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Episode 80 - Recent Improvements from Shopify

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Hey, Scott Austin here.

This is my 80th podcast episode and marks the 3-year anniversary of this podcast.  I'm thankful for everyone that listens and I hope that you get value out of these.  If you do get value then please do me a favor.  Pause this episode for a moment and leave a review on whatever platform you listen to podcasts on.  I appreciate them and they help others find this podcast.  Here's a recent review that I was delighted to receive:

"My fav Shopify podcast.  As a small business owner, knowledge is power. Scott lays out very tech-based info in a non tech way. A simple and very human approach.  Highly Recommend!!“

So thank you to whoever left that review and to all of the other reviewers.

Now onto the episode.  Every so often, I do an episode of all the new features, big and small, that Shopify has recently rolled out.  So this episode will be dedicated to the past 9 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. 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 transcript, 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 9 months.  I’ll cover the most important buckets, at least to me, first.  Then I’ll cover the other buckets in alphabetical order.

Bucket A – Themes

  1. Online Store 2.0 or Sections Anywhere

This release last summer was a sea-change in the way that stores are built.  There’s too much to cover in this episode and I’ll go into more detail in a future episode.  But I’ll summarize by saying that any new store or a store redesign should use an Online Store 2.0 theme.

  1. Easy theme updates

Easily update your themes in admin to stay up-to-date with the latest version of your theme, including new features, design enhancements and bug fixes.

  1. Increased number of sections and blocks within templates

When Online Store first rolled, they set very restrictive limits on the number of block and sections allowed.  But now you can add up to 25 sections per template and 50 blocks per section.

Bucket B – Metafields

Metafields have existed in Shopify for a long time.  But they were not exposed in the Shopify Admin.  So while they were useful to developers, store staff didn’t have access to them.  That’s all changed now.

  1. Display flexible store content with Metafields

Metafields are extra pieces of data that you can attach to products, customers, orders, and other objects in the Shopify ecosystem. Metafields are made for storing information that doesn’t otherwise have a home in your Shopify admin—think fabric care instructions, delivery time frames, and backorder dates. You can display metafield data anywhere in your store, such as your product pages and even the checkout.

You can use metafields for internal tracking and to display specialized information on your online store in a variety of ways.

  1. Product metafields in POS for Android

Additional product details are now available in Shopify POS for Android by viewing metafields within the product description of an item.

  1. New metafield type - metafield lists

Metafield lists allow you to store multiple values in a single metafield.

  1. Metafields now available on Orders, Collections and Customers

You can now add metafield definitions to Orders, Collections and Customers.

Bucket C - Apps

  1. New Per-App and App Charge Permissions

Delegate effectively and securely with new per-app and app charge permissions.  This allows authorized staff members to authorize app charges where only the store admin could do it before.

  1. New Custom App Experience

There’s now a new experience for creating, configuring and building custom apps in the Shopify admin.

Bucket D - Bulk Editor

  1. Revamped Products Bulk Editor

You can now bulk edit more products and add and remove data columns.

  1. Updated inventory bulk editor

Edit more products at once, customize your columns, and manage inventory across locations in one place with the inventory bulk editor

Bucket E - Country Specific

  1. Sell globally with Shopify Markets

Shopify markets helps you sell in multiple countries with a single Shopify store.  You can adjust language, currency and domains for each country that you are operating in.

  1. The Shop channel has expanded to 13 new countries

The Shop channel is now available in the following countries:  Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States.

  1. Shopify Payments for POS now available in The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Germany and New Zealand.
  2. Canada sales tax liability insights

With Canada sales tax liability insights, you can understand when you are required to collect taxes from your customers.

  1. US Sales Tax Liability Insights

Understand your sales tax liability in the United States.

Bucket F -Fulfillment

  1. Collated printing for shipping labels and packing slips

You can now print shipping labels, packing slips, and customs forms on a single print job. Documents are also organized by order when printing documents in bulk.

  1. Improved order archiving

There’s now updated logic to automatically archive orders by including partially refunded, fulfilled, and zero balance orders, helping you manage orders more efficiently.

  1. DPD labels are now available on Shopify Shipping

DPD is a shipper in Europe.  Buy and print DPD labels right from your Shopify account—without external apps or extra fees.

