There are more than one million merchants selling on Shopify alone, and more than 80 percent of merchants have used a third-party app to help run their daily operations. As the number of merchants selling online grows, their stores’ needs become more specific and tailored to how, when, where, and what they want to sell.
While Shopify provides the platform and tools for the essential needs of ecommerce entrepreneurs, there are still new merchant challenges and opportunities constantly coming up. App developers are uniquely positioned to have a big impact on ecommerce when they build apps that address pain points merchants face.
"App developers are uniquely positioned to have a big impact on ecommerce when they build apps that address pain points merchants face."
In this article, we’ll highlight three key merchant pain points and provide inspiration from some high-performing app developers who successfully build apps that solve merchant-specific challenges.
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Merchants look to apps and developers to solve challenges
While it may seem that merchants visit the app store in search of unique tools or interesting enhancements, a merchant’s main motivation for installing new apps is to fill a specific need or to alleviate a particular challenge. This could include sourcing inventory, creating marketing campaigns, or converting currencies for foreign customers.
"A merchant’s main motivation for installing new apps is to fill a specific need or to alleviate a particular challenge."
App developers who build apps that directly tackle merchant pain points are on a solid path to success.
To help move you further along on your own path, we’ve identified some of the top pain points that drive merchants to the Shopify App Store. Three of the top pain points are:
- Updating products and inventory
- Understanding website traffic and trends
- Editing the look and feel of a store
We’ve outlined some key reasons why merchants need assistance with these tasks, and what to consider as you build apps to solve these challenges. We also give some examples of apps that have addressed these pain points.
You might also like: The Essential List of Resources for Shopify App Development.
1. Updating products and inventory
Not only are inventory issues related to the quantity of products, they can also be tied to the type of products sold within a particular category.
One of the largest industries on Shopify is fashion and apparel. Apps like Return Magic (which was acquired by Shopify in 2018) have created solutions that address some of the biggest challenges in managing products and inventory in the fashion and apparel industry.
In Return Magic’s case, they built a robust app for managing returns. Since issues such as size fit and fabric feel can typically only be tested through in-person interactions (while being in line with COVID-19 physical distancing protocols), the apparel industry is known for its high rate of online purchase returns.
Focusing on this specific industry insight, these app developers created a solution to make this part of retail purchasing smoother for both merchants and their customers.
Rewind is another great example of an app that focuses on a particular inventory concern. For shops that carry several different SKUs, and have in-depth details listed on each product’s page (common for fashion, health, and beauty products), product data is critical.
With so much detail living online, if their product data was ever lost, it would take hours for the merchants to re-input everything. This would result in store downtime and lost sales. Rewind alleviates this anxiety by backing-up store data, and giving these kinds of merchants better peace of mind.
One thing these popular apps have in common is that they identified headaches around managing products within a particular industry, and created effective solutions based on these insights.
"They identified headaches around managing products within a particular industry, and created effective solutions based on these insights."
While there are already many effective apps focused around solving inventory issues specific to fashion and apparel merchants, there are other industries growing rapidly on Shopify that do not yet have the same breadth of app options.
Unique products may have their own sourcing, packaging, shipping, and distribution needs. By researching challenges within growing industries, you may uncover a merchant challenge that your app could solve, and will have less competition from other apps at the onset.
2. Understanding website traffic and trends
All merchants want to attract as many visitors to their site as possible. But to help turn site visits into sales, merchants need to better understand details about how and why customers arrived at their online store. Some information that could be valuable to merchants includes:
- Region—Helping merchants understand which countries site visitors are from, and any regional issues around shipping and payments
- Discoverability—Helping merchants be more visible on search engines or social media
- Buying journey—Helping merchants understand how frequently customers visit their site, and what other sites they visit during purchase decision making
It’s important to note that while Shopify’s merchants are currently predominant in English-speaking markets, we’ve seen significant year-over-year growth across all continents. Not only are merchants serving customers all over the world, they’re based all around the world themselves.
By looking at regional search trends, as well as trends within industries, you may discover that there are new features or functions that merchants would like to incorporate into their stores. These capabilities might include virtual reality, augmented reality, and better user experience on mobile devices.
You might also like: How to Get More App Downloads in the Shopify App Store.
3. Editing the look and feel of a store
Not only is it important for merchants to make the store feel like a reflection of their brand, they also want to make certain adaptations to fit with industry or regional expectations, as well as emerging trends.
One app developer that does a great job of creating simple apps that help merchants add visual features to their stores is Hextom. They’re the creators of multiple apps, including Free Shipping Bar, Quick Announcement Bar, and Countdown Timer Bar.
Although these features may seem small, they’re of great importance to merchants.
"Although these features may seem small, they’re of great importance to merchants."
By staying on top of new trends Shopify merchants are reading and talking about, you may see an opportunity for your app to become a leader in providing new functions or features.
A few places to look for these trends are sites like The Verge and The Next Web. It’s also a good idea to consult the Shopify Forums to see what merchants themselves are discussing.
You might also like: How to Get Reviews for Your Shopify Apps.
Build apps to solve merchant challenges
Although there’s a robust selection of apps available to merchants on the app store, there are still many untapped opportunities. As the number of business owners embracing ecommerce continues to grow, so will the opportunities to build apps that will help solve merchant challenges, and you can be a part of it.
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