It's been a busy week in Toronto.
We're still here at Shopify Unite, but yesterday's announcement day was chock-full of exciting new updates and experiences for Shopify Partners, merchants and agencies.
We chatted with our agency partners to get some feedback about which announcements might have the biggest impact on their business, from design and development to growth marketing for Plus stores.
Here are six major changes:
1) New online store experience (updated design)
Shopify's new store design experience will make it easier for merchants to personalise their storefronts without having to write any code.
Later this year, Shopify will also introduce a feature that helps agencies provide the "highly valuable skills and services needed to take a merchant's business to the next level".
What that feature set looks like is unclear at the moment, but what is clear are the following five design updates:
- Sections for each page: Sections-based editing is now enabled on every page of a merchant's online store, offering more space for creative freedom and personalisation.
- Master pages: Merchants can now dictate content and apply changes to all pages by simply editing the master page.
- Starting points: Shopify themes will offer "starting points", which will be pre-configured content sections to help accelerate store setup. Merchants can choose their starting point and easily fill it with content.
- Content portability: Store managers rejoice — content is no longer stored in themes, meaning merchants can make changes to their store without duplicating themes.
- Drafts: Merchants can draft changes on their store without making the changes go live. Merchants can play with design, content, etc. and only publish when they please.
- UX/UI: A new Shopify interface means (hopefully) a better merchant experience. Shopify says creating a store will now be a more intuitive experience, thanks to the new UI.
In light of a new storefront app extension for agency partners, Shopify is unlocking a new feature that lets partners add apps to their storefront.
Top Google Analytics app for Shopify
2) New Shopify Plus admin dashboard (multiple stores, multiple shoppers)
Out with the old, in with the new Shopify Plus. The large-scale update will help large, multilayered businesses to manage multiple stores, shoppers and automation — all from a sleek new admin dashboard.
The new design will offer brands:
- Robust insights across all of their stores
- The ability to manage multiple stores and user permissions from one place
- A better space to facilitate better store operations
Shopify also continues to add more possibilities for what you can do with Shopify Flow, a smart way to automate workflows within Shopify Plus. For example, user admins and assigned staff members will soon be able to copy flows across all of your stores.
Top Google Analytics app for Shopify Plus
3) New checkout app extension for subscriptions
[Coming soon] This is a big one, though the details are not yet clear.
Later this year, Shopify Partners will be able to access the company's very first checkout app extension. The extension will mainly focus on improving purchase flow for subscriptions. The idea is to keep everything within Shopify's checkout flow, rather than sending shoppers to other apps.
In Shopify's words:
Buyers will no longer be routed outside of Shopify’s checkout to complete their transactions. Developers will be able to integrate their subscription apps into the checkout experience, surface their app’s information into Shopify’s checkout, and give merchants the ability to process transactions for subscription goods and services within one seamless checkout experience.
If you or your clients are using ReCharge for selling subscriptions in your Shopify store, don't worry. Nothing changes now.
You can still use Littledata's advanced Google Analytics integration for ReCharge to get accurate data about subscription sales and marketing channels, and we'll keep you in the loop about accurate tracking for checkout app extensions, once those get closer to going live.
4) Custom storefront tools, including multi-currency for non-Plus stores
Because the customer journey is about more than an attractive website and pretty design, Shopify has taken the headless commerce approach by creating custom storefront tools for niche and complex ecommerce businesses.
They're calling this "flexible commerce" and it promises to have a big impact on key Shopify benchmarks.
These flexible commerce tools help merchants:
- Create a beautiful front-end experience
- Play a bigger role in a more personalised shopper experience (i.e. connecting to a CMS tool to share more dynamic pieces of content)
- Engage with shoppers through voice shopping, smart mirrors, smart fridges, etc.
- Leverage the scaling ability and speed of a headless commerce model
Merchants and agencies can also now access the following through the Storefront API:
- Selling in multiple currencies
- New product recommendations
- Shopify Scripts
All Shopify merchants now have the ability to sell in multiple currencies with Shopify Payments. This feature was previously only available to Shopify Plus merchants.
5) POS cart app extensions for loyalty and promotions
Checkout is now faster and easier for both merchants and customers. Store managers can now see details about customer loyalty and promotions "directly in the cart without having to click away".
The POS cart app extensions provide merchants with the "loyalty and promotion app functionality (they) want, where they need it: within the customer cart". With a more seamless checkout experience, merchants and customers can now enjoy better:
- Speed: The time it takes to apply a discount code is now down from 15 to 5 seconds
- Visibility: Store managers don’t need to remember to visit the apps section of POS
- Recognition: Customers feel more appreciated, no matter where a purchase is made
The new POS app extensions helps both merchants and development teams improve the user experiences of the storefront(s) they manage.
[Coming soon] Shopify's updated POS app will prioritize "quick and seamless workflows, helping store staff focus on what’s most important to them: human-to-human customer interactions and making each sale a positive experience".
6) New order editing APIs
Shopify's brand new order editing features of the GraphQL AdminAPI enables apps to add, drop or replace items "before the line item has been fulfilled".
This offers merchants increased flexibility after a purchase.
7) Shopify Fulfillment Network
Once this news broke, we watched Twitter run wild as store managers imagined the possibilities with Shopify's brand new Fulfillment Network.
Designed to compete with the world's top fulfillment networks (Amazon, USPS, etc.), the network will be built across the United States at first before (hopefully) expanding across the Atlantic. Shopify will be pumping over a billion dollars into this infrastructure, expanding and improving the network.
The network gives Shopify merchants access to tools and services previously only available to the biggest stores in the world. Benefits include:
- One back office: This will reduce both errors and frustration for store management teams
- Maintain inventory integrity: Made possible by scheduling rhythmic cycle counts
- Nearly 100% accuracy: Orders will be ready to go on-time without the risk of error regarding order contents, shipping addresses, etc.
- Your eyes at the warehouse: Shopify is providing merchants with dedicated account managers with "logistics and Shopify expertise".
The Shopify Fulfillment Network will also support the following:
- Multiple channels — online store, retail, Instagram, eBay, Amazon, etc.
- Returns and exchanges
- Custom (branded) packaging
- Stores of all sizes — "shipping 10 to 10,000 products a day", aiming to get this to "3 to 30,000" per day in coming years
Is there anything we missed? Let us know.
Next up, Ed will break down the announcements and unpack what they mean not only for Shopify partners and agencies, but for teams that rely on Littledata's smart connections for marketing attribution and better business decision-making. Stay tuned!
Photo credits: Littledata, Shopify