If you’re thinking about launching a forum or discussion board on your Shopify site, you’re in luck.
Shopify forum integrations make it easy to build, design, and grow an online space for your customers, irrespective of your technical know-how or previous experience running a community.
Even better, the vast majority of solutions are inexpensive, often costing little more than a few extra dollars on top of your Shopify subscription. Many options are also completely free.
In this post, we look at nine of the best apps for building a forum with Shopify. We’ll take a look at pricing, features, customer support, and more. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll know exactly which app you need to build a thriving and engaged community.
What Is the Shopify App Store?
If you’ve been running a Shopify store for any length of time, you’ve likely encountered the Shopify App Store. If you haven’t, you’re definitely missing out.
The beauty of Shopify is that it streamlines the whole process of setting up an ecommerce store. In the past, launching an online shop was a formidable technical task, requiring significant financial resources and extensive development knowledge. With platforms like Shopify, however, it’s possible to get up and running in literally a few clicks.
Apps build on Shopify’s core feature-set. Integrations developed by third-party developers allow store owners and managers to extend their site’s functionality.
The Shopify app store currently has several thousand listings, with apps for everything from displaying TikTok feeds on product pages to – you guessed it – creating killer online forums.
What Is a Forum App for Shopify?
So just what is a Shopify forum app?
Shopify forum apps let you add functionality to your ecommerce store that isn’t included in the core Shopify feature set.
Shopify forum integrations automatically create backend infrastructure (databases, content files, templates, etc.) for your Shopify site. The public-facing part of your forum is accessible through a subdomain or an extension of your primary Shopify domain (yourdomain.com/community).
You manage your forum from a dedicated third-party portal rather than within your Shopify dashboard, although some settings can be modified directly in Shopify.
Most apps have extensive feature sets, covering design and branding, forum architecture, rich user profiles, automation features, analytics, and so on.
Why Is Community Building Important in Ecommerce?
Communities are a valuable ecommerce asset. They help you build engagement with your audience, expand your customer base, and offer opportunities to advertise new products.
Here’s a quick rundown of the main benefits of running a community alongside your ecommerce store:
- Increases traffic to your site as user content starts to rank on Google.
- Builds customer engagement and loyalty with your brand.
- Provides space for banners and other advertising opportunities.
- Allows you to gather customer feedback in the form of polls and discussions.
- Having an active forum adds to your overall value proposition.
And if you’re worried about the time commitment of running a forum, keep in mind that modern automation tools streamline much of the process. Hiring somebody to manage your forum invariably drives a positive return on investment (ROI) for most ecommerce businesses.
Hot to Choose a Forum App for Your Shopify Ecommerce Store
Picking from all the available apps in the Shopify App Store can be tricky. Thinking about the kind of forum you want to build beforehand, especially in terms of specific features, will make things a lot easier.
Here’s a quick rundown of the features you should look for:
- Control over branding and design
- Flexible category and forum hierarchy options
- Rich user profiles
- Admin permissions
- Mobile responsiveness
- Integrations with other popular software solutions (Zapier is a big plus)
- Engagement features (like member emails)
- Scalable pricing
There are other features that are important, but using the list above as a guide will stop you from picking something that’s completely unsuitable.
Hot to Add A Forum to Shopify
Follow the steps below to get started with your forum app of choice:
- Head over to the Shopify App Store.
- Search for your preferred app and click “Add app.”
- You’ll be taken to your Shopify account, where you’ll need to select “Install App.”
- Follow the subsequent on-screen prompts for configuring your forum. You may need to consult the documentation for the specific app you’ve installed.
It’s worth noting that most apps are either free or include a free trial. Because of the ease of the installation process, it’s a good idea to test-drive a few different apps before making a final decision, seeing which features fit best with your needs. Uninstalling an app is as simple as navigating to the “Apps” tab in your Shopify dashboard and hitting “Delete.”
Best Shopify Forum Apps
Here’s our roundup of the best apps for building a thriving online community on your Shopify ecommerce site.
PeerBoard is a modern forum integration with an attractive “forever free” plan. The app has all the core functionality you would expect from such a solution: flexible category and forum layout options, threaded discussions, user notifications, rich member profiles, developer tools, and several key integrations.
In addition to this core functionality, Shopify users will benefit from a mobile-responsive design, built-in SEO tools, a “smart” algorithmically-sorted homepage feed, social logins, and more.
Key Features: Threaded forum layout, automated notification and engagement tools, “smart” homepage feed, rich user profiles, intuitive and easy-to-use admin dashboard.
What Makes It a Good App: PeerBoard provides a host of modern features along with premium support on paid plans.
Price: PeerBoard offers a long-term free plan. The starter package costs $29/month.
EasyDisqus is an independently-developed app (not directly associated with Disqus) that enables retailers to integrate their ecommerce stores with the popular Disqus commenting platform.
If you are looking to add extended comment functionality to existing pages like blog articles and product listings, instead of offering a full forum experience, EasyDisqus is the way to go. Just keep in mind that, because EasyDisqus is an intermediary app, you will be required to purchase a Disqus subscription if the free plan doesn’t meet your needs.
