Founded in 2004, Shopify was launched in Canada by CEO Tobi Lutke and his co-founders. Initially, they wanted to open an online store for snowboarding equipment but quickly became disenchanted with the available eCommerce products available to them. Rather than bemoan the limitations they decided to create their own.
In 2004, existing online store software was designed for established businesses looking to move online. These solutions were expensive, complex, and had little flexibility, a combination that didn’t suit small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas – and products – to market.
While the team did, in fact, launch their online snowboard equipment site Snowdevil, they came to a realization that would change the eCommerce market forever. The platform they built for Snowdevil was more valuable than the site itself.
A Brief History of Shopify
Shopify was officially launched as a set of tools to enable merchants to easily build their own sites and bring their business online. The platform availed all of the essential tools for merchants such as customizable store templates, payment processing with PayPal and credit card integration, inventory management, and tracked order feeds.
By 2009 the Shopify platform had gained a clear foothold in the market. It had established itself as an easier to use, cheaper, and markedly better eCommerce tool for merchants, usurping existing offerings like Yahoo! Stores and Microsoft Commerce. The revolutionary approach of open-source in the eCommerce space was changing the game. Lutke and his team decided to create Shopify’s first external API and its own app store.
What is the Shopify App Store?
The Shopify app store arrived to enable merchants to offer a more feature-rich shopping experience to their customers, and to enable more business functionality. It’s a marketplace with a vast selection of apps and plugins with a range of features. There are a variety of free and paid options to customize your eCommerce store and to add specialized features.
Let’s look at some Shopify app market statistics:
Apps are contributed by Shopify developers and there are nearly 6,000 apps available from more than 3,500 developers worldwide. 85% of merchants on the Shopify platform are using apps, and the average merchant is using six apps on their site. In the last two years, Shopify has seen exponential growth in the number of apps contributed to the app store, a trend that is not expected to slow any time soon.
As customers prefer the ease and convenience of shopping whenever the mood strikes, eCommerce businesses must keep pace. Online stores must provide the ease of in-store shopping, with the comfort and convenience of availability. Apps are continually added and updated to stay ahead of the curve, giving shoppers and businesses an ever-evolving user experience.
Shopify Market Share
Shopify now has more than 7,000 employees and contractors – a staggering number considering its humble beginnings. The platform is amongst the top in its arena and is currently second only to WooCommerce in the eCommerce platform space.
More than 1.7 million merchants use the Shopify platform for their online stores. In 2020, Shopify processed more than five billion dollars in sales. They currently power 20% of the global eCommerce market share, owing at least in part to the ease of its self-hosting CMS.
Based on gross market volume (GMV), Shopify stores in the US hold an 8.6% market share of all eCommerce sales nationwide, topping giants like Walmart (5.8%) and eBay (4.9%).
The Shopify App Store and Shopify App Market Statistics
Since launching in 2009, the Shopify app store’s growth has been staggering. In 2020 alone, the app store grew 72% with more than 2,000 apps in a variety of categories added to the marketplace. In the first half of 2021 more than 1,100 apps have been added, a continuation of the momentum built the year before. Consider this: that means on average six apps were added to the app store marketplace each and every day.
At the time of writing, the mix looks like this:
- 1,700 free apps
- 1,375 freemium apps – those which are free with additional paid features
- 2,843 paid apps
Very few paid apps are available at one-time charges, with the majority offering subscription services with monthly or yearly recurring charges.
Shopify App Store Categories
As you can imagine, sifting through thousands of apps can be cumbersome without the right interface to narrow down your options. Shopify has created categories into which the apps can be placed. Each app can be assigned multiple categories, but must have one designated “primary”. The categories are:
- Store Design
- Orders and Shipping
- Customer Support
- Sales and Conversion Optimization
- Finding and Adding Products
- Inventory Management
- Places to Sell
- Trust and Security
The most popular category is store design, with 43% of the apps available in the store assisting with creating the look and feel of your shop. This is followed by orders and shipping, and sales and conversion optimization.
Through this complete category list, you can see that the app store offers a range of options to support both the end-user experience and the eCommerce merchant needs alike. Shopify app development is a varied approach, with new features being added and offerings being improved regularly.
The Importance of Plugins and Apps
In an online world, user experience can make or break your business – and reputation. As the market grows and competition gets stronger, the experience of shopping from start to finish is what sets one eCommerce store apart from another.
Plugins allow you to customize your store, tailoring it to the needs of your customers and the objectives of your business. Plugins enable you to add functionality for your customers’ shopping experience and automate formerly manual tasks like order tracking and confirmations.
Apps and plugins also differentiate the offering of one SaaS company from another. Website building platforms must do more than make it possible to create a simple HTML webpage. These platforms now avail a single platform for building, customizing, and enhancing websites and online storefronts.