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Shopify launches new shopping, shipping tools in semi-annual product showcase

TORONTO — Shopify Inc. announced more than 100 new product updates Thursday, including several aimed at helping retailers reach more customers, make checkout easier and better manage shipping.
Shopify Inc. headquarters signage is shown in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

TORONTO — Shopify Inc. announced more than 100 new product updates Thursday, including several aimed at helping retailers reach more customers, make checkout easier and better manage shipping.

The updates were revealedthroughShopify Editions, the Ottawa e-commerce technology company's semi-annual product showcase that replaced its yearly Unite conference, which was hosted in-person before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a rethink of its announcements.

The latest batch of Shopify updates come as its stock price remains in a slump and as the company charts a new future after laying off 1,000 workers while admitting it misestimated its near-term growth rate.

Meanwhile, the retailers Shopify caters to are under pressure to appease customers gravitating back to pre-pandemic shopping habits, cope with soaring interest rates and stubbornly high inflation, and pay off debt racked up during the health crisis.

Shopify's new slew of updates are meant to lean into those needs and keep "merchants ahead of the curve and give them an unfair advantage."

“We need to be the fastest moving commerce company in the world because our merchants depend on Shopify’s innovation for their own longevity," Harley Finkelstein, Shopify's president, said in a news release.

Some of the biggest changes the company is making are coming on the shipping and delivery front, as it strives to "help merchants outsource their logistics from port to porch."

The changes will be post notable for those moving product by sea — a feat that was a headache for many businesses during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retailers experienced dock worker strikes, a blockage in the Suez Canal, labour shortages, pandemic measures and the tripled cost of shipping containers wreak havoc on their delivery promises and inventory levels.

"Often the most frustrating part of ocean freight is the lack of visibility into inventory location," said Aaron Brown, chief executive of Shopify's logistics arm, in a video promoting the updates.

To resolve some of these issues, his company will better integrate the app for Shopify Fulfilment Network — a storage, packaging and delivery service — with Flexport, a freight forwarding company many merchants rely on.

The improved integration will mean companies can now more precisely track inventory from China to the U.S. within the fulfilment network's app. Smaller merchants will be able to send inventory as small as a palette through Shopify's network and "jump to the front of the line at all eligible ports."

Shoppers will also get a more accurate idea of when their orders will make it to their door because of changes to Shop Promise, a badge merchants add to stores to notify customers of delivery dates and their commitment to fast and reliable shipping. 

Real-time data will help merchants make delivery promises they can keep and properly prioritize shipping.

Plus, the badge will now automatically appear on storefronts for merchants using the network because, when in use with a shipping date of five days or less, Shopify has found it increases sales by 25 per cent. 

Changes are also coming to Shop, Shopify's shopping assistant app, which helps users make purchases and track their deliveries. 

Shopify will now give developers, who already have the opportunity to build additional tools that enhance the company's software, the ability to create similar products for Shop. Developers will keep 100 per cent of their revenue from the first $1 million they make on Shopify tools they build.

Merchants, who sell their wares through Shop, will be able to arrange items by product collections and highlight bestsellers, feature reviews on their page and kit out their store with more of their branding flourishes.

Shopify will also begin allowing customers to sign-in to merchants websites with their Shop login, reducing friction in the sales process, and let Apple and Android users log into such accounts in a speedier fashion with biometric (facial or fingerprint) passkeys.

Further enticing sales, merchants using Shopify Plus, a package of enterprise e-commerce software for high-volume sellers, will be able to roll out campaigns for Shop Cash, the company's rewards program, that help them target buyers with special deals and offers. Merchants will only pay when a customer is acquired through such campaigns.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SHOP)

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press