  1. Put fulfillments on hold

Not everything is ready to ship right after checkout. When you need to organize your fulfillments according to what needs to be shipped separately, you can reflect that in Shopify by placing them on hold.

  1. New views for fulfillment details and shipping labels

You now have an improved bulk shipping label purchase flow.

Until now, the bulk shipping label purchase flow in Shopify has been a copy of the single label purchase flow, but with orders stacked vertically on one page. This layout made it more difficult to keep track of your progress and position on the page.

Now, the purchase flow uses an order navigation menu. This navigation makes it easier to find specific orders, for example when merchants need to change a package size, weight, or shipping service. The navigation also helps with seeing progress and identifying orders with errors or warnings. Further, order notes are now displayed in the shipping label flow.

  1. ePostage return labels through USPS

You can now choose ePostage return labels through Parcel Select Ground. The ePostage return labels have the same eligibility criteria and rates as fulfillment-direction for Parcel Select Ground.

Also, the ePostage return labels now look more like the ePostage fulfillment labels.

  1. Automated carrier identification based on merchant history

When you fulfill an order and enter the tracking number for it, Shopify can now automatically identify the shipping carrier with better accuracy for supported carriers.

  1. Buy up to 50 shipping labels in bulk

You can now purchase and print up to 50 shipping labels at once, increasing the limit from 20. It's now available for merchants fulfilling orders from a US location and using Shopify Shipping with USPS, UPS and DHL carriers.

  1. Update shipping labels for multiple orders all at once

Review and update details for multiple shipping labels in bulk, all in one centralized view.

  1. Customize your orders list

You can now show, hide, and reorder columns in your orders tab, as well as customize and save all default order views.

  1. Package defaults for Shopify Shipping

Set your most frequently used package as default when buying labels with Shopify Shipping, right from the label purchasing page.

  1. Shopify Shipping presets

Create presets with your preferred shipping options, applying them to multiple shipments at once, and saving them for the next time.

Bucket G - Inventory

  1. New committed inventory state

There’s a new inventory state called ‘committed’ to provide a more accurate foundation to your inventory management.

  1. Manage your inventory from anywhere with the Shopify mobile app

Inventory management is redesigned in the Shopify Mobile app so you can easily view, manage and track your inventory from anywhere. The improved inventory features include:

  • One centralized view of your inventory.
  • Search, sort and inventory filtering.
  • Inventory workflows designed for mobile.
  1. SKU Warnings

Shopify now provides a warning for products and variants that have SKUs that are already being used elsewhere in your store.

  1. Inventory adjustment reasons

Shopify added inventory adjustment reasons to allow you to better track changes in your inventory.

Bucket H - Messaging

  1. Share personalized product recommendations with Shopify Inbox product cards
  2. Shopify Marketing Automations

You can now automate your email campaigns all within Shopify.

  1. More free emails with Shopify Email

You can send 10,000 free emails per month with Shopify Email.

  1. Shopify Inbox’s new Instagram integration

Use Inbox to manage your Instagram direct messages.

  1. Notifications Reminders on Shopify Inbox

Shopify added a new feature to Shopify Inbox mobile allowing you to be able to set a notification reminder to follow up later.

  1. Shopify Ping and Shopify Chat have relaunched as Shopify Inbox

Now you can set up messaging for your online store, manage your FAQs, automated messages, chat appearance, and more right from your admin.

You’ll still use the Shopify Inbox mobile and web apps (formerly Ping) to view and respond to your customer messages from anywhere, anytime.

  1. Improvements to Shopify Inbox on the web

You can now share Products and Discounts, and manage conversations on Shopify Inbox when you're working from your web browser.

  1. Personalized text for Shopify Email

Add personalized text to your email campaigns.

  1. Capture SMS marketing consent in Shopify

Enable SMS consent collection at checkout.

  1. Changes to SMS notifications

SMS notifications sent through Shopify will default to a standard template.

Bucket I - Payments

  1. Subscription apps now support Google Pay and Apple Pay

Subscription apps in the Shopify App Store now support Google Pay and Apple Pay for merchants who use Shopify Payments.

  1. Subscription support for dynamic and accelerated checkout methods for PayPal Express
  2. Facebook Pay for Shopify Payments and Checkout

Facebook Pay is available as the newest wallet and accelerated checkout to US merchants with Shopify Payments.

