The Shopify App Store had a huge year in 2018. With the launch of the redesigned app store, the announcement that the average number of apps used by merchants had risen from four to six, and ongoing improvements for app developers, we don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be building for Shopify.
It was also a big year in terms of who joined our platform. In 2018, we added hundreds of new apps to the app store, many of which were built by developers who were brand new to Shopify. And among the most successful of these new apps, we saw certain themes emerging—specifically, we saw how these new developers were finding ways to help merchants better serve and connect with buyers worldwide.
And so, whether you’re new to our app ecosystem, or thinking about embarking on the journey of becoming a Shopify app developer, we’re sharing the secret sauce of some of the spiciest new apps in the ecosystem. Below are three major themes we saw in new, successful apps in 2018.
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1. Modifications for buyers in different regions
Shopify has been growing rapidly worldwide, and many of our merchants are working to expand globally too. However, localizing stores for multiple markets can be a daunting task. This is where apps come in, to help add local touches for buyers.
A great example of an app that has worldwide buyers in mind is newcomer Kiwi Sizing. While there are multiple sizing chart apps on the app store, Kiwi Sizing recognized that just like the clothing merchants sell, size charts are rarely one size fits all. Different countries use different measurement standards, such as the common use of inches in the United States and the common use of centimeters in Europe. Also, an American size six can differ in proportion to a UK size six.
By offering size charts with multiple measurements, Kiwi Sizing helps more buyers find the information they need. Furthermore, the fact that the app does automatic size conversions for merchants helps save time for their app users.
What to think about: Do different buyers in different regions experience your storefront app differently? How can you make your app more friendly for a global audience, and promote this to merchants?
You might also like: Selling in Multiple Currencies with Shopify Payments: What this Means for App Developers.
2. Making storefronts accessible to buyers of all abilities
The diversity of buyers that merchants sell to goes beyond regional differences. For many buyers, their interactions with stores are experienced through screen readers. In fact, around 285 million people worldwide struggle to view website content due to some kind of disability.
While all app developers can find guidelines to make their web applications more accessible in our Polaris style guide, one new app of 2018, Accessibility Enabler, chose to focus solely on helping merchants make their own stores more accessible to buyers with disabilities that could make it difficult to browse online stores.
The Accessibility Enabler app allows merchants to add an accessibility toolbar to their online store. This toolbar allows buyers to self-select the store modifications they need to view the store, including dyslexic-friendly fonts, color contrasts for different types of color blindness, and font size increases.
What to think about: Are the storefront components of your app easily read by screen readers? Are the colors used difficult to read by color blind or visually impaired audiences? How can you communicate that your app works for buyers of all abilities?
You might also like: 9 Tools for Website Accessibility Testing.
3. Helping merchants reach buyers on their mobile devices
Given how attached we all are to our smartphones, it’s not surprising that more and more online purchases are taking place in the palms of buyers’ hands. In fact, during Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2018, 66 percent of Shopify stores’ sales occurred on mobile devices.
Just as many of you use tools like Shopify App Bridge to help ensure that your app renders well on mobile, so too have app developers built their businesses around making merchants’ stores mobile-optimized as well.
A couple new mobile-focused apps that entered the app store in 2018 were AMP by Shop Sheriff and AmplifyMe, which allow merchants to create AMP pages for their stores. Accelerated Mobile Pages (more commonly known as AMP) is a project launched by Google in early 2016, with the mission of improving the performance of the mobile web. These apps converts store pages into an AMP format, to help pages load faster for buyers shopping on their phones. By helping merchants take advantage of this mobile-first opportunity, these apps were able to find success on our app store.
What to think about: What is the current experience of your app on mobile devices? Is there a way you can optimize your app to help merchants reach and sell to more buyers on mobile?
You might also like: How Google’s AMP Project is Changing the Mobile Web.
Will your new app be a 2019 success story?
Whether you plan on introducing a new app or improving your current one, we want to equip you with the advice and tools you need to help you dominate your app store category. We recommend that you subscribe to the new Developer Changelog, stay tuned to this blog for tips and advice from the Shopify community, and check out resources like Polaris and Shopify App Bridge to help you quickly and easily upgrade your app for a better user experience.
Planning on launching a new Shopify app in 2019? Let us know in the comments below!