How to build an app for your Shopify website

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Ever since the internet came into being, there has been a continuous evolvement in commerce. Although the game has changed for shopping overall, the premise is still the same – matching necessity with shoppers’ habits. Every change is a disruption that brings forth a need for an adaptive mindset, and the same applies to commerce. Surviving and thriving in today’s fast-paced age calls for, firstly, eCommerce web design. The online transition is even more prevalent given the ongoing pandemic. Online sales during Coronavirus have taken a hit for quite a lot of businesses. The online puzzle set, along with the pandemic, has changed the playbook of commerce.

Into the trending eCommerce space

When it comes to the internet, having a website is a given. However, eCommerce today has further evolved and entered the application space. When shopping online, visitors use keywords and search terms that drive up the advent of SEO or Search Engine Optimisation and PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising. A new buzzword that has been floating around is ASO or App Store Optimisation.

Building applications is a little different from websites. Like how WordPress is a content management system that backs and runs several websites, Shopify is the equivalent for online sales and retail. Shopify serves as an eCommerce platform for businesses and brands contemplating creating an online retail or sales store.

Start with understanding ASO

App Store Optimisation helps leverage applications to attain maximum visibility in app stores, both in the Search  and Explore categories. When it comes to ASO, only application- or the game-specific elements can be optimised. Developers can get creative by using screenshots or creating promotional videos. A plus point of ASO is it is not easily replicable by competitors.

Since the advent of ASO is to target online users, it is paramount that one understands the search mechanics for an application online. Search queries for applications comprise particular brands or an overall function. With that said, for ASO, search queries entail one-word search terms such as finance, stocks or fitness. Another factor that users should consider when building applications for their Shopify website is a ratings and reviews section; these are a must! The good news is several tools help improve user feedback, such as mopinion, Apptentive and Doorbell.

Moving on to app-building using Shopify

App Listing

The app listing makes for the first point-of-contact for merchants. This is where merchants will look for the Shopify app and review its features, user interface, pricing and functionality. It is the biggest marketing tool, and before a full-fledged launch in public or end-users, the merchants are the testing agents that will make sure the listing is appropriate and that the app caters to all the queries that end-users are likely to have.

When creating a Shopify app for your online sales or retail store, it is paramount that your application has an app listing page on Shopify. However, you get to choose whether the page is listed or unlisted. This affects the overall visibility in app stores. Unlisting renders greater control over visibility. A fully visible app is indexed and appears in the relevant category pages, Shopify app store results and third-party searches.

Understanding the categories

The categories and subcategories make for a crucial aspect for Merchants to find your Shopify app. The category criterion helps merchants understand whether the app fulfils the specific needs and requirements. The Shopify QA team helps in sorting using the primary function parameter to distinguish your app into categories and subcategories. Getting the categorisation right helps with taxonomy governance. More so, if you think that there is a category that the Shopify QA team has missed, then you can submit a request to re-adjust the classification.

Installation and Setup

These determine how quickly users and merchants can set up and start using the app. More so, this stage should entail the authentication process, installation charges and sign-up steps, if any. This is crucial as it serves as guidance and helps merchants understand and learn how to use the application.

Merchant Security and Data Privacy

Security caters to merchants and is critical in ensuring that your Shopify app is not exposed or compromised. Before submitting the app for approval, you must ensure that it is secure and does not pose any risks for merchants. The data privacy aspect caters to customer data; this includes both managing and storing customer details. When building the app, the current and latest best industry practices must adhere. Another aspect that merits consideration is legal requirements for the protection and privacy of customer data.

Specific requirements for application configuration

After general guidelines and checklists, the builders should then move on to specific configurations. These entail the online store wherein developers can either use the Shopify API or other resources. The specific requirements also include embedded applications or app extensions for merchants. Also, the embedded applications extend to POS or Point-Of-Sale for end-users and include aspects, including selection and cart actions and checkout systems. Given the rising use of mobile telephony for shopping, application builders should also ensure that the Shopify app is accessible on mobile screens. Additional considerations include inventory management and product sourcing, sales channels such as online, mobile, social media and other apps, integration with payment applications and gateways and subscriptions.

Summary

The internet advent has rendered continuous evolvement in eCommerce. eCommerce calls for an adaptive mindset, and hence, online sales stores must jump on the bandwagon of eCommerce web and application design. Even more so amid the ongoing pandemic, brands need to club necessity with shopper habits. Before building applications on Shopify, you must understand the advent of App Store Optimisation or ASO. Once done, brands need to cater to general guidelines, including App listing, categorisation, installation and setup and security and data privacy. After doing so, your Shopify app should cater to specific checklists, including app extensions, inventory management and payment gateways.

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