Day 1 of Shopify’s annual Unite conference saw partners and developers flock to Toronto’s Beanfield Centre and wait with bated breath to hear the latest game-changing updates from Shopify. And they certainly weren’t disappointed.
Here are the headline announcements, complete with reactions from Swanky’s ecommerce experts …
New online store experience
First up was the promise of an all-new online store experience. Shopify are giving merchants access to an upgraded store design experience, making it easier to create and customise storefronts without any coding required.
Here are some of the upgrade highlights, all of which have been developed to better meet the needs of all Shopify merchants and suit changing consumer demands:
Sections-based editing on every page – giving you more control to edit pages to your needs.
Master pages – define and edit multiple pages at once.
New app sections – adding apps to your storefront will be as easy as adding text and images.
Content portability – effortlessly switch between themes without having to transfer your content manually.
Support for video and 3D – Shopify is the first platform to natively support 3D and AR, paving the way for more immersive shopping experiences.
Checkout app extension – improve the purchase flow for subscriptions.
Headless commerce solutions – exciting custom storefront tools for merchants with complex and unique requirements.
Selling in multiple languages – serve up localised content to buyers around the world at speed.
Selling in multiple currencies – offer prices in a customer’s local currency.
Since Unite 2018, Shopify POS has grown to power over 100,000 merchants, driving billions of dollars worth of sales. Shopify’s brick-and-mortar footprint is set to expand even further this year, with the announcement of several exciting features to better support direct-to-consumer brands:
New ‘tap and chip’ case – a POS accessory that wirelessly connects to a chip reader, allowing payments to be accepted from anywhere in your store.
POS cart app extensions – see loyalty and promotion details directly in the cart when buyers make a purchase in-store, making for a seamless retail checkout experience.
Ground-up redesign of POS app – prioritises quick and seamless workflows with features including smart grids, customisable tiles, multi-location search and a rebuilt retail staff model.
Improved back-office experience
As well as making improvements to the online store and in-store retail experience, the Shopify leadership team also revealed plans to improve the back-office admin experience for merchants:
Shipping profiles – assign delivery rules and rates by product and location.
Fulfillment API – add visibility, flexibility and control at every step of the fulfillment process.
Order editing – enhancing the post-purchase experiences for buyers and merchants. You’ll be able to edit the quantity, variant, products or shipping method in an order (as long as it’s after a customer has paid, and before the order has been fulfilled).
New languages for admin dashboard – Shopify is launching in 11 new languages, spoken by more than 2 billion people globally.
All-new Shopify Plus
As a leading Shopify Plus Agency, Swanky were super-excited to hear about the all-new Shopify Plus, launching later this year. The platform has been reimagined from the ground up to make merchants more nimble as they scale. For brands who use multiple stores as a key part of the growth strategy, these new updates will give them the power to work more efficiently.
Single merchant ID account to access all stores – manage all your stores, analytics, user accounts, permissions and automation tools in one central place with a single log-in.
Updates to Shopify Flow – build and enable flows across multiple stores, with access to a centralised view of flows across an organisation.
New developer products
Shopify are also introducing a number of new capabilities to put power in the hands of their hard-working developers:
Making apps easier to build – introducing Shopify App Command Line Interface, the latest tool to build apps faster.
Making apps more embedded – Feature Detection with Shopify App Bridge.
Making apps faster – new libraries for GraphQL.
Shopify fulfillment network
Last, but most certainly not least, this final announcement has already been hailed a commerce game-changer by leading figures in the industry.
In a bid to tackle the complex pricing, increased costs and poor performance of third-party fulfillment integrations, as well as the unfair competition of marketplace fulfillment, Shopify have announced their own fulfillment solution.
Introducing Shopify Fulfillment Network, ‘a geographically dispersed network of fulfillment centers with smart inventory-allocation technology, powered by machine learning that predicts the closest fulfillment centers and optimal inventory quantities per location to ensure fast, low-cost delivery’.
- A central back-office – orders, inventory and customer data sync across all warehouse locations and channels.
- 99.5% accuracy.
- Dedicated account manager who has expertise in Shopify AND logistics.
- Supports multiple channels, including your online store, retail, Instagram, Amazon, eBay.
- Custom branding and packaging.
- Works for merchants shipping 10-10,000 packages a day (target is 3-30,000 by the end of 2019).
What our experts predicted
Earlier this month, we rounded up some of Swanky’s very own ecommerce experts to discuss their predictions for what exciting new features would be unveiled at Unite 2019. Let’s take a look at which predictions they were spot on with, complete with post-Unite reactions from the team.
Shopify fulfillment network ✔️
Order editing ✔️
Improvements to subscription functionality ✔️
Reactions from Dan McIvor, Swanky’s Founder and Director
“Let’s talk about the major headline, a Shopify Fulfilment Network.
Currently, shipping is one of the weakest points in ecommerce. Shopify’s fulfilment solution will help to address this common pain point by making shipping more affordable, more reliable and easier for merchants to manage. As a result, consumer satisfaction should increase as more parcels are delivered intact, on time, and for a better price.
The signs were out there, so we’d been predicting this for a while. First off, Shopify acquired ecommerce returns solution Return Magic in 2018. And they’ve also shown that they’re not at all afraid to take on big projects outside of the software arena, with Shopify Pay and POS hardware, for example.
There were also clues in what Shopify hadn’t done before the big announcement. For example, they hadn’t developed comprehensive API support for managing returns through external partners. The fact that they hadn’t addressed the challenge of returns suggested that they might be planning something big of their own.
This all perfectly aligns with Shopify’s core mission of being a ‘Commerce Operating System’. It’s a great way for Shopify to push its merchants forwards against the Fulfilled by Amazon service model, and a major step towards their goal of making commerce better for everyone.”
Reactions from Ben Homer, Head of Operations
“One of the big bugbears we see merchants facing at the moment is the inflexibility of orders once they’ve been placed. Specifically, there are issues with customer service representatives not being able to edit orders during discussions with customers, and even customers not being able to make edits from their accounts. We were anticipating an announcement about order editing finally becoming a reality this year … it really is great to hear that a resolution is coming at last!
It’s also exciting to hear about Shopify’s plans for enabling internationalisation with the new online store experience and updated custom storefront tools. Enabling content to be served in multiple languages and products to be offered in multiple currencies will empower merchants to provide reliable retail experiences for customers across the globe. A fantastic cross-border opportunity.”
Reactions from Sean Clanchy, Director of Swanky Australia and Head of Optimisation
“We were predicting some sort of announcement about improving subscription functionality, so it’s great to hear about the checkout app extensions that are coming later in the year! Shoppers being routed outside of Shopify’s checkout to complete subscription transactions is a pain point for many merchants at the moment, so this is definitely welcome news.
My favourite announcement though? Shopify Fulfillment Network! They’re going head-to-head with Amazon, enabling their merchants to compete on price and service with the big boys! We thought this may be on the cards – it’s great to see it come to life!
I love the way Shopify as a tech company take a holistic view of their merchants’ needs. They take customer experience, both of their merchants and the end-consumer, seriously.”
So, there you have it, Swanky’s round-up of Shopify Unite announcements. Keep an eye on the Swanky blog over the coming months as we delve into some of the major Unite headlines in more detail!
In the meantime, if you’d like to find out how our Shopify Plus Experts could unlock your ecommerce potential, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.