Every ecommerce store is unique, but we all share similar goals: to engage potential customers well, present our products well, generate sales and foster repeat business. At SwankyApple we’ve worked with hundreds of Shopify stores. Over time we’ve found ourselves consistently recommending a small handful of apps which we almost inevitably install on every Shopify store that we work with. I suppose that I’ve started to think of them as my “must-have Shopify apps”. 

Why do we do this? After all, the Shopify platform is very complete in many respects: the admin system is fast and easy to use, checkout can be set up in a snap thanks to Shopify Payments, it has a decent blogging system, and the POS makes face to face sales easy.

Unsurprisingly, however, Shopify doesn’t do everything that everyone might want straight out of the box – that simply wouldn’t be possible. This is where apps come in.

There are hundreds of Shopify apps available providing everything from automated marketing emails customisation to feeding your neighbours cat*. It’s quite possible each has their place and a value to some stores  We think there are a few essential apps which you’d be mad not to add to any store.

Caveat – it’s funny how you find yourself recommending things because you’ve used them for years and they’ve always worked well for you. These 5 apps aren’t necessarily the best 5 apps on the Shopify store. They might not even be the best apps at delivering the functionality that they provide! What they are, however, is apps that we’ve consistently relied upon and grown to trust implicitly. Pragmatism dictates that we will never be in a position to critique and fully understand every app on the Shopify store – there are simply too many and we have too many projects to work on – but we are happy to fully endorse each of the following 5 must-have Shopify apps.

  1. Persistent Cart

    Having a persistent cart means that if a customer leaves your store before checkout out they’ll be able to return later and the same items will be in their cart, ready to complete that order. Without it customers may return but find their cart empty!

    “In 2013, as many as 74% of online shopping carts were abandoned by shoppers, according to data shared with BI Intelligence by e-commerce data company, Barilliance. In 2014 this figure is set to rise again for the third year running”

    Shopify Builder Shopify does automatically save items which your customers have added to their carts – but only for a limited time. You can’t choose how long items will remain in a customer’s cart, for example, and if the customer logs on to their account on your store with a different device then they won’t have their cart content there. Persistent gives you the enhanced control and functionality that many consider ‘standard’ for ecommerce stores today.

    We recommend Persistent because it has excellent ratings and it’s really easy to use.


  2. Limespot

    Shopify comes with basic product recommendations baked in to most themes. Usually it functions simply by recommending products from the same collection as the product being viewed. While this functionality is OK for some, it can leave a lot to be desired.

    Limespot provides a far more robust engine which tracks customer movement through the store and recommends products which perform best on any given page. We like this because more relevant product sell better – which increases cart volume/value and store revenue. It’s another simple, no-nonsense app which gets the job done and enhances Shopify’s existing functionality to help your store perform to its maximum potential.

    There are lots of similar recommendation apps which take different approaches to generating the recommended product lists that appear on your store. Very large stores might consider using Linkcious who have developed an advanced algorithm to automatically build recommendations which we feel may work better on larger stores.
    Get more page views per user and up to 40% more sales” Limespot


  3. Chimpified

    Email lists can be an outstanding way to create engagement and encourage customers to continue returning to your store. Shopify integrates with Mailchimp (the leading email marketing provider) very easily and in fact most themes will include newsletter subscription boxes which can be easily configured to add subscribers to your Mailchimp list. This is great news and makes it simple for store owners to build their mailing lists quickly and easily.

    However, you could be missing out on subscribers who sign up through the Shopify checkout process since this isn’t synchronised with Mailchimp. In other words, customers who opt in to your mailing list at the checkout stage will not necessarily be added to your Mailchimp mailing list.

    This is where the Chimpified app comes in. It adds any customers who opt in to email marketing to a mailing list of your choice – even if they haven’t explicitly signed up to your mailing list.


  4. Google Shopping

    Most of us begin our online shopping experience with a Google search. Unsurprisingly, we’re likely to check out the first few sites that are displayed – reinforcing the importance of investing in your SEO and marketing efforts. However, we’re just as likely to be influenced by the results displayed under Google’s shopping header – particularly if we are browsing and likely to be swayed by items that stand out.

    Shopify will not automatically list your products in Google Shopping. This means that even if your product pages rank very highly, you are potentially losing business to a less established store with a prominent Google Shopping presence.

    The Google Shopping app is an essential app for Shopify store owners because it creates a connection between your store and Google which allows you to list your products so they show in Google search results under the Google Shopping tab. This can be incredibly powerful, particularly if you’re selling niche products. What’s not to love?


  5. Yotpo Reviews

    Reviews can be one of the most powerful recommendations of your products. Yotpo note that “Customers who engage the Yotpo widget are 4 times more likely to buy” and that “on average, mobile users arriving from a Yotpo click spend 37% more time on site.”

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise. We are naturally more cautious about shopping online and selecting the right product. We are also very cautious about selecting the right retailer, particularly when the same product is also available elsewhere. Price will always be a huge factor, of course, but reputation is arguably even more important and will have a huge impact on your conversion rates. Installing an effective review app will help you to collect positive reviews that influence future customers and persuade visitors to buy from you rather than a competitor.

    We recommend Yotpo specifically because it starts with a generous free plan with enough functionality to match Shopify’s own review app and other review apps. It also allows you to unlock unique, industry leading reporting and marketing tools with a monthly subscription as your store grows. Like many Shopify apps, it’s therefore brilliantly scalable and suitable for stores of all sizes.

*this one hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Written by Dan McIvor
Inconspicuous entrepreneur. Director at SwankyApple. Shopify Plus Expert.