Shopify Partnership Successes: Lessons Learned from Certified Shopify Partners Storemapper and Cross Sell

Shopify Partnership Successes: Lessons Learned from Certified Shopify Partners Storemapper and Cross Sell

In the ever-changing ecommerce world, Shopify still reigns supreme. With over 8,000 apps in its marketplace, store owners have a huge variety to choose from. This sounds fantastic - albeit definitely overwhelming - for them. But, for many ecommerce products, standing out from the crowd and gaining traction requires a fine balance. 

Because of SureSwift’s many Shopify app acquisitions over the years, we’ve prioritized building a team of exceptional operators with a breadth of Shopify experience and know-how. One such operator is BarathRam Rajendran, our Shopify Subject-Matter Expert. Over the past year, he’s been busy heading up multiple Shopify businesses in the SureSwift portfolio, including Storemapper and Cross Sell, which have both experienced incredible growth in 2023. 

Since joining the Shopify partners program, both Cross Sell and Storemapper have seen success from the close partnership that they’ve forged with Shopify. BarathRam recently sat down with us to share some of the strategies he and his team have been using to optimize the two Shopify partnerships, leading to higher rankings, lower churn, and stronger conversion rates. BarathRam also shares some insider secrets on maximizing your Shopify partnership and steering clear of costly mistakes with your app.

A quick overview of Storemapper and Cross Sell 

Founded in 2009, Storemapper has a long history for a SaaS business. By the time SureSwift acquired it in 2017, the store-locator app was finding success with a range of integrations – the website boasts that Storemapper works for “Any platform, anywhere,” and the team has yet to be faced with a customer that can’t quickly integrate the app. While this versatility is a great selling point, BarathRam decided that in 2023, the team needed to really focus down on one platform to drive growth and profitability – Shopify. The app currently holds a prominent position on the front page of many searches, ranking in the top 10 for various store map queries. 

Established in 2014, Cross Sell swiftly garnered positive reviews on the Shopify app store, catching SureSwift’s attention for its quality and usability. Following its acquisition by SureSwift in 2020, the curated cross-selling app broadened its reach and now boasts an ecommerce customer base in the thousands. 

More recently, both the Cross Sell app and website underwent a comprehensive UX/UI update, enhancing overall functionality and increasing conversion rates significantly. In fact, BarathRam shares that since the update, “the conversion rate has grown from 18% to 32%, while churn has decreased drastically.” BarathRam highlights that since the Cross Sell team has focused on improving the app's user-friendliness and decreasing its complexity for consumers, they’ve observed a significant drop in uninstalls, an important ranking metric for the Shopify algorithm. 

Top tips for achieving success as a Shopify partner

Achieving growth as a Shopify app requires balancing many factors

Because BarathRam and his teams have worked closely with Shopify over the last few years to troubleshoot and enhance Cross Sell and Storemapper, they've had the opportunity to experiment with various techniques for success on the Shopify marketplace. Nevertheless, the road to a successful Shopify partnership has also come with its share of challenges. Because Shopify regularly updates its marketplace algorithms and app requirements, businesses must promptly adapt to these changes to avoid costly consequences.

BarathRam and the Cross Sell team navigated these challenges well when the app was mysteriously delisted, causing its ranking to fall to the 120-130s in the list of competing apps. Because the Cross Sell team had no way to quickly track Shopify rankings, the numbers fell before they realized there was any issue. 

Initially, the delisting was a mystery to the team. However, they soon discovered that Shopify had requested a bug fix for the app and, despite addressing the issue, there had been no formal email communication with Shopify to confirm the fix in writing. Fortunately, the team swiftly resolved the problem, which restored their rankings, moving the application back to the front page for the keyword phrase "cross sell."

Now, BarathRam advises Shopify partners to maintain good standing with the platform by using the following four strategies:

Communicate, communicate, communicate. 

Shopify audits vendors approximately every three to six months, so BarathRam's teams ensure that they reply to those information requests on time; otherwise, apps will be delisted. BarathRam explains, “Shopify is likely to message at least once every couple months about technical specifications or an API upgrade. It’s essential to stay on your toes with their updates, or you run the risk of having your business delisted or demoted in the marketplace.” 

App developers should note that changes still need about thirty days to be reflected in the marketplace. This means that teams must constantly look back and evaluate their efforts. By incorporating a commitment to responsiveness within the business, even lean teams can make sure that they avoid major setbacks on the platform. 

Be proactive about compliance.

Being proactive about security is key to a Shopify app's success in the marketplace

If Shopify apps are looking to rank higher or get more installs, they must maintain compliance with the platform. It doesn’t matter if it’s a million-dollar product or a brand new one – as long as they’re compliant, Shopify will help products grow. Shopify developers can achieve compliance by taking these actions:

  1. Protect app safety, security, and reliability: When a customer installs a product, the team injects code into their ecommerce store. Then, if they uninstall that product, they have to cleanly remove that code from the store. Shopify also requires developers to have specific APIs and extensions with their app. Apps must follow all App Store Requirements in order to remain on the marketplace.

  2. Build for performance: Shopify considers an app’s impact on a store’s speed. If the store lags and takes a while to load, this affects performance and ranking within the marketplace. BarathRam points out that many apps affect store performance, significantly slowing down their load time. This can frustrate shoppers to the point that they simply leave and shop elsewhere. 

For this reason, BarathRam emphasizes the importance of understanding how an app impacts your business. “For solopreneurs who don’t understand tech too well, you need someone on your team to help with it. The good news is that now, Shopify has made it easy to get the right product to grow your business.” 

