incredible set of templates, and the best part is if you pay them $500/mo they will assign you a dedicated manager that will set up all of your popups and tracking correctly. They will even set up automated follow-up email flows that will re-engage the popup subscribers.
Wanted to get the best popup designs out there and just didn’t have the time or expertise on the team? Hire Sumo, these guys are seriously amazing.
Pricing: Free plan + starts $49/mo
The next thing I was missing was some classy gamification. So I installed Privy and used it for their amazing wheel popup. Privy has all the other features that Sumo has, except they have this incredible wheel-shaped popup that invited the user to spin the wheel in exchange for a reward. This is hands down one of the most successful eCommerce popups ever.
Pricing: Free + starts at $20/mo
So for us, it was a combination of Sumo + Privy that helped us grow to over $1M in sales in the first year. Your brand may need a different combination of popups (exit, in-line, chat popups, etc). Find your winning combo and watch the sales roll in.
Shipping & fulfillment
Operations for an eCommerce brand mainly include shipping and fulfillment, those two are by far the most time-consuming and logistically different tasks for any brand. Fortunately, there are several amazing Shopify apps that help brands automate these two vital parts of the business and achieve the kind of scale that all eCommerce companies only dream of.
These are going to blow you away.
ShipStation is an all-in-one fulfillment platform that helps you not only organize and track all of your inventory but also fulfill everything on time. Use this app to set up shipping automation rules that will literally ship all of your items from the right warehouses at the click of a button.
Pricing: starts at $9/mo
Easyship is another amazing shipping automation app. It has the same features as ShipStation but with a few added super-powerful additions. You can use this app to coordinate your online channels and marketplaces with your warehouses, which is standard.
You can also display the best shipping rates at checkout for your customers, as well as create a curated delivery experience for each customer with email notifications.
Pricing: Free plan + starts at $29/mo
Stocky by Shopify
Love using apps made by Shopify and want to use one for inventory management? No problem, we got one for you. Meet Stocky. This app is made by Shopify and has similar features to the ones that we’ve discussed with a few differences.
One of the biggest differentiators that it works seamlessly with the Shopify POS feature (so if you also have a physical location this is for you). Another feature is their demand forecasting - the app lets you know how much product you should stock up on for the future based on past data.
A big part of improving your shipping and fulfillment operation is improving the customer experience. Route is a brilliant app that not only offers shipping insurance to the customer, so that if an order is lost or damaged they are covered, but also provides visual tracking that lets the customer see where their package is in real-time.
It’s really easy to set up and helps set your brand apart from the competition.
Donations & causes
Some brands have really engaged audiences that care about social and environmental issues. If that’s the case with your audience then you might benefit from adding a few cause-related apps to your Shopify store, to better align yourself with your ideal customer persona and to increase your conversions.
This unique app lets your customers select a charity to donate to when checking out. It’s similar to Amazon’s Smile program. It displays a simple message that says that a portion of the order will go to a charity of their choice. The app also has a nice tracking dashboard that lets you see how much money you raised to charity.
Pricing: Free + 0.5% transaction fee on orders with donations
Offset is an app that calculates the carbon emissions on each order shipment (also called “shipping emissions”). It gives you the total dollar amount that it would take to offset these emissions and then gives you an option to pay to offset on your next Shopify bill.
The advantage for the merchant is that they can display a badge saying that their shipping is all carbon neutral.
Pricing: free + $.005-$.1 per order
Dropshipping is quickly gaining ground in the eCommerce world. This is the practice of having the supplier send the merchandise directly to the customer, without the business having to hold any inventory. It’s much harder to build a brand that way, and the brand has less control over its products (and supply chain as a whole) but it has some added benefits.
The goal of every aspiring dropshipper is to get a good margin on their product. And it is possible. You have to find the right product, the right supplier, and use the right marketing channels.
Here are some of the best Shopify apps to use to build your own dropshipping business.
Printful was one of the first dropshipping apps that came out. It’s a marketplace that lets you choose a variety of products (t-shirts, accessories, apparel), add your logo or design to them, and sell them directly to your customer. Printful then fulfills everything for you.
Pricing: Free to install
Oberlo started out as the best app to connect your store to AliExpress, where you could source all of your products. Shopify actually bought Oberlo back in 2017 for an estimated $15 million. So now the integration between your Shopify store and AliExpress is even more seamless.
AliExpress has over 100 million products that you can choose from, by the way, it’s arguably the largest source for products on the internet. Get access to this marketplace through the Oberlo app.
Pricing: Free + starts at $7.9o/mo
Spocket is like Oberlo but for EU sellers. It has both US & EU dropshipping features and can really help you expand your dropshipping operations all over the world.
Pricing: Free + starts at $24/mo
Loyalty, rewards & referral programs
We all know that referred customers are the best customers, for any business. Studies show that 82% of Americans seek recommendations from their friends and family when they are looking to buy something, and 88% of Americans want to be rewarded for referring a product to their friends.
