Getting Paying Users via the Shopify App Store

Why it works and how to do it

I've analyzed all 494 founder interviews on IndieHackers and identified 34 acquisition channels that work consistently for founders.

I've noticed a lot of founders having success with app stores. Shopify, Slack, Wordpress, Chrome; each of these platforms has its own app store. It turns out they're pretty good acquisition channels to get new paying customers as well. This week we're going to talk about the Shopify App Store and how it can help you get new paying users.

Why Do Founders Get Paying Users through the Shopify App Store (And App Stores in General)?

Because Shopify proactively spends time promoting third party apps to their userbase. Take Credible ($2.5K/mo). They're a Shopify app that displays recent purchases on your e-commerce site. Here's what they said on this topic when asked about their growth:

The other primary source of growth has been through Shopify itself. Shopify is amazing at promoting their apps. They take a 20% cut of your subscription fees, but it's well worth it in what they provide for you. When you first launch an app on the store, they feature it in the "New & Upcoming"** section for store owners to get a first glimpse of your app. After you prove yourself with some solid growth and positive reviews, they will feature you in the main "Featured" section of the store. Both of these were huge for our growth. When Shopify put us on their main featured page, we netted about 180 new recurring customers.

Credible's founder realized that Shopify was really open to promoting third party apps and went even further to get additional exposure:

Additionally, we worked with some of the Shopify team to be in the "Popular Sales App" section, which was posted in the settings/apps section of Shopify's store dashboard.This was a great source of new customers.

This is a pattern common among all app stores with which founders have been successful. The platform cared about third-party apps and spent time actively promoting them to its userbase.

Shopify App != Exclusively Target Shopify Users

You don't have to be a SaaS that exclusively targets Shopify users and their platform only in order to be listed there. Take Storemapper ($21K/mo), a tool that enables any e-commerce website to add a "store locator" widget (see live example). Their target market is not only Shopify sites, but all e-commerce websites. Yet, these guys have a Shopify app and have been pretty successful with it:

I built integrations with e-commerce platforms which would allow the app to be found through their app store search functions. It was only after that point that we started seeing pure inbound growth.

Almost all of our new customers are inbound. ... a big portion comes from searches inside the app stores of various e-commerce platforms like Shopify... .

StoreMapper decided to create an app for every major e-commerce platform (BigCommerce, Magento) which brought them even more additional traffic.

But I'm Not An E-Commerce SaaS...

Do you have a feature or a set of features that could be useful to e-commerce owners? Then you're a candidate for a Shopify App.

Preetam is the founder of an app called "WhatsApp Chat + Abandoned Card". They basically figured out how to use WhatsApp to help Shopify store owners recover abandoned shopping carts. As a result, they're making $25k/month and are being used by 20,000 merchants by ranking on the Shopify App Store for the term "whatsapp" (and similar terms):

Ask yourself:

Do you have a specific product feature that could help e-commerce owners achieve their goals? Some of their goals are similar to any other business: finding new products, increasing sales, boosting conversion rates, etc. If you do have something that is useful, you could potentially unlock a whole new acquisition channel.

What do you think?