In the world of eCommerce, innovation equals longevity. If you’re not constantly innovating, you’ll quickly be eclipsed by your competitors. Our partners at Shopify have taken this principle to heart. Today they’re more than the makers of an industry-leading eCommerce platform. Shopify has become a primary thought leader and driving force in this skyrocketing industry.
Shopify recently announced some major updates to their enterprise-level platform Shopify Plus. In this article we’ll give you some background for these updates, explain the new features, and outline what they can do for you.
The Power of Listening
At Gauge, we’re all about partnerships. We’re careful about who we work with, from technology providers to clients to team members. A successful partnership is a two-way street; both parties must listen to and care about the other. This is something Shopify understands, and it’s one of the reasons Gauge is a Shopify Plus partner.
Since its start in 2006, Shopify has made a name for itself as a great eCommerce platform for small businesses. In 2014 Shopify expanded their reach with their enterprise-ready eCommerce solution, Shopify Plus. It was designed to appeal to larger businesses and launch Shopify into the next strata with established platforms like Magento.
Shopify Plus wasn’t a hit right off the bat. The technology was more powerful and flexible than their basic platform, but they struggled to justify the added cost to their merchants. The new functionalities just didn’t seem to be worth the added investment.
So Shopify listened and began to innovate. Over the past few years, they’ve expanded every aspect of their Plus platform. It can now meet the needs of virtually any merchant, no matter how large or complex those needs are. At their annual Unite conference in May, Shopify dropped a fantastic list of enhanced features to their Plus platform. With these new features, they’ve closed the gap with their rival Magento.
What are these new features, and what can they do for you?
Multi-channel retail can be tough. Merchants with both brick-and-mortar and digital stores have struggled to understand their complete customer base for far too long. Aggregating customer data is a major challenge; there’s a glaring disconnect at the point-of-sale (POS) level. Traditionally, data and payment collection are processed by two completely different systems—one in-store, one online—with no mechanism for exchanging or integrating this data.
This disconnect is nothing new. To address it, Shopify has offered its own POS system as a Plus-level option for a while now. But it had some limitations, and it simply couldn’t compete with other popular POS platforms on the market.
Shopify recognized the need to improve their POS system and truly close the data gap. They’ve significantly enhanced their POS with new features like:
- Multi-channel returns and exchanges
- Online order with in-store pickup
- Tipping options
- Companion app to improve the checkout experience for in-store customers
Shopify Plus has also released a new premium tap and chip reader. This product accepts a wide variety of payment options, including no-touch methods like Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Improved Marketing Tools
One reason we love Shopify is that it reduces technical overhead. By simplifying and streamlining the nuts-and-bolts maintenance, Shopify frees merchants to focus on their growth and marketing.
Upcoming Shopify Plus features will take this to a new level with additions like:
- A new marketing dashboard
- BOGO and quantity discounts
- Dynamic checkout
New Marketing Dashboard
Shopify Plus will now include an all-in-one marketing dashboard to help you understand your customers and elevate your campaigns. We’re pretty excited about this one, and it deserves some explanation.
Customer data is like the Photoshop of eCommerce: It’s an incredibly powerful tool, but understanding how to use it isn’t exactly easy. You need to aggregate your data, analyze it, and then use it to make practical changes.
It can be a Herculean task, and it never ends.
Most eCommerce platforms don’t make this any easier. Your platform is a centralized hub that all your other tools plug into. Logic says it should be a central data repository too. But every SaaS, app, and extension collects its own data and then presents it in a separate silo in the admin panel. Sure, you can add a data aggregation tool to your suite of software, but why should you add (and pay for) yet another service?
For Shopify Plus merchants, the new marketing dashboard solves this problem. It will aggregate data from email marketing, social media, paid ad campaigns, discount banners, referral campaigns, store promotions and much more. It’ll even compare campaign results and make recommendations to optimize future campaigns. The release is set for summer 2018; sign up for release notifications here.
In the past, Shopify’s promotional tools haven’t been stellar. Even with Shopify apps, it has struggled to compete with industry rivals. Shopify is addressing this with updates designed to give their customers more flexibility. New promo capabilities include:
- Buy One Get One
- Buy X/Get Y
- Quantity discounts
- Shipping discounts
As eCommerce professionals work hard to create a simple, frictionless customer experience. The new Dynamic Checkout feature will make that job easier. Dynamic Checkout lets your registered customers check out directly from the product page with a single click.
New Back Office Tools
Shopify Plus is also improving the merchant experience with a host of new back-office tools. Historically, digital merchants have relied on third-party services for tasks like inventory management or handling chargebacks. We haven’t expected those functions from our eCommerce platform—until now. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Locations: You can now manage and track inventory across locations directly from the Shopify admin panel—or the Shopify mobile app. Read more and sign up for release notifications here.
- Fraud Protect for Shopify Payments: Opt in to this service to protect yourself from fraudulent charges on Shopify Payments. See how it works here.
- Shopify Ping: This free mobile app will streamline marketing tasks and aggregate business conversations to make your life easier on the go.
- Kit: Kit is a virtual employee who can learn from site data, help you plan marketing strategy, and create marketing campaigns. Kit works with Facebook and Instagram, plus a growing list of compatible third-party services like Yotpo, Shoelace, and Bold apps. The best part: it’s free!
- Native language capabilities: This feature serves merchants across the globe by converting the Shopify admin to German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, or Italian. The beta version will drop late summer 2018; join the beta group here.
- Locally relevant payment methods: Payment preferences vary widely by location and culture. Choose country-specific payment options and open up a new world of transaction possibilities.
So far, 2018 has been a big year for Shopify. They’re listening to their customers, growing their product, and taking a holistic approach to innovation. These new features solve considerable problems for merchants and make the shopping experience seamless for customers. If Shopify continues at this rate, third-party software service providers may go the way of fax machines and dinosaurs. Could there really be a future where a merchant could run a successful business from a single platform? Maybe or maybe not, but one thing is sure: Shopify is making it fun to find out!
Interested in making the switch to Shopify or amping up your Shopify store? We’ve got the expertise to help. Gauge is a Shopify Plus partner, and our team has a lot of experience with merchants of all sizes, from all industries. Let’s build something together!