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Shopify has always been one of the leading e-commerce platforms appreciated by both first-starters and professionals for being so simple yet feature-rich.

When the pandemic has suddenly turned consumer behavior upside down, the platform has seen a spike in new stores. Thousands of individuals decided to test the waters of entrepreneurship and many existing businesses made a shift online.

Therefore, Shopify grew faster than ever, and here are its stock prices from the last two years to prove it:

Such a sudden growth is associated with the efforts of Shopify merchants who managed to take advantage of the e-commerce surge. However, Shopify itself has been actively working on preparing the features needed during the pandemic in addition to a wide variety of apps that the Shopify app store already offers.

Talking about the latter, currently, there are more than 6 000 apps on the Shopify app store and nearly 90% of merchants rely on Shopify apps to run their businesses.

Hence, Shopify apps are one of the reasons behind the platform’s popularity, being a huge help for merchants who want to enhance their store performance.

This is where we thought – can there be a correlation between the store’s success and the apps used? Any patterns that would suggest what apps are a must-have for business growth?

Let’s find out!

TOP Shopify stores in the US: what’s the idea behind this analysis?

To find the answers to the previous questions, we gathered a list of TOP 100 Shopify stores in the US based on the information provided by Automizely. The idea was to analyze each store individually, identify the apps it uses, and break them into several key categories that would allow us to come to some conclusions.

Spoiler alert: we started to see hints of some bigger categories of apps pretty quickly, and we’ll get into details in no time.

But first, let’s go through a few different ways of how to check such information yourself if there’s a shop you like and would be interested to know what apps it uses.

Download the full list of TOP 100 Shopify stores in the US

How can you see what Shopify apps are used on a specific store?

There are several different ways to identify the apps used by the stores built on Shopify:

Using HTML source code to check Shopify apps used on the store

  1. HTML source code. If you want to see what apps are installed on a specific Shopify store, you can do it by opening its HTML source code. For this, click the left mouse button on the website and choose View page source. Then type “asyncLoad” in the search field (press cmd + F (Mac) or CTRL + F (Windows) for it to appear) and you’ll be able to see the necessary information below it.
  2. Third-party software. You can also use such software as Store leads or Wappalyzer that will provide you with even more data of your chosen Shopify store rather than just the apps that the store uses.
  3. Chrome plugins. There are many different Chrome plugins that also serve this purpose, like WhatRuns, Koala Inspector, Shopify App Detector, or Commerce Inspector.

Note: There’s no guarantee that you will see ALL the apps used on the store, so it’s best to try a few different methods. This way you should be able to see the majority of Shopify apps that are installed on the store you’re inspecting.

We used a combination of Shopify App Detector and Commerce Inspector to make the results more accurate. See the video example below to learn how to check the apps installed on Shopify stores using Commerce Inspector Chrome plugin:

What apps do the TOP 100 USA Shopify stores use the most?

So just like that, we’ve done this with every store in the TOP 100 list. What’s worth mentioning is that there was no single store that hadn’t had at least one Shopify app installed, which implies that online store owners see value in this Shopify functionality.

The final list provides some interesting insights on what to focus on for business growth and what apps the most successful Shopify stores in the US use the most.

Once sorted, hundreds of apps and software formed 9 bigger categories:

  1. Promotion and marketing
  2. Loyalty, rewards, and referrals
  3. Store design
  4. Push notifications and pop-ups
  5. Analytics and tracking
  6. Customer service
  7. Order management and fulfillment
  8. Social media apps
  9. Upsell/cross-sell apps
Explore the full list of the biggest app categories and most popular apps used

1. Promotion and marketing category

Various promotion and marketing apps make up the largest category and are the most used apps by the Shopify stores in the list.

Having in mind the fierce e-commerce competition, it makes sense. Businesses strive to stand out from their competitors, inform prospects and customers about upcoming offers, and focus on staying on their radars.

To achieve this, businesses mostly use apps for email marketing, advertising, SMS marketing, various discount apps, apps for retargeting, retention marketing, and similar, our analysis has shown. The vast majority of stores use a combination of multiple tools, not just one or another.