Key Features: Threaded comments, user notifications, admin analytics.
What Makes It a Good App: EasyDisqus enables retailers to connect their Shopify stores with Disqus, thus providing an array of comment features to customers and site visitors.
Price: EasyDisqus costs $4/month.
Shopicial falls more into the category of “social network apps” as opposed to “forum apps.” Retailers can use it to build basic, Facebook-style social networks on subpages of their stores. In addition to the app’s core functionality – which includes post creation, user profile pages, and a search box – admins can also create paid communities and configure design elements.
Key Features: Social network-style posts, user profiles, simple front-facing design.
What Makes It a Good App: It provides retailers with an inexpensive and straightforward way of building a social network on an ecommerce site.
Price: Shopicial’s “Basic” plan is $14. The “Standard” plan is $29/month.
4. Champ Forum
Champ Forum is a streamlined forum app that comes with a solid set of core features. It lacks some of the more advanced functionality of other entries on this list. That said, if you’re looking for an easy-to-use platform, perhaps to provide customer support or a question-and-answer board for product queries, it’s worth trying it out.
Key Features: Traditional forum layout, user-to-user messaging, topic subscription notifications, user profiles, public/private settings.
What Makes It a Good App: Champ Forum makes the process of setting up a forum fast and easy.
Price: Champ Forum costs $29/month. A 14-day free trial is available.
Chatigy Forums offers a discussion space for customers via a pop-up chatbox. From a simple interface, site visitors can access discussions, start their own chats, message contacts directly, or get in touch with customer service. Chatigy Forums doesn’t allow Shopify users to build a forum in the traditional sense, but may be a viable option for those looking for a pared-down and low-maintenance solution.
Key Features: Customer discussion space, private messaging, customer support live chat.
What Makes It a Good App: Unique chat-based solution that demands fewer resources than a traditional forum.
Price: Chatigy is currently free. The app may move over to a paid subscription model in the future.
XenForum is an SEO-friendly forum app that lets Shopify users add a forum to a subdirectory of their site. It’s easy to install and provides a comprehensive set of features, including a traditional category layout, user profiles, support for rich media like images, and a “Last posts” widget. XenForum also has a neutral look and feel, and so will fit with the existing branding and design of the site on which it’s installed.
Key Features: Traditional forum category and topic layout, user profiles, member notifications, WYSIWYG editor.
What Makes It a Good App: XenForum is easy to install and set up and comes with a comprehensive set of forum features.
Price: The “Basic” plan is $14/month. The “Pro” plan is $19/month. A 7-day free trial is offered.
7. Social King
Social King is best described as a community blogging platform. Once you’ve installed the app on your Shopify store, visitors will be able to sign up to your new community, create a profile, and post “guest blogs,” which will appear on the main feed on a subdirectory of your site. Other community members can comment on posts and the original creators will be notified.
It’s an unusual approach to community building but presents many opportunities in regard to search rankings. Social King also allows retailers to advertise products alongside user-generated content.
Key Features: Guest blogging platform, product advertisements, user profiles.
What Makes It a Good App: Social King enables retailers to take advantage of user-generated content.
Price: Social King costs $4.99 per month. A free trial is available.
If you’re planning to build your community using Facebook groups, you’ll find Community Builder to be an invaluable app. It adds a button that links to your Facebook group to order confirmation pages, which appear at the end of the checkout process.
Community Builder doesn’t offer the same level of functionality as other apps listed, and it won’t allow you to build a fully-fledged forum. If you prefer Facebook groups to a self-hosted alternative, however, then it’s a must-have integration.
Key Features: Checkout integration that directs customers to your Facebook group.
What Makes It a Good App: Enables retailers to grow their Facebook groups.
Price: $5 per month. A 10-day free trial is included.
Product Questions & Answers is an app for retailers that want to build a question-and-answer area focused on product queries. While the app isn’t suitable for creating a complete forum, it does include specific customer support features, like auto-generated answers to common questions, widgets for product pages, and the option to build a knowledge base.
If your motivation behind creating a forum is to provide customer support, rather than start a community, Product Questions and Answers is worth giving a go.
Key Features: Question-and-answer board, upvoting, auto-generated answers.
What Makes It a Good App: Efficient way of setting up a product support area and leveraging expertise from past customers.
Price: The “Starter” plan is $19 per month. A 30-day free trial is included.
Building and managing a forum takes time. But the payoffs are significant. A well-managed forum will build engagement among your customer base, drive traffic to your store, and offer valuable opportunities to gather feedback from your members.
Even better, Shopify has streamlined the whole process of integrating a forum by offering easy-to-use, inexpensive apps that require no technical experience.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a forum, don’t waste any more time putting it off. Once you begin to see the rewards, you’ll only wish you’d done it sooner.
Oh, and don’t forget to give PeerBoard’s forever-free forum software a go. Yep, we’re pretty biased in favor of our app. But we guarantee that the platform speaks for itself.
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