Shopify Unite 2018: Big Announcements Reveal the Future of Commerce

Shopify Unite 2018: Big Announcements Reveal the Future of Commerce

There’s exciting news out of Toronto this week, as the city hosts Shopify Unite 2018, Shopify’s 3rd annual partner and developer conference. We’re eager to share the announcements that rocked our world from the speakers on opening day.

But first, a bit about the spirit of this event. Spirit at a tech conference, you ask? Indeed. The spirit of the community here is beautifully expressed in three overarching themes:

  1. Strength in diversity. Shopify CEO, Tobi Lütke, laid the foundation here in his opening remarks: “In my experience, the strength of any solution is directly correlated to the diversity of the people in the room.”
  2. Shopify is commerce for everyone. Everywhere. There’s lots to say on this, but here are a few hints: multi-currencies, local payment options, and the Shopify dashboard now translated into multiple languages.
  3. Entrepreneurship and commerce benefit the world. In Tobi’s words, “We want a rich mosaic of entrepreneurs around the world. The future of commerce we envision has more voices, not fewer.” Shopify works to remove any friction that inhibits this vision.


Shopify Facilitates Omnichannel Retail

Satish Kanwar, VP of Product, opened his talk with a bold statement: Shopify’s biggest commitment this year is to multi-channel retail. He went on to explain that Shopify is in front of retail’s evolution, as more people buy online, via channels like Amazon or Instagram, at pop-up events, or in a physical store. Shopify is going to facilitate transactions at every point of sale.

In fact, they are going to walk the walk. Shopify plans to open a physical space. It looks to be an intriguing cross between an entrepreneurial hub and an Apple store. Shopify retailers will be able to go to the space to learn new tools, ask questions, network, etc. The location and opening date is TBD. Stay tuned.

Shopify to Debut Tap & Chip Reader – Fall 2018

In the name of sales anywhere and everywhere, Shopify will launch a new piece of hardware for its POS (point of sale) system this fall: a tap and chip reader. (This is the latest evolution in their hardware – last year brought the chip & swipe reader). This year’s reader accepts contactless payments, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other NFC (near field communications) means of paying. It will be super useful for mobile payments.

In addition to the hardware, Shopify announced upgrades to their POS software. Last year over 70,000 merchants used the Shopify POS system, and through the learning curve, Shopify is optimizing the experience for merchants. The software now features tools to manage multi-location inventory and handle returns/exchanges from any and all sales channels.

They’ve also built a customer view app for the POS that they’re planning to launch this summer. This allows retailers to build and review a customer’s profile as they’re making a sale through the POS. As a result, retailers will have up-to-date information on the customer’s history with their store (in all channels!) as they’re working with them.

Shopify Augments Retail with New AR/VR Capability

Daniel Beauchamp, Head of Virtual Reality at Shopify, gets the Jaw Dropper Award for his talk on how Shopify is incorporating AR/VR into their work. Keep in mind this is still in an early stage, but here’s how it works. Shopify creates 3D models of retailers’ products. Then customers are able to select a product (in 3D) to view through their phone in an environment of their choosing.

In the photo above, Daniel used Fashion Nova on Shopify Plus as his example. Here the customer is placing an outfit in an environment of her choosing, in this case a simple table. She’s able to place the various store products next to each other on the table to review how they look together. To walk through an amazing example yourself, check out the app for Magnolia Market, a home furnishings company on Shopify. For a 30-second demo, prepare to be awed by the pinned tweet on Daniel’s Twitter. (Twenty years ago, who would have ever thought we’d write a sentence like that!?)

BEST yet: As the customer explores products via AR, the buy button is right on the screen. Shoppers can select their item and seamlessly pay for it with Apple Pay.

“My team is obsessed with making checkout easier”

Those were the words Shopify’s Director of Design, Cynthia Savard-Saucier, used to introduce Dynamic Checkout. Available to all Shopify stores now, this new feature adds a Buy Now button to the product page. As a result, customers can click ONCE on Buy Now and check out.

The page senses the shopper’s preferred form of payment and pairs this payment with the Buy Now button. For example, if a customer uses Apple Pay, when she is on the product page, she’ll have an option to Buy Now with Apple Pay. (As shown in the photo above – see the bottom button.)  As of now, Shopify offers Buy Now with Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Pay Pal. Cynthia said that people can now checkout in a 8 second flash!

Additionally, she introduced new discount features to make Buy One, Get One and quantity discounts easier. Shopify is also bringing more marketing campaign functionality into the platform, including some intuitive tools that we’re excited to see in action.

Shopify Grows Global

The platform is now making multi-currency pricing available to their retailers. As a result, many more customers will be able to view product listings and pricing (all the way through checkout) in their local currency. With a few clicks–and no additional cost–merchants can add a new currency to their site. The program will first be rolled out to Plus merchantss and launch with 9 major currencies, including AUD, EUR, JPY, SGD, USD, CAD, HKD, NZD, and GBP.

The company is also amplifying their international payment options. In the United States, we’re used to a standard list of credit cards for most shoppers. However, in Germany, SOFORT is a popular way to pay. In China, people like to pay with WeChatPay and Alipay.

Merchants will soon be able to offer the most appealing payment option to customers in a particular country. In their own words, “Payment methods are an intrinsic part of a country’s culture. To scale internationally you must offer your customers the payment methods they prefer.” They are helping to make this happen.

Also, the Shopify dashboard is expanding into new languages. Retailers can now operate their store in Japanese, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and German.

We’ve Only Just Begun

In addition to all these announcements, Shopify shared news about features to communicate with customers and staff, advanced fraud protection, order fulfillment, and much more. In a little more than two hours, they set the course for the future of retail.

The final keynote panel of the day featured Tobi and Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, hosted by Amber Mac. At one point, the Prime Minister declared, “What you’re doing is really creating opportunities for small business and entrepreneurs to really succeed in significant ways.”

For businesses large and small, that’s what Shopify is all about–and so are we.


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