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Tapcart is our recommended app builder for eCommerce companies. Tapcart’s drag and drop editor places limits on your ability to customize, but what you give up in customization ability, you gain in platform stability. We think having a mobile app that’s stable and that ‘just works’ is critical. We also think Tapcart is leading the way in developing features for Enterprise customers with their recent rollout of Develper Tools. Tapcart isn’t the cheapest solution, but we think it’s currently the best on the market.
Tapcart was founded in 2017 by mobile app industry veterans Sina Mobasser and Eric Netsch to help Shopify merchants create apps for their stores. They began by developing apps for Shopify merchants and realized that a scalable software solution was necessary to help more stores develop apps.
It has grown to become the leader in the space and our recommended tool for creating an app for your Shopify store. Tapcart, which has funding from Shopify, is like Shopify in the sense that it takes what used to be done internally by mainly large companies and outsources it to a software tool available to merchants of all sizes. Like Shopify, Tapcart’s drag and drop editor places limits on your ability to customize, but what you give up in customization ability, you gain in platform stability. While you could develop an app internally, we don't think it's worth the time and expense for most brands. It’s much easier to rely on an app developer like Tapcart. Companies we spoke with estimated that they would spend between $100-400k in internal app development costs vs the $200 per month starting fee with Tapcart. Yes, more customization would be possible by in-housing the app development, but we don't think most brands should develop their app in-house.
Tapcart Pros 👍:
Drag and Drop Editor
Tapcart’s drag and drop template editor allows you to build a native iOS and Android App without ever touching a line of code. Brands we spoke with were able to develop their app in 1-4 weeks using Tapcart. The editor comes with enough personalization options so that your app feels on brand. Product detail pages (PDPs) come with the most amount of personalization. While there are limitations on how personalized the app can be (see what we don’t like about Tapcart below), we think Tapcart offers enough flexibility for most brands. We also like that Tapcart offers the ability to add badges to your products. Badges like “new” or “sale” help you to highlight specific products within your app and are a best practice on eCommerce websites.
While there are limits on customization (which we will discuss below), what you give up in customization ability, you gain in platform stability. With Tapcart, you won't have to worry about bugs that cause your app to crash or prevent your customers from checking out. Drag and drop places creative limits on you and your team, but it also ensures that the elements in the drag and drop editor are robustly tested and very reliable. You won't have to worry if your customer is using Android OS 7 or 13 or Apple iOS 12 or 16. Tapcart has tested the elements to make sure they work across all of those devices. Other companies that pitch white glove service and greater customization often suffer from reliability issues. In order to unlock customization, spaghetti code is deployed that can cause bugs. If your app is constantly crashing on your customers' phones, it doesn’t matter how great it looks. Like Shopify, Tapcart has spent a lot of time focused on stability and your app will benefit from that focus.
Tapcart offers the most advanced push notification platform of the app builders we tested. It gives you the ability to design and schedule push notifications within the platform. Tapcart allows you to send text, image, and animated GIF push notifications. Deep linking push notifications allows you to send users from the push notification to a specific page in your app (e.g., send a push notification about a sale on hair serums and send users to your hair serum PDP). Push notifications, which are free to send, are one of the key benefits of offering an app, and we think Tapcart excels here.
Gift with Purchase (GWP)
One great way to increase conversion rates and average order values is to offer gifts with purchase e.g., spend $100 and get a free item. Tapcart comes with out-of-the-box functionality to allow your brand to offer this in the app. The best gift with purchase items will have high perceived value from the customer but low cost to you as a business. Gifts with purchase can also be great alternatives to discounts (either % off or $ values). They allow you to increase cart sizes and conversion without resorting to discounts.
Tapcart gives you the ability to add HTML and CSS code elements to your app which they call Custom Blocks. This is a useful feature because it allows you to recreate sections of your mobile website that aren't currently possible to natively recreate using Tapcart’s builder. Have a quiz that you want to bring over from your mobile website to app? Add it with Custom Blocks. Have a homepage element you want to feature in your app? Add it in with Custom Blocks. This allows for a lot more flexibility in design than other app builders offer.
Tapcart is increasingly targeting Enterprise size customers and is leading the way in developing features to meet their needs. Their developer tools let larger companies better mimic their web experience in their mobile app. Developer tools also enable companies with their own data warehouses to pipe first-party app data directly to their data warehouse. Additionally, developer tools unlock a sandbox environment so that teams can test and iterate their app in the same way they develop for their website. Access to the developer tools features will cost an additional $1,500 per month.
Tapcart cons 👎:
Limits on Native Customization
While Tapcart does allow for customization of your app’s appearance, there are limits on your ability to customize. You will notice that collection pages for most Tapcart customer’s apps look very similar no matter which brand's app you are looking at. Below is an example from Tapcart customer Obvi. On the left is their mobile website and on the right is their app. You can see the add to cart buttons in the app are missing their distinctive pink coloring and the product title font isn’t recreated 1:1. We think the current functionality allows merchants to recreate ~85% of their mobile look and feel, but we would like to see Tapcart push to allow for even greater customization within their drag-and-drop app builder in the future.