Most used Shopify apps in promotion and marketing category

For instance, email marketing and advertising apps are being used by 79% of stores. SMS marketing appears to be a growing category with 39 out of 100 stores using some kind of Shopify app to send messages to their subscribers.

To boost sales, 11% also take advantage of the apps that help to manage discounts, and 10% of stores use Messenger marketing apps. 7% have retargeting and wishlist apps installed while 2% of stores benefit from retention marketing apps.

TOP tools used in promotion and marketing category:

2. Loyalty, rewards, and referrals

Another significantly big app category consists of apps that focus on strengthening the brand image and keeping customers in the loop.

Loyalty apps can help create additional value for the customers and encourage them to come back while rewards and referrals are a great way to nudge shoppers in the right direction – a sale.

Our analysis revealed that 76% of stores use product review apps to showcase other customers’ experiences, as social proof is known to be one of the driving forces behind purchase decisions.

Customer reviews on Ruggable store

38% of e-commerce store owners from the list also use rewards and referral apps, 24% use personalization for a better customer experience, and 10% take advantage of loyalty apps.

TOP tools used in loyalty, rewards, and referrals category:

  • UpPromote (affiliate management) –  36%
  • Yotpo (reviews) – 36%
  • Swell (rewards and referrals – compatible with Shopify) – 22%
  • Nosto (personalization) – 14%

3. Store design apps

The store design category is one of the most diverse app categories. Businesses use various solutions to serve the needs of their target audiences and aim at providing a seamless shopping experience for their customers.

To put it simply, store design apps are used for getting shoppers through the process effectively.

Apps used for localization of the store make up 46% of all apps in this category. Showing your customers the currency they’re familiar with, speaking their language, etc. can make a huge difference in how they perceive your brand. It helps to build trust and get closer to the people you’re selling to.

TOP Shopify apps in the store design category

Another bigger subcategory here is apps for building landing pages, used by 36% of the stores in the list. Search bars (38%), store design (8%), and easy site navigation (7%) apps all show the importance of smooth visitor journey to the checkout.

Free shipping bar at Figs store

TOP tools used in the store design category:

4. Push notifications and pop-ups

Push notifications and various alerts can be used in many different scenarios, from growing your subscribers list to encouraging visitors to complete their purchases. They’re attention-grabbing, nearly impossible to miss, thus can bring some nice results when done right.

They are heavily used by the TOP 100 stores in the US as well. Alert apps, like back-in-stock notifications and similar, are installed on 36 stores out of 100, and 34% of all stores use regular pop-ups on their websites.

Push notification and pop-up apps used by the TOP Shopify stores in the US

14% of stores send push notifications to their visitors and customers, 6% use various form builders to generate leads, collect payments, feedback, etc. 4% of stores use Shopify apps to reduce cart abandonment rates and encourage shoppers to come back and finish their orders.

TOP tools used in push notifications and pop-ups category:

5. Analytics and tracking

Measuring the performance of your efforts is important for further improvement and growth. Shopify itself has built-in analytics tools that provide reports and live view, yet we’ve found out that it’s a common practice to use some third-party solutions to track the results as well.

35% of the stores analyzed have analytics tools installed, and 3% also use behavior tracking software to learn more about their visitors.

TOP tools used in analytics and tracking category:

  • Hotjar (analytics - compatible with Shopify) – 35%
  • Full Story (behavior tracking - compatible with Shopify) – 3%

6. Customer service apps

The importance of fast and dedicated customer service has increased even more since the outbreak of the coronavirus, which means that failing to provide (at least) decent customer support can have a negative impact on your business.

The good thing is that there are multiple solutions in the customer service area that can help you deal with tons of inquiries, save time, boost work efficiency, and leave customers happy.

So in this business environment, the absence of customer service apps within the TOP Shopify stores would be truly surprising. Yet, we now have 33% of stores benefiting from some kind of additional help when interacting with customers.

