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Shopify Unite 2018: What we learned

We've returned from Toronto, Canada and Shopify Unite 2018 with some great new friends and the knowledge to better serve our clients. The event is held annually to gather Shopify Partners and app developers to learn about new features and ways to make commerce better for everyone.

There was a distinct focus this year on a future that blends eCommerce with traditional retail seamlessly. Announcements ranging from upgrades to Shopify POS to multi-currency payments got the crowds excited, but nothing compared to when PM Justin Trudeau took the stage for a discussion with Shopify founder Tobi Lutke.

Shopify continues to push eCommerce technology forward and spread entrepreneurship to every end of the globe. Their vision of the future of commerce includes more voices, not fewer (take that, Amazon).

shopify unite 2018 toronto ecommerce

We'll run through some of the highlights that will hopefully help merchants generate more sales without taking up more of their precious time.

Marketing Made Easy

It was interesting to hear that Shopify was making efforts to address a common pain-point among their nearly 600,000 stores. Building a beautiful website is only half the battle, and some won't last without allocating time and money to marketing efforts.

There will be a new addition to the dashboard for marketing, and merchants will be able to easily and quickly create campaigns on Google or Facebook/Instagram. Don't know what to advertise, when to create a campaign, or how much to allocate? Fear not, Shopify will make smart suggestions based on your sales history to help guide you.

shopify marketing section

This feature will hopefully help merchants who don't have a ton of money allocated to hire marketing agencies, but know they can't grow without making an effort. Coming this Summer to all Shopify stores.

Better Discounting

Last year's Unite announcements were a welcome upgrade, and this year's are even better. Until now, more complicated sales like BOGO or quantity based discounts were only possible by using expensive apps. Starting now, they will be available to all merchants with a few clicks.

Ping Cha-Ching

A super cool new feature that will help with customer service is Shopify Ping. Ping is a new workspace that promises to bring all customer conversations from Facebook Messenger, Chat Kit, and more into one place. What could become a competitor to Zendesk, Ping aims to centralize conversations with potential customers and convert them.

shopify ping customer support

While Ping sounded cool, it will be hard to tell how successful of a tool it is until its release. It seems that Shopify is dedicated to expanding Kit and machine learning in general, but hopefully it can truly help merchants and not just be a hot topic.

Big Improvements to POS

We felt like there was a focus on physical retail this year, with Shopify admitting that many of their merchants have multiple locations and are using lackluster solutions to stitch together their technology. The numbers show that retail store openings are actually increasing, contrary to popular belief.

Only one year after announcing the chip and swipe reader, it will be upgraded with the new Tap and Chip reader. It will have a long lasting battery charge and take alternative payment methods like Apple and Google Pay.

tap and chip reader

Multi-channel returns and exchanges are also coming to POS, making the customer experience seamless whether their purchase was in-store or online. Shopify has also added a tip line as a way to offer immediate feedback and reward great experiences. This could also open up Shopify POS to service based industries like salons, tattoo shops, and many more, creating stiff competition for Square.

While no official announcement was made, a Shopify representative claimed they are actively working on adding cost of goods to POS as well. This is something that merchants have been requesting for a long time.

Multiple Locations and Inventory

While Shopify was always a great solution for small retailers to sync their online inventory to their physical locations, it was not so kind to merchants with multiple locations. This forced them to seek alternate POS systems like Lightspeed and apps like StitchLabs to make sure everything worked. With the addition of locations to Shopify, it makes managing inventory across multiple locations a breeze.

Locations will also allow for split shipments for a better fulfillment process when items are in stock at different places. US-based merchants will also be able to schedule on-demand shipping pickups from UPS and DHL.

In-store Pickup

Announced without much hype at a small session on Day 2, in-store pickup is a great addition to Shopify. This feature might not be added until Holiday season, but customers will be able to choose a location at the end of checkout and pick up their order to avoid shipping costs. This was formerly only available using an app.

Multi-currency for Global Sales

For stores using Shopify Payments, customers will be able to see product listings and checkout with currencies in AUD, EUR, JPY, SGD, USD, CAD, HKD, NZD, and GBP. This will help increase conversions for foreign customers and give a more comfortable, local feeling to the store.

multi currency shopify payments

You can expect multi-currency to take effect in Fall 2018.

Other Highlights

  • Fraud protection will now be standard for merchants using Shopify Payments. It ensures the merchant will be protected from chargebacks.
  • The Shopify admin panel will be available in different languages
  • Migrations will get easier for Plus clients with the Transporter App
  • Shopify Unite 2019 will stay in Canada
  • There was a cool Fashionnova AR/VR shopping demo, but it requires 3D product modeling which will be difficult to achieve.

shopify unite ideas