COVID-19. Coronavirus. This no longer needs an introduction. The outbreak has impacted all our lives – personal and professional. But as we combat the virus and move into quarantines to flatten the curve, why not use this time to also stand by each other in the Shopify ecosystem to sail through these tough times with mere scratches only?
In this article, I’m sharing two aspects. First, how you can help merchants who have installed your app keep their brands afloat during this period. Two, how you can use this time to make your Shopify app better for the time to come.
Ps. These are just a few ideas. Please feel free to differ or pick only those that are aligned with your business plans and available resources.
4 Ways Shopify Apps Can Serve Merchants
1. Offer additional support or free consultation to merchants
Most merchants are going through a rough period. While some are seeing their sales peak, others are struggling to even make in a day – either way, they are not prepared for the current situation and don’t know how they will be handling in the coming time, considering the unforeseen future.
At this point, it is a good idea to bring in your industry expertise to offer these merchants additional support or a free consultation. This could be around sharing tips based on their app usage, current store, and marketing data to help them optimize their efforts as well as budgets to sail through this period.
For example, the Shopify Analytics app, RevTap. The app is offering merchants a free consultation on using Facebook and Instagram ads to keep their business running. They are also making time to help stores set up these ads using the data collected on their dashboard if they’re unsure about doing it themselves.
So while RevTap is helping merchants float, they’re also building a loyal user base for themselves by being helpful.
2. Make your Shopify app subscription plans friendlier
A lot of Shopify apps are seeing their users churn during this time. They are losing an average of 25-30 stores every day – be it because the stores are closing down or simply because the stores no longer see value in the app owing to the current circumstances.
While you can’t stop stores from shutting down, you can stop stores that are staying alive during this time from walking away. They’re only looking at reducing their monthly bills at the moment, to recover their losses on the sales and warehousing costs front.
A smart way to retain these users is to make your subscription plans friendlier. Based on what resources are available to you and how much you can set aside to keep your app running as well, here are some ideas you could use:
- Consider offering an extended free trial to new users and those who are currently in the free trial period or using your free plan – no one minds keeping an app that hasn’t and isn’t going to charge them.
- Offer a discount on your existing subscription plans to make them more affordable – a good idea at this point is to offer a slashed price on one of the plans that offer more features – giving your merchants more for a reduced cost adds value to them and helps you retain them as well.
- Launch an all-new free plan that might offer limited features from your app, but lets the merchant use the basics – let them know how they can upgrade eventually to a plan with more features as things stabilize.
For example, Appikon noticed that a lot of merchants were experiencing product stock-outs. So to help them out, they announced a FREE plan on their Back in Stock app to enable merchants to send restock alerts on email, Facebook Messenger, web push and SMS to recover sales lost to stock-outs.
One, it gives the merchants a way to communicate with their shoppers and two, it helps the merchant build their email list during this period.
Then there are apps like Flits for customer account pages. Instead of a separate free plan, they announced 60 days free trial on their Shopify app. This gives the merchants enough time to try the app features and leverage them to improve the online shopping journey for their customers, who are right now making impulse purchases.
“The world is going through a crisis and we are all in this together. Everyone is facing ups and downs in the industry. Do help your merchants as much as possible, because if they survive this period, so will you – they lie at the heart of the Shopify ecosystem. Remain energetic and positive when you’re connecting with them – there’s a lot of news that keeps pulling us down. Stay safe, stay home and help each other out!”
Similarly, Expert Village Media joined hands with other app developers, Shopify Partners and Shopify Experts to create an app bundle. In this bundle, you can see that apps are offering extended free trials to merchants during this period.
View the complete bundle here and contact me if you’d like to be a part of it.
Even Shopify design and development agencies are extending their support to merchants. For instance, XgenTech is offering small businesses impacted by COVID-19 a free basic Shopify store setup to continue selling their products.
If you know a small business that needs help, please ask them to reach out to the team by submitting this form.
3. Create actionable (and helpful) content for merchants
Apart from emailing you or reaching out to you on support, merchants are also looking for answers on the search engine. They want to know how they can reduce their warehousing costs, how to manage their inventory when they don’t know anything about the coming period, whether or not they should continue running ads to promote their store and more.
It might require you to move away from promoting your Shopify app directly, but it’s a good time to earn some good karma. Here are a few pieces we worked on for apps, for instance:
- Shopify marketing strategies to sustain in the times of Coronavirus | RevTap
- How to help shoppers make informed purchases during COVID-19 | Expert Village Media
- 10 tips to keep your store running during the Coronavirus outbreak | Appikon
If you have the resources for it, you can also create short videos around the content. It does not need to be fancy. You can self-shoot the video like you’re talking to a friend, addressing one of their biggest concerns, sharing insights and actionables and offering help.
Simply knowing that your Shopify app is making the effort to find ways to help merchants get you plus points!
“So many businesses are getting affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We have to accept that there is more damage that will happen in the coming months. eCommerce experts can share advice and tips with merchants on how to still save their business – marketing advice and more. App partners can offer extended trials, discounts on the app plans, agencies can offer free maintenance services, offer good discounts. The overall purpose right now should be to help the merchants in any way possible. Because the only way out of this is together and the Shopify ecosystem is the best for it!”