HelpDesk ticketing system by the HelpCenter app

From the results, it’s clear that well-organized, fast support is what’s important here as 13% of merchants use various help desks and 18% have a live chat installed on their websites.

Some of the apps and software in the list combine multiple solutions (e. g. Gorgias offers both help desk and a live chat), so the number of stores that use any of these single customer service functionalities is possibly higher.

TOP tools used in customer service category:

7. Order management and fulfillment apps

The category that’s equally important for both sides since these apps can help to avoid a lot of unpleasant misunderstandings between brands and customers as well as improve workflow and customer experience.

Talking about the TOP 100 Shopify stores in the US, 72% of them use some kind of order management and fulfillment apps.

The biggest subcategory here turns out to be fraud protection apps. Such apps are developed to provide e-commerce stores with an extra layer of security, preventing fraud, issuing warnings if necessary, and helping to avoid chargebacks.

Shopify apps used in the order management and fulfillment category

Payment-related apps (subscriptions, “pay later” options, etc.) are used by 16% of the stores in the list. 14% use various apps for dropshipping that help to easily import products from suppliers and simplify the whole online selling process.

8% of stores are benefitting from order limit apps that help to define minimum and maximum product and cart limits for your orders. 3% take advantage of shipping apps, while 1% take extra care of security.

TOP tools used in the order management and fulfillment category:

8. Social media apps

As online shopping continues to boom, selling on social media seems to emerge as a rising trend, too.

Recent studies show that the number of the general population using “buy” buttons on social media has grown by 5% in 2020, and 4% more people are now clicking on shoppable posts.

Moreover, the number of 15-22-year-olds who engage in either of those shopping activities is more than double, since 37% of them use “buy” buttons and 30% tend to click on shoppable posts.

Number of US consumers shopping via social media

Hence, we’ve noticed that the selected stores are adjusting to this growing trend as well. Not only by using apps that simplify purchasing via social media, but also by making it easy to log in using social accounts, engage with the brand on its social media channels, share the content with friends, and so on.

For instance, 24% of the stores use apps to enable shopping on Instagram. 10% of stores allow quick social login (e.g. via Facebook). 17% in total use apps for embedding social media feeds and icons (Youtube, Instagram), and 2% use additional tools to enable share buttons.

Instagram feed on Pura Vida website

TOP tools used in the social media category:

9. Upselling/cross-selling apps

The last category that we managed to identify after analyzing the apps used by the TOP Shopify stores in the US turned out to be upselling and cross-selling apps.

Those are the apps that help to sell more, increase average order value and customer lifetime value, boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Product recommendations on GymShark store

For this, 11% of stores use product recommendation apps that help to show the right products to customers and, possibly, encourage them to add more items to their carts.

Upselling and cross-selling apps come at 8% while there are also 7% of stores that offer recommendations based on the customer's geographical location, bringing another kind of relevance into play.

TOP tools used in the upselling/cross-selling category:

See the full list of Shopify apps used by the TOP 100 USA stores

Using Shopify apps to enhance your business performance

Shopify app store and the possibilities it offers is one of the key selling points when choosing between different e-commerce platforms. Wide variety of tools, easy access and installation, not to mention that many of Shopify apps are free to use are what attracts businesses of all sizes to build their stores on this specific platform.

Having analyzed 100 Shopify stores ranking in the highest positions in the US, we haven’t found a single store that doesn’t take advantage of Shopify apps. We’ve aimed at identifying the app categories that are used the most, thus presuming that you can’t underestimate categories and specific areas of business, such as building loyalty, store design and navigation, customer service, etc. if you want your store to succeed.

For more information on the most popular app categories, TOP Shopify apps used by the most successful stores in the US, and more details on the stores themselves (like monthly visits, organic traffic, etc.), simply check the forms included in this post (there’s one just above). It should provide you with more insight on what apps you could use for enhancing your store performance, help to draw inspiration, and start paving the road to growth.

What apps do you personally use to grow your business? Any success stories you'd like to share? Feel free to do that in the comments below!