When building your Shopify site, you will inevitably have to choose between using Shopify apps or going down the custom app development route. In this article, we’ll outline when custom solutions are better and things to consider when using Shopify apps.
The Shopify App Store includes free and paid ecommerce plugins for the Shopify store. Thousands of apps are available to assist with sales, marketing, customer support, store design, inventory management and more. This makes it very convenient, easy and quick for smaller startups and merchants to rollout sites and features.
Depending on needs and requirements, the plugins from the Shopify App Store can be a perfectly suitable solution. However in our experience, we’ve found that for larger, high-volume merchants, custom solutions are the best way forward.
When to choose custom app development
Many of our larger merchant brands have large spikes in traffic when they host promotions, sales, PR activities and more. For many of the Shopify apps available, we don’t have the insight into their on-site performance to confidently include it and ensure it does not negatively impact how well the site will handle traffic.
Shopify themselves warn their customers should use as few third party apps as possible, especially if they are larger merchants:
“Whilst Shopify is built for large spikes, not all apps or custom themes are and can potentially cause slowdown or crashing issues if not well optimised.
Use as few apps as possible, especially anything that effects the product page, cart pages or checkout. We are resilient to the traffic, not all apps are.”
We are much more confident in the performance of our custom app solutions our developers understand and document how they are built, what microservices we use, how and when data is shared, and the redundancies we’ve put in place.
The integrations between POS, ERP, CRM platforms and Shopify are crucial. By having the right data flow through to the right places at the right time, merchants can truly offer omni-channel experiences to their customer.
For many of our larger projects, using Shopify apps when it comes to inventory management or checkout simply does not meet requirements. The Shopify apps are purpose-built to be an off-the-shelf solution to small-mid sized businesses, and don’t cater for the amount of data and platforms that larger merchants use.
When we develop custom apps, we can be confident in the data security when handing over Shopify builds. When using plugins from the Shopify App store, it’s important to research who the app developers are, how they manage the data, what data they have access to and their recovery plans. Especially if it concerns sensitive customer information, consider where the app is hosted, as they aren’t hosted by Shopify themselves.
It’s worthwhile reviewing the app requirements checklist for submissions to the Shopify App store to understand the ecosystem and approval process.
How we do custom solutions at DotDev
Custom solutions whether that be for apps, themes and integrations can be time-consuming and expensive. Here’s how we manage this at DotDev.
Using our developer toolkit
We have our own internal toolkit that helps us build Shopify themes with greater control, speed and flexibility by housing commonly used features, like Flexible Custom Fields, Social Login, Back In Stock Alerts and more advanced features such as Form Builder. It’s hosted on the same cloud-based infrastructure as Shopify with a microservice architecture that ensures there’s no single point of failure. We use this toolkit in all our Shopify-related projects.
Last month, our team used our developer toolkit to quickly build a custom visual merchandising tool for alice McCALL. They originally considered using an app through the Shopify App Store, but choosing a custom app solution through us was more cost-effective and flexible for them.
Hopefully the points above clarify the pros and cons between using Shopify apps and choosing custom app development. Depending on your needs and requirements, you may find that Shopify apps are a great place to start, but as the business scales, custom app development will provide greater security, flexibility and integration between the platforms you use.
If you are looking for custom Shopify solutions, whether it’s regarding integrations or apps, get in touch with us. We’ve helped some of Australia’s premium retailers with custom Shopify solutions, including Patagonia, Calibre, alice McCALL, Tony Bianco and more.