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236. Shopify Platform Updates: Summer 2023

236. Shopify Platform Updates: Summer 2023

Shopify has shipped over 100 product updates that were built to help you sell more, save money on apps, and smooth your operations.

Today we're going to cover my favorite ones but check the links at the bottom of this page to get more details.

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Shopify Flow

When Flow was first released it was limited to Shopify Plus, then I think it was actually during the pandemic where they released it to more levels. I thought it was all of them back then, but they just announced it was available for the basic Shopify level. Not sure if that was something they took away at some point, I don’t know. But Shopify flow is now available for everyone.

Learn how to use Shopify Flow in your eCommerce business.

Shopify Filters

They also made updates to their search & discovery app, which manages filters and search results. The way the search and discovery app works is that you can create filters with the standard Shopify fields such as vendor, product type, variants, etc. You can also create custom filters utilizing metafields. For example, I created custom filters for a skincare client to filter products by skin concern, age, etc.

This new update allows you to group default filters together which changes how it appears on the front end of your website. I typically use this for things like colors, scents, and flavors.

Let’s say you have different colors like burgundy, maroon, and red. Instead of having a separate filter for each color, you can group it under one color, red. I will typically also combine things like leopard print and snakeskin into one category called animal prints. It obviously depends on your product assortment and how many items you have that fall under these, but it’s a great way to keep your filters nice and tidy.

I used to do this at my previous day job because we resold other brands’ products and they all had special names for their colors. It wasn’t called purple, it was grape. but if we had another brand with something purple that they called purple, we wanted to group those in one filter.

You can do the same for scents and flavors as well. Instead of having individual scents such as strawberry and raspberry, you can group them under a filter called fruit. Again, it depends on your product assortment. If you have 30 strawberry items and 30 raspberry items, maybe you want to keep them separate. But if you only have 6 of each, I’d just group them together.

Shopify Payments

Shopify Payments is opening up to previously restricted businesses. If your business offers CBD, tobacco, sexual wellness, or pharmaceutical products, you may now be eligible for Shopify Payments. When you’re using Shopify Payments it lets you use Shop Pay on your store along with some other announcements we’ll get to in a bit.

How they’re doing this I’m not really sure. I always understood the previous restrictions were based on Stripe’s rules. It's possible they're using a different platform to process the transactions. They didn’t give too many details about it including whether or not the pricing will be higher for these higher-risk businesses.

To access Shopify payments for previously restricted businesses, you do need to sign up for a waitlist.

Shopify Bill Pay

Shopify Bill Pay allows you to pay any business, anywhere – just like bill pay you likely have access to through your bank.

The big difference with Shopify bill pay is that it allows you to use a credit card to pay a bill to a vendor in any form of payment you want and then the payee can choose to get paid by check or transfer.

It’s limited to US stores, but you can pay international businesses. This could be really cool if you have a vendor that doesn’t take credit cards. They can receive the payment by bank transfer, but you get to use a credit card so you can rack up rewards points.

Shopify Credit

Shopify has its own credit card that rewards you for the business purchases you're already making, including advertising, shipping, and wholesale through Faire.

Ultimately, I’m all about responsible credit card use for cashback so this is a great way to earn cash for all the business purchases you’re already making.

Learn more about the Shopify Credit Card

Shopify Functionality Improvements

Shopify has also released a few updates to its existing products.

The Shop App for example now gives you the ability to create a storefront in the app. You can add a banner, a heading, a slogan, and collections. They’ve also released something called Shopify minis. These are essentially apps that work with the Shop app. The list of them is pretty small right now, but I expect more will be released. Check the show notes for a link to the existing apps that are available.

They’re also increasing the available number of variants to 250. There are a lot of Shopify stores out there that have to use 3rd party apps to accomplish this. I imagine migrating off of them might not be worth it in the short term, especially for how close to Q4 we are, but it might be something worth putting on the to-do list in Q1 of next year.

Another seemingly unimportant update, but I imagine can be pretty helpful for certain merchants is the ability to mark draft orders as local pickup.

