Shopify made a name for itself in its early days as a platform to provide retailers wanting to establish their own online stores with a quick and easy way to build and run these services on their own websites and apps – a quick route to “DTC” at a time when it was starting to feel like marketplaces like Amazon were taking over consumers. Fast forward to today, after two years of the COVID-19 e-commerce boom, digital shopping is happening on an ever-expanding range of platforms. So in response to this change, Shopify is today launching a series of tools for customers interested in developing social commerce, local shopping offers with Google, cryptocurrency, B2B selling and more. – some 100 new features in all.
Being everywhere shoppers might be is a moving party these days, and Shopify’s approach seems to be to offer a Vegas-style buffet to remedy that: a bit of everything for everyone. Or, as CEO and Founder Tobi Lütke described it, “the infinite game” of commerce.
The fuller list is being unveiled as part of a new semi-annual product sprint the company is launching today, called Shopify Editions. To be clear, Shopify has created products in social commerce, partnered with Google, tied into cryptocurrencies, and other developments before today. Some of the features it contains in today’s announcement are not even made public for the first time. What’s remarkable about the editions is how Shopify brings together so many developments into one big push, a sign of the expansion of the platform itself. The aggregation of a long tail of news gives more weight to the big picture.
Sarah covered one in particular announced today, a new shopping experience on Twitter, here; We highlight some of the other more notable developments below:
B2B. Shopify’s primary use case has been firmly in the direct-to-consumer space – retailers selling to mass audiences. Today, that changes with the formal opening of a framework for retailers selling to businesses. B2B on Shopify, as he calls the product, is not just for businesses that work in wholesale, but also recognizes a few important facts in the world of commerce: First, retailers with a primarily consumer audience also often sell to businesses; second, those who do not sell in B2B could increase their sales by doing so. Business customers generally buy on a different model than consumers and generally require different types of payment methods and will also have different types of tax needs (in the UK, for example, a business buyer does not pay the same sales tax than a consumer of goods and services). The new framework will make it easier for these retailers to automate some of this and potentially increase B2B revenue in the process.
Token trading. NFT activity and valuations have plunged in recent months, and the big question at the moment is whether this is a consequence of people waking up and smelling tulips, or whether it is a temporal blow resulting from the biggest drop cryptocurrencies are taking right now – and if it’s the latter, whether one could indeed be unbundled from the other. Regardless of! Shopify will be there for any customers who might decide to dip their toes in the open seas of NFTs.
No, this is not a partnership with OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces, but Shopify’s own vision to create its own NFT experiences. Shopify’s Tokengated commerce, he says, will use NFTs, though it’s unclear if Shopify will power the creation and management of them. He notes that it will be a way to “reward true fans and VIPs, giving NFT holders exclusive access to products, benefits, and experiences” by linking crypto wallets to Shopify online stores. Merchants will be able to enable Shopify token commerce experiences online, on mobile and in physical retail, Shopify said. It will also create ways to use a store’s, retailer’s, or brand’s NFTs in a Shopify-powered store.
Shopify on iPhone. Shopify is becoming more active in physical sales – no surprise since crossover would represent a much bigger potential market for the company than just serving online merchants; and many merchants operate in both. As part of the latest initiative to increase transactions, Shopify is giving users the ability to tap to pay on transactions powered by Shopify on iPhone.
This actually rolled out, it seems, in May, but without much fanfare. The basic idea is that while many other POS services rely on additional pieces of POS hardware, Shopify uses Apple’s payment features to allow a merchant to easily activate in-person payments with just an iPhone, no dongle or terminal required. If something like Square opened the door to a new wave of small sellers accepting card payments for the first time, that’s an even lower barrier to entry, that’s what makes it so interesting.
Local Shopify inventory now appears on Google. Shopify and Google had previously partnered to make products sold on Shopify-powered sites visible on Google searches; now it takes a location specific angle. When customers search for a specific product, if that product is associated with a Shopify-powered retailer or brand, shoppers will be able to see if it’s available to pick up locally at a physical store. It’s not entirely clear if this store should be specifically run by this retailer or if it will work with stock availability at other stores.
Functions. Shopify has developed many technologies to address some retailers’ growing interest in “headless” commerce – systems where they can customize more functionality for how a site works and looks. Functions are Shopify’s answer to this: a way for slightly larger retailers to create more dynamic options, such as discounts for those who add above a certain threshold to their carts. The idea with Functions is that it complements Hydrogen and Oxygen, the company’s framework for headless commerce, with more technical features to populate those custom sites. The goal here is to create more options to prevent large customers from migrating to platforms that cater to businesses that feel they have otherwise outgrown Shopify. (And there are dozens of them: just Google “Shopify outdated” to see what I mean.)
The bigger picture here is that while Shopify was an early mover and was prescient in seeing the potential to provide tools to build shopping sites to more merchants, it is now trying to take more steps to anticipate but also reflect where the trade is going, and whatever they are. steps could be, to earn by making this experience as easy to use as possible by those who are salespeople, not technologists, at heart.
“We’ll go wherever the commerce world goes,” Glen Coates, VP Product, Core, told us. “We want Shopify to be a big, easy button.”