Since it began in 2016, Shopify Unite has been an opportunity for partners from across the global Shopify ecosystem to gather under one roof, explore the future of commerce, and share plans on how we can build that future together.
Because of the mounting public health concerns of COVID-19, we made the tough decision to cancel our annual in-person conference to protect our partners and employees’ safety, and rush to meet the current challenges of this new reality for independent businesses.
This decision was also an opportunity to rethink how we can best serve our merchants during this time.
The result was Reunite, our first-ever livestream event specifically for merchants. A global audience tuned in to hear Shopify’s leadership team share what we’re building to equip merchants for the future of commerce—a future that’s arriving sooner than anyone anticipated.
If you couldn’t catch the live event or want to get more details, here’s a recap of all the highlights from Reunite 2020.
- Financial products that help you take control of your cash flow
- Deliver orders faster, for less—without compromising customer experience
- Sales channels to meet your customers where they are
- Making it easier for every business to become an online business
- Cross-border domains and other features to offer localized experiences, globally
- New functionality to save time on everyday back-office tasks
- Even faster load times and a new store performance dashboard
- A thank you to all the entrepreneurs everywhere
Financial products that help you take control of your cash flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business. Unfortunately, most traditional banking products make it challenging for founders to get the funds they need when they need them.
Shopify Capital is different. Our streamlined application process involves no paperwork or personal credit checks. Offers are based on your store’s sales history and become available in days once you’re approved. To date, we’ve funded thousands of businesses in the US, UK, and Canada with amounts ranging from $200 to $1 million.
At Reunite, we announced a new way to simplify your finances with Shopify Balance: a business account and card. Shopify Balance gives entrepreneurs access to essential financial products to start, run, and grow their businesses, including:
- Shopify Balance account: A single place within Shopify where you can get a clear view of your cash flow, pay bills, and track expenses, so you can make more informed decisions about the future of your business.
- Shopify Card: Physical and virtual cards with your name and logo that let you access your money faster when making purchases for your business or withdrawing cash from ATMs.
- Rewards: We plan to offer cashback and discounts on everyday business spending like shipping and marketing.
Shopify Balance will give every upstart access to an improved cash management experience directly within Shopify. We plan to launch early access in the US later this year.
We’re also working with a partner to launch Shop Pay Installments, so customers have the option to split their purchase into four equal payments with 0% interest. You’ll receive the full purchase amount upfront, less a fee, and Shopify’s partner will manage collecting payments. Customers get the flexibility to pay over time while your business secures the cash it needs today.
Join our waitlist to be notified when Shop Pay Installments launches later this year.
Deliver orders faster, for less—without compromising customer experience
Shoppers are increasingly looking to buy from small businesses in their local communities. Buying local gives customers the ability to get the products they want with shorter fulfillment times, all while saving money on shipping fees.
Providing local pickup options also lets businesses keep selling from their brick-and-mortar locations while giving customers a safe and convenient way to pick up their orders. To help more retailers bring online shoppers to their store (or curb), we’re rolling out curbside pickup and local delivery to everyone:
- Curbside pickup: Available today, curbside pickup lets customers skip waiting for shipping and pick up their online orders in-store, curbside, or from any inventory location you’ve identified as a pickup spot in your Shopify store. You can even customize pickup instructions for each of your retail locations.
- Local delivery: Soon, merchants in all countries will be able to offer an improved and simplified local delivery experience. Define a local delivery area using zip and postal codes or by radius, and set local delivery fees and minimum order prices for your products. And with the new Shopify Local Delivery app, you can make the local delivery experience smooth for both you and your customers with shortened delivery routes and notifications that give customers peace of mind.
The Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) is getting a few major upgrades, too. We’re building a network of warehouses to give every business on Shopify affordable access to two-day shipping. SFN is now available to businesses that ship between 10 and 10,000 orders a day to the United States. Apply today to get access.
Reunite attendees also got the chance to meet Chuck, one of our collaborative robots that are hard at work improving the efficiency of SFN warehouses. Say hello to Chuck through our interactive AR demo.
Sales channels to meet your customers where they are
In the words of Satish Kanwar, VP of Product at Shopify, “If there’s one thing Shopify’s not short on, it’s channels.” Having many different sales channels at your disposal helps customers discover your products wherever they are—whether it’s online, offline, in search engines, on social media, or their mobile devices.
At Reunite, we recapped the channels we recently launched as well as some updates to existing channels:
- All-new Shopify POS: We rebuilt Shopify POS to unify offline and online selling and help brick-and-mortar businesses run or reopen their stores in the modern retail environment. More updates are coming soon, including convenient ways to offer contactless checkout, and a “see what’s in store” feature that lets shoppers see what’s in stock at their local store and choose their preferred fulfillment option.
- Shopify Email: Email remains one of the most effective ways to reach your customers through a channel you fully control. With Shopify Email, we’ve built email marketing into Shopify so anyone can send and track beautiful branded emails—no marketing experience required. And it’s completely free to use until October, 2020.
- Shopify Ping for Android: Shopify Ping is our free messaging app that helps businesses create personal connections through real-time conversations. Currently available on iOS, soon Shopify Ping will be available on Android this summer. We’re also adding staff accounts to Ping so anyone on your team can message with customers individually and collaborate with other team members over chat.