They’ve also introduced something called packaged suggestions. Essentially, when you have your preferred package sizes, Shopify shipping will make a recommendation on what size package you should use to ship that order allowing you to purchase shipping labels in bulk. This was released alongside a discount in DHL shipping rates by 15% which is awesome for international shippers.

Shopify has also made some updates to its reporting. In addition to giving you benchmark reports against other Shopify stores, it’s expanding its tax reporting breaking it down by state, county and the local level, and you can customize the layouts of your analytics dashboard.

New Shopify App Releases

What’s most exciting about Shopify’s latest announcement is all the new apps it’s created to expand the functionality of your store.

Before you get too excited… as expected, these apps are the most bare-bones options in terms of what they can do. If you haven’t already started implementing these then the Shopify version is a great place to start. If you already using another app, make sure you do your research to ensure it has all the functionality you need.

Shopify Bundles

Shopify has also released its own bundle app that allows you to group products together and sell them as a bundle. Unlike apps that show bundle options on a product page, this works more like the Bundlesby by Gazebo where you create a new product and it syncs the inventory in the back end.

There are some limitations to this app though. It is incompatible with Shopify scripts and checkout customizations, which essentially makes this useless for Shopify Plus stores since those are two of the most used features. There are also conflicts with

  • Global-e
  • Licensify
  • Exemptify
  • Recharge Subscriptions

This next disclaimer is a bit confusing. I’m not sure if means you can’t use bundles altogether or if bundles just wouldn’t work in these situations.

  • You're creating a draft order on behalf of a customer or if a B2B customer is submitting their orders as draft at checkout.
  • You're using Shopify POS to sell your products in person in retail stores, popups, and other locations.
  • You're trying to include or sell a bundle as a purchase option, such as a subscription, pre-order, or try-before-you-buy (TBYB).

So does that mean you can’t sell the bundle on the POS channel, or that it wouldn’t work at all? I’m honestly not sure and didn’t really have the means to test it.

Like most Shopify apps, if you’re not doing bundles at all, I think this is a great place to start. But i probably wouldn’t switch from what you’re already using to save a few bucks.

I will say, when I was testing the bundles app on my dev store, I did get an error that I had too many variants. I’m unsure if this was bundle app-specific or if this variant increase hasn’t occurred yet. Or it could be both for all I know.

Shopify Subscriptions

The Shopify subscriptions app is another easy way to get started with a subscription strategy. This is a bit more flexible in terms of payment gateways as it works with Shopify payments, PayPal, authorize.net, and Stripe. It also allows customers to use accelerated checkouts such as shop pay, apple pay, etc. But they can’t use local payment methods such as Klarna.

The other cool thing about this app is that local delivery and pick-up in-store are supported delivery options for subscriptions in addition to shipping. They are however limited to the online store and custom storefront sales channels, so you can’t create a subscription for someone through the POS system.

Sign up for early access to the Shopify subscriptions app.

Shopify Connect Marketplace App

The Shopify Connect app is a replacement for some of the sales channels that previously existed.

Specifically, it allows you to connect your product catalog to Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Etsy. Interestingly, the Etsy connection specifically says it’s not endorsed by Etsy while the others don’t say anything like that.

Ultimately, I don’t think it matters. Etsy has an open AI which basically means any developer can create an Etsy integration. That’s why you have so many other apps in the Shopify app store that can connect your Shopify store to Etsy. My guess is there is some disclaimer required in the API's terms of use.

What’s cool about this app is that it gives you the ability to automatically increase the prices of your products by a percentage when you sync them to these other platforms which is an easy way to offset some of the additional fees it costs to sell on these platforms.

Add Shopify Connect Marketplace

Shopify Collective Dropshipping App

The Shopify Collective app is essentially a drop shipping app between Shopify stores. Essentially, you can list products from other Shopify stores on your website. When the item is sold, the order is sent to the supplier's Shopify store and they fulfill the order. Once the order is fulfilled, the information is sent back to your store and the shipment notifications are triggered as usual.