Deep linking is the ability to click on a link and automatically take you to a page within your app. Those that have the Amazon app might be familiar with this experience. When you’re on your phone and click on a link from Google instead of taking you to the Amazon mobile website it will take you to the page in Amazon’s mobile app. Tapcart is slowly rolling out this functionality, but we think it's an area where they can improve.
Native Search & Filter
Tapcart’s native search and filter functionality is okay at best. It integrates with a good number of search and filter providers including Algolia, Searchspring, Searchanise, and Fast Simon, so no need to worry if you are using those companies for search and filter. However, if you’re using something different for search and filter and have a large catalog of SKUs - keep this in mind. We heard of merchants that switched to another search and filter provider just so that it integrated with Tapcart.
A/B testing should be the backbone of any high functioning eCommerce business, and it isn’t currently possible to A/B test natively within Tapcart. To our knowledge, none of the app makers currently offer this functionality, and it is something we would like to see Tapcart develop. Lack of A/B testing is one reason we don't recommend apps for smaller businesses. Why would you siphon your traffic to a mobile experience that you can’t test and learn on? For now, the best option is to A/B test on your website and bring the winning tests as updates to your Tapcart app.
Support for non-Shopify merchants
Tapcart is built exclusively for merchants using Shopify. Shopify is our recommended eCommerce platform, but for those using WooCommerce, BigCommerce or another platform, unfortunately, you will need to look for an alternative like Plobal.
As we will discuss below, Tapcart isn't the cheapest option on the market. They have a premium offering which they charge a premium price for. Those looking for the cheapest option will be better off with competitors like Shopney.
Unique in App Experiences
The best apps will give users access to features that aren't available on the mobile web. Check out Nike or Shein’s mobile apps to get a sense of the experiences they provide. Unfortunately, Tapcart has few native features that will differentiate your app from your mobile web experience. Tapcart does a great job at mimicking the mobile web experience but hasn’t yet developed out-of-the-box features that will give your customers compelling reasons to download your app (e.g., AR to try items on / see them in their home). The best example of a feature that Tapcart has in this category are their “Drops” which allow merchants to give shoppers exclusive access to products on the app. We would like to see Tapcart build out more in this vein.
Tapcart integrates with 25+ other tools including Rebuy, Recharge, Route, Okendo, and Algolia. However, since the code base is not built in react native in order to add integrations it requires changes to two code bases - the iOS and Android code base. Tapcart is currently the industry leader in terms of integrations, but we are worried their design architecture will slow them down in adding future integrations, and they may someday be passed by competitors.
Tapcart Pricing 💰:
Tapcart offers a 14-day free trial, unfortunately, with the time it takes to develop your app and get it live in the app store, this likely won't be enough time to truly test the value of your app.
In 2023, Tapcart updated their pricing from a flat monthly fee to a lower flat monthly fee plus what's known as a "success fee". The success fee is charged based on the % of sales done through your app and ranges from 1.75% to 2.5%. These success fees can be lowered in a number of ways like agreeing to annual plans etc. We don't love that this success fee isn't super transparent on their pricing page and requires you to do a bit of math to back into the success fee amount.
Tapcart’s paid plans start at $200 per month (plus a 2.5% success fee) and include three standard integrations (from a list of 18). Tapcart's ultimate plan includes 6 integrations and access to a custom PDP builder and runs $400 per month (plus a 2.5% success fee). Tapcart's top plan, the Enterprise plan, runs $1,000 per month (plus a 1.75% success fee) and includes a dedicated customer success manager.
Like many SaaS companies, Tapcart offers discounts for signing year-long contracts. The savings for year long contracts vs month-to-month will typically be 8-11%. All plans will require you to pay an Apple Developer fee ($99/year) and Google Play ($25 one time fee) that are charged by Apple and Google in order to publish your app in their app stores.
Tapcart has always been priced at a premium to the competition. With their pricing change, the premium shows up in the success fee as opposed to the monthly cost. The new pricing will likely make it less expensive in the short term and more expensive in the long term as your app scales.
Tapcart is a software tool that allows you to develop a custom mobile app for your Shopify store.
How does Tapcart work?
Tapcart uses Shopify’s APIs and SDKs to create native apps for Android and iOS that work with Shopify’s existing data structures.
Is Tapcart worth it?
Yes, we think merchants should consider an app if they are doing over $10M in annual revenue. Tapcart is more expensive than the competition, but they offer the most robust features of any app building tool.
How many customers does Tapcart have?
Tapcart doesn’t disclose the number of customers they have but say they have supported over $5.5B in sales through their customers’ apps.
Does Shopify have an app?
No. If Shopify merchants want to develop an App, they will have to do it themselves or use app building tools like Tapcart, Plobal, or Appbrew.
Why not use Tapcart?
Tapcart is more expensive than key competitors and there are limits on your ability to customize your app.
What are the benefits of an app?
There are a lot of benefits to having an app:
Faster download speeds vs mobile web
Owned real estate on customer’s phone
Free to send push notifications
Does Tapcart work with non-Shopify platforms like WooCommerce or BigCommerce?
No. Unfortunately, Tapcart only works for Shopify merchants. If you want to develop an app for a non-Shopify store, you will have to use a competitor.
What are examples of Tapcart apps?
Looking for inspiration for your Tapcart App? Check out these Tapcart apps: