Shopify App Development Guide

Shopify App Development Guide
Article by Maria Martin
Last Updated: February 24, 2023

Shopify powers more than 800,000 online stores worldwide.

This app solution has generated over $100 million in revenue for eCommerce merchants. Shopify App Store contains over 6,000 different Shopify apps in 2022.

In this article, we will go over the essentials of Shopify app development: the prerequisite steps you should take when developing your store’s apps, the steps to take it is seamlessly submitted to the app store and the benefits of having your own Shopify app.

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What is a Shopify App?

Shopify is an eCommerce platform and app that allows businesses and individuals to create online stores to sell their products.

Businesses can categorize their products, accept credit card payments, personalize their storefront, and track sales statistics.

The store was built with the open-source web application technology Ruby on Rails. Shopify developed an API platform in 2009, allowing developers to create and sell applications for Shopify businesses via the Shopify App Store.

Shopify includes features and options for everyone, whether you're a start-up or have an extensive sales channel. It offers a wide range of tools to assist merchants in selling products online and in person.

Types of Shopify Apps

Depending on the company's public profile, there are four distinctive types of Shopify apps.

  • Public apps: These apps are open to all merchants and exist in the Shopify App Store. There are two kinds of listings of public apps: listed and unlisted. Merchants can install the apps listed in the Shopify App Store. Unlisted apps are not displayed in the Shopify App Store's categories or search results. Instead, you can get them from the developer's website or the app's store.
  • Custom apps: These are created for a specific merchant and are unavailable in the Shopify App Store. They are ideal for extending your online business to other platforms or adding capabilities to your Shopify admin. To build bespoke applications, an external app developer does not need API access to your store or access to your Shopify admin section.
  • Private apps: Created by developers for merchants who have particular needs that custom applications can’t meet. Private applications aren't published on the Shopify App Store and can only be used by your store. API and Shopify Admin access will be required for the external app developer.
  • Draft apps: Shopify Partners use them for testing purposes throughout development. They can only be installed in development stores, which permanently disables store transfer.

How to Create a Shopify App in 4 Steps

Without going into the actual app development process, which requires an entirely separate guide, preparing your Shopify app development procedure and submission consists of these steps.

Step #1: Choose Your Open-Source System

Both internal and external developers use open-source design systems to construct and design Shopify Apps.

Most adhere to online accessibility standards, and developers can use them whether their app runs inside or outside the Shopify Admin. Platforms such as Polaris eliminate developers' need to create unique UI elements. Its components are all adaptable, pre-built, and simple to implement.

Typography, illustrations, icons, space, colors, and interaction states are also included among the components of this platform.

Step #2: Pick Your Tools and Resources

Shopify is language-agnostic, meaning users may design apps using familiar programming languages and frameworks. Users can construct their first app with various tools, resources, and instructions.

Prerequisites before beginning the development include:

  • Having a Shopify Partner account, a development store, and a ngrok account
  • Access to the command line and text editor on the computer
  • Knowledge of any backend programming language, including Node.JS, Java, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Python.
  • Installing the software with the npm package manager

Users can also use the Shopify App CLI tool to accelerate development and the Shopify GraphQL App Installer to locate and administer the Shopify GraphQL Admin APIs.

Step #3: Develop the Shopify App

The steps for developing a Shopify app are as follows:

  • Step 1: Integrate your app with the Shopify platform.
  • Step 2: Create your user interface with an open-source system.
  • Step 3: Access and set up the GraphQL Admin API using the REST API or the GraphQL Admin API.
  • Step 4: Integrate the Billing API.
  • Step 5: To capture and react to events, utilize webhooks or EventBridge.

Developers must ensure the security of their programs and data. You can use the OWASP Top 10 list to check your app for vulnerabilities and dangers before releasing it. The next critical step is to do frequent security tests and maintenance on your Shopify App.

Following the launch, developers must complete the following tasks:

  • Open ports management
  • Site-to-site scripting
  • Injection of SQL data
  • Insecure direct object references
  • Verification of requests
  • Cookies
  • Examination of the permissions for cloud storage
  • Examine your DNS records regularly to ensure that your Shopify store is optimized for speed

Step #4: Submit and Review Shopify App

You can submit your Shopify App to Google Play or Apple Play for approval after you've tested it and established that it's production-ready.

After submission, the Shopify App Review team will confirm that the app satisfies or doesn’t satisfy the store’s requirements. Reviewers will confirm that your app's core functionality, authentication, and billing API are all operational.

Reviewers will also review your app listing to check that all required fields are accurately filled out. The evaluation process takes 6-8 business days, during which your App will go through several stages. Users are kept up to date on the status of their app during the review.

Benefits of Shopify App

Shopify apps come with many advantages any business should consider when deciding on a platform for their eCommerce app.

  • Quick and easy to set up and use: With Shopify, users can quickly launch online stores without the fuss over servers and development costs. A clean and easy-to-use UI where all the features are logically structured is at your disposal. Shopify also has extensive documentation and video guides to help developers at every step of the way.
  • 24/7 customer support: Shopify’s customer support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via phone, email, or web chat. Their response time is quick, meaning your business is never on its own.
  • Secure and reliable: eCommerce stores deal with massive data and sensitive customer information like personal and credit card details. Shopify stores are trustworthy, ensuring the website is fast and secure and never experiences downtime.
  • Very few tech concerns: Shopify companies provides software, hosting, and integrations with Third-Party apps for customers to set up and run their online stores. Not only does Shopify make it easier to design online stores, but it is also faster and more secure, accommodating possible traffic spikes your store might receive.
  • Mobile responsive themes: It has become essential, not optional, to have a mobile-optimized site. All Shopify’s themes are mobile-responsive, and the platform includes a free built-in mobile commerce shopping cart.

Other advantages of owning a Shopify app include:

  • Users can store purchase data through Shopify apps and get detailed analytics on the end-to-end sales process.
  • Most Shopify Apps are scalable, providing opportunities to add more features and functionalities as your business grows. There are apps for everything from enhancing the shopping experience and accepting payments to adding backend functions.
  • Shopify Apps allow easy customization since custom Shopify App Development gives more room to maneuver and provides solutions tailored to every merchant’s requirements.
  • Shopify app generates statistics for targeted and personalized marketing, which helps to optimize and improve sales revenue.
  • Various marketing and advertising options for your business. Merchants can segment their customers and get personalized recommendations and marketing tips.
  • Many Shopify apps can easily integrate with social media seamlessly, helping enhance the brand image, improve customers’ reach, and share experiences through a few clicks of a button.

Shopify App Development Takeaways

As the third biggest eCommerce platform offering multiple functionalities and hosting advantages over other providers, Shopify is one of the go-to platforms for developing dependable, revenue-generating apps.

To develop your own Shopify app, you need to have a clear business plan in mind, with outlined goals and KPIs to monitor over time to ensure you can optimize and adjust the app when necessary.

Numerous benefits, such as 24/7 support, security and reliability, and mobile-responsiveness, can be enjoyed via a well-optimized, professionally developed Shopify store app.

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