There are two different apps, retailer and supplier. You can be one or both. But there are a few requirements for eligibility. Currently, it’s limited to US-based businesses that charge in USD. You also need to have generated at least $50k in sales in the last 12 months and use Shopify Payments. This is one of the reasons that the expansion of who can use Shopify pay is exciting because making the switch could make you eligible for this.

Those requirements are the same for both apps, but the supplier app has one more limitation, and that is your products need to be eligible to be sold on the Shop App.

There are a number of things that are restricted, but some of the highlights are age-restricted products. They mention specifically alcohol, tobacco, and gambling… I imagine that includes things like adult novelties as well. Check the show notes for a link to their shop app eligibility requirements.

Now, on the surface, I love this! Especially for small businesses because it makes it really easy to expand your assortment without investing in inventory and it’s a really easy way for you to collaborate with your other small biz friends like you hear me talk about all the time.

Reasons to be Wary of Shopify Collective

I do want to caution you a bit before you go crazy with this. This is connecting you to other small businesses, many of whom have never acted as a dropshipper before, likely don’t have the infrastructure or policies in place to run a dropshipping business and you’re ultimately at the mercy of their company to fulfill the needs of your customer. If you are going to utilize this, make sure you have clear expectations about how to handle returns, order cancellations, delayed shipments, etc.

Another thing to watch out for is that by default, the payment to the supplier will be automatically deducted from your Shopify payments balance. I imagine that’s one of the reasons they require you to be active on Shopify payments. You do have the option to turn this off though, and I recommend that you do. For two reasons.

First, if it pays them out automatically you have no leverage if they default on their end of the bargain. Secondly, it will make your bookkeeping a nightmare because you’ll have to parse out each Shopify payment deposit to account for what was actually inventory that you bought, etc.

Additionally, from what I can see Shopify is just giving you the tools you need to connect with other stores, but it’s not a service they’re offering which means they don’t really have anything to do with the success of the program between their merchants.

All that being said, I do think this is a great way for you to partner with businesses that you already have a relationship with. Maybe you buy wholesale from them and you’d love to offer more of their products but you just don’t have the resources to bring in that much inventory. Or maybe you’re a wholesaler who has a store interested in them but hasn’t made the jump just yet. This could be a great way for retailers to test you out.

In either case, remember that dropshipping margins are lower because the supplier still has to fund the fulfillment side of the business, so if you are going to be the supplier, make sure you adjust your prices accordingly.

The Shopify Collective Interface

Side note: I did try and join to see what the interface was like. Because I’m a partner and have access to multiple stores it did immediately show that the stores weren’t eligible because they were using Shopify payments. However, it still let me apply with my Dev store which technically doesn’t qualify because I don’t have any sales. From what I can tell it looks like I might be on a waitlist and they’re onboarding people slowly.

Sign Up for Shopify Collective

Shopify Fraud

Another exciting release is the Shopify fraud app. My favorite feature is that you can automatically prevent orders based on certain criteria like IP address. I haven’t heard of it in a while, but I do remember back in the day multiple different Shopify stores were getting fraud orders from the same IP address.

You can also use the Shopify Fraud Control app in conjunction with Shopify flow to do things like automatically canceling orders from email addresses that have proven to be fraudulent in the past, or to automatically cancel and re-stock high -isk orders, etc. I would be careful with that last one because there can be some properties that by default seem high-risk but actually aren’t.

For instance, at my previous day job, we have an order of a few thousand dollars, late at night. The billing and shipping address were different and I think the shipping address was far from the IP address where the order was placed. After some investigation, it was actually a celebrity that placed the order, and the billing address was that of her finance manager which is very typical in the industry. On the surface it seemed like fraud, but because I took the time to investigate it and ultimately reach out to the customer I was able to confirm it was legit.

