Online shopping was already a part of our daily lives before COVID-19 closures started in early March. For many small local businesses however, the sudden need for a digital presence was unplanned. According to Satish Kanwar, VP of Product at Shopify, retailers saw an over 70% drop in sales in the six-week period starting at the beginning of closures on March 16 compared to the same period last year. In good news, those same retailers were able to replace 90% of those in-store sales with online sales.
The team at e-commerce leader Shopify have been cranking out new features and support to help businesses adapt. In addition to an extended free trial period, small businesses were given the ability to add gift cards in March. To help connect with customers, Shopify launched their new email platform in April and made that free until October, 2020.
This week, Shopify took their annual merchant conference Unite online with Shopify (Re)Unite. We got a sneak peek of some of these at the Shopify Partner event. Here’s our top three take-aways on their announcements.
If you sell in multiple countries, you know that localization is important. Shopify announced they’re rolling out localized store functionality to merchants across the globe. This will let you offer properly localized versions of your store without having to manage multiple stores.
Selling in multiple countries lets you offer localized experiences - including showing the right version of your store in search results. When a consumer does a search for your product in Germany, they’ll see the German-localized version of your site.
You can even set up your Canada-based store to offer a localized experience in the US (so you can use neighbour here and neighbor there).
The really big benefit of the new feature is the ability to set up exchange rates per localization. Shopify currently supports multiple currencies, but you use the exchange from Shopify Payments. The new system will allow merchants to set the rate themselves and offer a better customer experience when purchasing.
Keeping your customers up to date with new product announcements, sales, and other messages has always been important. Shopify has had integrations with many of the leading email marketing systems for some time - but managing multiple systems involves time and additional cost.
In April, Shopify launched their Shopify Email feature. It’s built right into Shopify, which means there’s no DNS configurations needed, no custom themes. There’s also no syncing of data between two systems. Shopify described the new email feature as being optimized for e-commerce and have seen over 30,000,000 emails sent by merchants to their customers.
Getting your products to customers
Like you, we’ve been staying home to keep others safe. We also are big fans of shopping local and supporting our friends and neighbours. Online ordering, curbside pickup, and home delivery have become part of our daily shopping process over the last two months.
It’s good to know we’re not alone in this. Shopify Product Marketing Manager Thea Earl said that in the period since March 13, local orders have increased %176 over the same period in 2019.
Shopify announced three new features that will help you deliver to your customers faster (and safer). First, for merchants with under 20 physical locations, there’s a new curbside pickup feature available coming soon. Today, customers can choose a curbside pick up option - but the new features will allow them to schedule a time for pickup and even let you know when they arrive. Both great features to reduce the number of people at your locations and promote physical distancing.
Local delivery has also become a mainstay of local shopping. It’s great for your customers, but can be a headache when it comes to planning out delivery routes. Shopify announced new features coming shortly to enable merchants to define local delivery areas. These will only show up for customers with delivery addresses in those areas.
More importantly for merchants, there’s a new Local Delivery app being launched that will let you pull orders and optimize your delivery routes. That’s all right from within your Shopify backend. When you’re out delivering, you’ll be able to let your customers know when you’re on your way too.
Are you ready to take your Shopify experience up a level or launch a new store? BitBakery is your trusted outsourced development partner - for e-commerce and more. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.