These 5 Apps Will Help Take Your Shopify Store to the Next Level.

My e-commerce business has been running on Shopify for a good few years now. It’s a fantastic platform, but it doesn’t do everything we need straight out of the box.

Here are five services that are worth every penny if you want to streamline your operation, free up your time, or provide a better service to your customers.

None of the links I provide here are affiliate links. I have no connection to these companies whatsoever, apart from being a satisfied customer, of course. Prices are correct at the time of writing this and are meant as an indication only.

Without further ado, here is the list (in no particular order).

1. Shipstation (from $20/month)

I can’t imagine our business without Shipstation. Connect your courier accounts, connect your Shopify store, and you’re good to go.

The real power is in the automation. Shipstation allows you to create all kinds of shipping rules, depending on what’s in the order or where it’s going (among many other things). It’ll create picking lists and shipping labels for you, and even send bespoke emails to your customers.

Shipstation helps us to process all our orders within minutes, and it never puts a foot wrong.

Find out more here.

2. Parcelify ($14.99/month)

Shipstation depends on getting good information from your store, and although Shopify has some shipping customisation built in, it’s not going to be enough for most businesses. Parcelify is a neat little app that serves shipping options to your customer whilst they’re inside your store (before they check out).

Crucially, these options can be configured based on their postal code (among other things) which allows you to restrict certain products to certain geographical areas easily and reliably. It takes a few hours to get set up, but we’ve used this app for years, and it’s been an absolute peach.

Find out more here.

3. Locksmith App (from $9/month)

Locksmith allows us to hide specific products, collections, or pages on our store.

You can grant customers access to these otherwise hidden areas in a variety of ways. You can give them a password, or send them a ‘magic link’. The app can even check if the customer is on your email list, or if you assigned them a tag within Shopify. These are just a few examples, the list of ways people can access your secret URLs is long.

The app is well-designed, easy to use and allows you to easily create private areas on your site (maybe for wholesale customers) or access to exclusive products.

Find out more here.

4. Re-Amaze (from $29/month)

Bring all your customer service channels together in one place. Social Media, email, on-site chat support and wherever else your customers like to talk to you. This platform saves us so much time. The software is smart too and will suggest support articles intelligently. You can create chatbots to guide your customer through the buying experience, or make product recommendations based on their answers to questions.

Response templates help save us a tonne of time, and the software manages to deliver the right balance of personalised service and time efficient support.

Find out more here.

5. SEO Manager ($20/month)

Not exciting this one, but unless you are super skilled in SEO, this app really helps you to keep on top of the basics. I’d say it’s worthwhile purely for its ability to monitor for and sort out broken links, but it does a lot more than that. We use it to identify keywords and ensure that we rank for them in Google.

Find out more here.

These apps and platforms easily pay for themselves, most of them many times over. As your store grows, it’s important to find tools that can save you and your team precious time so that you can focus on what’s important.

How about you? Have you found any software solutions that have helped your business to level up?

What To-Do?

Apple User? You Already Have (Almost) Everything You Need.

To-do apps are plentiful. Given that there are so many around, why has it been so difficult to find one that meets my needs?

After years spent trying most of them, I’m finally beginning to figure it out. For the first time, I now have software and a system in place that allows me to stay organised and on top of my priorities. Better still, it costs me almost nothing.

I now spend hardly any time creating lists, shuffling tasks around, or any of that stuff. My system is lightweight, reliable and never gets in the way of me actually doing things.

I’ll tell you exactly how everything works, but as is usually the case, the story of why this was ever so difficult is where the real gold is.

Before we go any further, I’m immersed in the Apple ecosystem (phone, watch, desktop, laptop). If you’re not, then some of this is not going to apply to you.

In a recent post, I wrote about how I use Drafts. Not because it is impressive software (which it is), but because it supports a different way of working, as far as capturing ideas and thoughts goes.

The main conclusions I came to in that piece are that software should be simple, flexible, fast, and reliable. Why? Well, because foremost, these are tools. I use them to help me ‘keep going’. One sure fire way of knowing that I’m using the wrong software is when I find myself playing around in the menus too much, tweaking how the interface looks or searching for squirrelled-away hacks to customise the experience in some weird and probably pointless way.

When the tools are right, they just work and that means I can get on with my work.

So, why has it been so hard to get here? The main issue is that I’m never clear enough about what I actually need. Most task management software will do a lot of stuff I don’t need it to do. These ‘to-do’ apps try to be project management platforms, and they always fall short in some way.

Unnecessary complexity is never a good thing. It’s true in life, and it’s especially true with software.

Another thing. On some level, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that paid options are always going to be better than free ones. Does this happen to you? If it costs £5/7/9 each month to use it, it must be remarkable, right?

