Last month, in April, Shopify held its second annual partner conference, Shopify Unite. It brought over 1000 partners together for two days of networking, education and insight into Shopify's community and roadmap. The event was filled with a multitude of very exciting announcements, both for merchants and partners alike. This article aims at providing a very high-level summary of these major announcements and provide resources for anyone interested in digging in further.
Discounts and Price Rules API
Shopify will soon be introducing, sometime in May, the Price Rules API that will make creating discount codes both more flexible and more granular at the same time. Their current documentation describes the API as followings:
"The Price Rules API allows you to dynamically create discounts with multiple conditions that can be applied at checkout to cart items or shipping lines via a discount code. Price rules can be created for a fixed value discount, a percentage discount, or a shipping line discount. You can also specify the dates for which the price rule is valid, the number of times the price rule can be applied, and to which products, collections, variants, customer groups and even shipping countries the price rule can be applied. Price rules empower our merchants to create smarter discounts, ultimately helping make more sales."
Marketing Events API
Shopify has released a Marketing Events API that allows app developers to build in 'tracking mechanisms' into their apps that demonstrate the impact their app had on driving sales within Shopify. Think of this as an 'embedded UTM code for Shopify' that will help provide clearer attribution and determine which marketing apps and campaigns are successful. In addition, they've added App Actions that allow merchants to access specific app-based functionality throughout the entire Shopify admin and not just within the apps section.
Shopify has released a Reporting API that allows app developers to publish reports to the Reports page in the Shopify admin. As Shopify describes it, "for example, a shirt fulfillment app could publish a report that shows the sales of shirts by the marketing campaign." This will ensure more advanced reporting capabilities for merchants that depend on apps to drive their business.
Draft Orders API
Shopify has officially released the Draft Orders API, which came out in Beta earlier this year. This API allows more flexible usage of Shopify's Draft Order feature that was released in 2016. Use cases include building a more custom solution for handling sales made by phone, in person, via chat, for pre-orders or a better way to send invoices to customers to pay with a secure checkout link.
Enhancements to Liquid
Shopify has released three specific enhancements to Liquid that can aid in theme performance. The first is more control over creating responsive images, which will lead to a better mobile experience for customers. The second is more control over cropping images, which will lead to better looking images across a merchant website. The third is direct access to product options, which is quite useful in manipulating or interacting with product variants, particularly in managing how images and text respond to which option has been actively selected.
- Liquid Enhancements Blog Announcement
- Image Object Documentation
- Product Option Object Documentation
- URL Filters Documentation
Marketplace Sales Channels and Resource Feedback API
Shopify has announced a slew of new third-party marketplace Sales Channels including immediate releases such as Kik and Wish and soon-to-be-released ones such as Instagram. This is an expansion on the (still private) Sales Channel SDK that was announced during Unite 2016. In addition, they've introduced a Resource Feedback API that ensures sales channels with specific product information requirements will notify merchants during the upload process should those products fail to upload properly. This will ensure no errors as merchants expand their sales channel reach.
- Sales Channel Blog Announcement
- Sales Channel Apps
- Sales Channel SDK Documentation
- Resource Feedback API Blog Announcement
- Resource Feedback API Documentation
- Kik Sales Channel App
- Wish Sales Channel App
Wholesale Sales Channel
Shopify has released a Wholesale Sales Channel that's built specifically to help merchants offer a more customized approach to selling to their B2B customers. Once activated, the Wholesale Sales Channel will actually be accessible by an entirely separate, password-protected domain. It provides a number of unique settings and capabilities:
- Ability to set prices/discounts across all products, specific collections or at an individual product-level
- Ability to set cart-level order minimums or product-level order minimums, maximums or quantity increments
- Ability to change price levels for different customers or customer groups
Similar to other Sales Channels within Shopify, you can select from your existing products to determine whether they should or should not appear within your Wholesale Sales Channel. This gives you control over your catalog. Although the interface of your Wholesale Sales Channel has limited customization options, currently just logo and accent color, it meets all standard/expected needs of allowing wholesale customers to browse, filter and search your catalog as well as their past orders.
- Wholesale Sales Channel Blog Announcement
- Wholesale Sales Channel Documentation
- Wholesale Sales Channel Demo
Custom Storefront SDK
- Custom Storefront SDK Blog Announcement
- Custom Storefront SDK Landing Page
- Custom Storefront SDK Documentation
- GraphQL Documentation
Shopify is introducing a new UI to all of their products, with the goal of creating a unified aesthetic across web, tablet and mobile interfaces. They've also released these UI Kit to Shopify Partners and have named it Polaris. This will ultimately lead to app developers creating UIs for their own admins that are more consistent with Shopify, meaning a smoother experience for merchants.
