shopify twilio dev contest smallA couple of weeks ago, at the very end of November, Shopify and Twilio announced a contest in which we challenged developers to write an app that made use of both Shopify’s ecommerce API and Twilio’s phone API. We offered some interesting prizes as well as bragging rights, and a number of developers stepped forth with their creations.

Various members of the Shopify and Twilio teams reviewed the app submissions last week. On the Shopify side, it was me and my fellow members of Shopify’s Apps Team, Edward “Open Data, Skinny Jeans” Ocampo-Gooding and David “Rooty Tooty Point-and-Shooty” Underwood. Along with the fine folks at Twilio, we chose three apps that we thought were both creative and made good use of both our APIs.

And they are…

First Place: Buzzy

Before I begin, take a look at this video of a delivery guy "dropping off" the monitor that Craig "Craigslist" Newmark ordered:

Ouch. If only the delivery person had the access code, he could’ve opened the gate and not simply chucked the monitor over it.

sam wilsonEnter Buzzy, the app that acts like a “disposable automated doorman”. If you live in a building with one of those buzzer systems that rings your apartment’s phone and you’re expecting a delivery (hopefully from a Shopify-powered shop!), Buzzy can give the delivery person an access code to open the lobby door. Buzzy integrates with Shopify so that an access code is activated when a product is shipped and deactivated when the product is delivered.

Buzzy is the creation of Ottawa-based developer Sam Wilson, who dropped by the Shopify office earlier this week to pose for his victory photo (see left). We liked it because it was an excellent fusion of both Shopify (online shops, which necessitate delivery) and Twilio (phone apps) and solved a problem that many people have: the delivery guy not being able to get past that locked lobby door. It was clearly the most ambitious, clever and original of the app submitted to the contest, so there wan’t much debate over which submission would win first prize.

Here’s a video of Buzzy in action:

As the first prize winner, Sam got to take home an 11-inch MacBook Air and 27-inch Apple Cinema Display.

Second Place: CallBack

Nothing helps a shop do better business than customer feedback. That’s what CallBack is for: it lets shopowners create automated phone surveys. After an order is fulfilled, CallBack calls a customer on the phone and presents him/her with a quick survey.

The video below shows how CallBack works:

CallBack's developers were Josh and Steve Conley. In addition to being a useful app, we also liked CallBack it was rare in one key area: while most apps used the Twilio API to turn the phone into an output-only device, CallBack uses the phone as both an input device (for customer answers to the survey) as well as an output device (for providing the survey instructions and questions).

As the winners of second prize, Josh and Steve will get a Lego Mindstorms swag bag featuring NXT 2.0, a bundle of touch, light and sound sensors, and a Bluetooth dongle.

Third Place: Helpline

Sometimes, you just need to talk to someone when looking for help in a store. We think the same thing happens in online shops – wouldn’t it be nice to get help from a real live human being?

Helpline does just that. It adds a “click-to-call” button to your shop’s product pages so that customers can talk to someone from your shop about specific products. As a shopowner, Helpline will let you know what product they’re currently looking at before they have the chance to tell you.

Here’s a quick screenshot of Helpline in action:

helpline screenshot

As the third prize winner, Helpline’s developer gets a Kindle Fire ebook reader.

In Closing…

twilio logo

We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the contest and submitted an app. Hopefully, it gave you a chance to check out the Shopify and Twilio APIs and perhaps think of new uses for them, either separately or together!

We’d also like to thank the folks at Twilio for inviting us to help out with their developer contest. At Shopify, we’re big fans of Twilio and see it as a natural fit for all sorts of mash-ups with Shopify.

Keep an eye on this blog: in the new year, we’ll be talking a lot of Shopify app development, and one of the topics will be Shopify/Twilio mashups. And keep an eye on Twilio’s contest page – they’ve often got some kind of competition going!

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.