The Shopify Commerce Awards are an opportunity for Shopify Partners and Developers to submit their best apps and client work for a chance to be celebrated as the best in the business.
In 2017, Commerce Awards judges recognized 16 award winners in the categories of Design, User Experience and User Interface (UX and UI), Apps and Development, and Marketing and Branding.
So what happens after you win a Shopify Commerce Award? We caught up with three Apps and Development award winners to learn how winning impacted their unique journeys as Shopify Partners and Developers.
Winner #1: Pledgeling
- Shopify Partner: Pledgeling
- Years as a Shopify Partner: Four
- Category Winner: Best App Design Using Polaris
- App Submitted: Give & Grow
Since winning the Commerce Awards 2017 category, Best App Design Using Polaris, for its app, Give & Grow, fundraising platform Pledgeling saw a 200 percent increase in app installs after the award was announced, and has grown to power donations of more than 5,000 Shopify merchants.
"Pledgeling saw a 200 percent increase in Give & Grow app installs after winning a Shopify Commerce Award, and has grown to power donations of more than 5,000 Shopify merchants."
“The impact of winning a Commerce Award had positive effects across all areas of our business and we immediately saw a spike in installs,” says Meghan Gibson, Impact Partnerships Director at Pledgeling.
“We’ve grown from a few stores to now thousands of stores processing millions of donations each month,” she says.
The impact of winning a Commerce Award had positive effects across all areas of our business and we immediately saw a spike in installs.
Enabling merchants and customers to do good with each purchase
The app is named “Give & Grow” because when stores install the app, it drives both positive business results and meaningful social impact. Pledgeling has been at the forefront of app development business trends, specifically cross-platform app proliferation, with partnerships across platforms such as Shopify, Evite, Cost Plus World Market, and most recently, Zoom.
Gibson says Pledgeling’s partners who install the Give & Grow app experience increases in customer long-term value (LTV) of 40 percent, increases in average order value (AOV) of 35 percent, and “transformational changes” in customer engagement. More than 6.5 million microdonations were made to nonprofits via Shopify merchants who installed Give & Grow.
As of December 2020, Shopify merchants who have installed the app and their customers who made donations are responsible for:
- 1,214,039 meals provided to families and children in need
- 946,519 people provided with safe, clean drinking water for a year
- 138,137 trees planted to help with forest restoration
- 54,811 minutes of crisis phone, chat, and text line support provided to support those in need
- 24,343 pediatric isolation masks to help protect patients with compromised immune systems
“We are proud of the incredible impact that our community of Shopify Partners has been able to achieve,” Gibson says.
You might also like: Announcing the 2020 Shopify Commerce Awards: Celebrating the Best in the Business.
Product advancements: how to improve on a winning app
Both Polaris, Shopify’s design system, and Give & Grow have evolved since 2017. Pledgeling used Polaris’s pre-built components to speed up the app development process for their award-winning app design. When designing apps for the Shopify platform, key considerations include: accessibility, internationalization, information architecture, and design for mobile.
Since Pledgeling’s 2017 win, the team has made several UX and UI updates to Give & Grow, many of which were based on requests from Shopify merchants, including:
- Seamlessly rounding up a purchase to donate
- Adding a dollar donation (or customized donation) at checkout
- Allowing stores to integrate multiple nonprofits into a transaction
- Enabling customers to split a donation evenly among multiple nonprofits
“To win a Commerce Award—and to also be the first and only social good app to win a Commerce Award—was really meaningful to our team, and a validator of our shared belief that ecommerce and the world are looking for more purpose-driven brands and applications,” Gibson says.
The next steps to continue transforming lives
So, what’s next for Pledgeling? Their nonprofit database now supports more than 2 million nonprofits in 100 countries (including every nonprofit in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand), and there are plans to continue to expand.
While Pledgeling doesn’t plan to submit any apps in this year’s Commerce Awards, the team says they will look to submit again in the future.
“The overall experience was extremely positive for our team and the award recognition is highly regarded not only within Shopify, but also externally across other platforms and industries," Gibson says. “Applying for the Commerce Awards was one of the best decisions we made after launching our Give & Grow app, and we strongly encourage others to apply as well.”
Applying for the Commerce Awards was one of the best decisions we made after launching our Give & Grow app, and we strongly encourage others to apply as well.
