Shopify boasts of over 1 million users worldwide. According to Forbes, they’re the fifth most powerful e-commerce store in the US in 2022. If you’re thinking of opening a new online store, or you want to expand your business online, you’re in the right place. This article will tell you all you need to know about Shopify apps and plugins.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce solution that helps businesses sell their products online. It is a hosted service meaning that you don’t need to manage any servers or software. All you need is a merchant account and a website, then you are good to go.
Shopify has an app store that makes managing and tracking easy. You can track your orders, products, customers, and staff from wherever you are. It is easy to use and helps you to create your online store, grow your audience, and manage your business on the go.
To extend your business with features that aren’t available in the app, try Shopify plugins.There are personalization and recommendation app that you can integrate with your shopify store to give your customers a more personalized experience.
What are Shopify Plugins?
Shopify plugins are extensions that allow you to add new and relevant features that are not in the app to your site. Think of it like this, you would need to hire staff if you had a physical store. You would employ security staff, accountants, marketers, and salespeople. That’s quite the cost.
Enter plugins. With Shopify extensions, you wouldn’t need to hire any of those. Plugins do the work of the afore-mentioned staff. Shopify has about 4000 plugins that do all the work and more. About 1500 of those plugins are free, although most of them do charge to use their top features.
Shopify extensions allow you to personalize your store. It also gives you personalized product recommendations like the ones your customers browse. E-commerce personalization grabs your customers’ attention and keeps them coming back.
Customers want personalized recommendations from retailers. Meeting that need for personalization is the difference between customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction. A good personalized recommendation system influences e-commerce conversions. This is particularly great for business because it boosts sales-conversion rates by 10 to 15%.
Let’s take a look at the main differences and similarities between the Shopify app and plugins.
What is the Shopify app?
The Shopify app is a free service that allows you to view, manage, and track your products and inventory. You can do all this from a smartphone or tablet. The Shopify app is made for a one-person or small business online store. It is both iOS and Android compatible.
However, it is not a full-featured e-commerce solution and lacks some advanced features. The app lacks shipping and logistics, payment gateways, e-commerce website builders. It also doesn’t have SEO optimization and advanced product customization options. If you also would like customer relationship management (CRM), you won’t find it there.
What are the benefits of using the Shopify app?
These are some of the benefits you get when you use the Shopify app.
1. View and Manage from Your Phone
The main benefit of using the app is that it allows you to view and manage your store from a smartphone or tablet. This is a great option for entrepreneurs who want to focus on running their businesses. It’s especially so if they don’t have time to manage many devices.
2. Test the Online Store
Entrepreneurs can test out their online store before moving to a permanent solution. You can use the app to collect orders, share product information, write product descriptions, and more.
3. It’s Free
Another benefit of the app is that it’s free to set up and requires nothing more than a web hosting account and a website. No signup or subscription is required. You can start selling online immediately.
What are the drawbacks of using the Shopify app?
1. Meant for Small Businesses
The main drawback of using the app is that it is not a full-featured e-commerce solution. So the app is ideal for you if you don’t need the advanced features that are available with other similar platforms. If you own a large online business, however, you will not find the app satisfactory.
2. Limited Features
The app also lacks some of the customization options that are available on other online platforms. This means that you won’t be able to fully personalize your online store without hassle. You would need to build a custom shopping cart, which can be time-consuming.
3. Does not Encourage Quick Scale-ups
Finally, the Shopify app is not recommended for businesses that want to scale quickly. It is a managed e-commerce solution so it lacks the flexibility of a self-hosted solution.
The Pros and Cons of Using Shopify Plugins
If you are looking for a virtual solution with more features than the Shopify app, plugins are a good choice.
Shopify has almost 4000 built-in and third-party plugins that add functionality to your online store. Some Shopify plugins are advanced email marketing, Google analytics, and customer insights. There’s also a Google Search Console, Google Maps, website optimizer, and Shopify Apparel.
Some of the most notable benefits of using a Shopify plugin are:
- The ability to extend your business with features that aren’t available in the app. This includes payment gateways, e-commerce website builders, and more
- The ability to try out new features and extensions before putting them into production
- The ability to customize your online store to fit your business needs
There are also some notable disadvantages of using a Shopify plugin:
- The need to hire programmers because third-party extensions won’t be available for your custom designs
- Extensions will increase development time because you need to hire programmers or purchase software.
- You will need to buy a license if you want to scale your business
What are the main differences between a Shopify app and a Shopify extension?
The main difference between them is that the app is built into the merchant account and website. But, the Shopify extension is a separate piece of software that you host on your server and connect to your online store.
The other main difference is that the app comes with a host of features and functionality. The plugin only provides specific functionalities to your online store.
What are the advantages of using a hybrid e-commerce solution?
A hybrid e-commerce solution is a combination of both self-hosted and hosted ones. This helps business owners who want the flexibility of self-hosted online software. It also gives the scale and features that a managed platform can offer.
Hybrid platforms can bridge the gap between self-hosted and hosted virtual store solutions. It does this by offering managed services, including brand and product management. It also helps with inventory, order, customer, and data management.
The best way to get started with e-commerce is to pick a solution and go with it. This doesn’t mean that you have to stick with that solution for the long term though. As your business and needs grow, you can always choose a different online solution.
The only way to know which solution is best for your needs is to conduct thorough research. Also, take into consideration the benefits and disadvantages of each solution.