We’re not shy about the fact that Shopify is our preferred ecommerce platform here at Andzen. Impressed by its functionality, stability and growth, we’ve been an official partner for some time, and have been marketing Shopify stores since 2011.

That’s why this year we were excited that two of us (myself and Simon) were able to make it to Shopify’s global partner conference, Unite.

After making the lengthy (and I do mean lengthy…) journey from Brisbane to Toronto we were treated to three days of product announcements, insights, networking, surprise celebrity visits – Canadian PM Justin Trudeau dropped in for a chat – and, of course, the occasional party.

It’s all just commerce now

The predominate message from Shopify was that their vision of the future is a world where the line between online and offline commerce is indistinguishable. Eventually, even non-existent. The proclaimed decline in High Street retail is seeing an influx of new, nimble, multi-channel vendors that are redefining the shopping experience. The result: ecommerce is quickly becoming ‘commerce’.

Product announcements around their integrated Point of Sale (POS) system, experiments with Augmented Reality shopping, 3D product visualisations and support for multiple inventory locations reflected Shopify’s commitment to this vision.

Multi-everything

One of the most anticipated feature announcements was support for multiple languages within the merchant interface and the long-awaited support for true multi-currency sales. This, combined with a very slick new optimised checkout process, will automatically present the most appropriate payment options for a customer based on their location.

Confusion over true cost in a buyer’s currency and friction in the checkout process (who really enjoys entering their payment details?) is one of the key causes of abandoned baskets and making payment as simple as possible is sure to see an increase in conversion rates for merchants.

New marketing tools

Marketing tools got a lot of love with several exciting announcements for both Shopify Plus and regular merchants.

‘Flow’ (a built-in automation tool for Shopify Plus merchants) is getting a new set of connectors that will enhance integration with some of our favourite external tools like Klaviyo, and allow for more automations to be configured directly within the Shopify interface. This is sure to be a winner for larger merchants with complex data flows.

Discounting is a key tactic for many merchants and the built-in discount code capabilities have now been extended to support ‘buy X, get Y’ deals and quantity discounts, opening up a new range of incentive possibilities.

Also announced was a new integrated customer communication tool for smaller merchants, ‘Ping’. This looks like a great way to manage customer chats and basic marketing tasks (via Kit) through a simple app. Its ability to integrate multiple channels like on-site chat and Facebook Messenger, as well as internal team chats, into a single interface should be a game changer for smaller merchants.

GDPR

It’s inescapable at the moment – and for good reason. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a major overhaul of privacy regulations. And because it affects any business communicating with EU and UK citizens, it has far-reaching implications for ecommerce.

Fortunately Shopify have put significant resources into aiding merchant compliance and their head of legal, Vivek Narayanadas ran an insightful session on how stores and apps can make sure they are compliant. Shopify even have a privacy policy generator to help stores with their compliance.

A global ecosystem with clout

One of the biggest takeaways from Unite, however, was the sheer strength of the ecosystem that has grown around the platform.

With thousands of partners, from app developers (delivering over 2,500 apps in the Shopify App Store!) to theme designers, site developers and marketers (like us) there is a truly global network of excellent providers to help merchants achieve their goals. Meeting so many of our Australian and New Zealand partners was also an unexpected benefit of our trip to Canada!

 

Matt McNeill

About Matt McNeill

Co-Founder and Managing Director at Andzen. We solve problems and boost sales through intelligent email marketing and custom solutions. We work with businesses of all sizes - from local startups to multinational corporations - and understand that a ‘one size fits all’ approach simply doesn’t work. We know our clients back-to-front and more importantly we understand what their customers want. I spend my days (and nights) working with my amazing team growing our digital marketing agency. It's my responsibility to keep the engine burning and always be on the look out for new opportunities.