There are many good reasons why Shopify is a dominant ecommerce platform. It’s fast, secure, powerful, affordable, and highly intuitive.
It’s also flexible, courtesy of the excellent Shopify App Store. Drawn to the site-builder’s success, developers of all kinds create rich integrations that make their software available for easy deployment through Shopify.
This is great for the end user. If a Shopify store owner wants to use a feature that isn’t natively available through Shopify, they can head to the app marketplace and choose an add-on that does what they need. Everything in Shopify’s range is fundamentally vetted and steadily rated, making it easy to tell which apps are worth investing in (and which should be ignored).
But there’s a huge number of add-ons available, and many of them do similar things. If you’re running an ecommerce business using Shopify and determined to make the most of it, you may want to use all the best Shopify apps without needing to waste time on the others (or at least know which free trial you should add to your plans, since pricing varies).
That’s what this piece is all about.
We’ve done research on the best Shopify apps, looking at the most widely-recommended tools and filtering them through our existing knowledge of the platform to come away with a list of 10 must-have tools that Shopify merchants need to consider (each with a free plan available, or at least a free trial to consider). If you’re looking for tip-top plugins, you’re in the right place.
Let’s get to the best Shopify apps to increase sales in 2021.
It’s difficult to know how much of the ecommerce boom can be attributed to dropshipping, but it’s undeniably played a huge role in making online retail accessible to everyone.
Selecting an inventory of dropshipped products means you don’t need to purchase and keep products ahead of time. Instead, you outsource the bulk of your operation. Research, production, processing and fulfillment are all handled for you, leaving you to focus on marketing and sales.
Oberlo was formed to make it easy for merchants to find and list dropshipping products, and it cornered the market so effectively that Shopify bought the company (just as it did with its Kit digital assistant app). Unsurprisingly, it’s still the best Shopify app for dropshipping, and one of the top Shopify apps overall. Add it to your Shopify store for free and you can immediately select from a massive range of viable products.
Print-on-demand is a fantastic industry for modern creatives and entrepreneurs. It provides the broad benefits of dropshipping (no need to keep stock, no need to pay for items before you sell them or pay per month for storage) with the ability to stand out through custom products (create whatever design options suit you, and run with them). And the better print-on-demand service you choose to use, the easier you’ll find your ecommerce adventure to manage.
Printful is one of the most popular print-on-demand services in the world (and in Shopify’s range of apps, obviously), and for good reason. It’s strong in every area, offering high-quality products and print quality, great customer support, and even rich options for custom packaging.
It’s easy to see why we gave it the nod over Printify — and if you’re looking to enter the print-on-demand game, Printful is the Shopify app for you. No need for a free trial, too: it’s 100% free all the way.
Customer loyalty is a vital ingredient for a growing ecommerce brand. It’s so hard to get attention with so many stores jockeying for position that you need to make good use of the customers you do win over. Loyal customers will generate more sales, recommend your Shopify business, pay more attention to your marketing, and generally support you — but you need to incentivize your customers to act in this way, and apps have the answers.
Smile, from Smile.io, makes it easy to build a loyalty program that can give your happy customers great reasons to place repeat purchases and push those all-important referrals. It allows you to create VIP programs that customers can move through by spending more, and lets people earn points (through actions like leaving reviews) that they can redeem for rewards.
There’s a free plan available, so give that a try, or check out the pricing: either way, you’ll form a decent notion of what a good referral program can offer both your brand and your customers.
Social proof in its various forms can make or break an online merchant.
Anything you say about your products will be taken with a grain of salt due to your immense bias. For clarity, shoppers will always look to their peers for guidance. If an item gets great customer reviews (particularly from repeat customers), it’s a good sign that it’s worth investing in.
Yotpo Product Reviews & Photos provides a range of features to help you collect and display social proof on your Shopify site. It allows you to automatically send review-requesting emails following sales, or even gather reviews on your site through a widget that appears on each product page for customers who’ve purchased that item before — and it scatters those reviews across the significant areas, including your homepage and your checkout.
The smart use of email marketing tools can make all the difference. Despite the rise of social media, email is still the cornerstone of business-related communication, and something that lands in your inbox has a much better chance of being seen than any Twitter update. Top brands use email to market new products, promote sales, and offer personalized recommendations to their best customers.
