When you're looking to grow your apps' user base, it's important to consider all the available options for connecting with merchants. A key area of the Shopify App Store is the Staff Picks section, and being featured in this prominent position can be a huge boost for your install base and your brand, as it recognizes that your app is trusted by Shopify.
This can be especially impactful in the early stages of promoting your app, to help you get in front of merchants on the Shopify App Store, and accelerate your install rate. Being featured as a Staff Pick is a great opportunity to gain exposure, which means it really pays to maximize the possibility of being selected.
In this post we'll explore the benefits of getting featured as a Staff Pick, and how you can improve your chances of getting featured. We'll also share some tips for how to prepare once you're featured.
What are Staff Picks?
Staff Picks are the first apps that a merchant sees when they open the Shopify App Store. This is a carefully curated collection of four apps which are featured here for a full week, and are seen by the 260,000 merchants that visit the Shopify App Store each week.
When choosing apps to feature as a Staff Pick, the Shopify App Review team looks for apps that:
- Solve a niche problem for merchants
- Meet Shopify’s public app requirements
- Offer excellent customer support
Apps are not chosen based on an existing user base, and new additions to the Shopify App Store are regularly highlighted in this collection. SidePanda's Appointo app was featured shortly after being listed, which was very helpful for cofounder Mukul Chaware and his team.
"We got selected as a Staff Pick for Appointo after one to two weeks of getting listed in the Shopify App Store," Chaware says. "Our app was in the MVP stage at that point so it gave us a golden opportunity to iterate the product faster."
Our app was in the MVP stage at that point so it gave us a golden opportunity to iterate the product faster.
Given it's noticeable position above the fold on the Shopify App Store home page, the Staff Picks section is a high traffic space helping enable the opportunity to grow a merchant base. For the many Shopify developers who have appeared here previously, the experience has been highly impactful.
Aneto Okonkwo, cofounder and CEO of Chatdesk, describes the effect his team saw when they were featured as a Staff Pick: "We received hundreds of new installs of our app and the users came from across the world. It exposed us to a much more wide ranging audience of users than we typically have."
In addition to default Staff Picks that are displayed to all merchants on the Shopify App Store, there are also localized picks which are displayed to merchants in specific countries. These local Staff Picks are displayed for an average of one to two months, and are chosen to fit the needs of merchants in that country.
When a merchant is logged into their account and visits the Shopify App Store from a country where we've identified relevant apps, the Staff Picks section will include some of these local selections. The apps will appear for a longer amount of time because the coverage of these apps is more limited than the default Staff Picks.
If an app has a geographic requirement, the Shopify App Store will take into account this requirement to determine if the app will be featured as a local Staff Pick for a specific country. Our Shopify App Review team carefully selects local apps that appear for merchants in 21 countries around the world.
To give you an idea of how many apps appear as Staff Picks, in 2020, we featured over 700 apps in both the default Shopify App Store and Localized Picks combined.
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Staff Picks considerations
To improve the chances of your app being selected for the Staff Picks section, you should follow the Shopify App Store requirements at all times, along with providing a great merchant experience and reliable customer support.
As well as implementing authentication correctly and utilizing the Billing API, the Shopify App Store requirements cover the app listing page, which is a critical factor for being chosen as a Staff Pick.
These are some of the ways you can optimize your app listing page to improve the possibility of appearing as a Staff Pick:
- Create a promotional video to show merchants more about your app.
- Translate your app listing and UI to help reach a wider audience.
- Add a link to your developer website—this is a very commonly clicked element.
- Ensure your detailed description doesn’t include statistics or pricing information.
A specific "featured app banner" is used when we display your app as a Staff Pick, and this can be uploaded when you're submitting your app. When you're preparing your featured app banner, ensure you follow these guidelines:
- The banner image's dimensions should be 1600px by 900px.
- Don't include any text in the banner except for your app name.
- Keep the corners square.
