A Year in Review: Shopify Updates From 2018
Shopify exists to power ideas and innovation through ecommerce. Their goal is to enable entrepreneurs and enterprises alike to do ecommerce without technology holding them back. Each year they work towards making the best platform there is to take the friction out of ecommerce for both merchants and customers.
So what happened in 2018?
Some people talk about the death of retail. But contrary to this common belief, the number of physical retail stores is actually growing. For every retail store that closed in 2017, 1.4 more opened in its place. Retail isn’t dying. It’s changing. The role that physical retail stores play now is different.
And this is what Shopify focused on in 2018. It was all about improving multichannel commerce experiences. Not only was multichannel commerce prominently featured in their 3rd annual UNITE conference this year, it was also the focus of the majority of their large updates throughout the year.
Newer ecommerce brands, in addition to the retail giants, recognize that online and physical retail stores are no longer siloed. They play together to create the best customer experience. Customers don’t see ecommerce brands and physical retail brands for the most part. They see brands they like, and expect a multichannel experience.
We may be shifting to an online-shopping first world, but there is still a role for physical stores. This is where customers can see, feel, and try your products first hand in a way that an online experience simply can’t (although Shopify is trying to close this gap…but more on that later). Rather than brick-and-mortar stores being a way to distribute products, they are now a way to extend the shopping experience, providing a way to experience products and provide that human touch that online shopping can’t.
So, what exactly has Shopify done to improve this?
Shopify POS Improvements
Initially Shopify had an iPad extension as their POS. This was a real drawback for enterprise level merchants. But they have made major improvements in 2018.
They introduced a new independent card reader (swipe and chip reader) that is pocket sized as well as introduced a customer view for in-store checkouts allowing customers to view and manage the checkout process.
MultiChannel & Multi-Location Inventory
Another drawback of Shopify’s POS was a lack of integration between the ecommerce experience and the retail experience. The best example of this was the inability to track inventory centrally. You could not share inventory between your online store and physical location or between multiple physical locations.
In 2018, Shopify released multichannel and multi-location inventory tracking. This is a very important update as it enables stores to feature in-store pickup, which is a huge advantage of multichannel retail.
Shopify also improved the multichannel experience by centralizing all data around the customer, which is shared across all channels and locations.
Shopify’s augmented reality features are in their infancy, but their goal is to bring the online experience as close to a physical retail experience as possible. Learn more about how you can leverage augmented reality technology for your store and view examples here.
Own Physical Location
In-line with this multichannel movement, Shopify itself is starting to open physical locations. These locations are places where entrepreneurs, merchants and big businesses can go to meet with experts and learn about ecommerce, as well as cowork together.
In addition to theses updates making multichannel and multi-location experiences more seamless, Shopify also made these important updates:
Shopify is working on integrating natively with all of the different digital marketing channels. There are tons of possibilities when this data is married across all channels in a native way. It makes attribution better and management easier. You can even launch campaigns and view results directly from your Shopify dashboard.
Shopify discounts have long been a pain point for merchants. Their native discounting ability was limited to just percentage off, dollar off, or free shipping coupons. Now Shopify has added both BOGO discounting capabilities and automatic discounts.
Global Ecommerce Improvements: Multi-Language and Multi-Currency
Global ecommerce stores have struggled with Shopify, both on the merchant side and the customer side. Now Shopify has translated its admin into several different languages and natively integrated currency conversion so you can accept payment in multiple currencies dynamically (if you’re using Shopify Payments).
Shopify invests a ton of money into making the checkout process better. This is their passion (or dare I say obsession). Their ultimate goal is to create a checkout-less checkout.
Checkout is the most painful part of the ecommerce process and Shopify is very close to eliminating it. Their dynamic checkout release allows for one click checkout through Face ID or thumb print like you would check out with Apple Pay.
This is a huge improvement for ecommerce stores. They did a comparison at UNITE this year for the time to checkout with their current checkout versus dynamic checkout. The dynamic checkout took just 8 seconds compared to the regular checkout’s one minute and 12 seconds. This reduces so much friction for the customer and is a true game-changer.
Merchant Workflows and Automations
Shopify also improved their merchant workflows and automations, releasing updates to Kit, their marketing automation app, and Flow, allowing you to trigger automations with external platforms as well as within Shopify. They also released Ping which centralizes all of your customer inbound messages.
Improved App Store
Finally, Shopify released a new and improved app store. With such an active app community and so many apps in the store, it was difficult for merchants to sort through and find the apps that were right for them. Their new store makes this much easier. They even intelligently recommend apps that they think will work for you right on your Shopify dashboard.
All of these updates combined show huge strides for Shopify in 2018. They have taken a big step forward towards being a fully-integrated commerce platform that solves all of the needs of entrepreneurs and enterprises alike.