How to Extend Functionality of Your E-Commerce Via Shopify Integration Plugins
E-commerce shop owners often increase their online presence by using different platforms to market their products, reach bigger audiences, and boost sales. One of these platforms (and is also one of the most popular ones) is Canada-based e-commerce platform Shopify.
As an e-commerce platform, Shopify offers e-commerce practitioners and online shop owners a variety of services, including marketing, selling, shipping, securing payments, and customer engagement tools. All these services are concentrated in one place, which makes using them easier.
For instance, if you use Instagram for social media marketing and use Shopify to sell your products, you can use a Shopify integration plugin that allows, among other functions, to tag your products and, using these tags, redirect your Instagram followers to your Shopify account. The same can be used for Facebook as well.
But Why Is Shopify the Obvious Choice for Your Online Store?
Obviously, there are several e-commerce platforms that might fit your needs, like WooCommerce and BigCommerce. So, why Shopify is the best choice?
Let’s look at some stats first. According to BuiltWith, Shopify is used by over 2 million e-commerce websites:
USA, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada are among the top countries that use Shopify and its plugins.
In terms of the functionality and how busy this platform is, the stats show the following:
- As of 2018, Shopify recorded 1 billion orders, processed through the platform.
- In 2018, the sales for all merchants who use Shopify exceeded $55 billion.
- Shopify is also an extremely versatile and mobile-friendly platform. Reportedly, 79% of traffic and 69% of orders in the first quarter of 2019 have come from mobile devices.
In terms of helping online merchants extend the functionality of their e-commerce businesses, Shopify offers a variety of apps and integration plugins. They serve for different purposes, including integrated marketing on different platforms, secure payments, and obtaining product reviews.
As of now, 2400 apps are available on the Shopify app platform with over 7 million downloads a year.
With that said, Shopify is definitely the choice for you if you need an all-in-one package. Contrary to WooCommerce, for instance, Shopify helps you better increase your online presence, while WooCommerce works only if you have a website on WordPress.
Moreover, with so many extensions and integration plugins available, you can substantially extend the functionality of your e-commerce business. Let’s take a closer look at them.
1. Social Media Excellence with Shopify SMM Channels
Among the most used Shopify integration plugins, there are ones that are directly responsible for helping you market and sell on different social media channels. Among the top used Shopify SMM plugins, these are the ones that should be on your must-have list if you want to extend the functionality of your online store:
1) Instagram Channel. This tool allows you to tag your products on Instagram and then redirect the potential buyers to your website. You can also connect your Facebook products to your account on Instagram. Kim Kardashian’s KKW beauty uses Shopify and Instagram Channel plugin. This plugin helped them turn Instagram into an additional platform for shopping (not to mention the benefits in terms of product promotion and marketing):
Instagram Channel connects your online shop and your Instagram account through 3 steps:
Step 1. You tag your products on Instagram, including the price.
Step 2. On the separate page, you have a tab that redirects an Instagram follower to your website, product description and featured products.
Step 3. After pressing the “View on Website”, your customer gets redirected to your website, connected to My Shopify.
E-commerce companies and online shops use this plugin extensively to market their products on Instagram. It drives traffic to your website and allows a customer to see the price and description of an item before making a decision to purchase it.
2) Facebook Channel. Installing a Facebook Channel plugin opens a variety of opportunities for those online businesses that want to use Facebook to market and sell their products. After installing this plugin, you can add a “Shop” tab on your Facebook account. It creates a separate page, where the visitors can see the whole list of items that are available at your shop. Here’s the example of the online shop Dresslily that uses Facebook to sell their clothing items:
Facebook Channel plugin also allows you to make changes to the product descriptions, modify the list of items, review sales, and fulfill the orders that were sent via Facebook. You can also track the performance of the Facebook Channel plugin using sales channel overview and Shopify Analytics tool.
3) Google Shopping. This plugin integrates with Google Merchant Center, making your products appear on the first page of Google Search results among other similar products. This app automatically syncs the information about your Shopify store and your products with Google Merchant Center, and you get the following results in Google Search:
Besides the general Google Search results, you’ll be able to get access to the Google Shopping tab, where you can edit your product description:
Together with the above-mentioned benefits, you also get a chance to run your Google campaigns through this plugin. It connects your Shopify to Google Ads to create a Smart Shopping campaign. After creating an ad and establishing the budget, the ad will automatically be placed by Google on related platforms, including YouTube, Gmail, and others.