- Facebook Shops: Every day, people all over the world rely on Facebook and Instagram to discover new experiences. We recently partnered with Facebook to bring Facebook Shops to Shopify merchants, a new shopping experience that lets you create a branded store that lives inside the Facebook and Instagram mobile apps.
- Google Shopping: The Google Shopping tab is used by hundreds of millions of shoppers to find the items they need. With free listings on Google, you can now use Shopify’s Google Shopping app to sync your products in Shopify so they can appear in relevant Google Shopping search results—for free. This is available in the US, and will be rolling out globally later this year.
- Shop channel: Shop is a digital shopping assistant that helps your most loyal customers discover (and rediscover) your products, checkout in one-click, and track their orders—all in one place. Shop will soon become the Shop Channel, allowing you to customize how your brand shows up in the Shop app to better own your story and your relationship with your customers.
Making it easier for every business to become an online business
We’re being pulled into the future faster than anyone could have imagined. Now, every business is becoming an online business out of necessity. That’s why we’re making it easier to move your business online, no matter what industry you’re in.
Along with local delivery and curbside pickup, we’ve made gift cards available on all plans to help affected businesses get short-term cash flow relief through gift card sales. At Reunite, we announced two more ways we’re empowering businesses to pivot online, which are both available now:
- Merchant tipping: Give your customers a way to tip a percentage of their total or a custom amount at checkout. You can customize the experience to offer a variety of tipping options, from collecting donations, thanking your delivery drivers, and more.
- Express: Express is a free Shopify theme designed specifically for restaurants and other food and beverage businesses to quickly create a simple online store. Together with our new tipping and local fulfillment options, we hope to make it as easy as possible for these businesses to shift their sales online.
Cross-border domains and other features to offer localized experiences, globally
Selling effectively in international markets means serving up shopping experiences that still feel familiar to your cross-border customers. During Reunite, we shared a few ways we’re helping sellers create localized experiences as they scale their business internationally:
- Local Domains: We’re expanding our domains feature to enable merchants to set up local domains, each with its own assigned country, currency, and languages. Local Domains can help you scale your business to different parts of the world by tailoring your online store to match the needs of international buyers, and they’ll be available to all merchants worldwide later this year.
- Shopify Payments now supports 133 currencies: You can now sell in 133 global currencies if you’re using Shopify Payments, helping you reach new international customers with product prices that display in their localized currency.
- Custom Foreign Exchange: You’ll soon be able to create custom pricing rules to convert your prices into local currencies, offering more transparent pricing for your international customers. It means greater control over your product prices, enabling you to market and advertise effectively. This will be available later this year to all merchants using Shopify Payments.
New functionality to save time on everyday back-office work
We’re always looking for ways to simplify the routine errands that come with running a business. We’re releasing a number of key improvements that, collectively, will reduce the amount of time you spend on back-office tasks, so you can spend more time growing your business.
- Faster product creation workflows: Later this year, we’ll release workflow tools to help you add new products to your store more quickly. You’ll be able to add products in bulk by entering key details like titles, prices, and variants from a single page, and even take photos for different variants through the Shopify mobile app and upload them directly to your product page.
- “Draft” state for products: Products in Shopify will soon have a draft state, so you can finalize, preview, and collaborate with teammates on your product pages without worrying about publishing them to sales channels before they’re ready. You’ll also soon be able to archive products to make managing your product catalog easier.
- Improved order management: We’ve rebuilt the Orders page in Shopify to make all relevant information available at-a-glance, including order items, delivery methods, customer details, order notes, and more.
- Purchase orders and inventory reports: Track, order, and receive inventory from your suppliers directly in Shopify. Soon, you’ll also be able to receive products by scanning them with the Shopify mobile app.
- Centralized product returns: Returns have traditionally been managed using multiple tools and systems, but we’re centralizing all of that in Shopify with a new built-in returns workflow.
Even faster load times and a new store performance dashboard
Customers reward speed. Slow load times frustrate shoppers and hurt your store’s performance in search engines. We built Shopify to be fast, but we’re always working to make your store even faster.
We’re rebuilding our online store engine to accelerate load times and have already seen some stores load up to twice as fast when powered by this engine. We’re currently rolling it out to Plus merchants, but it will be available to all merchants by the end of the year.
We’re also releasing a new online store performance dashboard that gives you a more transparent look into your Shopify store’s performance, so you can see how recent changes to your store affect page speed. A few merchants will have early access to this feature in June, and it will be available to everyone later this year.
A thank you to all the entrepreneurs everywhere
Reunite came to a close with a message from Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein on what entrepreneurship means to him, and to all of us at Shopify.
Entrepreneurs all over the world are facing unprecedented challenges right now. We wanted to take a moment to thank you all for the resilience you’ve shown—and for the perseverance, the resourcefulness, and the kindness you’ve shown to others.
Business owners like you are the heart of what we do at Shopify. We’d also like to thank our Partners, who are also entrepreneurs themselves, who answered the call and continue to build solutions to help merchants meet the unique needs of their business. Learn more about what they’ve built through our Shopify App Challenge.
For resources on how to implement the products and features we announced that are available today, check out our courses in Shopify Compass.
This article originally appeared in the Shopify blog and has been published here with permission.