The Shopify App Store Report: 2021
We take a dive into the Shopify app store using data to highlight key insights and trends.
The Shopify App Store
For our first post, we decided to do a report on the Shopify App Store. As one of the most active and common Micro-SaaS stores, it’s a great starting point to dive into.
In future we’ll be focusing on much more nuanced insights within the Shopify (and other) app stores. But we wanted to start off by producing one of the most comprehensive reports into the Shopify App Store ever. We hope you enjoy it!
All the analysis in this report has been produced using data available on Marketplace Apps. Why not try it out yourself and build your own insights!
Launched in 2009, the Shopify App Store enables developers to build applications for Shopify’s merchants. It’s become a vital differentiator for Shopify with 85% of Shopify Merchants now relying on apps built by developers to power their stores.
As of 16th May 2021, the Shopify App store has 5,918 apps across 12 primary categories created by 3,578 developers.
I’ve broken this report into the following sections with the hope of providing actionable insights into each:
Ratings & Reviews
But before we get into those, I wanted to touch upon one of the fascinating insights I gained when researching for this report. The speed that the Shopify app store has grown, in the last 2 years in particular.
Shopify app store growth 📈
The growth of the Shopify App store since its launch in 2009 has been staggering. We estimate it has grown at 25.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2009 to 2020. And as you can see in the graph below, the result has been exponential growth in the shape of an almost perfect hockey stick.
[Note: Compound annual growth rate is the rate of growth that is required for an asset to grow from its starting balance to its ending balance over a period of time.]
What the exponential graph is telling us is that the number of apps being added to the app store is accelerating. Going deeper, we can see that it’s in the last 2 years that the growth in the number of apps has really taken off.
During 2020, we estimate the number of Shopify apps on the store grew 72% with 2,009 apps being added. (Note: Based on an estimated 2,811 apps in the app store at the end of 2019).
This rate of growth has continued into 2021, with another 1,098 apps being added already at the time of writing. That’s a 79% increase on the number of apps added in H1’20 and H1’21 isn’t over yet.
Another way to think of this is there’s been on average, 6 apps added to the Shopify app store each day in 2021 🤯
The Shopify app store has clearly been running red-hot, matching the growth of the broader Shopify business overall. As the pandemic has pushed more of commerce online, Shopify has been one of the main beneficiaries. And with that, so has the need for a large and robust developer ecosystem to support it. Even more reason why we should all be paying attention to the dynamics of the app store….
With that in mind, let’s get into the insights 🏃♀️
General stats 🤓
Let’s get started with some high-level stats:
There are 5,918 apps in the store, made by 3,578 developers across 12 categories.
The average review in the store is 4.3 from 511,266 total reviews.
The average number of reviews per app is 118.1 but the median reviews left per app is 10.
There are 1,700 Free apps (29%), 1,375 Freemium apps (23%) and 2,843 Paid apps (48%)
2,642 apps offer a free trial (44%). The most popular trial offered is a “7 day free-trial” (952 apps) followed by 14 day-free trial (689 apps)
The median paid plan prices are - Plan 1 = $9.90, Plan 2 = $25.00, Plan 3 = $50.0, Plan 4 = $89.50 (Note: all in $USD)
Only 52 apps (0.88%) offer one-time charges with the remainder either being free or monthly/yearly subscriptions.
We’ll be using business model (Free, Freemium and Paid) to segment the apps along with category to drive insights throughout this report.
Shopify has 12 primary categories that apps can tag themselves against. Whilst apps can hold multiple tags, each has a primary category assigned to it that generally describes what the app does for discovery purposes. The categories are :
Orders and Shipping
Sales and Conversion optimisation
Finding and adding products
Places to sell
Trust and Security
As demonstrated in the tree diagram below, “Store Design” is the most popular category by number of apps with 43% of the total apps in the store. On the other end, “Finance” is the smallest with just 35 apps (or 0.6% of the total store) that have it as the primary category.
You can also see the full break down of apps by category on the table below:
I’ll be using categories as the main basis of segmentation throughout the report. In future posts I’ll investigate specific category deep dives if it’s of interest.
Reviews & Ratings ⭐
Like many marketplaces, reviews and ratings are a crucial aspect of the Shopify store. They build trust in the application being delivered and many apps quite literally live and die by their ratings/reviews.
The average rating across the Shopify app store is 4.3 across the 511,266 reviews that have been given.
What this tells us is that when customers leave reviews they are by in large, positive. We can further validate this by looking at the percentage of reviews left by star count.
As we can see in the pie chart below, 85% of the reviews being left are 5 star reviews and a further 8% being 4 star reviews.
A simplified way to thinks about this is segmenting by “Positive” and “Negative” reviews. I have defined these as:
Positive reviews - 4 and 5 star reviews
Negative reviews - 1, 2 and 3 star reviews
*Note: Three star reviews are included in the Negative definition given the average of 4.3 stars and the bias towards 4/5 star reviews.
From this perspective, it shows that 93% of reviews left are positive and just 7% of reviews are negative. This leads to to the relatively high 4.3 average rating in the store.
Average rating by model and category
We can also look at the average rating by business model to see if it shows any trends/insights. The only one that sticks out is that apps with a freemium model have a higher average rating at 4.5 vs the average of 4.3.
Furthermore, segmentation by category shows that most categories are close to the mean as expected. However, “Places to Sell” is clearly underperforming with a mean rating far below the store average at 3.8. This could indicate a category to explore further.
Given the bias towards positive reviews, looking at negative reviews specifically can reveal more information.
As mentioned at the top of this section, there are c.36,000 negative reviews out of the total c. 500,000 reviews or about 7%. They are a very small percentage of the total reviews but their insights are powerful in providing explanations.
For example, we see that Free apps have the highest percentage of negative reviews. This is what leads to their lower average rating compared to the other business models.
Furthermore, when looking at the percentage of negative reviews per category “Places to Sell” sticks out by an enormous amount. This would be expected as it had a significantly lower average rating compared to the mean across the app store.
Number of reviews
Average and median number of reviews
The average number of reviews per app is 118 however the median is just 10. This is because reviews are concentrated in a small number of apps (see Review Concentration section below for more). As such it’s more useful to look at the median number of reviews as opposed to the average.
What’s clear from the table above is that an app doesn’t need that many reviews to really stand out from the crowd and differentiate itself within the store. If an app can get to 10 reviews, it’s doing really well in most categories.
Correlation with average rating
One of the questions that I aimed to answer is whether a higher number of reviews is correlated to a higher average rating. In a sense this is answering whether an app with more reviews makes its users happier than an app with a lower number of reviews.
The answer is yes, a higher number of reviews is correlated with a higher average rating. The two are positively correlated with a correlation of 0.1
This of course is extremely generalised. First, correlation ≠ equal causation. And second, as reviews are mainly positive (93% of reviews are positive), you would expect the higher number of reviews would lead to a more positive rating. As there’s more opportunities to boost the average.
It is also important to note that reviews are concentrated within a small number of apps.
The top 20 apps by review count make up 25% of the total reviews on the store. The top 91 apps make up 50% of the total reviews on the store and the top 333 apps make up 75% of apps on the store.
This means just 5% of the apps on the store account for 75% of the total reviews.
Going a bit deeper, of the 5,918 total apps 3,078 (52%) have between 0-4 reviews. And of those, 1,588 (27%) have zero reviews.
Therefore, one needs to be careful when looking at average ratings/number of reviews. They are generally concentrated in a small number of apps and therefore largely only reflect a small percentage of apps.
Pricing is a crucial area of the Shopify app store that we can gain insights into. Most applications are offered on a monthly subscription basis with multiple plan tiers that release more volume and/or features.
Freemium or a free trial is a common acquisition strategy as discussed in the opening section. But subsequently there are a maximum of 4 tiers of paid plans that increase in value.
Due to this tiering structure it’s more insightful to segment by the pricing tier level when running analysis. This provides specific insights into where apps are pricing each tier of their subscription offering.
*Note: All prices are displayed in $USD
Below you can see a breakdown of the median and average price of each plan across the entire Shopify app store.
Plan 1 by category
The median for all apps in plan 1 is $9.90 and the average is $21.30
Plan 2 by category
The median for all apps in plan 2 is $25.00 and the average is $63.30
Plan 3 by category
The median for all apps in plan 3 is $50.00 and the average is $130.31
Plan 4 by category
The median for all apps in plan 4 is $89.50 and the average is $159.44
There are a total of 3,578 developers in the app store. Of those developers 805 (22.5%) have more than one app in the store.
In fact, the developer with the highest number of apps has 45. Below is a list of developers with 15 or more apps in the store.
As you can see, developers with more than 15 apps do not necessarily have a better average rating across their app portfolio. With the average rating across all those apps being 3.5, significantly less than the app store average of 4.3.
That’s all for now. We hope you enjoyed this report and we’ll be posting more specific bits of analysis and insights for Chrome, Shopify and more in the future.
Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!