2019 is a very big year for Shopify and its merchants. In June, we headed to Shopify’s annual partner and developer conference, Shopify Unite 2019. In this post, we’re breaking down the biggest announcements of the conference that you need to know.
Shopify caters to every aspect of an online transaction: the consumers, the merchants, the developers and the designers. So, no matter how you’re involved with Shopify (whether you’re a merchant or work for a merchant), these announcements are for you.
Better order processing/handling
Shopify has rolled out multiple changes to enhance the customer experience. First is a better order editing experience.
Customers can now properly edit their order post-purchase. Before, if a customer accidentally ordered the incorrect product or wrong amount, there was no good way for them to edit their order right after placing it. Instead, any changes would screw up the system, and the merchants would frequently have to deal with duplicate items, lost sales or reporting errors.
Now, if the item has been paid but has not been shipped yet, merchants can change the order according to the changes that a customer needs such as the quantity, variant or delivery method. This keeps the reporting for merchants clean and accurate, and it also makes sure that the customer’s changes to the order are applied.
Delivery profiles give merchants options to customize shipping rules based on product characteristics such as bulkiness, fragility or perishability.
Shipping rules can also be customized based on where the inventory is going to be shipped from. Shipping rates and estimated delivery times are now more accurate than ever.
Shopify Fulfillment Network
One of the biggest announcements Shopify dropped on their conference is that Shopify now has its own fulfillment network. This means that they are poised to face their competition head-on, especially Amazon.
Having this network (which is powered by machine learning) will make deliveries more timely and shipping costs lower. For example, a proprietary fulfillment network can make two-day shipping possible. This will be first implemented for US stores only but will be eventually implemented globally.
Other important features of Shopify’s fulfillment network are:
- Multichannel support
- Custom packaging
- Returns and exchanges
Shopify is aiming to go global, and we think the timing is perfect. It is one of the fastest growing startup companies in the world and has claimed the title of the fastest growing SaaS company.
To have global capabilities isn’t going to be easy. There are languages, policies and currencies to consider. But Shopify is making moves to make sure that these get addressed quickly. Growth without preparation is more hurtful than helpful to any company–and it seems like Shopify knows this. They’re doing the legwork to make sure that this push to go global is done right.
Multiple languages compatibility
Shopify is now going to be available in 11 more languages: Dutch, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Malay, Hindi, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean and Thai.
And it’s not just languages, Shopify will even be available in local dialects. Shopify’s new ShopLocale API makes it possible for select languages to be localized (e.g. French, French Canada, English UK, etc.)
Foreign currencies and exchange rate Conversion
Shopify will also have support for multiple currencies. The online store pricing will automatically adjust based on foreign exchange rates depending on the currency you choose.
Shopify has support for 10 currencies: GBP (British Pound), AUD (Australian Dollar), CAD (Canadian Dollar), EUR (Euro), HKD (Hong Kong Dollar), JPY (Japanese Yen), NZD (New Zealand Dollar), DKK (Danish Krone), SGD (Singapore Dollar) and USD (US Dollar).
More interactive product showcases
It’s not only the customer and merchant experiences that got the focus at this conference; products also got their well-deserved spotlight.
3D and video native support
One of the things that physical stores have over digital stores are the different ways that customers can interact with a product. However, that advantage is fading away with each innovation from eCommerce platforms like Shopify.
One of the first product innovations, Shopify AR (augmented reality), is already implemented in multiple online stores. This development allowed merchants to upload helpful 3D renderings of their products. Now, Shopify is expanding interactivity and better branding through native 3D and video support. The new features provide multiple ways for customers to get a more holistic understanding of the product they are purchasing.
For a long time, online stores only had images and descriptions of their products on their store. This was enough for buyers for some time, especially the occasional online shopper. But the more people rely on shopping online, the more they need to feel like they’re truly experiencing the product before purchase.