Omnisend, one of the top email marketing apps, is a hyper-convenient email marketing platform that offers ready-to-use automation workflows simple enough for the average user. Want to toggle a series of emails for anyone who purchases a particular product? Not a problem. The drag-and-drop email designer makes it easy to create high-quality newsletters for your marketing campaigns, and custom forms allow you to add to your email list in a convenient way (every email address you gather gives you more scope for email marketing).
What’s more, a handy SMS integration means you can combine email outreach with text-message marketing for a hybrid plan that can yield superior results. If you want an email marketing automation platform that’s easy to use (and free to install!), this is a great option.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is immensely important in the ecommerce industry. When the average shopper looks for a product, they start with a search — and while that search can be within a marketplace like Amazon, it’s more likely to be through Google’s all-purpose engine. Shopify has solid SEO features by default, of course, but they aren’t flawless.
Plug in SEO offers various key features for upping your SEO game. It can detect broken links, suggest relevant keywords to help you improve your content, help you implement structured data in an effort to earn featured snippets, and even run a general SEO health check to give you a clear idea of how you can improve your store (most of this is in the free plan).
Note that it’s updated along with search engines, meaning that business owners can rely on it to offer key features and boost sales as one of the best Shopify apps well into the future.
You can’t keep everything in stock at all times, and this can cause problems for a typical store that sources its products in anticipation of demand (whether through suppliers or through its own production process). Sooner or later it’ll underestimate the interest in a certain item, and the result will be broad failure to take advantage of shopper enthusiasm.
If your customers are ready to give you money, the last thing you want to do is let them go elsewhere. That’s hardly a good shopping experience, and it wastes the fruits of your careful marketing plans. This is where Pre‑Order Manager enters the picture. As the name suggests, it allows you to accept and manage pre-orders.
When you run out of stock for an item, you don’t need to turn customers away and lose sales: instead, you can take their orders and fulfil them when possible. Provided you can source the stock in a timely manner, this is an essential addition to your online store, and merits a place in this selection of the best Shopify apps.
We’ve looked at email marketing and loyalty programs, but what if you’d rather have one solution that can deploy some of these key features without needing that much effort?
Conversion-rate optimization is the name of the game here, keeping the focus on driving as many purchases as possible in a highly-efficient and economical way.
Sumo is a sales-boosting app that puts in the work to tempt people to order from you, turning many near-misses into hits and bringing up your average order value significantly. It can smartly distribute incentives (like free shipping), adding them to your product pages or even slotting them into cart-abandonment emails (or on-page pop-ups) for marketing automation that can recapture the attention of people who were clearly considering buying.
And since its Pro tier is backed by a free support service that can give you pointers for growing your online store, it certainly counts as one of the top Shopify apps (give the free trial a shot if you’re unsure about the quality or the pricing).
Great customer support is so common these days that it’s hard to grow a store without it, and much of today’s convenience stems from one fantastic addition: live chat.
Email support is slow, phone support is awkward, and support tickets are rather outmoded now. Allowing customers to reach out to you directly from your website (from every landing page, at the very least) is clearly a key part of modern store design.
Tidio is the simplest way to add live chat support to your Shopify store. In addition to creating a live chat window that appears on your site, it supports Facebook Messenger marketing, giving you a convenient path for providing support via social media. What’s more, it features smart chatbots that can do things like offer order updates — and even make sales — without you needing to lift a finger.
The best Shopify apps can prove transformative, and that’s exactly what Tidio has the potential to manage. The free plan is fairly powerful, too, making it viable for any size of ecommerce store, though the pricing of $18 per month for each paid plan is hardly unreasonable (a free trial will give you a better idea of the value on offer).
Not all shoppers are looking to buy right away. Many are merely browsing, and getting annoyed by this is hugely irrational. There’s still value in having them visit your store, after all, because they might buy later. Even if they don’t, they might take note of certain products that they mention to friends or acquaintances. You can take advantage of this with wishlists.
Wishlist Plus is a wishlist app that allows your store visitors to log products that interest them, saving them for future consideration.
Usefully, it doesn’t require them to have store accounts — though if they do have accounts, you can draw upon the wishlist items to send custom marketing emails. You can also take advantage of the built-in analytics to take note of which products are most frequently added to wishlists, giving you valuable insight.
This list of the best Shopify apps for 2021 isn’t exhaustive, but it does provide a solid foundation covering the key areas in which you might want to expand your store. Why not try some or all of them? You’ve nothing to lose by running with a free trial for a month. If it helps, reach out and let us know!