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Episode 40 - Recent Improvements from Shopify

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Hey, Scott Austin here.

About six months ago I did an episode on the recent, at that time, changes to Shopify.  Well six months down the road and Shopify has continued rolling out updates.  So this episode will be dedicated to the past 6 months of improvements from Shopify.

Let's start with a little background.  Shopify is a hosted solution which is also referred to as SAAS, which is an acronym that stands for Software as a Service. What this means is that Shopify runs and manages the servers that your store runs on. Way back in the history of eCommerce, like in 2005, if you were running an online store you had to run it on your own servers which made the whole thing much more complex. Now there are a lot of advantages to a hosted solution. And one of those is that Shopify can add new features to their service easily. And they do this all of the time. In fact, Shopify has rolled out 14 new releases in the past month. They are constantly improving things. You may notice quite often that when login to your Shopify admin that things look different. Your eyes do not deceive you. It just means that Shopify has deployed a new release to their servers. Shopify provides a changelog where they detail out all of their improvements. I've included a link to it in the show notes if you want to stay on top of improvements as they come out.  In the show notes, I'll also include links to the Shopify help documentation on most of changes that I'll be covering in this episode in case you want to dig into a topic more. 

So here's a list of the improvements from the last 6 months.  I won't be covering changes that only applied to POS or Shopify Plus in order to keep this conversation relevant to largest number of listeners. 

The first group that I'll cover is what I refer to as COVID Features. And here they are:

  1. Local Pickup
    Local pickup is available to all stores with fewer than 20 locations.  You can offer local pickup during checkout as an alternative to shipping. It shows as an option in the checkout.  You can fulfill orders that use local pickup from Shopify, the Shopify mobile app, or Shopify POS.
  2. Local delivery
    You can set up an option for local customers to have their orders delivered. You can choose to have you or your staff deliver orders, or use a third-party delivery service. You can offer delivery within a set distance from your location, or for certain postal codes.  Customers will see Local Delivery as an option in their checkout if they are within the local delivery area.
    Local deliveries can be fulfilled in the Shopify Admin, using the Shopify POS, and on the Shopify mobile app. Local delivery is compatible with Shop Pay.
    Note, 3rd party checkouts like Recharge and Bold subscriptions do not yet work with the Shopify Local Delivery feature.  So if you are providing subscriptions and local delivery in your store, I recommend you do not use the Shopify Local delivery feature.
  3. Delivery routes in Shopify Local Delivery app
    The Shopify Local Delivery app can create optimized delivery routes and share them with drivers. It gives drivers the ability to access directions, send notifications, and update delivery statuses while you manage deliveries in real-time.
    The app is available for iOS and Android.
    And once again, stores with subscriptions should steer away from Shopify Local Delivery.
  4. Tipping for online orders
    Tipping can be enabled for your online checkout in one click.  You can do it in the Shopify Admin under Settings > Checkout > Tipping.  When tipping is enabled, your customer can choose the option to tip based on a percentage of their total order or a custom amount.
  5. Storefront sign maker
    Let your customers know where they can shop online with a retail storefront sign. The storefront signage maker is an easy way to share with your customers that you are open, available for curbside pickup, delivery, online and more. You can choose from a variety of templates and customize it with a personal message.  It can create a QR code which have become popular again for restaurant menus and the like.

Next, let's look at Customer Facing Changes.  These are changes that your customers will be able to see in your store. 

