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15-09-2021

Your Guide to Building a Shopify App

Words - Tom Brownie

Blog Post

One of our favourite things about working with Shopify as a website development agency is its functionality. Shopify’s app library plays host to thousands of creative solutions to the challenges that face today’s online retailers. And with the average Shopify site relying on six apps to power their store, the need for powerful and customisable functionality becomes pretty clear. 

But what if the offering doesn’t cut it? More and more merchants are taking another route, and looking for specialists in Shopify app development in Melbourne to create a bespoke solution for their site.

If you’re in this boat, and looking to get a better understanding of what’s involved – you’re in the right place. As a website development agency specialising in Shopify, let us walk you through how a custom app is built, and how this extra functionality could help to improve your business.

Understanding how Shopify apps work 

Shopify’s basic offering is robust enough to let you set up shop and start selling within minutes. The caveat to this? Your website is about as basic as they come, and looks like a cookie cutter job of about a hundred other sites built the exact same way. 

While you’ll need to put in some work to differentiate the look and feel of your site, you can start expanding on its functionality straight away with a little help from Shopify’s apps. 

When it comes to these web applications, not all are created equal. There are three different categories of app: 

Public: Available… you guessed it, publicly, and can be accessed via the Shopify App Store

Custom: The self-explanatory names keep coming. Custom apps are bespoke products made for an individual merchant – so you won’t find these publicly listed. 

Private: Alright, this one needs a bit of explaining. A private app is similar to a custom app in that it’s created as a unique product for your store, and it’s not publicly listed. However, a private app requires giving a developer API access to your store, and access to your Shopify admin; whereas a custom app can be developed externally, without needing this access. 

Custom Shopify App Development

We built a custom Private Shopify App for Your Flower Fix to resolve functionality hurdles and reduce manual admin. 

Starting your Shopify app development in Melbourne

Now that you understand a little more about the Shopify app landscape, it’s time to define exactly what it is that you’re building, and what you want your Shopify app to do. 

Depending on the challenge facing your business, consider whether it’s something that other merchants are likely to struggle with, too. If there’s a gap of some key functionality in the current marketplace, there could be an opportunity for you to build the solution and then scale and sell your app. 

If you’ve developed a service that sits outside of Shopify that you need to integrate, like Afterpay as an example, then an app might be the way you bridge this gap.

Otherwise, perhaps you just want to solve your own unique pain points and go down the path of private Shopify app development in Melbourne to create something that works exactly how you need it to. 

How a website development agency can build you a private Shopify app

Need a bit of an idea of what’s possible when it comes to Shopify apps? Here’s an example of a custom functionality we built for a client that helped them to maximise their workflows, and grow their business as a result. 

Your Flower Fix is a same-day fresh flower delivery service located here in Melbourne. With their client research indicating that people ordering for businesses were likely to purchase several bouquets in one order, the team at Your Flower Fix wanted to make sure their site offered this functionality. 

In starting to look for a solution in the existing Shopify Marketplace, we found that there wasn’t an existing solution that could handle the need for custom fields like delivery date, gift messages and multiple delivery addresses. Multiple addresses posed a further challenge in that the third party delivery providers Your Flower Fix works with couldn’t handle single orders with more than one address. 

So, we began the process of Shopify app development in Melbourne to tailor a solution to the unique challenges facing Your Flower Fix. 

Addressing the pain point around these multiple delivery stops, we built out a functionality that split multiple addresses into their own orders which are seamlessly sent to the third parties via their API integration. To make sure this didn’t then create more administrative work for the team, we built the app to split the orders for packing slips and delivery addresses as well. 

Another issue that Your Flower Fix had experienced was a lack of visibility around future orders, and no ability to forecast the amount of flowers needed for the week ahead. To make it easy for them to forecast at a glance, our custom app uses a colour-coded system on a calendar to show committed flower units, and whether these are for a one-off order or a subscription. As a result of this new system, they’ve been able to accurately order for the week ahead and reduce stock wastage – making a huge impact to their bottom line, a benefit that any small business owner would agree will pay for itself many times over. 

Lastly, to give Your Flower Fix more control over order volumes, we enabled a cap that can be set for daily orders through their calendar. Being able to set the available amount of units available for same-day delivery helps to protect them against unexpected issues like unwell staff, driver shortages, or just needing the flexibility to take a break. 

We’ll be transparent here – as a website development agency, there was some additional investment required on top of a standard Shopify site for us to build out this custom functionality via an app. But the positive impacts and opportunities that this app has created for Your Flower Fix means it’s been a worthwhile investment, with the team enjoying a higher volume of orders with multiple bouquets. Interestingly, these haven’t just come from their business customers – but also everyday people who want to send flowers to their friends and family, and sometimes ordering some for their own home at the same time. 

Automating the new order workflow for Your Flower Fix means they’ve saved hours of resourcing by not having to split orders, print packing slips, pick orders from multiple tools and manually upload deliveries to their third party partners.

Think your eCommerce business could benefit from a custom Shopify app? Get in touch with us – we’re a website development agency specialising in all things Shopify and bespoke eCommerce solutions that are as unique as your business is.

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