  1. Design for ease of use: Shopify penalizes businesses that receive a high number of uninstalls. App owners can avoid this by prioritizing user-friendly learning processes during their build. BarathRam encourages Shopify app developers to “build for solopreneurs, not just for big businesses. Your app should be easy to use from the minute it’s downloaded from the app store. And your onboarding communication should smoothly guide customers toward conversion.”

Shopify provides a step-by-step guide here that shows app developers how to attain compliance so that they can join the Shopify Partner program. The guide also details the partner program agreement that all Shopify partners must maintain. 

Keep your store updated. 

Regular updates help drive shopify app success

To sustain an app on the Shopify marketplace, businesses must be consistent in focus and resources. Applications are required to constantly update features, fix bugs, and comply with an ever-growing checklist. Technological compliance and API updates are key. 

Fortunately, for newer apps, this is much easier, because Shopify provides an embedded app system and components, which is the start of this process. Unfortunately, if you're a legacy system with a history of five years back or more, you must pivot and adapt to these new requirements very quickly, which can make competition with new products more of a challenge.

Prioritize usability. 

Shopify is currently streamlining their marketplace algorithm to address the impact that the number of product installs has on rankings. This means it’s essential for businesses to prioritize the Shopify customer experience, from the very first minute of usage. Otherwise, developers run the risk of Shopify assigning lower rankings, driven by a high rate of user uninstalls.

BarathRam and the Storemapper team saw that 35-40% of their total revenue came from Shopify, so they doubled down on updating features and versatility. “Our major focus so far has always been listening to our customers and working on the features that move the needle for their website,” says BarathRam. “We recently released some game-changing features to offer lead capturing and shoppable products, which put us in the driving seat compared to our competitors. We’re also working on constantly improving our map. We’re now launching the ability to sync reviews and business hours with Google.” 

The Storemapper team’s hard work is paying off, as the business received a significant influx of customers within a span of 3-5 months, while also maintaining a significantly lower churn rate than the industry average.

Maximizing your rankings with the Shopify Plus Partner Program

Shopify pays close attention to the technical aspects vendors have completed, so it can rank apps against others accordingly. When a team completes Shopify’s compliance criteria, they can apply to be a Built for Shopify app, a program just launched in 2023. Achieving “Built for Shopify'' status gives vendors a badge in their marketplace app. The platform also now prioritizes apps that load within its admin panel, showing up as embedded. Though Shopify includes an “embedded app” feature within its admin, Cross Sell does not currently use it, relying on its own separate domain: 

However, Cross Sell has achieved the Highlight: Theme Extensions badge. This is shown in the "Highlights" field of the app, with “Built for your business – works with the latest themes”:

When Cross Sell becomes an embedded app, it will receive the Highlight: Embedded App achievement. Then, the team can apply for their Built for Shopify badge. All of this helps with ranking – which means more installs, more conversions, and more revenue. This is the current focus for BarathRam and his teams. Once they’ve achieved this status, they can apply for the Shopify Plus Partner Program, which sets them up to cater to premium and enterprise customers, along with a host of other features and benefits from the platform.

Achieving higher rankings as a Shopify app developer

BarathRam has learned from working with Shopify in the last two years that the best way to grow his apps is through organic leads. Those organic leads come from ranking in these categories and subcategories: 

In 2022, Shopify asked teams to choose a category from the following six: 

  • Finding Product
  • Orders & Shipping 
  • Marketing & Conversion 
  • Selling Products, 
  • Store Design
  • Store Management 

Storemapper falls under the Store Design category – and within that, it falls under the sub-category of Page Enhancements

This broad category is broken down even further, with Storemapper classifying under the “Store Locator” category. And this drills down even further with a ranking system. Storemapper can currently be found on the first page of recommended products, under the filter “Most Popular.” 

Ranking high on this page is both an art and a science. Being embedded within the Shopify domain, holding numerous badges, and quality customer reviews—each of these affects page placement. “All of this comes back to being compliant with Shopify and growing products organically,” comments BarathRam. But while the teams know what needs to be done to raise their rankings, they don't know the highest priority in Shopify's ranking system. Does an embedded app earn you ten points? Can a review get you five? 

Thankfully, Shopify recently began providing more clarity on what helps products to rank higher, though Shopify’s customer support hasn’t been explicit about how best to influence the algorithm. Still, the platform is currently working to streamline these aspects, albeit occasional changes may occur. Overall, though, the ecommerce giant seems to be finding common ground regarding what works for them and what works for vendors in conjunction.

Laying the groundwork for a successful Shopify partnership

To enhance app visibility on the Shopify marketplace, app developers can distinguish themselves by joining Built for Shopify, and eventually, by joining the Shopify Plus Partner Program. Shopify provides numerous resources, documentation, and support for individuals and businesses looking to join their Partner Program. Shopify users have the opportunity to enhance their expertise through the resources provided by the Shopify Partner Academy. Developers can also utilize the Shopify Help Center, which offers free educational materials and advanced Shopify tutorials for developers and Shopify sellers.  

When asked what businesses should focus on in 2024, BarathRam encourages them to aim for a Product-Led Growth approach. “Customers should not have to spend so much time figuring out how to navigate from one menu to the other.” When businesses focus on making their product intuitive, user-friendly, and self-directed, they’ll automatically have an easier time standing out on the Shopify marketplace, setting themselves up for a strong partnership with the platform.

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