Retail Management

The 7 Must-Have Shopify Apps for Any Small Store (Most are Free!)

Published by in eCommerce

Girls may run the world, but Shopify runs the eCommerce world. – BeyCommerce

shopify apps

Shopify is the king of small business eCommerce (and it’s starting to make its mark in the enterprise world) because it is arguably the most user-friendly, flexible system on the market today. A person with very little computer skills can create an entire online store in mere seconds with Shopify. And not only can they create an online store, but they can create an online store that has the technical capabilities that Amazon circa 2007 was still dreaming of. That’s because Shopify has thousands of app extensions that allow you to do basically anything you need. Shopify apps give you the ability to add anything on to the basic Shopify package you have so that you don’t have to build anything yourself.

Of course, if you’re a brand new store or still very small, you don’t need thousands of Shopify apps. Just the idea of thousands of apps being at your disposal is probably overwhelming So rather than look through the all of the Shopify apps that are available to you, I decided to compile a list of the 7 must-haves for any small (or new) store. (Please note that these are in no particular order.)

1. MailChimp for Shopify

MailChimp is kinda the Shopify of small business email marketing – they really are the top of the heap at what they do. If you don’t have it yet, you should get it. The starter plan is free, and if you need convincing that email marketing will make a difference in your business, here are some articles.

MailChimp’s app for Shopify is free if you’re looking to just connect your MailChimp account to your store. But depending on your needs you can (and should) work out a custom plan with MailChimp that will allow you to do such things as sending out an abandoned cart email, and run post-purchase email campaigns. A paid version will also allow MailChimp access to your eCommerce happenings – which allows MailChimp to track your customer’s purchases.

This app is 100% worth paying for. These above abilities will make a big difference in your sales and customer experience. Sending a follow-up email to an abandoned cart, for instance, generates a 4.1% sales uplift. That’s important when 75.6% of carts are abandoned.

2. Image Alt Text Optimizer

This app costs $1.99/month and allows you to add dynamic alt-text to images across your site easily. All you do is set up a formulation when you first put the app in place, and then forget about it.

What is alt-text you ask? Alt-text is the words you add to your site’s images on the backend to allow Google’s SEO crawlers to “see” your images and index them. Basically: good alt-text = good SEO.

This app seems like a small thing, but it’s free and it requires almost no effort for a good pay off, so you might as well install it.

3. Free Shipping Bar

Free Shipping Bar has a free version and a paid version. The free version is pretty amazing, and as a small store, there’s certainly no rush to upgrade.

The free version will get you a bar at the top of your site that tells people what your free shipping threshold is. (You should definitely have free shipping for some threshold.) The bar can be customized to your branding and does not display the app creator’s logo, even on the free level.

The free version allows you to display progressive messages, meaning that the message will update as customers add to cart to tell them how far they are from free shipping. It even comes with analytics that allows you to track the ROI of your bars!

When you’re starting to grow a bit more, the paid version comes with the ability to display different shipping amounts based on customer location and other advanced targeting programs.

4. McAfee Secure

McAfee has a paid and a free version. There’s virtually no need to upgrade this app as a small store, though. Essentially, this app just runs background security on your site and gives you a trust badge to place on your site so that visitors know their information is secure with you. This app provides your site with visual validity.

There are some upset reviewers on Shopify’s site who, by and large, seem to think that installing this app would bring them more traffic or sales. I would like to state that this app is really for neither of those things. This app certainly won’t bring you more traffic. It is also unlikely to affect your sales very much. It is there to give your site security and, should a customer be looking for it, offer them the assurance that you are, in fact, secure. Nothing more. But it’s free and it takes little to no work: there’s no reason not to install it.

5. Bulk Discounts

Bulk Discounts is completely free and is the perfect tool to create all sorts of different kinds of discounts and coupons and then to report on them. It does what the name suggests. Users love it overall. It’s a simple app that is simply a must-have.

6. Yotpo

Yotpo is, at its absolute, most basic (and free), a reviews platform. You plug Yotpo in and customers can leave reviews of products. You can also send a review form in an e-mail to customers who have recently purchased a product from you.

As you grow, though, Yotpo is so much more than a reviews management platform. It’s a true visual marketing platform that will allow you to include user generated content across your site, as well as other features such as making your Instagram shoppable. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

7. Persistent Cart

Ever gone shopping on a site, left, and come back later to find your cart still full of the items you put in it? It’s pretty awesome, right? (Not to mention, I always end up buying something.) The good news is that you can do that for your store with Persistent Cart. Persistent Cart has a free and a paid level. The free level allows you to just have a cart follow your customers around.

With the paid version, you get access to features like a timed promotion. (A customer gets 30% off if they order in the first 25 minutes they’re on the page, for instance.) The paid version is $9/month and based on its functionality and price, there’s no reason not to test it out if you’re interested.

Please note that I am talking about MaxEffi’s Persistent Cart app. There is at least one other named exactly the same thing.

Bonus: Facebook Chat by Beeketing

I decided to include this Shopify app as a bonus because I don’t think it’s an absolute must-have. I think your store can function fairly well without a live chat system in place for a while. But research suggests that having a live chat system in place raises customer satisfaction and conversion rates.

This particular app is great for a small store because it’s A. free; and, B. runs your live chat through Facebook, which means a couple of things:

  • It means that you can get the chats right to your phone, which makes it easy to answer whenever.
  • Since its run through Facebook, you have access to whatever public information that person shares, allowing you to personalize your chatting a bit.
  • Finally, since it’s run through Facebook (and is clearly marked to the customer as running through Facebook), this live chat follows Facebook social expectations, rather than live chat social expectations. Typically with live chat, customers expect an immediate response. With Facebook, people tend to be more lenient and willing to wait up to 60 minutes for a response. (That number is from across all social media. Given Facebook’s ‘slower’ nature, you likely have up to 24 hours to respond.) This patience is likely due in part to the fact that a Facebook chat can be closed and continue anywhere, anytime. A live chat is finished the minute the window is closed – which means as a customer, you have to have the ability to sit in one place for as long as the chat needs to take place.

Regardless, this app is a great one to install if you’re interested in providing live chat services to your customers, but you have neither the time nor the money for a more traditional method.


While this is my round-up of the Shopify apps a small (or brand new) store must have, I’m sure there are other apps on the list that you’ve found to be completely essential! Please share the apps that you love in the comments below and let me know why they work for you!

Looking for eCommerce software? Check out Capterra's list of the best eCommerce software solutions.

About the Author

Cara Wood

Cara Wood

Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.


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