- Leave a margin of 100px around the outside edges of the image.
- Avoid using a white background.
- Be consistent. The icon, benefits, and featured app banner images for your app should all look like they belong to the same brand and product.
- Don't use screenshots of your application.
We recommend you download the template provided on our app store requirements page to create your featured app banner image. This template outlines a safe zone for placing your app name and icon.
Ease of use is also a key factor for selecting Staff Picks so having an intuitive onboarding process that helps merchants get up and running with your app is crucial. Here are some tips for improving your apps' onboarding flow:
- Link to a video that shows the app in action and demonstrates how to use it.
- Sequence tasks or steps in a logical way to minimize issues or confusion.
- Provide highly visible support links where merchants might be getting stuck.
- Use tool tips to provide extra context on elements of your UI.
Your approach to your app customer service is also a key consideration for being selected as a Staff Pick on the Shopify App Store. The following strategies will enhance your customer service experience:
- Use automated emails to assist merchants if they run into issues setting up your app.
- Ensure your documentation is easy to navigate when merchants are looking to solve their own issues.
- Take measures to prepare in advance for busy periods like Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM).
- Develop an organized support structure to keep track of different requests and bug reports.
All of these techniques will not only improve your chances of being featured as a Staff Pick on the Shopify App Store, but will also set you up for success when building solutions for merchants and growing your own software-as-a-service (SaaS) business.
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Preparing for a Staff Pick
If your app has been selected for a Staff Pick, you’ll receive an email from our team notifying you with at least one week advance notice so you have time to prepare. The email from our team will share details like the date when your app will be featured, so you can build a strategy to make the most of this opportunity.
"Being featured as a Staff Pick often means you'll see an increased number of installs."
Being featured as a Staff Pick often means you'll see an increased number of installs. To make sure merchants always have a seamless experience when downloading and using your app, here are some ways you can prepare your app for its debut as a Staff Pick:
- Perform a load test before your feature date to check if your app can handle the potential surges of incoming traffic.
- Verify that your app can appropriately handle issues like 404s, unexpected inputs, and heavy user traffic.
- Stress test your app by increasing the amount of load to identify what your upper limit is, and adjust your app if necessary.
- If your app affects the online store, ensure you're following our app performance recommendations.
- Avoid major updates during the Staff Pick feature to keep service smooth for your merchants.
You might also see an increase in support inquiries, so you should make sure that you're prepared to handle the new support traffic. Here are some tactics you can follow to reinforce your support efforts:
- Create technical documentation in multiple formats, including video, to empower merchants to self-support.
- If your app will be a localized Staff Pick, consider providing documentation in multiple languages.
- Ensure there's a way for merchants to access support from within your app’s UI.
- Check that all documentation is up to date and new functionality or features are described.
When preparing for their feature, Chatdesk made some changes to improve the usability of their app. "We simplified the signup process to reduce the friction of signup and setup alerting on our side so that we could get notified in real time when a user signed up." Okonkwo says. "We also created email welcome sequences for new users."
To prepare for the Staff Pick period, SidePanda also focused on providing high-quality onboarding and customer support. "We built and refined a step-by-step onboarding flow to help merchants understand the whole platform slowly without getting overwhelmed," Chaware says.
"We also added a 'Book a 15 minutes Session with us' button through which merchants were able to schedule a 1:1 onboarding session with us. It helped us to learn where we were going right or wrong, and to understand the scheduling problem from the merchants' point of view."
You might also like: 9 Pro Tips to Create a Stellar App Customer Experience.
Accelerating growth with Staff Picks
Whether you're selected as a Staff Pick on the default Shopify App Store, or for a local market, being featured is a great opportunity to promote your app, and lets merchants know that your app is reliable.
By following the Shopify App Store requirements, using optional fields of your listing, and offering the best customer experience, you can not only boost your chances of being a Staff Pick, but you'll set yourself up for success as a Shopify app developer.