Get the Shopify Fraud Control App

AI Updates: Shopify Magic & Shopify Sidekick

Shopify released its first AI product, Shopify Magic a few months ago. Initially, it was available on product pages to help write product titles and descriptions, but they’ve expanded Shopify magic to your site design and content such as blog posts, its internal email marketing platform, and Shopify inbox its chat app. The chat app also now has the ability to set up FAQs for customers, and Shopify Magic can help you craft the answers based on the content of your site. It can also help you craft answers to live questions, which you then have the ability to edit before you send to a customer.

In addition to Shopify magic, it’s also released Shopify sidekick. This is more of an actual assistant. It can serve up answers from Shopify’s documentation and even do things like create a new discount code for you. The example prompts they gave during the presentation were “give me the test credit card numbers” or “create a discount code for 10% off all tennis balls until July 30th”

Is that faster than just creating the actual discount code? Eh, not sure. I feel like I’d be compelled to ensure it was set up properly anyway, so might as well just do it myself. But being able to serve up answers from Shopify’s documentation without having to navigate there is pretty handy.

Sign up for early access to Shopify Sidekick (Coming August 2023)

Shopify Marketing Improvements

I’m pretty impressed by the improvements Shopify has been making from a marketing perspective, especially in terms of their internal email marketing platform and the updates keep on coming.

Now I wouldn’t tell you to leave Klaviyo, Omnisend or Drip for Shopify’s email without understanding how well you’re using it, but if you’re just getting started or are still using Flodesk then it’s definitely a good option.

But here are some recent updates they’ve made to the platform. The first thing I noticed, even though I don’t remember it actually being in the announcement, maybe I just didn’t realize that it was there before is adding a product with an accelerated checkout button right in the email. That’s pretty nifty if you’ve got a small assortment or something new you want to focus on.

They’ve also released an app called Shopify Forms. By default, every theme comes with a Shopify form to collect emails, but it doesn’t give you the option to collect any additional information. Shopify forms do. You can add new fields to the form just like you can with a form in Klaviyo for example, and it will store that data in a customer metafield. That data can then be used for segmentation.

This is great if you want them to tell you what categories they want to shop from or what type of content they want to receive from you. It even gives you the option to collect a birthday.

Here’s the only problem with that… from what I can tell after testing it out you can’t actually do anything with that birthday. Because the birthday field requires a year, none of the segment conditions allow you to find everyone who has a birthday in a specific month. Because it’s based on real dates. I also did not see a trigger option in automation to send a birthday email. So I honestly don’t understand what the point of this is.

The good news is though that these forms can be used on the Shop App. While I don’t think you can specify to use it only on the Shop app, I do think these forms can be used in conjunction with your email marketing platform forms as well. So for instance, you can get them to sign up initially with the regular form and then you ask them for their birthday later on through the email marketing platform form. Because I also noticed, at least right now that the data you collect in Shopify forms is not exported to Klaviyo.

They’ve also made some updates to the Shopify Collabs app. It’s still lacking in a lot of typical affiliate management features but it’s a pretty good place to start and might be a great supplement to your existing program if you want to try it out.

Shopify Themes

While the release of Shopify 2.0 themes was a huge upgrade, there are new updates on the horizon. Specifically, animations, a 3d hover effect, and parallax images. Parallax images are those that stay fixed as the page scrolls. Usually used for background images.

Some additional upgrades coming are preview sections before you add them to your theme. Such a simple update but I’m excited about it because a lot of time the name of the section isn’t enough to know how the layout is. And sections are now going to be much more flexible than they were in the past. So instead of being tied to however the initial section was designed, you’ll be able to resize images right on the canvas, add more images, change the layout, etc.

They didn’t give a release date for this, but it’s a huge upgrade in terms of design on Shopify. I will say though, unfettered design on websites can definitely backfire in terms of usability, etc. so be careful with this functionality when it is released.

My guess is this will also require updates of your themes, so be prepared for that. The good news is, updating on 2.0 is a lot easier than vintage themes since it will now hold a lot of your customizations, but like most design things it might not be something you need to worry about right away.

