Hi guys! I’m finally back from a much need vacation in the Poconos. This time around I’m going to give you a few tips for anyone selling on Shopify…
…Are you in the process of starting up your Shopify business, but feeling a bit overwhelmed choosing which apps to get for your store? The beauty of Shopify is that it’s a powerful webstore builder, with a seemingly endless number of apps (sort of like the plugins for a WordPress site) available to install. These apps are GREAT, because they all contribute to the aesthetics, functionality, and ultimately the success of your store!
The downside is that picking which ones to use can be overwhelming.
When I first started my Shopify store, and checked out the app selection to find what my store would need, I was flooded. Total information overload. What would my store need? And which apps were the best in each category? I didn’t even know what most of them did.
After a lot of research, tons of trial and error, and a few… I admit… disasters, I’ve narrowed down some of the best apps for your Shopify store, and the kinds that you may not have thought you needed (but you do).
Check out these options! And remember, JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING HAS A 4.5 TO 5 STAR RATING DOES NOT MEAN IT’S ACTUALLY THE BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR STORE!!
Category 1: Webstore Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
No matter what kind of website you’re trying to grow, your SEO is essential to getting traffic and sales. SEO is slightly different from one kind of site to another. The SEO that you would use on a WordPress blog, or on Pinterest (see my Pinterest SEO guide right here), is different than what you might use while selling physical products on your store. Master the SEO for your store, and you’ll be able to gradually rank your content in the search engines.
If customers are organically finding your products when they search for them online, you’ll be able to start landing sales without relying exclusively on ad spending. In fact, SEO is generally the fastest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing effort in the biz.
So what’s the best first step for your store’s SEO? Make sure you get a solid SEO app for your store.
Here’s my #1 recommended SEO app that will provide your store with SEO solutions:
Plug In SEO
The Plug In SEO app should be your most comprehensive SEO solution for your Shopify store. This app is the most downloaded of the SEO apps among Shopify store owners (over 30,000 of us are using Plug In SEO currently), and with good reason. Instead of having to download a labyrinth of different SEO apps for each separate issue, this app will monitor and tackle all of the SEO categories that your store will deal with.
If you know SEO at all, you know there’s a lot of keep up with. Sitemaps, keywords, redirects that get lost in the woods, images that are need MAJOR resizing… Plug In SEO will stay on top of these things to give you peace of mind, and save you time.
The beauty of Plug In SEO is that it also has free and basic plans for beginner Shopify store owners. Instead of having to pick up a monthly cost (like some of the $25/month options), Plug In SEO has basic or free plans for young stores that have tighter budgets. On the flip side, you can upgrade to the $20 plan when your store is scaling and growing.
The difference between the free plan and the premium plan is basically as follows:
– The Plug In SEO free plan monitors everything SEO related for you, from site speed, to broken images. When there are issues it will alert you throuh emails and notifications, and provide you with instructions on how to fix them problems.
– The Premium plan, which costs $20/month, gives you a higher level of SEO control by automating a lot of the fixes for you. Instead of you tackling the issues that it uncovers, the AI of the software will automatically attend to many SEO issues.
You can easily upgrade or downgrade from the free to premium plan whenever you need to. Ultimately, Plug In SEO should provide you with one of the most comprehensive and affordable options for your budding store.
Category 2: Suppliers
What’s the point of a store without any products, right? Your product is one of your most important keys to success. That almost goes without saying. In fact, having the right or wrong products will make or break your success.
But it’s not enough just to have a good idea, or to know the audience that you want to sell to! If your supplier is unreliable, the quality of your products poor, or your shipments too slow, it will hurt your brand. There are a lot of different ways to sell on Shopify – whether you’re dropshipping, or buying your products in bulk, you can’t afford to put your trust in bad suppliers. So what are the best apps for finding suppliers?
The best known resource for suppliers is Oberlo. It’s Shopify’s own supplier directory, and it’s a user friendly place to find thousands of product options.
So is Oberlo the best supplier app for your store? Here’s my review with more details on Oberlo, but for the short pros and cons list, check it out below:
Pros of using Oberlo as your supplier:
– ENORMOUS number of products available through Oberlo
– Oberlo pre-screens suppliers to make sure they’re not scams, so you can rest easy
– the free plan is more than enough to get you started!
Cons of Oberlo:
– because so many of the products are sourced from China, their delivery times can be long
– products found through Oberlo, or Alieexpress, are not always the highest quality
No, this supplier wasn’t founded by Spock from Star Trek, but it may as well have been. Spocket is the highest rated alternative to Oberlo on Shopify!
Spocket has its base in the United States, and Canada, which allows this supplier to ship much more quickly and efficiently to North American buyers than suppliers from China (like Oberlo/AlieExpress). On top of this, Spocket offers generally high quality products, that are well-reviewed, and likely to make your brand popular! Surprisingly, Spocket’s product prices also tend to be reasonably low (for a dropshipper anyway).
The only disadvantages that Spocket has compared with Oberlo? Spocket historically has fewer product options than Oberlo, or other suppliers like it. Additionally, even though Spocket has a free option, it’s free plan has become fairly useless. Where once it offered product options that you could sell on the free plan, the latest free Spocket plan is more of a search tool than anything else. The Starter Plan costs $9 per month, and would allow you to sell comfortably.
Bear these pros and cons in mind when developing your store. It may help to start out on the free Oberlo plan when you’re first getting your store started, and then branching out to a paid Spocket plan once you’ve built the business up.
Category 3: Print Your Own Merch On Demand
Whether you’re business is selling clothing and accessories, or you just want some merch to represent your brand, there are some great options on Shopify!
The most popular apps for this are print-on-demand apps. These are dropshippers, who will print your designs onto products for you, and complete all of the shipping and fulfillment for you on auto pilot.