Winner #2: Swell Rewards, a Yotpo company
- Shopify Partner: Swell Rewards (a Yotpo company)
- Years as a Shopify Partner: Six (acquired by Yotpo in 2018)
- Category Winner: Best Store Experience Using Shopify Scripts
- Client Work Submitted: Soko Glam
Improving your client’s customer experience is a great way to demonstrate your impact as a Shopify Partner or Developer. Not only can you truly make a difference in your client’s business but there’s ample opportunity for your own business to scale and grow as well.
That was the case for Swell when the team won the 2017 Shopify Commerce Award for Best Store Experience Using Shopify Scripts—a solution created for their client Soko Glam.
Swell was recognized for using Shopify Scripts to create a seamless, personalized experience for customers who wanted to redeem points and products, a practice popularized by big beauty brands offering rewards and loyalty programs.
You might also like: Announcing the Winners of the 2017 Shopify Commerce Awards.
Developer recognition for excellent ideas
“The team felt really proud to be recognized across the ecosystem so prominently,” says Swell co-founder Josh Enzer.
“I was really proud in particular for my co-founder and CTO James Peerless—he was the brainchild behind the feature that won us the Commerce Award in the first place,” Enzer says. “Developers don't always get the chance they deserve to enjoy the spotlight, so it was great to see him get the credit he deserved.”
Developers don't always get the chance they deserve to enjoy the spotlight, so it was great to see him get the credit he deserved.
Swell felt it was important to have a strong offering for the range of merchants Shopify serves, from first-time entrepreneurs interested in a self-serve solution up to Shopify Plus brands.
However, Enzer says building features for larger, more established brands was a critical component of succeeding in that segment, and Swell started to see more interest from increasingly larger companies. The number of Shopify Plus merchants who used the app doubled from 2017 to 2018.
“Winning a Shopify Commerce Award really helped us earn more Shopify Plus customers; we've found that these customers care deeply that their technology partners are extensively integrated into Shopify, and the award gave us a huge leg up,” Enzer says. “It's one thing to say that we work closely with Shopify, and something much more meaningful to say that we've developed key innovations for which we've received awards from Shopify themselves.”
Swell Rewards is now one of the Shopify Plus apps recommended as part of the Shopify Plus Certified App Program.
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Bigger customers, more business growth
Shortly after the Shopify Commerce Award winners were announced in early 2018, one of Swell’s longtime technology partners, Yotpo, initiated serious discussions around an acquisition.
“Yotpo was able to move quickly to do their due diligence and make us an offer,” Enzer says.
By August 2018, Swell became a Yotpo company.
Enzer spent the next 12 months helping to integrate Swell into Yotpo’s product offerings. The scope of his role expanded over time, and he even assisted with Yotpo’s acquisition of SMSBump in January 2020 as well.
“I'm in the 95th percentile when it comes to engagement for post-acquisition founders,” Enzer says enthusiastically. He cites Yotpo company culture as a key reason for his successful transition from co-founder at Swell to Vice President of Product Marketing at Yotpo.
“Yotpo is an organization with huge aspirations and is filled with lots of driven, super-talented, down-to-earth people, so I've found that there are tons of really interesting things which I've enjoyed working on.”
You might also like: 7 Web Design and Development Awards You Should Apply For.
Before the acquisition, Enzer and his team were confident they had a great product, but felt limited in their ability to reach merchants and let them know Swell existed. Joining Yotpo gave Swell a boost in product awareness and market reach.
“It was amazing to see the product put in the hands of a larger team that could take it to a larger audience, and at Yotpo, I've learned an incredible amount about what it takes to make that happen,” he says.
Through Yotpo, Swell was able to make major investments in its background architecture to serve both more stores and more high-volume stores. In the short-term, Enzer says it was painful to tell customers they would have to wait slightly longer until they saw game-changing new features, such as segments, modules, and predictive segmentation. But, the ultimate result over the past two years has been an accelerated feature roadmap.
Post-acquisition planning and production
Enzer says there’s much more to come in 2021 for merchants who use Swell, now known as Swell Loyalty & Rewards.
Swell Loyalty & Rewards plans to submit at least one entry to the 2020 Shopify Commerce Awards and is looking forward to the opportunity to participate again.
“It's a no-brainer! You've already done 99 percent of the work in developing the feature itself, so taking the incremental few minutes to submit the application is an extremely high-yield activity relative to the benefits it can generate for your business,” Enzer says.