With these 3 plugins at hand, you can already add important features to your Shopify account. These plugins make the management of marketing campaign easier, as they offer an all-in-one approach and access to all the features of the most popular social media platforms via one comprehensive channel.
2. Outsource Customer Support to Shopify Automation Plugins
Shopify offers its users different plugins that can tackle the automation of some processes, including managing customer support and collecting tickets.
According to Ashley Wilson, the head of marketing at WoWgrade, “creating omnichannel customer support is the newest trend in e-commerce.” According to the statistics, companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement are able to retain 89% of their customers. To compare, companies that use one or two channels to keep in touch with their clients, retain only 33% of their customers.
Shopify offers its users a selection of integration plugins that help create and manage different customer support channels:
1) Messenger Channel. Messenger is one of the top-used platforms to contact customer support. However, Shopify’s plugin goes further, turning it into another platform for selling. Not only does this plugin collect tickets, responds to the frequently asked questions, but it also surveys customers to find out specific kinds of products they are interested in. Here’s the example of a similar chatbot on the Uniquely Accessorized Facebook page:
The chatbot asks a client a series of questions, including:
- type of product they’re looking for;
- favorite color;
- favorite texture;
- preferred material, etc.
You can customize Messenger Channel according to the purpose of your products, have your clients place an order, track it and even obtain sales analysis.
2) HelpCenter. Another way to extend the functionality of the customer support service is to use an integration plugin that automatically creates customer portals and FAQ pages. HelpCenter is a Shopify integration plugin that can help you organize your FAQ page by automatically organizing it and fixing the code of the page to make it easy-to-navigate. Shwood, an online company that sells eyewear, created a fantastic FAQ page to navigate their clients through the frequently asked questions:
Having FAQ pages and chatbots can take a big chunk of work from customer support service. The only issue with chatbots is that they require a script that needs to be written and included in the code. “Chatbot script is essentially the foundation that a chatbot will eventually use to search for answers and solve tickets”, says Patrick Peterson, a back-end developer at Studicus, company that work with e-commerce companies to write chatbot scripts.
Patrick says that a chatbot uses a selection of keywords that serve as channels through which it searches for answers in the database. It’s the script that allows chatbots to communicate with customers and even make these conversations personalized.
3. Tackle Shipping and Track Supplies via Shopify Sync Apps
A rather overwhelming part of running an e-commerce business is tackling shipping and having to deal with supplies (adding goods, tracking the goods that are out of stock, dealing with suppliers, etc).
Shopify app market has a variety of integration plugins that can automate these processes and introduce you to some more features:
1. Oberlo. This integration plugin is probably one of the most popular ones on Shopify. This is a drop shipping app that gives you access to a selection of trending products from the top credible suppliers. This plugin tackles ordering products, shipping them and checking their quality for you, and also provides a Sales Dashboard for analytics:
On top of that, it tackles product page customization and provides you with updated inventory status and prices.
2. ShippingEasy. This Shopify integration plugin automates order placement and shipping. It is responsible for managing and processing orders, printing labels and syncing to update their status. It also tackles all your sales channels, including Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. But its best feature is updating and comparing delivery prices of different delivery services:
This plugin fully automates the process of fulfilling and delivering products, so you could focus on marketing and growing your business.
3. Stock Sync. Keeping track of goods can take a lot of time, but this process can also be automated with a Shopify integration plugin. It automatically includes new products to the list and removes products that are out of stock. Unwanted products, products with a low rating, as well as discounted products are removed from the list. This plugin also automatically connects you to the suppliers and vendors, sending them updated lists of goods that need to be refilled.
Shipping and tacking supplies are the processes that require automation for your e-commerce business to run smoothly. If you’re using Shopify to manage your business, these integration plugins are the ones you’ll need in order to update your suppliers and keep your product list relevant.
The Bottom Line
Shopify offers a variety of integration plugins to help extend the functionality of your e-commerce business. You can also find plugins to
- create engaging store design;
- tackle sales and conversion;
- optimize reporting;
- increase the productivity of your sales channels, and
- ensure payment security.
In this article, we covered the basic aspects of running an e-commerce business, which can often get messy and out-of-hand. With Shopify integration plugins, these processes become automated, which definitely allows you to focus on the business side of things.