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What’s New with Shopify? Spring 2016 Edition

Ross Beyeler

It’s been a bit since we last covered some of the major updates that Shopify has released to their platform. A few weeks back, we were fortunate enough to attend Shopify’s first-ever partner conference, Shopify Unite. In true Shopify fashion, it was an amazing experience. Aside from the decadent food, fantastic venue and freebies for all attendees, what got us really excited were some of the major announcements they made regarding some of their existing and soon-to-be-released features. In this article, I’d like to profile some of those updates that have the potential of making a huge impact on your e-commerce business:


Twitter Buy Button

Image Source: Shopify

Not long after announcing social commerce integrations with Facebook and Pinterest, Shopify also released a Twitter sales channel integration. Similar to the other sales channels, the Twitter Buy Button easily enables users to purchase your products directly within tweets that you post to your profile. This direct, social-commerce experience bodes well for brands with strong social followings that want to ‘reduce the friction’ of buying for their customers by selling to them directly where their brand is being discussed.


Shopify for WordPress

Image Source: Shopify

For a while now, we’ve helped a number of our clients manage a dual Shopify + WordPress setup to balance both the e-commerce and content sides of their businesses. As Shopify has expanded, we’ve generally been moving more towards a Shopify-only configuration for most client websites. That being said, we still believe in the power and flexibility of WordPress as a content management system, and so does the team at Shopify. Earlier this year, they released the Shopify E-Commerce Plugin. This plugin allows you to easily embed products directly into your WordPress website including posts, pages, sidebars, etc. In many ways, it’s simply an extension of the Buy Button feature they released this past summer, but it makes it even easier for folks who run a more WordPress-centric business.


Team Communications with Timelines

Image Source: Shopify

A rather subtle addition that was introduced to Shopify, but something we feel could really help improve operations for some e-commerce companies, is the ‘timeline’ feature. Timeline is an embedded messaging platform within Shopify. It allows internal teams to communicate regarding orders, products, customers, etc. directly within Shopify. An extension of their previous ‘notes’ feature, Timeline provides a more real-time and dynamic way of communication including @mentions and #embeds. This could serve as a huge aid to larger e-commerce brands with multiple folks ‘touching’ orders at once.


Sales Channel SDK

Image Source: Shopify

Utilizing the technology they built for their social commerce integrations with Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, Shopify has opened up a new Sales Channel SDK that allows any merchant or developer to build direct integrations with almost any third-party marketplace. What does this mean for you? If you find yourself selling on less-known or niche marketplaces, you now have the opportunity to create a direct integration with these channels and centralize product management and sales tracking directly within Shopify. Similar to the existing social channels, the consumer-facing transaction-side can live entirely within the marketplace, meaning a seamless experience within destinations where your customers are already comfortable shopping.


JavaScript SDK

Image Source: Shopify

An exciting addition for technology-focused e-commerce entrepreneurs, Shopify has released a JavaScript Buy SDK that allows merchants and developers to build commerce functionality directly into any third-party website or native app. This means that you have complete freedom to create whatever design/interaction/functional experience you’d like for your users without having to stay within the limits of the Shopify online store platform. Want to add e-commerce capability to a single-page website? Done! Want to allow users to purchase directly within your private SaaS platform? Easy! This SDK provides a huge extension of Shopify’s capabilities and allows you to integrate commerce directly into almost any digital experience imaginable.


Mobile SDK

Image Source: Shopify

Not as much of a new feature, but a huge improvement, Shopify has announced an update to their iOS and Android Buy SDKs. This update includes integration with Android Pay and Apple Pay as well as the ability to create customer logins with enhanced data storage and notification capabilities. In addition to an improved mobile UI kit, this new SDK release means major enhancements for native e-commerce apps.


Although it won’t be released until later this year, Shopify is expanding the capabilities of their Online Store Editor in a few major ways. Perhaps a bit more interesting to Shopify nerds like ourselves, the new online store editor will allow you to have more granular and modular control of the look/feel/content of your website. This means more flexibility without the overhead of re-coding things every time you’d like to make a change. We feel there will be some particularly interesting opportunities to more easily build custom-looking landing pages for targeted audiences and product sets.


Shopify Scripts

Image Source: Shopify

By far the feature we’re most excited about is the Shopify Scripts capability that is being released to Shopify Plus customers. Shopify Scripts allows you to program highly specific logic at the point of checkout based on a number of triggers. For example, you can create entirely different pricing, shipping or taxation rules based on a customer belonging to a specific group. You could offer a free product to every customer who has bought something over a certain dollar amount. The opportunities are extensive and really open up Shopify’s capabilities in a way that wasn’t possible previously.

As always, we’ve become more and more enthusiastic about Shopify as both a platform as well as a community of designers, developers and entrepreneurs. Now with almost 250,000 stores, Shopify continues to rise as the leading player in the hosted e-commerce space. For more information and videos of the key presentations at Unite, check out their recap article as well.

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