I have a lot of experience with these POD apps, because the store that my wife and I run is ALL based on printed products. We use our own designs for it, but you can also hire a Fiverr freelancer to create some cool designs for you if you aren’t much of an artist.
Here are the 5 best Shopify apps for print-on-demand products! All free to use:
For detailed reviews on each of these, click here and I’ll break down each one complete with my personal pros and cons. Yes, I’ve used all 5. Yes, I recommend all 5 (but for different purposes).
Category 4: Automate Your Marketing
You’ve probably heard me use the word AUTO PILOT a few times already, yeah? Well there’s a reason for that. That’s the whole point of Shopify apps. They’re like virtual employees, but much, much cheaper. Trust me, monthly subscriptions don’t come close to payroll costs, or even freelancers.
Outsourcing your knitty, gritty business processes often DOES require freelancers. And it’s more important to keep yourself sane, especially when you start to scale and grow your business. But taken advantage of the software assistance that you have available to you on Shopify.
Believe it or not, there are even ways for you to automate a lot of your marketing.
You’ll need apps for the different sales channels that you want to use – Facebook, Messenger, Instagram – an app for each channel that you use to make sales. Then you can use some of the apps below to master your marketing!
One of the easiest things that you can do from the beginning, that will cost you $0, is to use the Instant Traffic app. This is an Ad Exchange! In other words, Instant Traffic connects you with other sellers in your category, and it lets you show each other’s ads on each other’s stores. So ads for your product will be displayed in other Shopify stores, and you, in turn, will display ads for other brands.
This makes it 100% free (as long as you’re only pushing 5 products at a time, the more advanced plan costs $19/month). It’s definitely a worthwhile app to use, especially for users who are new to selling.
One of the most important things you need to grow your brand is to build a following. It’s much cheaper and easier to keep your old customers, than it is to keep chasing new ones. That’s why it’s essential to have an opt-in pop up!
Similar to the MiloTree plugin for a WordPress site, there are a number of Shopify apps you can use to create an opt in pop up. One of the most popular, customizable, and easy-to-use, is OptinMonster’s option.
Encourage your customers to stay in the loop with an invite. Whether they follow you through their email, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or anywhere else, retaining customers who opt in to your following is a key to success.
Nudgify or TrustPulse
Like opt ins, another extremely important feature for your store needs to be social proof. For more details on the psychology of social proof, check out this blog post giving you the details! To give you the quick version, social proof is a series of notifications that tells your store visitors that other customers are buying. Seeing other shoppers buying, or sharing a product on social media, triggers the human, innate desire to conform with a community.
Humans are social creatures. The evidence of other people’s interest in something is one of the most subtle, but powerful boosts you can give to your product’s appeal.
I mention both Nudgify and TrustPulse, because both of these apps offer a great social proof service that you can get for free. While both have Premium options, the free installation versions are PERFECT for your new store!
Automated Social Media Marketing Through Kit, Socioh, Outfy, Facebook Messenger Marketing, and Instafeed
These apps are free-install apps, that you can use to create automated advertisements for your social media. Generally, these apps will provide you with templates, and even entire automated advertising systems for a hands-off
Each one of these apps will specialize in different kinds of marketing: Kit for Facebook ads (cheapest beginner option), Socioh for more advanced product ads on Facebook and Instagram, Outfy for a comprehensive, all-in-one social media manager (includes 12 different platforms, including Pinterest. Hashtag guidance, attractive templates, and NO MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION! You only pay small amounts per use), Facebook Messenger Marketing specalizes in marketing products through direct messages, and Instafeed provides a customized, shoppable Instagram feed to your store.
Category 5: Customer Experience
User experience has become one of the supreme factors for successful stores. This goes all the way to the top of e-commerce! Just look at Amazon. They’re obsessed with user experience, and creating options.
Your store needs to have a customer-focused mindset. User experience is the groundwork for that.
Here are a few apps that enhance user exerience on a Shopify store!
The Customer Reviews app is a simple, nifty little app that allows your customers to leave reviews of your products in the store. We live in an age where customers are checking reviews for EVERYTHING they buy. Giving your customers the option to read reviews of your products helps to build trust, and makes them feel like they are making a more informed purchase.
You may have to deal with occassional negative reviews, even if you have a good product, but even these can be helpful. Not only do a few negative reviews make your brand appear more authentic (some bad reviews are impossible to avoid), but they can also help you gauge your customer’s preferences.
Customers like to be able to read reviews. Simple as that.
Tidio Live Chat
One of the most important aspects of good customer experience is accessibility. I can speak from personal experience, as a customer I love when I can eaisly get a hold of a brand with my questions.
This isn’t just important for problem solving, or seeming accessible. It also helps save sales. You could be losing dozens, or even hundreds of sales to customers who abandon their orders at checkout because they have unaswered questions.
That’s where the awesome Tidio Live Chat app comes in. Their free plan is a perfectly sufficient solution! Tidio provides a live chat box where you can respond live to your customer’s needs and concerns. Better yet, it even enables Bots to automatically provide responses when you aren’t available. This way your customers are never left hanging.
Tidio Live Chat also integrates with email and Facebook messenger, so no matter what way your customers reach out to you, you’ll be notified.
Try Them Out
These are just a few of my personal favorite Shopify apps. Picking the best apps for Shopify is tough, because there are so many! I recommend trying out all of these. The more you use each one, the more comfortable you’ll get with them.
Honestly, you’ll have to experience some of your own trial and error as you grow your store. There will always be bumps in the road, or mistakes you’ll make while your business is young. There will be growing pains. But seeing your store slowly grow through them is an amazing feeling!
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to let me know in the comments below. And good luck!