An Expert’s Guide To “Should I Use This Shopify App?”

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Ecommerce has been the answer to the prayers of entrepreneurs around the world. It’s convenient, cost-effective, and a great way to reach customers. But sometimes your store can feel a little “basic”, or lack something that you know would be great. If you have had the pleasure of using a larger ecommerce platform (i.e. Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento), you know about one if it’s greatest benefits: apps.

Although Apple coined “there’s an app for that”, it rings true all-the-same with online stores. From marketing, to analytics, to customer service, to accounting and everything in between, apps can turn your out-of-the-box online store into an absolute powerhouse. The best part is, they’ve made it easy to do. But with thousands of apps out there for countless purposes, how do you know if an app is right for you?

After helping hundreds of online stores find the right app to help measure and improve customer experience, the team at Fetch knows the right questions to ask!

1) What does it really do? Is it financially worth it?

Browsing the app store can make you feel like a kid in a candy store sometimes. So be sure to look through the flashy logos and images, and really understand what an app does. Just because it’s featured at the top of the app store doesn’t mean you need it!

More importantly, these apps aren’t always free. As a general rule of thumb, we have two ways of evaluating if an app is worth it’s cost:

(1) ROI: If an app costs $5/month, will it produce more than $5 for you in revenue/profit?
*Be sure to give it a few months of testing to truly evaluate effectiveness.
(2) Time vs Value: How many hours of work will this app save your team from doing? In this scenario: (# of Hours x Hourly Wage) must be higher than the cost of the app.

To use Fetch as an example, we found that stores were typically spending at least 1 hour per day emailing customers to try and make sure they were happy with their orders. After a quick survey, they each valued their time at $20/hour on average. So in this case… 30 hours/month x $20/hour = $600 in wages.
*Fetch starts at just $9.99/month, and gets much higher results, which is why so many stores have chosen to use it!

2) How simple is getting started?

Every app will have a different process to get up and running. Some will be as simple as clicking “install”, while others might require an account, and others might have you calling your developers or app development agency. The things to keep in mind when making your decision on an app should be:

How long will the set-up take?
Less than 15 minutes is ideal, and less than 5 is great.
Can I do it myself, or will I need a developer?
Things you can do by yourself are much easier, and will likely require less maintenance in the future.
Is there a free trial?
Most apps will offer a free trial period. This starts as soon as you install the app, so make sure to start trying it right away to see if you like it.
Is this going to cause me unnecessary stress for the function I will be getting from the app?
For example, is it really worth 5 hours of set-up to have a “20% Off” banner at the top of your store? That’s for you to decide.
How easy is it to uninstall if I don’t like it?
It should be very easy to uninstall and cancel. If it’s not, that is a big red flag.

3) Who is behind the app?

Always check reviews and testimonials for indicators of an app’s success and reputation. Great places to check include the app store, their website, and social media. This will often give you a great idea of the developer’s integrity, and the effectiveness of the app.

Another crucial thing on our checklist is how available they are for support. We like to see things like a live chat, 24/7 web support, and most importantly: a number to call! It’s always nice to know somebody will be on the other end of the line if something is urgent and you want to pick up a phone.

4) How much work is it going to cost you?

Every app will require something from you—it’s a matter of how much work, and how often! We typically recommend apps that require some work upfront (i.e. in set-up to make sure it’s tuned the way you like it), but no work on an on-going basis. Apps that you can set and forget are our favourites, because it’s like having a virtual employee working around the clock for you, that you never have to worry about!

5) Do I need it now?

Is it something you really need right now? Do you have enough customers to justify it’s price or function? Are you even ready for the results it could bring?

Your store is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t rush into a Shopify app if you’re not ready for it yet!

6) I can’t find the perfect app anywhere!

As entrepreneurs, we know that you all have a vision. So what do you do if you think of the perfect app for your store, but it doesn’t exist?

Create it!

Any app development agency can and will help, often for less than you would imagine. To make it even better, this can become another side-business for you. If it’s a great idea, other store owners will likely want to use it as well, and it could pay for itself in no time.

7) BONUS: When in doubt, ask an expert.

Reputable developers in the space, such as Shopify Experts, have a ton of experience with apps from A to Z. They are more than happy to give you their opinion on apps, which they have often had direct experience to through clients. Even better, some Shopify Experts even have partnerships with apps and can pass along great promotions to you for your store!

Just like the kid in the candy store, sifting through thousands of apps can be a lot to handle for any store owner. But if you ask yourself the above questions before selecting an app, you can make sure you’re using the right apps to make your store a powerhouse!

Guest Post by Russell Silver
Founder + CEO at Fetch

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