  1. Set payment terms on orders with deferred payments

The new payment terms feature allows you to easily manage orders with deferred payments.

With payment terms, you can complete the following tasks:

  • Add a payment due date to a draft order or to a pending order that was created through the online store.
  • Choose between due on receipt, net terms (within 7, 15, 30, 60 or 90 days), or fixed date.
  • Sort by overdue payment status for easier order management.
  • Send an invoice to your buyer with their payment due date.

You can set payment terms by selecting Payment due later in the payment section of a draft order.

  1. New Unified Login Component for Shop Pay with Email Code Auth

Buyers can now authenticate with both text message codes and email codes when logging into Shop Pay in checkout.

  1. 3D Secure authenticated orders will not be automatically categorized as low-risk

3D Secure orders are no longer categorized automatically as low-risk because of updates to Visa's chargeback monitoring programs.

Bucket J - Privacy

  1. Meet CCPA standards to improve trust with your California buyers

The Customer Privacy app is updated for California-based stores and stores that meet the following criteria:

  • a gross annual revenue of $25 million a year in online sales
  • buy, receive, or sell the personal information of 50,000 or more California residents, households, or devices
  • derive 50% or more of their annual revenue from selling California residents’ personal information

If you have been using the existing version of the app, then you will need to download Customer Privacy app to stay in compliance with the CCPA.

Bucket K - Products

  1. Improve product discovery with standardized product types

Product classification is now available under standardized product types in your product admin.  A product can have both a standardized product type and a store-defined product type.  Standard products types are needed in some channels like Facebook.

  1. Suggested product types

Shopify will now use its AI to automatically suggest product types for products.

  1. Product variants UI

Shopify has a new UI for variants on the product page that is more intuitive and easier to use.

  1. Support for .usdz 3D models as product media

Adding a .usdz 3D model to a product is now supported. 3D models can now also be up to 500MB in size with large models automatically compressed on storefront for improved performance.

Bucket L - Reporting

  1. Customer country auto-populated on signup

When a buyer signs up for newsletters or accounts in the online store, Shopify will attempt to populate the country of the newly created customer.

  1. Shopify Customer Segmentation

Customer Segmentation enables you to organize your customers together based on their unique behaviors.

  1. Predicted spend tier

Predictive spend tier is a segment filter with Shopify’s new customer segmentation tool.

  1. View your paid subscriptions fees in your Shopify admin

There’s a new Active Subscriptions page in the Shopify admin, making it easier to find and understand your paid subscriptions.

  1. More real time insights with Live View

Live View is now updated with new reports including top locations, top products and customer behavior.

  1. See product analytics on the product page

There are new inventory metrics, accessible right within your products admin, to help you be better informed.

  1. Filter and edit your reports by purchase option

Merchants on Shopify, Advanced, or Plus plans can now track subscription purchases in select reports.

Bucket M - Shopify Admin

  1. Settings page redesign

There’s now a refreshed Settings design.  Domains have been moved in the Settings section from the Online Store section.  I’m not a fan of the new design.  And that’s because the whole Shopify Admin has one navigation paradigm.  Except for settings which has a different navigation paradigm.  And that difference can be jarring or confusing.  But it is what it is.

  1. Original Image Download

You can now download the original image file, rather than the optimized image file, from the product media and Settings > Files page.

Bucket N - Shopify Flow App

Shopify Flow is an app.  With Flow, you can build workflows to automate tasks, campaigns, and processes within your store and across your apps. These automations give you the power to build the custom solutions that your business needs.

Choose from a library of templates or use the visual workflow builder to create a custom automation.

  1. Shopify Flow on the Advanced Plan

Shopify Flow is now available to merchants on the Advanced Plan.  Previously it was only available to Shopify Plus stores.

  1. New Shopify Flow App

An all-new Shopify Flow app is now available. The new Flow has many improvements, including a new editor, allowing you to build many new types of automations.

  1. Shopify Flow “Wait” step now has a maximum duration of 30 days

You can now use a Wait step in Shopify Flow to force a workflow to wait for up to 30 days (an increase from 7 days).

  1. Fulfill orders with Shopify Flow

Use Shopify Flow to automatically create draft shipping labels for new orders, so all you need to do is review and buy.

And that's the list of improvements from Shopify in the past 6 months. 

Thanks for listening.

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