The birth of online referral programs started with PayPal. They offered to pay for their customers to refer their friends and they were able to get over 1 million users by March 2000 (here’s the full story).
Referrals often cost less to acquire than a customer on any other marketing channel. And here are the top Shopify apps to use to start your own loyalty, rewards, and referral program.
Smile is by far our favorite referral app. It lets you create your own loyalty/rewards/referral program in just minutes and displays a really interactive widget on your site. You can use it to create social proof, display on emails, and create a VIP program for your customers. It’s really easy to set up and looks really stunning.
Pricing: Free + starts at $49/mo
Growave is another great referral app with a twist. It lets you power up a wishlist for your shoppers. The wishlist allows your users to save an item on their list and you could then send them a reminder about it. It also has a feature for creating UGC galleries, so a lot of amazing features packed into one powerful app.
Pricing: Free + starts at $29/mo
This app is really cool. We used it for an eCommerce brand we were helping and it brought them consistent referral orders every month. One of the most powerful features of this app is the referral popup that is displayed right after a customer goes through the checkout process.
So as soon as they hit that submit button, and their order is processed and paid, they get the Referral Candy popup that prompts them to refer their friends. It’s really one the best place in the customer journey to ask for referrals when your product is fresh on their minds. Really easy to set up, we highly recommend this app.
Customer service is another super important aspect of any eCommerce business. If you put your customer at the center of your business you will be able to build a loyal following, a growing referral base, and lots of positive reviews.
Here are some of the best Shopify apps to improve your customer service.
One of the most personal way to engage with your customers is via Whatsapp. Whatsapp has a ton of features for businesses and this neat app brings them all to you. You can set up an unlimited number of phone numbers, send manual messages to your customers and install a WhatsApp widget on your site - that’s just the free plan.
On the paid plan you can automate cart abandonment flows and order confirmation & tracking messages to your customers, to make this whole channel run on autopilot.
Pricing: Free plan + $9.99/mo
I know we spoke about wishlists in our review of Growave (in the referral apps section) but that was just one feature they have as part of their referral/loyalty platform. Wishlist Plus is focused completely on creating a wishlist for your customers, and they have some really advanced features.
You can display the wishlist on your checkout pages, product pages (and as social proof with the number of people that have added this particular product to their wishlist), as well as display it as a floating button widget on every page of your site. And the best part is that you can re-engage with your customers via email and social media to encourage them to purchase the items on their wishlist.
Price: Free + starts at $14.99/mo
Want to increase your customer’s confidence and trust in your brand? Add a quick secure badge to your checkout and product pages. Use this app for free (up to 250k pageviews/mo) to get virtually any badge you want.
Pricing: Free + starts at $5.99/mo
Returns & exchanges
Returns are another hugely impactful part of your customer service. Let’s look at the data. More than 67% of consumers actually review the return policy before making a purchase online and 76% who highly rated a brand that was new to them said that they will shop with them again because of their return policy.
Regardless of whether you offer free returns or not, you need a good return policy, and here is the best Shopify app for that.
If you want to increase repeat purchases you need happy customers. This app helps you manage the return experience of your experience. Aftership provides a self-serve returns center where customers could input their information and after you approve the return they would get a prepaid return label through the portal.
Pricing: free + starts at $9/mo
Shopify is not known for its built-in SEO features, in fact, it took a lot of heat for that in the last few years. Since then, a lot of things have changed. There are several really great SEO apps on Shopify that have made it almost as user-friendly as WordPress is for search engine optimization.
Here they are.
This is the most popular Shopify app for SEO (probably the great name 😉). This app scans your entire site for SEO errors and then tells you how to fix them. It deals with things like page titles, internal links, meta descriptions, and image ALT tags. You can even create SEO templates that help you upgrade multiple pages at once.
Pricing: Free + $20/mo
This is another great SEO app. This one allows you to optimize your images by resizing/compressing them. The app lets you rename the image file, add alt tags, and compress it all in one dashboard. It’s a great tool for optimizing your shop’s images for SEO.
Pricing: Free + starts at $4.99/mo
Here are 2 more super-powerful apps that will upgrade the way your store runs. We saved the best for last.
This app automatically backups your entire store for you. So in case you accidentally delete a product/category page, or some other important setting, everything is backed up by Rewind. It protects you from things like hackers, 3rd party app errors, and messy CSV imports.
Pricing: starts at $3/mo
This unique app helps you manage your out of stock products much better. As soon as a product goes out of stock, this app displays a popup widget that asks for the customer’s email and sends them an email as soon as the product is available again. It works well for medium-large eCommerce brands but can be used for small stores as well. Most importantly, it builds trust and rapport with your potential customer.
Pricing: Free + $19/mo
This is our list of some of the top Shopify apps for your eCommerce store for 2021. Please let us know of others that should be on this list, and most importantly, we hope that you have an absolutely incredible year.
Knock it all out of the park!