The updates in video and 3D renderings are many. But to give you a quick overview of the changes, consider that now, merchants have the ability to “create, retrieve, update, and delete new media types, including video (hosted by Shopify), external video (via an embed, ex. YouTube), and 3D models.”
Better merchant support for all shapes and sizes
Easier online store design management
Shopify wants its platform to be even easier for beginners to use in starting an online store. Merchants can now “create and customize their storefronts without writing a single line of code.”
Here are some of the core store features that will make it easier for merchants to handle store design:
- Master pages: Define the content that will appear on multiple pages, and apply changes to all pages under a specific page type, simply by editing the master page.
- Starting points: Themes will offer starting points, a selection of pre-configured content sections that will make store setup faster. A merchant will be able to select their desired starting point and simply populate it with their own content.
- Content portability: Content will no longer be stored in themes. Merchants will no longer have to duplicate their themes to make changes to their store, and will be able to switch between themes without transferring their content manually.
Headless commerce solutions
Shopify wanted to give more options to store owners who are more advanced and want more customization and control. So, Shopify introduced headless commerce solutions.
Headless commerce is an approach to e-commerce that separates the design from the processing.
Usually, people employ other services as the head (front-end) of the store, while Shopify governs the back-end or vice versa. An example for that would be Koala, which uses a third-party CMS, in combination with Shopify Plus and its APIs.
These options can make merchants have a store that’s tailor-made for their customers’ needs.
Better point-of-sale implementation
Arpan Podduturi, Director of Product at Shopify, said in his keynote speech at the conference that “Shopify POS is now in more brick and mortar stores than the number of Walmart, Apple and Target stores combined.”
To support the physical POS, Shopify announced its Tap & Chip Case, which can wirelessly connect to the reader to have a complete mobile POS experience. Sellers can interact with people at the store, engage customers and let them make a purchase on the spot. No more lines at the checkout counter!
On the software side, customers can now see promotions and loyalty points during checkout. The new software also provides all the necessary details that a customer should know during checkout. This makes customers feel more appreciated and have a better online checkout experience.
Shopify Plus makeover
Even the larger online stores haven’t been left out. The new Shopify Plus interface makes it easier for the management of multiple stores, multiple shoppers and automation (Shopify Flow) all in one interface!
It’s not released yet but it’s coming in the next few months. Shopify announced, “This is just the first step in building the foundation to support the world’s most successful brands.”
Better back-end support
API all the things!
Most of these announcements wouldn’t be possible without the help of APIs.
A quick background on API: An API (Application Programming Interface) is a software that lets developers access the other codes of other software.
Most software applications are composed of components with different programming languages. Imagine a construction project with a multinational company. Let’s say we just have three countries. China handles all the cement, India handles all the steel, France handles all the wood and Germany handles the equipment.
The API acts as the blueprint for the project. APIs make it possible for developers to talk to other software/services inside a platform, without the need for translations or fluency in all the languages.
Almost all of the announcements we’ve explored in this article wouldn’t be possible without APIs backing it up on the Shopify platform. To see all of the APIs, here’s Every API [Shopify] Announced at Shopify Unite 2019.
Shopify all the way!
With all of these coming changes, it’s an exciting time to start an online store! Overall, these changes show Shopify’s dedication to all the different parties that interact with their platform, including merchants, customers, developers and designers.
Our guess is that the new developments will catapult Shopify’s growth (benefitting your store along the way). That’s because, with fewer barriers to a great experience for merchants and customers alike, more and more people will be encouraged to use the platform. Plus, removing friction will make it possible for everyone to have a truly seamless experience.
We believe that Shopify’s 360-degree approach is the future standard of all online services and platforms.
In fact, these new developments might be exactly what Shopify needs to take on the big leagues. This is how disruptors think and change the industry.
To read all the announcements that Shopify made in detail, check out Everything Shopify Announced at Shopify Unite 2019. To view all the keynotes, you can read the Keynotes from Shopify Unite 2019.