  1. Rebranding of the Shop app, which was formerly called Arrive
    Shopify's delivery tracking app has a new name and an improved set of features.
    Shop allows customers to track orders from any and all Shopify stores.  It also allows shoppers to find  deals from your store.  And it provides seamless checkout across Shopify with Shop Pay.
    For your store to  participate, you need to have the Shop App opt-in enabled for the order status page.  The setting can be found in the Shopify Admin under Settings > Checkout > Customer Contact.
    I just looked at the app in the Apple and Google stores.  I'm surprised how many times it has been reviewed.  Over 1 million reviews in Apple and almost a 100,000 in Google.  And the average rating is 4.8.  So if you are not participating, you might want to opt your store in.
    And I just looked at inbound traffic to a couple of my clients stores.  And for both of them, the Shop App has been the source of a handful of sessions.
  2. Google Captcha v3 enabled
    Google’s reCAPTCHA v3 has been added to online store contact forms and blog comments to reduce incoming spam. reCAPTCHA v3 analyzes visitor behavior to block spam from bots, and reduces friction for real users by eliminating those annoying CAPTCHA challenges where you had to click every image with a stoplight or the like. This feature is enabled on all stores by default, but can be disabled in your online store preferences.
    The v3 execution adds a little element in the lower right hand corner of your customer's browser when they are on a page with a form.  The element has three gray and blue arrows in a circle.  I'm not a fan of this as the placement is fixed - you have no control over it.  And the lower right corner is the traditional place to put a Chat icon.  So the two can overlap each other making for a sloppy looking corner of the page.
  3. There are two improvements to Shopify Chat, both of which make me think more highly of the app.
    The first is SMS support in Shopify Chat
    If you're using Shopify Chat for live chat on your online store, then customers now have the option to receive a response through SMS instead of waiting for a response in the chat. This way, you can respond to a question even after the customer has left your online store.
    SMS support is available for use with customer phone numbers in the United States and Canada. There is no cost to stores, but messaging and data rates might apply for the customer receiving the SMS message.
    The second is Automated order lookup in Shopify Chat
    Customers can now get the status of their recent orders on your website using Shopify Chat.
    This feature allows customers to provide their order number and email address and receive an automated response that includes the fulfillment status of their order, and a tracking link or order status link.
    In Ping you will see these conversations as automated messages in your inbox, and you will be notified if the customer sends a follow-up message and needs further assistance.
Now let's look at the changes to the Shopify Admin.  These changes won't be seen by your customers but are meant to make your life easier.
  1. More control when duplicating products
    In addition to having the option to copy images when you duplicate products, you also now have the option to copy SKUs, barcodes, and inventory quantities.
    You can also hide the duplicated product on all channels and apps when you create it. This gives you a chance to edit the product details before it's live in your store.
  2. New orders list
    The Orders list page helps you prioritize fulfillment workflows more effectively by providing relevant information at-a-glance. This includes customer details, order items, delivery method, order notes, and tags.
  3. Google shopping app has moved to a channel
    The Google Shopping app has a new name and a new home base, but the same features. You can find the Google channel in the Sales channels menu of your Shopify admin.
  4. Can create or edit customers from the gift card issue page
    You can now create or edit customers from the gift card issue page. This will help you save time by creating customers and gift cards in the same place. For example, if your customer says that they accidentally gave you the wrong email address, then you can easily edit the customer's address and resend the gift card.
  5. Product analytics on the product page
    You can now understand how an individual product has been selling over time, what type of customers are buying it, and where traffic is coming from - directly from the product detail page.  In the right hand column, there's a box labelled Insights.  It shows the units sold and revenue over the past 90 days.  Clicking View details, gives you a lot more data on the product's sales without leaving the product page.
  6. Share checkout links from mobile
    You can now create and share checkout links for draft orders through SMS or any messenger app on your mobile device. To create a checkout link, go to draft orders on the Shopify Mobile app and click share draft order.  You can copy and paste into any customer communication.
  7. New color picker in the rich text editor
    The rich text editor is used for Blogs posts, Pages, Products and Collections. You can now manually add RGB/HEX codes into the rich text editor with the new color picker, so you can precisely match text and background color to your brand and style.
  8. Improvements to product camera on mobile.  Updates include:
  • Tools to consistently take product photos at the right aspect ratio for your online store.
  • Display grid lines to align the product in the frame.
  • Quickly review all the photos in the drawer.
  • Take short product videos using video mode.
  • Add an image to an existing variant.
  • You can set manual exchange rates for Shopify payments
    Stores can now set manual exchange rates for international currencies with Shopify Payments. Products can now have stable prices in other currencies which do not change with market exchange rates. Similar to automatic exchange rates, merchants can continue to round their prices up for a consistent pricing presentation.
    Manual exchange rates are available to stores on the Shopify, Advanced, and Plus plans.  So, its not available to Shopify Basic. 

And here's a whole bevy of  features for Better local support for countries.

  1. Shopify payments is available in Austria and Belgium
  2. Shopify Shipping is available in Australia
  3. Shopify Payments supports iDEAL and Bancontact which are European local payment providers.
  4. Address inputs in checkout were improved, or made more local, for a number of countries including Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Mexico.
  5. Support for international domains
    Stores can now add and assign individual domains to a country to offer an improved localized buying experience for international customers. When customers land on the country domain, they will automatically see the store in their local currency and language.
    International domains rely on stores selling in multiple currencies with Shopify Payments, and translation via a compatible 3rd party translations app. This feature is available to merchants on the Shopify, Advanced, and Plus plans.
    Unique sitemaps are created for each international domain for improved SEO.
  6. The Shopify Theme store is now available in 20 languages.  You can select a language from the locale picker in the footer of the Theme store.
  7. Country fields in checkout
    Customers in Brazil, China, Italy, and South Korea will now see an additional field in the checkout to collect required info for customs, shipping labels, or invoices. This means that you can collect the required customer information specific to these regions without using customizations in your online store. For example, customers in China can now enter their Resident ID number at checkout.
  8. Shop package tracking is available for UK stores

So that's the list of notable changes to the Shopify platform over the last six months.

Thanks for listening. 


JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.