If there’s one event in the calendar that always succeeds in exciting the world of ecommerce, it’s Shopify Unite. On Tuesday 29th June, the team at Shopify brought merchants and partners together to announce what they’ve been working on behind the scenes to improve the Shopify platform. With a focus on customization, performance, and flexibility, this year’s Unite might just have been one of the biggest yet.
We’ve rounded up some of the biggest announcements, and what they mean for Shopify merchants.
Customize your store the way you want
Creating a Shopify store has always been about designing something unique and functional to every merchant of any size. At Unite, they unveiled some of their biggest changes to the platform to date and many of them involve giving both merchants and developers the tools they need to take that customization even further.
Online Store 2.0
The first announcement that every merchant needs to know about is Online Store 2.0. Shopify has completely revamped their theme architecture, expanding on improvements and tools to make the store creation and customization process even more flexible than ever before. These updates give merchants the flexibility they need to create a truly tailored online store experience that’s unique to their brand and customer needs. This includes significant updates to the Theme Editor, making it easier and more efficient for merchants to customize their store.
Something many merchants and partners alike will be excited about - sections everywhere! Until now, flexible sections were really only available to merchants on their homepage but soon you’ll be able to use sections on any page of your store. You can add, rearrange, and remove content, all without touching a single line of code.
As well as flexibility in sections, get ready for even easier app integrations. With app blocks, it will be able to integrate new apps into a store’s theme without coding it in. This also makes it easier to remove an app from your store. It means easier installation, less chance for errors, and less time having to troubleshoot issues with your developer team.
If you’re not familiar with metafields, they’re extra attributes that you can attach to products, orders, or even customers, that tell you more about them. They store information that otherwise doesn’t have a fixed place, and until now custom metafields weren’t so easy to access. Soon, that’s all going to change. Shopify announced that they’re introducing custom metafields right within Shopify Admin, and you can connect them to apps, products, and soon even blocks and collections. They’ll be easily available and accessible to your team also, and you won’t be limited to what content can be included whether that’s text, image files, or references to other products.
Fast, flexible, and beautiful, Dawn is Shopify’s first open-source theme designed with performance in mind. Especially when it comes to SEO and customer experience, speed is everything and Dawn loads 35% faster than Debut - Shopify’s most popular theme. The emphasis is on the maximum amount of flexibility for merchants, and the minimum amount of complexity for developers. These together make for an experience that’s highly customizable and aesthetically minded with peak performance.
What’s good for partners, is ultimately going to be good for merchants. Shopify announced that in order to further grow the Shopify Partner ecosystem, they’re implementing a 0% revenue share on the first $1 million made on the App Store and this resets annually. Plus, once a Partner surpasses $1 million Shopify will take a 15% revenue share which is 5% less than they did previously. What this means is more innovation and even more talented developers joining the Shopify ecosystem, resulting in greater choice and new apps for merchants.
Create a unique, tailored customer experience
The customer experience is everything. Unite saw some major announcements that will help merchants to deliver not just a great customer experience, but one that completely fits their brand and the journey they want to take their customers through.
Shopify Storefront API
Build the experience you want to give your customers using whatever tech stack you want - including headless. The Storefront API will allow merchants access to even more capabilities such as international pricing for global customers and curbside pick-up. Shopify have put a major emphasis on performance when making improvements, and they’re serious about it aiming to bring all the Shopify capabilities merchants need within less than 50ms of every buyer. That’s big news for being able to deliver your customer experience.
First of all, get ready for checkout to get faster than ever before. Shopify have said that they’re making improvements to checkout that will result in it being 2x faster and every single shop regardless of the plan they’re on will be able to handle hundreds of thousands of orders every single minute. This is big news especially for key sales periods like Black Friday Cyber Monday, or if you see a product go viral.
But let’s move on to checkout extensions. The checkout experience is crucial to a customer’s perception of their journey with your brand, and Shopify is making it easy to customize this process. Previously this kind of customization was only available to Plus merchants through Scripts, and soon it’ll be available to any size of merchant. These extensions will allow merchants to create a bespoke checkout experience through developers building apps into the process. The result will be a lightning fast, highly tailored checkout that will wow your customers.
Part of optimizing the customer experience is removing friction, and that includes how customers actually pay for their order. Especially if you’re a merchant who wants to sell or already sells internationally, offering the payment options that customers actually want to use is crucial. Shopify’s new Payments Platforms makes that possible. Whether it’s QR codes, credit cards, apps, or any other number of methods, the Payments Platform allows payment providers to build new integrations into Shopify.
Shop Pay Installments
By-Now-Pay-Later has been a hot topic in recent months, and Shopify is making it easy for merchants to get started with BNPL. Shop Pay Installments will be available on orders between $50-$1000, with 0% interest and no late fees. This will mean merchants can manage their BNPL offering as part of their Shopify store. As if that wasn’t enough, this method will also result in a 30% faster checkout process for returning customers, and Shopify also observed a 28% decrease in abandoned carts where the method was offered.
Grow and scale with ease
Breaking down barriers to commerce and connecting merchants and customers is something that Shopify excels at. The next couple of announcements we’re going to look at make it easier than ever for merchants to expand into the B2B space, and for them to offer more options to improve the customer experience while maintaining efficiency.
Whether you’re a merchant who wants to experiment with a B2B offering, or one looking for unique products to stock on your store, Shopify’s new B2B marketplace - Handshake - is your new best friend. As a seller, you can create and manage your wholesale catalog and pricing as well as sync inventory right from within Shopify Admin, allowing you to reach new customers and fulfill orders efficiently without affecting your DTC offering. If you’re a buyer, you’ll have access to a wide range of products from beauty to food and drink that are handpicked through a selective application process managed by Shopify,
Pick-up only locations
2020 highlighted the need for seamless efficiency between brick-and-mortar and online stores. Shopify is making it easier and more efficient for merchants to not only manage inventory, but also to display availability on their storefronts. Customers will be able to pick up their order from a designated pickup-only location, without having to ship from that location. When an item is out of stock at your warehouse but available at a pickup-only location, it will show as out-of-stock for delivery but available for pick-up. This helps to avoid confusion and potential errors, and creates a better experience for customers.
With all the updates coming to the Shopify platform, it’s clear to see why they’re at the forefront of ecommerce. Their big picture approach to developing and growing the platform means that they’ve developed improvements that target how developers and partners grow and work, what merchants need to scale their brands, and what customers want from their online experiences. It will be exciting to watch these changes roll out, and seeing what kind of new innovation it leads to for partners, alongside growth and creativity for merchants.