Shopify is exploding in popularity and the slow down doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. What’s interesting about this explosion of growth is the amount of ignorance companies have going into the Shopify platform. They assume everything will be easier and work just because it’s SaaS. However, what happens when Shopify core functionality or Shopify apps don’t do what you need? What do you to do then?

Well, there are several options. One is to re-platform, but for many, that’s not a viable option. The more likely scenario is to build a custom private app. Trellis has extensive experience doing this and is even in the process of converting some highly successful private apps we have built to become public apps.

Build a Shopify Private App

A private app is a custom application that runs independently¬†of Shopify. You will have to host this app yourself on something like AWS to get it to work properly. The app can store its own data just like its own software and transmit¬†data back and forth to Shopify via API’s. The beauty of this is that it is independent and isolated so that if the app fails it won’t take down your entire Shopify store. The one downside is you are limited to what the Shopify API’s can do. If there is not an API for what you want, you may just be out of luck in that you cannot custom create API’s for Shopify.

When Should You Build A Custom APP?

A good example is when there is no solution to integrate to a third party system like your ERP or CRM. This is a good use case for a custom private app. It could also be when a public app doesn’t do what you need and you need something more specific to your business model. To summarize:

  • ERP Systems
  • Third party systems that don’t have an app
  • Apps for specific or unique business models
  • When a public app doesn’t do what you need

How to Get Started?

You will want to start by reading the documentation on private apps on the Shopify website. From there you will need to set up a hosting environment to host your private application. This can be done through any host like popular cloud hosts AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Most likely you will want to use some sort of framework like Laravel, Ruby on Rails, or another popular custom application framework to speed up development. Once you have chosen the framework, hosting environment, and know what Shopify API’s you need to work with it is off to the races regarding building the functionality.

  • Read Shopify documentation
  • Choose a hosting environment
  • Choose a development framework (not 100% necessary but most likely the best route to go)

Depending on how in-depth your app is there may be design or other types of work involved but building a simple app typically doesn’t require much design.

For help building a custom private Shopify app, please contact us at Trellis!

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