Shopify Checkout

If you remember, Shopify announced during their Winter ‘22 release that one-page checkout was coming to Shopify. But there was no information in terms of when that was. During this most recent announcement, they brought it up again but not before letting everyone know that after 3rd party testing, Shopify’s checkout converts 15-36% higher than all other checkouts.

That being said, they are still planning on rolling out a one-page checkout, but there is a waitlist for early access. Sign up for Shopify On-Page Checkout Waitlist

They also announced some additional updates for Shopify Plus merchants. This includes an address validator, preventing orders to PO boxes, adding apps to check out, a local delivery date picker, and the ability to sell subscriptions or pre-orders in checkout.

Shopify Plus B2B

They’ve also made updates to the B2B functionality. B2B is the wholesale functionality for Shopify Plus stores. If you historically used the wholesale channel, you can migrate those customers and their historical purchases to B2B.

There are a bunch of cool things you can do with B2B on Shopify Plus, which I’m not going to go too deep into here because I know most of my listeners aren’t doing wholesale on plus, but make sure you check the links in the show notes for more details.

There are two functions of B2B that I think are really cool that I wanted to mention though.

First is the option to choose between a blended store or a separate store. The blended store means the wholesale user logs in and sees the wholesale pricing, etc. The separate ones mean it’s just a separate store.

The other is the ability to design separate B2B and Online store templates right in the theme customizer. So you could have different product page templates for each selling platform. You can also make adjustments across different countries as well.

Custom Templates for MetaObjects

The last thing we’re going to cover is custom templates for meta objects. Meta objects are essentially just a collection of multiple meta fields.

For instance, maybe you have contributors to your blog and you want to build a profile for each of your contributors. So you have an author meta object that includes a profile photo, a bio, and a link to the person’s personal website.

Another example is a skincare brand. You might want to provide information about the main ingredients that are used in your products. So you’ll create an ingredient meta object with a Title Field, a description field, and a list of products.

Then you’ll enter the data for all your ingredients into this meta object library. Once the library is complete, you’ll go to your theme customizer and create a new metaobject template, dynamically pulling the data into sections and blocks. Once you create that template, Shopify will automatically generate a separate page for each entry in the meta object library.

This could also be used for events, product drops, staff profiles, etc. Anything, where you would have multiple entries and wanted a separate page for it, could work with this function.

See metaobject page templates in action

Conclusion

Overall, I’m pretty excited about a lot of these updates. I’m really happy to see the extension of Shopify Payments to cover businesses that historically didn’t qualify, especially since there are often features released that require you to participate in Shopify payments and they charge you a transaction fee if you don’t. At least they used to.

But of course, in true Shopify form, their apps do leave a bit to be desired. I mean I get it. They have built their business on their developer community, so I understand that there will always be limitations. Like I’ve said throughout this episode, they’re functional enough to get you started and you always have the option to upgrade if and when you need to.

Ultimately, I’m grateful to Shopify for all the effort they put into constantly innovating and improving their platform and while no platform is perfect, Shopify is still my eCommerce platform recommendation 99% of the time.

I hope you found this helpful and it saves you some time on your own research. Again, there are additional updates that were released. Check the show notes for more details. That’s a wrap for today. Thanks so much for hanging out and I’ll see you on the flip side friend.

Listen to the Episode

Links Mentioned

Shopify Editions: Product Releases Summer 2023

Shop App Minis

Shopify Credit

MetaObjects Templates

Shopify Filters

Shopify Apps:

Shopify Bill Pay

Shopify Marketplace Connect

Shopify Fraud Control App

Shopify Forms

Shopify Bundle App

Shopify Flow

Shopify Inbox App

Shopify Email App

Shopify Search & Discovery

Shopify Collabs

Sign Up for Access to the Following Features:

Shopify One-Page Checkout

Shopify Collective Dropshipping App

Shopify Sidekick

Shopify Subscriptions

Theme Flex Sections

Episodes Mentioned

195. 12+ Things to Automate in Your eCommerce Business

230. How to Be Successful on Etsy

201. Winter 2022 Shopify Updates

Hey, I'm Jessica

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