Guide to Building an MVP Shopify App

Checkout Upsell by Studio is the latest Shopify app we’ve released. This guide should serve as a helpful set of tips that we’ve learned from releasing multiple Shopify applications.
Guide to Building an MVP Shopify App

As a Shopify Plus development partner and the design and development team of multiple Shopify stores and D2C brands, we occasionally find amidst our projects that the only solution to a partner’s specific problem is the development of a dedicated Shopify application. Checkout Upsell by Studio is the latest Shopify app we’ve released inspired by a problem our clients are facing, and this guide should serve as a helpful set of tips that we’ve learned from now releasing multiple applications into the Shopify app ecosystem.

Releasing your first Shopify application, a quick note on MVP.

The technical complexity of any potential app is obviously going to be based on the problem you’re solving, and your customer need – instead of detailing all of the parameters of what makes a good MVP here, we recommend exploring the Studio Knowledge founders posts on how to approach your product. In short, when it comes to releasing your app – we’ll simply say:

  • Prioritize speed. You can and should have a working app version installable into a test store within a day.
  • Know your customer. If you don’t already have a customer – get one! Don’t build your app without some validation from someone who is going to need it.
  • Race to review. Public app review and release can be a slow process. The faster you can get to submission, the better.

Options for designing MVP Shopify applications.

We’ve built apps that both operate partially within Shopify, or entirely within Shopify. When designing your app, you should start with some questions that will help you determine the right options for how your app is contained and displayed.

  • Do you ever intend to run outside Shopify or integrate other ecommerce platforms?
  • Are you pushing for being a prestigious, ‘Built for Shopify’ app?
  • What’s your backend architecture and will it work inside Shopify, or does it require more or complex frameworks outside Shopify?

The answers to these questions will help determine whether your app should be fully hosted in Shopify, load as a frame in Shopify, or require separate mobile apps or web applications for your users.

For the sake of simplicity, if your app can be hosted fully in Shopify, it may make the most sense to get your app out and in the hands of users by prioritizing a Shopify hosted application first. You can fully utilize the Shopify Polaris design framework for your application UI, and then consider scaling into your own web application SaaS model after early market success.

Options for developing MVP Shopify applications.

While you can use Shopify to display your application to users, you’ll still want to set up the backend database and API connections that power your application. Similarly as with design, your MVP can benefit from using tools like, who will empower your setup with a dedicated Shopify plugin serverless framework.

This can empower non-technical team members to have a greater role in the application management, or simply save time by enabling things like API scoped requests based specifically on Shopify’s APIs.

Ultimately, your development setup should keep some scale in mind, but you shouldn’t over-engineer either your infrastructure or your features. Keep in mind your customer feature needs, and only build the data models that make sense for your MVP. Release, and iterate. Rebuilding in this case isn’t a problem, but an indicator of success – if you’ve made it far enough to need a rebuild, you’re doing great!

Tips to keep in mind when developing MVP Shopify applications.

In our experience, getting your Shopify app out on to the market can be a fast, simple process – but occasionally, you might get tossed a curveball. If we were to distill what we’ve learned from multiple apps, we’d make sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Releasing a sales channel application is a slower, more detailed process of both development and submission/review, so plan accordingly.
  • Make sure to not over-request development scopes beyond what your app needs, and this will slow your review and approval.
  • Plan each review submission to take anywhere from 2 to 10 days. (Painful, we know!) To that end, while perfection is the enemy of progress, don’t submit if you don’t think things are buttoned up. You can end up spending 2x of your development time in submission waiting cycles on a fast build, so only submit if you’re really ready to release.
  • The process of collecting your submission collateral (release notes, images, benefits, copy, and so on) – takes about a day to pull together a nice package to put your app on even footing with the rest of the marketplace, so keep that in mind.

If you’d like to learn about what we built in our Shopify MVP application, read our post introducing Checkout Upsell by Studio, or check out our video shopping sales channel app, Refer.

If you need help with Shopify, Shopify Plus or Shopify app development, feel free to reach out to Studio now.

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