Best Seller Insights is Published for Beta

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This post is part of a series following my building of the Best Sellers app to help Shopify stores manage and promote best selling products. If you'd like to start at the beginning of the series, you can start here.

My new app, Best Seller Insights, is now approved and published for Beta testing in the Shopify app store. It has been an incredible journey these past few months building this app and learning the ins and outs of the Shopify app ecosystem.

In this post, I’ll recap what the Shopify app store review process was like for Beta testing apps and why apps should plan to exit Beta status as fast as possible. I’ll also share a fatal flaw that almost resulted in my app being dead on arrival. And finally I’ll cover some next steps I’m planning on taking for the Best Seller Insights app.

The Shopify beta app review process

I submitted Best Seller Insights for review for Beta testing on Sunday, April 3rd. The app was approved 5 business days later on Friday, April 8th. Overall, that is not a bad turnaround time.

During this time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. There was no communication aside from the final approval email which I received that Friday.

Looking at the app install history, I can see the Shopify apps team installed my app on one of their internal test shops. I am not sure how rigorous the overall testing process is for Beta apps. I suspect the review process is fairly lax. As long as an app installs cleanly, doesn’t cause errors during basic use, and doesn’t violate the the Shopify Terms of Service, I believe an app will be approved for Beta.

Why your app should exit beta as fast as possible

Best Seller Insights has been in Beta now for about two weeks. During this time, I have had zero installs from merchants that I did not explicitly ask to try my app out.

Some of this may be related to the fact that my app store listing did not include screen shots. However, I suspect one of the primary factors that affects all Shopify beta apps is the messaging that is displayed on the app page within the Shopify app store.

As a Shopify developer, when you are looking at your app page, you will see this message for beta apps:

beta-message-dev

Overall, that is a relatively benign, friendly message: “Welcome Burst Commerce! This app listing is currently published as beta”

However, I just noticed last week this is the message displayed for everyone else for beta apps:

beta-message-general

A store owner would have to be pretty motivated to install your app after reading this message: “This app is in beta – it may be incomplete and still be undergoing final testing. It should be used at your own risk.” (emphasis mine).

As a result, I personally am working towards getting out of beta as fast as possible.

An almost fatal flaw

Best Seller Insights was approved for beta testing and things were looking up. So I reached out to a Shopify merchant I know to try it out and get his feedback. Within just a few minutes of trying it out, he gave me some tough, but solid feedback that went something like “Good luck with your app, but I would never use it.”

You see, initially Best Seller Insights was designed to create and manage best-seller collections within a Shopify store. I even built a complete copy of the Shopify Smart Collections interface for defining dynamic best-seller collections. However, the flaw with this logic, is I assumed merchants would be ok with making additional collections just to track best-sellers.

I left this conversation wondering if this app was even viable given this feedback. However, after giving this some thought I was able to come up with a way to fix this.

The bad news is I basically had to throw away one of the more complex portions of the app, the custom best-seller collections management. The good news is my new approach would be able to track best-sellers using a store’s existing collections. This is huge as it should make it very easy to add on best-seller collection tracking for a shop owner without them having to change the way they manage their shop.

I spent last week rewriting the best-seller collection tracking and I’m happy to say it is working like a champ. Overall, I think this change will have a huge net positive effect on the adoption of Best Seller Insights.

The key takeaway here is: Put your app in the hands of real users as fast as possible.

What’s next for Best Seller Insights?

Over the next couple of weeks I am planning on adding in Shopify Billing, which is needed before you can get final approval to publish your app without beta status in the app store.

I am also going to be working with the first wave of initial merchants that use Best Seller Insights to make sure I’ve covered all the bases, and firm up any additional issues.

My plan is to launch out of beta sometime within the next 2-3 weeks if all goes well.

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Summary

In this post, I’ve shared how the beta Shopify app approval process went for my new Shopify app: Best Seller Insights. I’ve also discussed why apps should probably plan on exiting beta as fast as possible. In addition, I’d highly recommend getting your app in front of a real user as early as possible in the process to help uncover any fatal flaws.

Until next time.

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