Expert Advice for Branding Your Shopify App

Expert Advice for Branding Your Shopify App
Branding your Shopify App: 2016

Ajo Fod has a unique app with a common problem.

“It is really hard to build something that people have not seen before, that they have not heard of before,” the app developer explained.

It’s even tougher to sell.

A San Francisco-based app developer, Fod launched his dynamic pricing app Quant Price this past January. And while he’s managed to garner some impressive results from the few clients he’s accumulated, his largest challenge remains how best to explain what his sophisticated app does, and why it’s valuable to merchants.

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Quant Price: not a quirky concept

“Dynamic pricing is a really big deal and not that many people look at it that way,” Fod explained.

Unlike traditional fixed pricing methods, dynamic pricing (also called real-time pricing) is the process of determining a product’s value in commercial transactions in a fluid manner, depending on current market conditions.

“Everyone has heard of dynamic pricing at Uber with their surge pricing. Almost everyone has experienced dynamic pricing with the big airline ticket pricing,” Fod added. “This concept is now gaining wider traction.”

Fod says he started looking at how ecommerce merchants priced their products and realized there often wasn’t enough accurate data to back-up how they chose product prices.

“I realized that [merchants] were using hacks to price their Stock Keeping Units (SKUs).”

Enter Quant Price, a dynamic-pricing app that uses controlled A/B testing to determine the most profitable price for merchant products. The goal is to maximize revenue by finding the price customers are willing to pay, but that also yields the most profit.

Using AI technology, the app can also increase revenue by intelligently offering discounts when it’s likely to affect a customer’s purchasing decision. The AI learns from past buyer behavior and cookies set on the user’s browser.

“It turns out that some people need a lower price to buy, while others will buy regardless of the discount. The price sensitivity information from the A/B price-test helps us predict which users need a discount to buy.”

The dilemma

While Fod has seen his app help merchants increase revenue by 25% to 45%, he’s still finding it tough to gain momentum.

The app’s concept is popular with large companies, but often small-to-medium sized ecommerce businesses are not as familiar. And because Quant Price requires a certain-size merchant to produce results quickly, due to the amount of data needed, it can make finding the right clients a challenge.

It all boils down to successful branding, a tool that can make all the difference, yet is a common challenge for many app developers.

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Advice from app pros

With Fod’s dilemma in mind, we turned to a few app developers who have proven successful at branding their apps and asked them to give us their best advice.

Here’s what they had to say:

Branding your Shopify App: Swell RewardsThe app dev: Josh Enzer, CEO of Swell.

His cred: Swell Rewards is an app that helps merchants install a highly customizable rewards and referral program on Shopify stores. Swell launched the rewards app seven months ago and is already one of Shopify’s top four marketing apps (a competitive category).

His advice: “It may sound counterintuitive, but make the app tile and ‘hover’ description feature-focused – communicate exactly what the app does in a very small window, and don't add any fluff until the app description. This was a huge learning lesson for us at the beginning; we wanted to sound sophisticated, and so we called Swell a ‘customer retention platform’ (and stuck to it for a while). That sounds nice, but is completely meaningless to a merchant in search of add-ons for their store. App developers can use the app description to elaborate on the benefits the app provides, but we've found that oftentimes, merchants are in search of something specific enough that just clearly articulating features is enough to get them to say, ‘Yep, that's what I need!’”

Branding your Shopify App: Stitch LabsThe app dev: Jake Gasaway, co-founder of Stitch Labs.

His cred: As one of Shopify’s top four inventory apps, Stitch Labs provides handy tools for merchants that allow them to spend less time managing their inventory.

His advice: “Think like a business owner. A business owner will likely not care about the technical intricacies behind your app – they want to know what problem it’s going to solve for them. Solution-oriented messaging will grab a business owner’s attention much faster than detailed feature descriptions. Also, discuss how you’re solving a unique problem: If you’re re-creating a ‘better, faster’ version of something that already exists, people might still tend to choose reputation or brand name over an unknown app. Focus your messaging on the unique problem(s) your app was designed to solve.”

Branding your Shopify App: LimeSpotThe App Dev: Bob Bell, CEO of LimeSpot.

His cred: LimeSpot’s latest app was published in January and is already one of Shopify’s top sales apps (another very competitive category).

His advice: “Be prepared to pivot. Your initial design and functionality might not be exactly what your clients want or need. Entrepreneurs often fall in love with their own ideas. In some ways you need to, because of the sacrifice that you make in order to make it a go. That said, just because it’s your idea and you’ve spent a bunch of time, with a bunch of smart people, coming up with it, doesn’t mean that it is the right idea. Rarely is what you envision fully baked the first time, and frankly it shouldn’t be. You need to be prepared to pivot and learn from the market and your clients. We pivoted at least twice to get to what we now have. That doesn’t mean that we completely abandoned our idea, even though sometimes that is the correct course of action, but we significantly altered our course based on what we learned along the way. You need to challenge your decisions every step of the way.”

These are just some of the tips that can help app developers better brand their product. Did we miss some vital advice? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Want to learn more about building apps for Shopify? Check out our comprehensive list of articles on Shopify App Development and the Shopify API.

About the Author

Anastasia is the Editor of Shopify's Web Design and Development Blog. She’s a former journalist and freelancer, and loves chocolate stout beer.

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