Shopify has introduced a new theme scaffold and command line tool called Slate. Targeted specifically at Shopify theme developers, it is designed to assist in development workflow and speed up the process of developing, testing, and deploying themes to Shopify stores. It won't mean much for merchants on its own, but expect to see Slate serve as the backbone for any custom theme development going forward.
Coming out of Shopify's Garage Group, Frenzy is a mobile app built to make 'flash sales' easy and exciting. It allows customers to purchase products on the day of release directly from the app with full integration of Apple Pay. Although the platform is currently invite-only for merchants, it's sure to become a staple for streetwear brands and companies with 'limited release' products in the near future.
Chip & Swipe Reader
Shopify announced a totally redesigned Chip & Swipe Reader for Shopify POS merchants that is slated to ship in June 2017. They describe it as follows:
"The reader accepts all major credit and debit cards, and supports the latest EMV chip technology—the secure payment option that keeps you and your customers safe from fraud. Simply dip the card into the top of the reader and collect a signature on your screen. And, you can still swipe older credit cards using the built-in magstripe reader."
Apps & Features
Shopify has released a new app that they've developed in-house called Launchpad. Although Launchpad will only be available to Shopify Plus merchants, it’s built to help merchants execute complex 'sales and events' in an automated fashion. Shopify describes it as follows:
"You can use the Launchpad app to schedule, coordinate, and execute events, such as sales, product drops, and inventory restocks. As an event progresses, you can track its success by viewing the app's real-time, analytic dashboard."
Bulk Account Inviter
Shopify has released a new app that makes the process of bulk-inviting customers to activate their accounts in Shopify a lot easier. Ideal for companies migrating from another e-commerce platform to Shopify or syncing up their customer acquisition efforts with creating actual customer accounts in Shopify. Although technically an app, it can only be installed by Shopify directly and requires a Shopify Plus subscription.
Shopify has announced a new feature that aims at accelerating the checkout process for customers that they've dubbed Shopify Pay. Essentially, it allows customers to opt-in and have their payment information stored for future checkout, both within the store they're currently purchasing from as well as any other Shopify store with Shopify Pay enabled. Shopify describes the actual process as follows:
"After entering their shipping and payment details, shoppers can opt-in to have their information saved with Shopify Pay. Next time they check out at any store powered by Shopify, they’ll simply type in their email address, followed by a verification code they receive via SMS."
Shopify has said that they've seen conversion rate improvements as high as 18% for some merchants.
Shopify is releasing, beta in June, an automation platform they're calling Flow, that allows Shopify Plus merchants to customize unique backend business workflows without the need for programming. Some of the key workflows that will be capable within Flow include:
- The ability to customize the way Shopify works so merchants can automate the repetitive tasks that occur within their business on a regular basis
- Allows for logic customizations to trigger actions after certain events and conditions are met, automating and streamlining administrative and monitoring tasks to create greater efficiency in existing and new business processes
- Customizations are created visually with a common language and logic and do not require coding knowledge
- Enabling customization and change will allow the platform to adapt and grow alongside the varied, unique and complex businesses on Shopify Plus
- Allows for discovery and experimentation by combining different sets of events, actions, and conditions
Shopify has released an expansion of their Scripts capability, originally debuted at Unite 2016, that supports dynamic payment method options called Payment Scripts. Shopify Plus merchants using Payment Scripts will have the ability to customize checkout in some of the following ways:
- Show, hide, or rename payment methods shown during the checkout based on products in the cart, customer group or tag, or a customer’s shipping address
- Prevent discount codes from being used when certain payment methods are selected
- Restrict payment options based on products or customers
- Reorder to display preferred payment methods first
Mobile Store Builder
Shopify has announced a Mobile Store Builder with a Beta release for May 2017. Available only to Shopify Plus merchants, the Mobile Store Builder will allow merchants to build a native mobile app without any technical expertise or coding. Some of the main features include:
- The ability to quickly create native iOS and Android apps
- Beautiful, immersive themes that can be styled to match your brand
- Navigate through collections, products, cart, and customer accounts
- Reduce checkout friction with simpler payment options (Apple Pay and Android Pay)
- Publish to both the Apple App Store and Google Play