To understand where commerce is heading, look no further than Shopify’s company culture announcement, which saw them join a rapidly growing list of tech companies going remote for the rest of the year, or even permanently. As Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke stated on Twitter, Shopify is going digital by default. While none of these digital concepts, i.e. remote work, globalization, and digital office spaces, are new, they are certainly becoming a reality ahead of schedule. This fundamental change to Shopify’s way of doing business shows its commitment to providing solutions for merchants in a world where remote work is part of the new norm.
With that, here’s a breakdown of Shopify’s announcements from Reunite, centered around the split between online and offline. The overriding themes are interconnectivity, safety, and speed.
Local domains are coming soon. Merchants will be able to assign individual domains to a country, currency, and language. This includes:
Set up & manage multiple domains within the Shopify Store
Automatic currency & language changes
Customers billed in their local currency
With better price transparency and local domains, merchants can build trust with international customers through a consistent and seamless website experience.
Work From Home has become the new norm, but it’s likely that this will evolve into Work From Anywhere in the near future. As employers and employees refine their remote work capabilities, people will experiment with travel abroad for extended periods of time. Our friends at Recharge, a company that has been remote since day one, recently shared their experiences working remote through the years and shared where some of their employees travel each month. As you can see, many of them choose to work from around the world during part of the year. We expect that while people travel abroad they will rely on familiar brands and products, expecting those brands to meet them wherever they are.
As companies scale to be remote first, this allows them to hire globally, with less friction than before. This means co workers working and socializing together, around the world. Sharing stories, music, movies, and products they love. Brands building organic communities will be rewarded when Word-of-mouth marketing scales on an international level. Merchants now have the tools to capitalize on this global economy and expand their communities beyond their local reach.
Shopify Express Theme
Shopify’s new theme is optimized for mobile and built for businesses that may have traditionally been offline only. This new theme is Shopify’s response to seeing new business types, like restaurants and cafes, explore digital revenue streams and connect with their customers online. In New York, we’ve seen local restaurants make cocktail mixes for mini bars, and starter bread for home cooks. The dining experience will fundamentally change with restricted capacities and more intimate, personalized dining experiences. Restaurants have been and will continue to rely on the increased demand for take-out orders and ready-to-cook meals.
The express theme allows merchants to set up a one-page shopping experience quickly, offering local delivery and curbside pickups, alongside any other products the restaurant may sell. Shopify also announced a new tipping feature at checkout so customers can continue to show their support. Merchants can set tipping options to support the business financially, raise money for charity, or support individual employees. We’re celebrating the adaptability of restaurants that are delivering produce and other goods to make up income. Check out some of some in NYC that are selling seasoning mixes, delivering cocktails, and bottles of wine. Restaurants have the unique advantage of personally connecting with customers offline, and they can leverage that touchpoint to bring their most loyal customers online as well.
The Shop App
The Shop app is a rebrand of Shopify's Arrive app and Shop Pay, bringing features together to create a new channel for merchants. Shop is going to allow brands to elevate the end-to-end customer experience and drive repeat business. For Shopify, it creates a marketplace that can compete with Amazon, and one in which the marketplace will never compete with its own sellers. The Arrive app helped 16 million users track their packages from Shopify-powered merchants. The app will now allow customers to discover new brands and explore products from brands they’ve previously purchased from.
Coming soon, brands will connect to Shop as a free channel within the Shopify backend and can customize the storefront experience in the app. Their store will be displayed in a feed, along with other stores in the marketplace. With Shop Pay’s one-click purchase functionality, customers will have a similar experience to Amazon’s mobile app, but with a more brand-centric focus. Storefronts will allow brands to tell their story in a way that is not possible on Amazon. On other retail platforms, brands are effectively renting customers. On Shopify, they have a direct relationship with the end consumer.
Shopify is also responding to the shift from mobile to native apps for shopping, in addition to the already prevalent switch from desktop to mobile. Knowing that consumers will only use a handful of apps for shopping, Shopify can leverage its 30 million users already buying with Shop Pay. Unlike other marketplaces, there will be no advertising, so the app is truly a place for customers to curate the brands they love. This includes a feature that allows users to search for local businesses in their area, a welcome move as communities are looking for ways to support their merchants.
Perhaps the most exciting feature, using Shop Pay will automatically pay to offset the carbon emissions from the package delivery. In the app, customers can see how many trees they have saved or helped protect. If you use Shop Pay, the payment is going to be carbon neutral.
Facebook and Google Shopping
Shopify and Facebook announced a new step in their partnership with the launch of Facebook Shops. Shops allows merchants to customize a storefront on Facebook and Instagram while managing products and fulfillment from Shopify. Shopify has also partnered with Google to allow merchants to list their products for free on Google Shopping, through Shopify’s Google Shopping app. Shopify’s expertise with commerce coupled with Facebook’s and Google’s ability to grow reach and audience will empower merchants that need to find new audiences now, more than ever.
The Shop app, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Shopping integrations all point to Harley’s message that Shopify is not just an online e-commerce storefront. It’s a retail platform that is going to continue to adapt to wherever customers are. Whether they are shopping within social apps, browsing on marketplaces, or directly in digital or physical stores, Shopify will provide merchants with an easy way to connect to those channels.
Hit hardest have been the retailers that rely heavily on in-store sales. According to Shopify, “comparing the period of March 13 - April 24 to the six weeks prior, our data shows a 71 percent drop in sales through Shopify POS, our point of sale solution. But in that same time, these same retailers replaced 94 percent of those lost sales with online store sales.” This statistic shows that providing a seamless omnichannel experience should be merchants’ top priority right now. Shopify has made changes to make the offline shopping experience safer and more convenient. While addressing the immediate shopping behaviors during COVID-19, these features will all contribute to a better omnichannel commerce experience:
Contactless checkout: Shopify POS already supported tap and contactless payment options like Google Pay and Apple Pay through Tap & Chip card readers. In addition, buyers will be able to scan a QR code to pay for in-store purchases using Shopify’s online checkout. This new option will allow customers and store associates to exercise proper social distancing guidelines.
Multi-store Inventory: If a product is out of stock in-store, merchants can find inventory from another store location or warehouse with inventory, and ship directly to the customer’s home. Shipping rates are automatically calculated at checkout so there are no surprises for the customer.
Delivery & Pickup Options
Curbside pickup: Customers can choose a time slot for order pickup and send an in-app notification as they are getting close to the store. Curbside pickup is offered as an option at checkout.
Local delivery: Retail locations can select a delivery radius so that store owners and associates can personally deliver orders directly from the store.
Shopify’s latest POS update is designed to respond to the COVID-19 environment and help merchants get back on their feet as the economy starts reopening. Shopping habits have already dramatically adjusted as consumers have become familiar with new delivery and pickup methods. The POS updates further enhance the omnichannel experience for merchants in a time where omnichannel capabilities are a necessity. While many of these updates are designed for safety-first, there’s no doubt that the convenience of omnichannel options and better in-store experiences will create lasting standards and practices for physical retail. This is a perfect time to upgrade in-store technology and test new systems.
Shopify’s response to the changing demands of consumers has been swift. It should prove to retailers that no matter how the landscape changes and shopping habits with it, all retailers need a strong digital platform that serves as the command center for retail ops. While we can’t predict every platform and channel that will rise and fall in popularity, we do know that having an omni-channel system that can adapt is the top priority. Ownership of the end-to-end customer journey across multiple channels is a precursor to localized, personal customer experiences as well as international scalability. We encourage retailers to think about their digital flagships first and build other channels around that.