You've already done 99 percent of the work in developing the feature itself, so taking the incremental few minutes to submit the application is an extremely high-yield activity relative to the benefits it can generate for your business.
Winner #3: FORSBERG+two
- Shopify Partner: FORSBERG+two
- Years as a Shopify Partner: 10
- Category Winner: Best App Experience Using the Marketing Events API
- App Submitted: OrderlyEmails
For Björn Forsberg, the founder of FORSBERG+two, a development and design studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark, winning the 2017 Shopify Commerce Award for Best App Experience Using the Marketing Events API had a deep, personal impact.
“Winning a Shopify Commerce Award was a big deal, and something that I am still very proud of. It was really nice to get recognition from the judging team, many of whom I look up to as well,” Forsberg says. “I also sometimes struggle with imposter syndrome, and this really helped boost confidence in my abilities as an app developer. So it was a great experience both from a personal level and a professional level.”
Forsberg says he sometimes wondered if what he was creating was “good enough” when it came to UX, UI, and pricing, but the community recognition reassured him that he was on the right track.
“Winning the award really helped me accept and push these feelings to the background, as it proved that what I'm doing is good, at least in the eyes of the judges,” he says. “Also, holding a quick talk at that year's Shopify Unite, talking about the win and the features themselves got great feedback, which further helped me build confidence and belief in my abilities as a creator.”
Gaining confidence and building merchant trust
Forsberg’s studio is small—a company of one by design, and something he works to maintain since starting as a side hustle in 2011. He only recently expanded in late 2020 when he partnered with SupportHeroes for customer support, and hired his wife for administration and marketing, and one other developer to join his team.
“I started my company with the goal of creating a lifestyle that revolved around freedom instead of work. So I wanted to keep FORSBERG+two a company of one for as long as possible by thinking in terms of streamlining instead of growth at all costs,” Forsberg says. “It's worked out great, but as my apps and customer base has grown, I was getting less and less freedom.”
Forsberg now has four apps available on the Shopify App Store, serving more than 75,000 merchants.
While Forsberg says he didn’t see a direct impact on OrderlyEmails installs after winning the award, he found it valuable to display an official Shopify Commerce Award badge on his site, which helped to build trust with potential customers, and assist with the launch of his own referral program.
“It’s been a great way to show proof of the quality and thought that goes into my apps,” he says. “It adds that extra layer of trust that can be so hard to develop with customers online.”
Winning a Shopify Commerce Award has been a great way to show proof of the quality and thought that goes into my apps. It adds that extra layer of trust that can be so hard to develop with customers online.
Small by design, big community connection
Forsberg says one of the biggest benefits he received as a Commerce Award winner was the opportunity to connect with the Shopify Partner and Developer community in a bigger way, and has helped him to become a trusted, experienced voice among those who build on the Shopify platform.
“I've always been pretty active in the community by attending meetups and Shopify Unite, and engaging online,” Forsberg says. “However, after winning the Commerce Award, attending and engaging in the community changed for the positive. I was invited to attend more things, get on podcasts, speak at the last Shopify Unite, and generally just get to meet a lot more people.”
While Forsberg doesn’t plan to submit an entry into this year’s Commerce Awards due to time constraints, he intends to stay involved in the community and help share insights and information with other app developers looking to learn and grow.
So what's his one piece of advice for app developers who aren’t sure they want to submit an entry in this year’s awards?
“Do it! It’s well worth the effort and is a great way to grow as a developer both personally and financially,” Forsberg says. “Remember to not only create a great solution, but also to spend time writing the award entry for the judges. It's really hard to judge something if they don't know how to test it, as well as all the thoughts and design decisions around your solution.”
Do it! It’s well worth the effort and is a great way to grow as a developer both personally and financially.
A Shopify Commerce Award win can take you to the next level
Each Shopify Partner or Developer who wins a Shopify Commerce Award has their own unique experience. But one thing is clear: what you do afterwards can change the course of your business and professional life into the future.
It’s time once again to show off your best work to be recognized by your users, clients, and peers.
The 2020 Shopify Commerce Awards are still accepting submissions until Jan. 31, 2021 and are open to Shopify Partners and Developers. Please be sure to review all of our eligibility criteria in the competition rules.
The 2020 Shopify Commerce Awards
Enter your best work for your chance to be recognized by the Shopify community. Check out the 2020 Shopify Commerce Awards submission website for full eligibility criteria and more.Submit application