This morning, I had the chance to watch the Shopify (Re)unite live stream. As someone that works with SMBs and local businesses, I’d like to offer my thoughts on what these developments mean for small business owners.
First, let’s cover the highlights of what was discussed. Also, the full video is included below.
- Installment purchase options
- Local delivery + curbside checkout options
- Shopify banking account
- The Shop App personal shopping assistant
- Shopify Editor Improvements
- Integrations + Channels
- My main takeways
- The full video
Installment purchase option at checkout
Launching later this year, Shopify will offer a ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ checkout option. This is intriguing for many shop owners because it can increase cart conversion, especially for those with higher-priced items. Furniture, art, electronics, and health equipment are just some of the possible products that could benefit from this new feature. Join the installment plan waitlist here
Local delivery and curbside checkout options
Businesses can now set up local delivery zones and charge different rates for these areas. In addition, accounts can now set up free local pickup as a shipping option for those looking to offer a more contactless-type purchase experience. With almost two-thirds of consumers now wanting to limit direct contact with other people as much as possible and around 40% saying they will limit the amount of time spent in physical establishments, this option is a must for most local businesses. You can learn more about online pickup here.
Almost two-thirds (65%) of consumers will now try to limit direct contact with other people as much as possible and 41% will limit the amount of time spent in physical establishments —ISCS Engine Insights study, 2020
Shopify’s version of the business bank account, Shopify Balance
Shopify Balance sure sounds a lot like a bank and is comprised of 3 main features:
- Shopify Balance Account — an account where businesses can access their money quicker, pay bills, track expenses, etc
- Shopify Balance Card — debit cards that can be used in person or online to purchase items, pay bills, etc.
- Shopify Balance Rewards — Shopify says this will “offer merchants cashback and discounts on everyday business spending like shipping and marketing”
The Shop App
According to Shopify, 16M people have used the new Shop app (formerly Arrive). This app allows customers to look up previous orders, find products they have ordered in the past, and track all of their purchases made on Shopify. As a Shopify customer, I have found this app incredibly useful for tracking and locating vendors.
But I think the real play is for this app to become a place for customers to search for and find products. In my opinion, this is the final play for Shopify to combat Amazon.
There is currently a “Shop local today” call-to-action in the app, that leads people to a list of nearby Shopify businesses. I believe that Shopify will expand this to allow people to search for products everywhere, not just local shops. Today, they announced that they will be creating a new Shop Channel, where shop owners can customize their appearance in the Shop app and have some control over where they appear in the app.
Improvements in the Shopify Editor
One of my biggest complaints with the Shopify platform is the editing & designing experience. For all of the positives, I see in Shopify, their clear weakness is in their editor. The experience differs by theme, but product pages are typically difficult to customize. This has been a major pain point for me and my clients, as product pages are the most important pages for many of these shops. Today, they announced that they will be launching increased editing capabilities. They mentioned having customization tools on other pages, including product page templates. As someone that builds Shopify shops, this is huge.
Integrations & Channels
With Google’s recent announcement that some Google Shopping impressions would now be free, getting into Google Shopping has become a must. Without an integrated app, this requires a somewhat cumbersome setup process with Google Merchant Center. Shopify has already created a solution with this via their Google Shopping app. This app makes it easy to add products to Google Shopping and you can even manage ads and Smart Shopping campaigns.
Facebook also recently announced Facebook Shops, which allows businesses to sell within the Facebook and Instagram apps. Shopify announced that they are working with Facebook to create “branded storefronts to help merchants deliver unique shopping experiences, and enable consumers to browse and purchase without ever leaving the apps”. They did not discuss a lot of details on this, but it sounds like a solution similar to the Google app, where a product feed is delivered to Facebook & Instagram via Shopify.
My main takeaways (and I think #2 is the most meaningful)
- Shopify is extending and solidifying its dominance even further in the e-commerce space by creating more meaningful tools and resources for small businesses. Improvements in the editor, local delivery/pickup options, and the seamless integration capabilities with Google and Facebook make this platform impossible to ignore for any business looking to sell online.
- Shopify is positioning itself as the path forward against Amazon, as small businesses fight for their share of online purchases going forward. Even though they aren’t mentioning the behemoth by name, they are truly taking a leadership position in the fight against Amazon.
- BigCommerce, WooCommerce and other cart solutions are going to have a difficult time maintaining their share of the e-commerce space because Shopify has made it too easy for small businesses to jump on their platform.
If this wasn’t enough for you, watch the full video below.