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Announcing The Shopify App Challenge 2021


Shopify’s mission has always been to unlock commerce for more people, by offering a variety of solutions to help merchants start, run, and grow their business.

In order for us to provide many solutions to many businesses, we rely on the skills and ingenuity of our Shopify app developers to create apps for every merchant's need or niche. Developers are vital to making this happen.

That’s why, in addition to our new 0% revenue share model, we’re also introducing a program that helps developers get up and running faster: the Shopify App Challenge 2021. 

What is the Shopify App Challenge 2021?

Hundreds of developers joined last year’s app challenge, and several went on to grow thriving businesses on the Shopify App Store. You’ve probably heard about the success of past app participants, or even noticed one of them demoing a new app extension at Shopify Unite.

This year, we’ve reimagined and reformatted the Shopify App Challenge as an opportunity for as many developers as possible to get started on building a successful commerce app. To do that, we’re introducing an eight-week program taking you through the phases of building an app, including guidance around what you should focus on, and opportunities to build in public while engaging with other developers across Twitter and Discord. 

Merchants are still adjusting to new buyer behavior, and with Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2021 approaching, we believe that now’s the best time for developers to start exploring new ecommerce app solutions, and to take the plunge into becoming developer entrepreneurs.

Excited to start? Learn more and sign up at the link below. 

Register for the Shopify App Challenge

Join our #appchallenge and #buildinpublic with us! Solve interesting problems through creativity and innovation, and help merchants win BFCM 2021.

Register now

Who can participate in this year’s challenge?

With a focus on building new and innovative solutions for merchants, you should build along with us if: 

  • You want to build a Shopify app that solves an unaddressed problem, or solves an existing problem in a new way 
  • You enjoy building in public, and working with a community of fellow ambitious developer entrepreneurs
  •  You have a computer and a wifi connection 

What’s the benefit of participating?

Throughout this program, you’ll receive guidance from our product, developer evangelism, and advocacy teams, an amazing community of peers to build alongside with, and an opportunity to have your app shared with merchants this BFCM season. 

In other words, you’ll get lots of support while building your app, and the potential of great exposure to jumpstart your app installs!

Not to mention, you’ll earn the bragging rights of being able to say you built an app in just eight weeks, helping merchants to have their best BFCM to date. 

What kind of app should I build?

The ending of this year’s Shopify App Challenge coincides with the time when merchants start looking for apps to help them make the most of the biggest sales event of the year: BFCM. 

With commerce having accelerated so much in the past year, and merchant needs and consumer expectations having evolved too, new opportunities for apps abound. Let’s take a look at just a few potential ideas.

1. Help merchants achieve repeat sales with new customers 

After over a year of what felt like constant change, the consistency of repeat sales from loyal customers were a great comfort—and in many ways, a business-saver—for merchants around the globe. Businesses everywhere further recognize the importance of converting new customers into repeat customers.

Here are a few examples of the types of apps that help achieve this.

Subscription apps

Offering subscription experiences allows merchants to easily create repeat sales. However, with subscriptions becoming so common, consumers may be looking for more flexibility or customization in how they set up their subscriptions. Leverage our Subscription APIs to innovate in the subscription space, and to give merchants a new way to offer subscription services to customers. 

Repurchase prompts

More and more, consumers are going online to purchase perishables and limited-lifespan products that need to be re-purchased at regular intervals. 

To help remind customers to replace items—and to take the burden of reminder away from the merchants themselves—apps can play a helpful role in reminding customers to repurchase. 

New item alerts

Another way to turn one-time customers into repeat customers is by figuring out what they’ll want next, and proactively prompting them to make the purchase. This is a space where both simple and complex apps can be explored. Depending on the product vertical, apps that remind buyers about item availability, or even more complex, personalized captures of buyer preference, can help merchants reconnect with previous shoppers.

2. Personalized selling experiences

Whether shoppers are shopping online, or returning in-store, we know how much customers enjoy the sales experience, especially when it feels custom-tailored to them. By being able to provide more personalized experiences at scale, merchants can differentiate themselves through the sales experience they provide and help generate customer loyalty.