4. Share informative social media posts for merchants
There’s a lot of news going around. Some of it is real and some are fake – especially in terms of businesses and industries, and the impact COVID-19 has on them. This is creating hysteria amongst the merchants, distracting them from tackling the issues at hand and worrying about something that isn’t even proven negative yet.
Help them differentiate between what to worry about and what not to pay attention to by sharing industry data with them. Share insights from the conversations you’re having with merchants from different industries, across the world. Give them actionables based on what’s actually happening in the ecosystem right now.
Here’s an example from RevTap:
5 Ways Shopify Apps Can Improve Their Service
1. Use this time to fix bugs and technical issues
During this downtime, you may want to reassess your app and understand ways you can fix it. Now’s the time to take a step back and reassess your app to understand different ways you can improve it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Fix the bugs and issues that merchants have been reporting.
- Test out your app and have everyone on your team note down ways to improve it.
- Look through the feedback given by merchants and see how you can implement it.
2. Plan integrations to power your app’s functionalities
If you’ve been planning to integrate with other Shopify apps, now’s a good time to get the gears moving. By integrating with other Shopify apps, you can boost your technical functionality and provide your merchants with more opportunities to reach their goals.
For instance, if you have a price drop app, you would want to integrate with email, SMS, and other marketing apps so that you can allow your merchants to market the price drop message easily.
Such integration can also help you reach new audiences. The app that you are integrating with would promote the new technical integration, giving you more traffic and potential installs.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Create a product roadmap including new features you want to introduce as well as integrated features you want to set up. This can help you understand which integrations you need to prioritize, based on the features that are more important.
- List the apps you would like to integrate with. Understand how they are ranked on the Shopify App Store. It’s also good to test out their app so that you have an idea of how you can integrate it with your app.
- Reach out to the app’s founder or partnerships head. You can start the conversation on LinkedIn and take it from there. Need help connecting or getting introduced to someone? Reach out to me – I might just be able to help!
- Plan out the integration, setting a launch date and listing various assets (like social media announcement, helpdesk, blog, etc).
- You can also set up co-marketing activities with these Shopify apps to maximize your partnership (the next point on our list).
3. Plan out co-marketing with partners
Co-marketing is a great way to build relationships with fellow Shopify partners, grow your traffic, boost your SEO efforts and acquire more merchants. It’s like getting access to a pre-qualified list of leads who are more likely to convert and start using your Shopify app when you work with a partner in the same space.
If you aren’t sure how to plan your co-marketing efforts, we have some steps to help you set it in motion:
- Research and understand which Shopify partners are a good fit for your target market, have a good following, ratings, and a well-ranking website.
- List these down and reach out to them on social channels. It’s important that you don’t cold email them. Social media is a friendly place to approach Shopify partners. You can also use Facebook groups to get seek out partners and start the conversation.
- Take the conversation to email or Slack. Discuss different co-marketing ideas like blog swaps, joint webinars, social media shoutouts, email newsletter features, pixel swaps and more.
- Ensure you set a timeline for the co-marketing activities you agree on to remain accountable and also be able to track the efforts.
Need help planning out your co-marketing activities or would you like to begin a few? Reach out to me right away!
4. Revamp your Shopify app’s brand identity
It’s important to be consistent with your brand’s identity— from visuals to messaging. If you have been planning to revamp your brand identity. Here are a few steps to help you redo and polish your brand identity:
- Define your app and its messaging. You need to define your brand’s tone. How do you want to sound to your audience? You can grab inspiration from Brand Personalities.
- Redo your app’s “About” content. Create a one-pager including an introduction, problem statement, stats, and features so that it’s easy to share and replicate when necessary.
- Ensure that your Shopify app’s one-liner is consistent across all platforms— social media accounts, listings online, etc.
- Redo your Shopify App Listing. Optimize it based on keywords that people are using to search for your solution.
- If your website is in need of a redesign, this is the time! Rewrite your content, based on the brand tone you defined. Work on setting up a website design that reflects who you are.
- Ensure all digital assets are consistent with your brand colors.
5. Build your credibility
You’re already getting in touch with your merchants to help them through this tough time with discounts and free upgrades. Use this opportunity to build your Shopify app’s credibility. There are 3 ways to do this:
- Ask for a review. When talking to merchants, you can request a review on the Shopify App Store. Reviews are crucial to help your app get more visibility, climb the Shopify App Store’s search engine rankings, and get featured within collections.
- Encourage merchants to share their learnings about the app within Shopify groups online. Since new audiences will be seeing this post, you’ll be able to attract new users or subscribers.
- Create a case study. Pick out your top-performing users and ask them about writing a case study about their success with your app. Merchants need to be able to see what kind of quantifiable results your Shopify app will provide them. With a few case studies, you can show the impact your app can create for a merchant, convincing them to install your Shopify app.
What should your Shopify app prioritize?
We’re all in quarantine and it’s obvious for you and your teams to be overwhelmed. There’s so much you can do and so much that you can’t. The best place to start is by looking over things that have been in your to-do for all too long and are pending on different fronts. Right from marketing to product development and more, don’t leave out anything.
But before you prioritize anything from a product perspective, remember to put your users – the merchants, first. This is a good time to show the strength of the Shopify ecosystem and stand by each other to get through these tough times!
How are you helping your merchants and your app cope with COVID-19? I’d love to hear all about it!