At the risk of stating the obvious, Apple’s native apps are always going to be better integrated into the OS than anything else could ever hope to be. Syncing between devices is flawless. There’s no crashing, no freezing, no delays. Share extensions, the ability to control these apps using Siri on any of your devices, and complimentary aesthetics make for a more coherent experience.

The main criticism you’re going to hear when it comes to native Apple apps is that they ‘don’t have enough features’. For me though, this is a strength and if they actually cost any money, it would be a huge selling point too.

Yep, I’ve tried several calendar apps, but I’ve been using nothing but the Apple Calendar for a good few years now. It’s the same story for tasks. I’ve flirted with no end of competitors in that space, but I’m back with Apple Reminders. I have no intention of going anywhere else.

Still, there is a final piece in this puzzle that Apple have not been able to provide for me.

I want my tasks (from Reminders) and my appointments (from all my various calendars) in one place. I want an at-a-glance view of what I have going on each day and I want to organise those things quickly and intelligently, so that I actually get everything done. This is where Sorted3 comes in.

Sorted3 takes everything from Reminders and Calendar and puts it into one list. Each event (from Calendar) or ‘to-do’ (from Reminders) has a checkbox that you can tick off as you complete a task or finish a meeting, etc. This is a big time-saver. No more switching between two apps, with that uneasy feeling that you may have forgotten something. This consolidated list is accessible through the Sorted3 app or through the app’s widgets that you can display on your iPhone, Watch and in macOS.

That’s not all. There’s also a fantastic ‘auto-arrange’ feature. This allows you to tell Sorted3 how long you expect a task to take, and the software then works out when you should do each task. It works well, and you can get into a lot of detail, telling the software how much of a break you need in-between tasks, or whether something needs to happen at a specific time, for example.

The way you get your events into Sorted3 is particularly impressive. Calendar events appear after you sync your calendars (I have 11 calendars linked and nothing ever gets missed). It’s how the software deals with Reminders that is most impressive, though.

Let’s say I want to set a to-do. I do this in the usual way in Reminders (either by using Drafts, or via Siri, the Share extension in iOs/macOS etc). This information gets plucked from Reminders by Sorted3 within seconds and placed into the app’s inbox for further processing if necessary. Information already entered in the original Reminder or Calendar event (locations, due dates, recurrences etc.) is preserved.

The Reminder then vanishes from Reminders, keeping everything clean and tidy.

Of course, you can also create your own events directly in Sorted3 too. It’s quick and easy. The interface is clean, minimal, and intuitive, and you can even create different lists or use tags if you want to categorise your tasks like that. This can be handy. If I’m sat in front of my computer and in the mood to power through some admin, I’ll pull everything with an ‘admin’ tag and get some of those things ticked off whilst I’m in that particular frame of mind.

Sorted3 does something very clever. It builds on the strengths of Apple’s native apps, brings them together and adds useful, well-designed features, that help you stay organised and in control of your day.

This whole approach is apparently referred to as ‘hyper-scheduling’, a new concept for me. I’m surprised that I took to it too, as I’m usually not someone who likes things too rigidly planned.

I love it how my day always feels in control now. I know exactly what I’m doing and how much time I have to do other things. Anything I don’t complete carries over to the next day, but there’s something about how it all works that means this rarely happens. I suspect this is something to do with how the software helps me to get a more realistic sense of what it’s possible to achieve in a given period. I also go through my Sorted3 inbox at the end of every working day to set things up for the following day, which means I always know what the next day looks like. This helps me relax in the evenings and even helps me to wind down and sleep better.

What else do I like? – the cost. Sorted3 is a one off payment of around $40 at the time of writing. This includes Mac and iOS apps for iPhone and Watch. No subscriptions. If you do everything in iOS, then you only need to pay $15. There is a free version, but the ‘Pro’ versions represent excellent value for money. Of course, Reminders, and Calendars come ‘free’ with Apple hardware. When I started using Sorted3, there was a free trial. Set up took less than five minutes and I signed up for the Pro version within 48 hours. I haven’t regretted it for a moment since.

In summary, using Apple native apps makes a lot of sense for many reasons. By adding one more low-cost app, you can build on their strengths and elevate their usefulness. You’ll have a bulletproof, low cost, slick, and easy to use system for staying organised. I’d recommend giving it a try.

Finally, an App That Will Help You Capture Everything.

Trying to find the right productivity apps to use gets a lot easier if you give up the illusion that there is something out there that will do everything you want it to do perfectly.

Apps that are outstanding in some ways will almost always have issues that bug you. The trick is to see if you can live with the limitations and incorporate those killer features into your workflow.

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