Here are a few examples of the types of apps that help achieve this.

Personalized packaging

More and more, customers are talking about their “unboxing” experiences. These experiences involve the opening and unboxing of a well-designed package, adding a thrill for shoppers receiving an item. 

When merchants have a great unboxing experience for their products, buyers are more likely to share those purchases on social media. Apps can provide a way for merchants to create incredible personalized packaging at scale.


While “clienteling” may seem like a fancy term, it simply refers to the practice of creating a deep understanding of your individual buyers, so that they become longer term “clientele.” This practice is often done through collecting data points on buyers, to be able to create individual profiles and therefore be able to provide personalized purchase recommendations. 

Personalized customer experiences

In the same vein as clienteling, once you know more about your buyers, you can drive loyalty by creating personalized experiences for them throughout their buyer lifecycle. Apps that can help merchants map this journey, compliantly collect the right data points, then help deliver on personalized experiences, could be of great help in driving personalized selling experiences.

3. Redesigning discounts 

It just wouldn’t be a BFCM without a sale, right? 

While buyers never tire of a good sale, the discounts they are used to seeing could use a revamp. Here are a few examples of the types of apps that help achieve this:

New ways to offer, combine, stack, or time-limit discounts

What’s better than one sale? Many sales! Although stacking and combining discounts may be thrilling for buyers, they can be difficult for merchants to set up. Apps that facilitate this process could help merchants offer better discounts for shoppers.

Discounts triggered by minimum spend and alerts when approaching the minimum

Buyers want to hit up all the sales during BFCM, and that means finding discounts and activating them as quickly as possible. When shoppers are filling their cart to hit the minimum threshold to qualify for a discount, having to go back and forth between product listings and their cart to check their spend can be daunting. 

To help speed things up, and even add excitement for shoppers, apps that help count down to a minimum spend would help merchants convert quicker and provide a great discounting experience. 

Tiered pricing or discounts based on merchant loyalty or behavior

Many merchants want to save the best prices for the best customers. By enabling tiered pricing or discounts that match up to customer profiles or behaviors, you can help merchants provide this option. 

Choose your own discount/pay what you can

In another feat of flexible pricing, there may be items for which merchants may want to adopt the PWYC (Pay What You Can) model. Apps could be created around PWYC specifically, or apply this same model to discounting.

4. Gifting and buying for others

Lastly, what would the holidays be without gift shopping? 

With the world starting to reopen and people seeking connection, gifting may play an ever bigger role in BFCM than ever before. 

Here are a few examples of the types of apps that can help merchants provide better options for gift-seeking buyers.

Fields for product customization

The best way to make a gift feel unique is with a personal touch. That’s why many merchants allow for customizable products, such as engraving or embossing. Apps can help enable the intake of personalized details to help merchants offer unique and personalized gifts at BFCM.

Allow a “gift purchase” mode to ship products and gift receipts

Online shopping makes sending gifts easy, but not always smooth. While many buyers simply make purchases and enter their friends' addresses, this isn’t always the most intuitive process. By creating a specific experience for buyers to fill in a gift address, much friction will be taken away from input addresses for gifts.

Custom gift packaging

Similar to the importance of unboxing, being able to provide a special gift-wrapping experience can have a big effect on the gift receiver. By allowing purchasers to help design gift packing and the unboxing experience, buyers can create a special gifting experience that’ll make them more likely to turn to certain merchants for their holiday shopping. 

New BFCM challenges mean new opportunities for developers

We hope these suggestions inspire you to explore building new solutions for the Shopify App Challenge, so that more merchants around the globe can have a successful BFCM this year. Don’t miss out! Sign up today and join us on our eight-week adventure to build great new app businesses. 

Register for the Shopify App Challenge

Join our #appchallenge and #buildinpublic with us! Solve interesting problems through creativity and innovation, and help merchants win BFCM 2021.

Register now

This article originally appeared on the Shopify Web Design and Development blog and is made available here to educate and cast a wider net of discovery.
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