Sometimes You Just Never Know

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Aug 06, 2013

There are many opportunties to produce Apps that provide new functionality to e-commerce platforms like Shopify. Some might argue the low fruit has all been picked but others continue to clamour for more. As a developer it is easy to produce an App but it turns out to be very hard to support that same App by polishing the rough edges, introducing new features and ensuring everyone is happy using it. That can make it daunting to release new Apps into the App store.

I have a vast majority of my Apps outside of the App store. On occasion when a Shopify customer or merchant would inquire about a certain functionality I would lay down some tracks to my company by informing them I already developed the App they need. It seems that if it is not in the App store for some merchants it does not exist. I understand that. Presence in the App store is somewhat of a vetting process, and offers merchants some reassurance that an App is real.

Some of the Apps I have developed that fall into that category of existing outside the App store do so for a reason. They are what I would consider to be too specialized for general purposes. A merchant has an exact need, and I met that exact need at that time. Over time however, it becomes clear that maybe others might benefit from the same App, with just a little generalization applied to the App.

Today marks one of those days where I started the process of launching a new App into the App store for general consumption. You just never know when others might see the value in it, and with a few inquiries under my belt, I know this one could be of some value to a number of merchants. The App provides a merchant with the ability to run their own auctions within their shop, but in a way slightly different from most auctions. A Dutch Auction is meant to sell a product by starting with high price, and then continuously lowering the price until the product is sold. If a preset minimum price is not met, the item is pulled from auction and remains unsold. This is a neat and useful pattern that can be applied to many types of products.

If a product is popular and bound to sell out, the merchant can start selling it with a very high profit margin to ensure some sales are directed at customers where price is no object and they must have the product at any cost. As time passes, the price is lowered but also the inventory of available product could be falling to, making it desirable for some customers to buy-in before waiting too long.

Producing this App took me a lot longer than I estimated for many reasons. When I produce an App for one merchant, there are often minimal needs at play, and I ensure those minimal needs are met. In the larger domain of the Shopify App store, there is no room for missing functionality in terms of what is presented in the interface and what is delivered. All buttons, clickable elements, response messages and code behaviours must be right. Ensuring that is a long drawn out process and often in testing I realize that things would be easier by changing around forms, or by adding some tabs. That is when a whole new view has to be created and tested and then new screencaptures need to be made, new video captured and manuals re-written.