The biggest category opportunity on the Shopify app store

We outline 4 pieces of analysis that highlight why the Store Management category may be a great opportunity for investors and developers

As promised, we are going to start producing some more nuanced insights into the Shopify (and other) app stores. Today’s post is the start of this and we’re going to be taking a dive into the Store Management category showing you why it may be a great opportunity for developers and investors alike.

If you are new to the Shopify app store, check out the Shopify Insights Report 2021 we produced a few weeks ago for an overview of it. It’ll give you the foundational knowledge you need to better understand the nuance.

Disclaimer: Shopify amended the app store categories a few weeks after we published the Insights Report so the metrics would’ve change slightly. I’ll be going back and updating it in the next few weeks.

All the insights in this post was created from data available on Marketplace Apps. Check us out and if you have any questions feel free to drop me an email back.

TL;DR 🏃‍♀️

The Store Management category, in our view, is one of the most interesting opportunities on the Shopify App Store. Specifically, the Business Insights and Finances subcategories.

This post will be running you through 4 pieces of analysis that support that conclusion but if you want the speedy version just read below. 👇

tl;dr analysis

  1. It has the right number of apps 💡

    • It has 10.6% of the apps on the Shopify app store with 641 apps

    • It’s big enough that you can be confident it has popularity with users.

    • But not so big that it’s too noisy and competitive.

  2. It’s been growing consistently for 6 years 📈

    • It’s grown consistently for 6 years in the number of apps and review count.

    • It’s grown faster than the overall Shopify app store.

    • The number of reviews has grown faster than the number of reviews on the app store for 4 out of the last 6 years. Only two other categories have achieved this.

    • If we can assume, the number of apps & the number of reviews are indirect measures of “installs'“ then we also assume the install base is growing.

    • Note: We are working on proving this last point directly.

  3. There are two subcategories that we can target specifically 🎯

    • The Business Insights and Finance subcategories are ones that stand out from the others to target.

    • The Finance category has just 66 apps but an average number of reviews per app of 63. It also have an average rating of 4.16 below the app store average of 4.32 so there’s room to improve.

    • The Business Insights category has a median number of reviews of just 1 meaning you need to do very little to differentiate yourself.

  4. You can charge a premium price 🤑

    • By 61% for Business Insights across all plans compared to the app store median

    • By 51% for Finances across all plans compared to the app store median

    • Therefore, you can either enjoy your excess profits. Or, you can undercut to gain more market share with a nice margin of safety.


#1 - It has just the right number of apps

The Store Management category has 641 apps in it or 10.6% of the total apps store.

The number of apps in a category is potentially an important indicator. A low number of apps can indicate it’s a problem space not worth looking at and too many apps shows too much competition/noise making it hard to stand out.

At 10.6% of apps on the store ranks 4th out of the 9 categories for the number of apps (see the breakdown below) or basically top of the mid-range.

It’s large enough that you can have confidence it’s solving problems & has interest with the user base but not so large, like the “Conversion” category, that it’s noisy.

This is a simplistic approach and not perfect. But it’s useful in enabling us to quickly filter down to an area to investigate further.

#2 - The category has been growing consistently

Next, what we see is the number of apps being added to the category has been growing quickly.

Over the period 2015 - 2020 the number of apps in Store Management has grown 54% CAGR (or the 4th highest) and in 2020 the number of apps grew 91% or the joint highest with “Shipping & Delivery”.

This could be misleading. The number of apps may not strongly correlate to more popularity. For example, there could be a bunch of apps sitting on the app store with no reviews. However, we can test for growth another way to build a clearer picture.

Review growth

We can look at how the number of reviews for each category has grown over time. Looking at the number of reviews gives us a more direct indication of user or installation growth than looking at only the number of apps. (Note: we are working on predicting actual installation numbers)

If you are confused looking at the table above, that’s understandable. There’s short spikes of fast growth followed by troughs of slower growth going on everywhere, making it all over the place and difficult to read.

To make sense of this and to normalise this information, we can take a well-known stock-market concept that is normally used to measure the performance of a fund or a fund-manager known as “market-alpha”. In our case, we would be to look at the review count growth alpha.

The “alpha” measures the difference between the growth of the overall market, in this case the growth in the number of reviews on the Shopify app store, and the growth of each individual category’s number of reviews. Therefore, the diagram below shows, for each category and year the extent they grew faster or slower than the reviews on the overall market.

The chart above is difficult to read. But if you squint close enough what you can see is that for 4 periods out of the 6, the growth in reviews for Store Management is higher than the growth in reviews of the app store.

Only “Marketing” and “Shipping and delivery” have achieved the same.

Review concentration

The final part to look at is whether those reviews are just concentrated in a small number of apps. We’ve proved that the number of reviews has grown at a fast pace, faster than the Shopify store overall. But we also need to test if that excess growth in reviews has been distributed the same way as other categories. If the Store Management category has a much higher level of concentration of reviews, it would mean it’s only going to a very small number of apps. And as such, we may need to discount some of that excess growth.

The good news is the answer to this is that they are concentrated, but not significantly more so than the overall Shopify app store.

So, based on all of those factors, we can be pretty confident that the Store Management category has grown significantly and steadily over the past 6 years.

#3 - There are two clear subcategories to target

Looking at the “category” level first the average rating and median reviews provide more insights as to why Store Management is an interesting category.

First, the average rating is slightly below the Shopify App store at 4.32 vs 4.35. This signifies a level of dissatisfaction compared to other categories. Furthermore, the median reviews per app is just 3 vs the App store of 4. This means a well reviewed app, with a good rating is going to easily differentiate itself from other apps.

Business insights and Finance subcategories

Another data point we can get insights from is the average number of reviews per app. A high average reviews per app, indicates there are more users in that particular category. This is obviously another indirect inference but it’s the best we can do right now.

The Store Management category has quite a low average reviews per app but we can break into the subcategories to see what else we can learn.

First, what we can see is the Finance category really stands out. It has only 66 apps and an average reviews per app of 63. This is much higher than the Store Management average of 38.6 and a lot closer to the Shopify app store average of 86 as shown on the share below.

We can also have a quick look at the median reviews per app and Business Insights also stands out with just 1. Whilst this could be a sign of “unpopularity”, for me this signals that there’s an opportunity in this subcategory that others have not figured out yet.

#4 - You can charge a premium price

One of the most exciting parts of focusing on the Finances and Business Insights subcategories is that you can charge a premium compared to other categories. On average you can charge:

  • 61% more for Business Insights apps across all plans than the app store median

  • 51% more for Finance apps across all plans than the app store median

This either means you can earn excess profits with higher gross & net margins. Or, if you are feeling competitive, you can undercut on price to win share whilst still maintaining a healthy margin. And this is true across all pricing plans as shown on the charts below.

For Pricing Plan 1:

  • Finances - Median = 15.00, Average = 27.52

  • Business Insights - Median = 19.00, Average = 25.41

  • Shopify App Store - Median = 9.90, Average 21.41

For Pricing Plan 2:

  • Finances - Median = 39.00, Average = 84.50

  • Business Insights - Median = 39.99, Average = 62.01

  • Shopify App Store - Median = 25.00, Average = 63.80

For Pricing Plan 3:

  • Finances - Median = 72.00, Average = 113.14

  • Business Insights - Median = 66.00, Average = 133.91

  • Shopify App Store - Median = 50.00, Average = 131.60

Conclusion 👋

Hopefully this has given you an insight into why we believe the Store Management category provides a great opportunity on the Shopify App Store. In particular, the Business Insights and Finance subcategories.

None of the arguments are slam dunks individually, but when taken together they paint a pretty compelling picture.

We’ll be diving into other areas of opportunity in the coming weeks. I hope you enjoyed the post and if you have any feedback or thoughts, please leave a comment!