Usually at this time of year, we bring you the latest and greatest Shopify announcements from their Unite conference in Toronto. This year, however the global pandemic saw Reunite streaming directly into your homes so you could hear the news first hand.
In case you missed the live session, here’s a quick summary of all the exciting developments that are either already available, or coming your way in the near future:
Changes to the online store
A number of innovations have already been released in response to COVID-19, in order to help merchants adapt. The following developments are either available for Shopify stores to start using right away, or coming very soon.
A new Express theme has been launched, enabling businesses to set up a one page online store quickly and easily. This will help traditionally offline businesses such as coffee shops, restaurants and service businesses to get up and running online as fast as possible. The theme is quick to set up, allows you to show all information on one page, and is designed to be mobile-first.
In order to support retailers looking to stimulate immediate cash flow, gift card functionality is now available to anyone who is on a Shopify plan.
In the interest of recreating offline shopping experiences, tipping functionality has now been added to the checkout so that customers can add a tip from the payment page. You can also adapt the functionality to work as a charitable donation or similar, by customizing and configuring the text. All revenue generated via this functionality will be isolated as a separate line item, allowing you to direct it accordingly, whether that’s to your team in the form of a tip, or to a charity your brand is supporting.
Multiple store domains
Merchants will soon be able to use multiple store domains to sell more effectively cross-border. You will still have one main store, but be able to configure localized domains, personalizing them with appropriate language and currency options. No need to duplicate your work, just clone and tweak.
You will also soon have the ability to dictate your foreign exchange rate – either opting to go with an automatic rate that updates prices automatically, or using a custom rate of your own choosing.
New online store editor experience
You can already use the drag and drop functionality to customize your home page, but later this year you will see the same functionality roll out across other pages too. You will be able to configure pages completely, for example adding product reviews to some pages but not others, or adding different content options to individual collection pages. Not all collection or product pages will have to be the same – unless of course you want them to be.
Changes to the offline store
Though Shopify POS saw a 71% decrease in sales through March, recovery was quick. So what are Shopify putting in place to help offline merchants in the coming months?
All new Shopify POS
Now live, the new Shopify POS has been completely redesigned, and many stores are using this opportunity to run migration and in-store training while their physical locations are closed. With the new POS
Now live – all new Shopify POS you can embed apps straight into the point of sale, and provide far better staff control and permissions.
As a customer, it’s now possible to see which local locations have what inventory, and what available collections options there are. It’s easy to see what is in stock, and how to pick it up.
Contactless checkout is now also uniformly available across Shopify. Customers will be able to scan a QR code and then complete their transaction from their mobile device, with zero contact.
Plans to release the tap and chip readers previously only available in the US, have been expedited. Now available in Canada, they will also be coming to the UK and other locations soon.
Shopify POS Pro is now available for free until October this year.
Connecting with customers
Facebook and Google shopping
To help merchants reach customers in more places, Shopify have announced exciting integrations with both Facebook and Google. Stores can now list their products on the shopping tab of Google search, at no cost. This is live in the US and being rolled out globally by the end of the year.
New Facebook and Instagram functionality is also live, allowing you to launch a smaller version of your store within your social account. The smaller store will synchronise with your main store to save you time and offer efficiency.
Recently launched, Shopify email enables stores to send branded, customized emails in less time. Shopify email is already live, but further automation features and the ability to schedule emails will be released later this year. This functionality is free until the end of October, but a free plan will also be available on an ongoing basis.
Already available on IOS, Shopify Ping will soon be coming to Android and the web. Using the messaging service, staff can speak to consumers, and to other staff members, easily accessing conversations assigned to them from anywhere.
Shop is Shopify’s brand new personal shopping assistant. The app combines ShopPay and Arrive, to make it easier for customers to manage their shopping experiences. Consumers can use it to see orders from any store they buy from, view order information, and receive product recommendations and other personalized messages. Shopify will be investing more in allowing merchants to control how their brands appear on Shop so stay tuned.
Behind the scenes
The product area is where merchants spend most of their time, so Shopify are working to deliver faster product creation. You can now use camera functionality more easily, upload in bulk and manage states more efficiently. In future you’ll be able to create drafts, and also archive old products. This will help you to be more organized, particularly if you list and de-list products on a seasonal basis.
It will now be easier to keep your inventory accurate with the ability to manage purchase orders, order from suppliers, track orders and receive inventory from within Shopify. This will help you to understand what products are selling, what you have left, and even how many gift cards you have sold.
To date, the order index page has shown just enough information to help you identify the order you are looking for, but you still need to click into the order details page for more detail. A completely redesigned index page is being released as of now, so you don’t always have to burrow down a level to find the information you are looking for. They will be making this page customizable over time, so you can tailor it to answer your most commonly asked questions, faster.
Other key enhancements from the team at Shopify include the rebuilding of the online store engine. This will turn on by default and will help merchants by delivering a big improvement in load times.
Coming soon, you will also see the online store performance dashboard. This will help you to see how your store is doing in terms of speed over time, helping you to track the impact of changes you’ve made over time.
Coming later this year, Shopify will be integrating the ability to pay via installments into ShopPay. Consumers will soon have the ability to split purchases over four equal payments, with no fees and no interest.
More eligible merchants can now apply for Shopify Capital from within their accounts. This financing option has now been extended to include Canada and the UK, and a further $200m has been committed to help merchants unlock capital faster.
Shopify will soon be launching Balance, giving independent businesses the tools to pay bills, track expenses and make decisions without relying on legacy banks. This will help merchants by giving them access to funds faster, and removing fees and minimum balances. Balance will come with a physical and an online card, and a rewards program that provides merchants such as cashback and discounts on partner apps. Balance will launch in the US later this year.
Available now, stores with less than 20 locations can enable local pickup. Consumers will be able to add their own information, letting you know when they want to collect, or telling you they’ve arrived to make their collection.
Stores can also now make their own deliveries. From within your shipping settings, you can set a delivery radius and show local delivery as an option to those who are eligible. Buyers will be able to leave notes for the person making the delivery, and merchants can decide and optimize their routes from within Shopify.
Shopify fullfillment network
Eleven months after launch, Shopify have been working to improve their Fulfillment Network and have expanded their technology and shipping expertise with collaborative robots. These robots (known as Chuck) are collaborative, working with warehouse associates to make picking and packing more efficient by two or three times. The early access phase of the Fulfillment Network is now complete, and any store doing ten or more orders a day with under 2,000 SKUs can benefit.
Shopify and LoyaltyLion have a shared vision of ensuring that merchants of all sizes have the tools and technologies they need to grow and succeed. We’re excited to see more of these innovations launch as ecommerce stores adapt to a changing way of doing business.
Want to know what our partners are most excited about from Reunite? Stay tuned – we’ll be sharing views from top Shopify technology and agency partners soon.
This article originally appeared in the LoyaltyLion blog and has been published here with permission.