FAQ about updates to our Partner Program Agreement

On Tuesday, July 5, 2022, Shopify sent a summary of upcoming updates to our Partner Program Agreement ("PPA"). These changes will come into effect on August 3, 2022 and include changes noting that all apps only be installed or otherwise initiated directly on or through applicable Shopify surfaces, as well as other updates.

The following are some frequently asked questions related to these changes, and how they affect partners and developers.

Why is Shopify introducing new PPA and API terms?

We're updating our PPA to support the growth of Shopify Partners and developers while maintaining the security and integrity of products and services offered on our platform.

Why is Shopify requiring that apps be installed or otherwise initiated directly on or through applicable Shopify surfaces?

Requiring all apps to be installed or otherwise initiated directly on or through applicable Shopify surfaces enables us to provide merchants with the trust signals they need to make informed choices. All of the apps within the Shopify App Store will be held to the same trust and safety standards, including 1st party apps built and owned by Shopify. This is part of a larger overall mission of providing merchants with a consistent and trustworthy experience when interacting with apps on Shopify.

What are the different ways I can distribute my app?

Shopify App Store: Apps that are distributed on the Shopify App Store are also known as public apps. App Store apps can be distributed to many merchants and must have an app listing page. You can choose whether the page is listed or unlisted:

  • Listed app: Merchants can install a listed app from an app listing page that uses a Shopify App Store URL. A listed app is also fully visible, because it's indexed and it appears in the following places: relevant category pages, Shopify App Store search results, and third-party search engine results.
  • Unlisted app: Merchants must install an unlisted app from an app listing page that uses a direct Shopify App Store URL, which is not visible or indexed on other surfaces.

Single-merchant install link: Apps that are installed using a single-merchant install link are also known as custom apps. This app is installed on a single Shopify store using a link. Shopify Plus service partners can install the same custom app on multiple Plus stores for a single Shopify Plus merchant.

Shopify admin: Apps that are created and installed in the Shopify admin of a single store are also known as custom apps. Shopify Plus service partners can install the same custom app on multiple Plus stores for a single Shopify Plus merchant.

The following app types are deprecated and can no longer be installed on merchant stores:

  • Unpublished App: Deprecated as of December 9, 2019. An unpublished app was a type of public app that one or many merchants could install and had all the same functionality as other public apps. However, the app didn't require any approval from Shopify.

Learn more about app distribution and types.

Am I required to use the Shopify Billing API and pay revenue share on all Shopify App Store (listed or unlisted) app installs?

Yes, all listed or unlisted apps on the Shopify App Store (also known as public apps) must leverage the Shopify Billing API if the developer creates and issues charges to merchants relating to the merchants’ use or installation of the developer’s app, whether in the form of monthly subscription fees, cost-per-acquisition, cost-per-click, percentage commission or otherwise, and to pay revenue share. Both Partners and merchants will see several benefits from using our Billing API.

Why is the Billing API important for merchants?

The Billing API enables a secure and seamless workflow for merchants because charges appear directly on the merchant's Shopify invoice, which means merchants don't have to enter their payment information to pay for apps. All of their charges will be summarized into a single invoice, which allows merchants to manage the costs of their store and monitor the services that they are paying for simultaneously. It is efficient, clear, and simple for the merchant.

Why is the Billing API important for Partners?

Since Shopify already stores a merchant’s credit card number for their monthly invoice, accepting a charge for an app through our integrated billing solution is extremely simple.

As an app developer, you no longer need to worry about creating the easiest checkout flow, or saving credit card data. You don’t have to deal with credit card processing fees or chase after merchants because their credit card failed.You have the ability to configure billing on Shopify in a variety of ways to meet different needs, from one-time charges to subscriptions and usage-based pricing. This also translates into an increased conversion rate from trial to paid, or from free to paid for freemium models.

Can I keep my app hidden from appearing publicly on the Shopify App Store and other Shopify surfaces?

Yes. While all of the apps distributed through the Shopify App Store (public apps) must have an app listing page, you can choose whether the page is listed or unlisted. Listing your app on the Shopify App Store is one of the easiest ways to promote your app to Shopify merchants, but you can choose to make your app unlisted. Unlisted apps will not appear in Shopify and 3rd party search results, and will not appear in categories, but you can still direct clients to the app listing URL.

Why is Shopify deprecating unpublished apps?

In order to ensure that we are prioritizing merchant trust and security, we are requiring that all unpublished apps be reviewed by the Shopify App Store review team. App requirements for apps distributed through the Shopify App Store (public apps) are intended to provide the best experience across the entire app lifecycle, including branding, installation, onboarding, functionality, and quality.

I own an unpublished app, will existing merchant installs still be able to use my app?

Existing merchants will not be impacted by this change until 2023. However, you must submit your existing unpublished app for review and approval in order for new merchants to install your app, beginning on September 1, 2022.

We understand that in some cases, submitting your existing unpublished app or apps for review and approval can require a notable amount of effort. If you have an unpublished app, then we've provided specific notice and timelines that describe when your app must be compliant with this amendment.

Will I still be able to use custom install flow URLs for my public apps?

Custom install URL methods need to be replaced with redirects through the Shopify app store. Over time, we'll be deprecating app install paths for public apps that don't use the Shopify App Store.

If you have an unpublished app, you'll need to submit your app for review according to the initial timelines we sent to you. Submitting your app for review early can help ensure that your app can continue to be installed through Shopify.

Do existing merchants need to re-install my unpublished app after it's added to the Shopify App Store?

No, merchants will not need to re-install your app after it’s distributed on the Shopify App Store, unless you are submitting a completely new app.

Do existing merchants need to re-accept OAuth permissions after my app is added to the Shopify App Store?

No, merchants will not need to re-accept OAuth permissions, unless your app has requested additional scopes as part of the app submission process.

What is the new Shopify Affiliate Program and where do I find more information?

The Shopify Affiliate Program includes entrepreneurs, educators, influencers, and content creators who inspire and teach their audience about entrepreneurship with Shopify. It also includes others who refer their entrepreneurial audience to Shopify. The program is free to join, and enables you to monetize your audience and earn commissions from each new Shopify merchant referral. As an affiliate, you can earn a commission for each user who signs up for a paid plan with your unique affiliate tracking link. Learn more about the Shopify Affiliate Program.

For additional details and FAQs regarding the new Shopify Affiliate Program and its requirements please review the Introduction to Impact guide.

Does the Partner Program Agreement still apply to Shopify Affiliate Partners?

The Partner Program Agreement (PPA) will still govern all the activity of a Referral Partner. Individuals who participate in the Shopify Affiliate Program operated through Impact Radius are not Referral Partners in respect of any activities conducted pursuant to the Shopify Affiliate Program. The Shopify Affiliate Program is subject to separate terms and conditions.

Where can I find the new Shopify Affiliates terms and conditions?

To view and electronically accept the Shopify Affiliate Marketing Program Terms, visit the Shopify Affiliate Program sign-up page.