Shopify’s Latest Update: Which Features Matter and Why?

Aug 2, 2022 12:00 PM1:00 PM EDT

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

As eCommerce standards evolve, Shopify has fallen behind on its functionality and instead relied on integrations. But is that still the case?

There is a lot of excitement around Shopify’s update announcements. The eCommerce platform promises new functionality features and integration updates, further customizing the merchant and customer experiences. Although Shopify has focused on simplicity in the past, they aim to become more competitive in the market by bringing much-anticipated updates.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant is joined by Jordan Brannon, President of Coalition Technologies. They talk about Shopify’s recent announcements, future updates, and anticipated features. Jordan shares his expertise on the state of the current market alongside Shopify’s plans to become more competitive as well as the platform’s current integration functionalities.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Shopify’s history: small business to eCommerce empire
  • Jordan Brannon talks about where Shopify has fallen short in the past
  • Shopify’s popularity explained
  • What are the most exciting updates coming to the platform?
  • Jordan shares his thoughts on Shopify’s announcement expectations and deliveries
  • Jordan breaks down the most anticipated customization
  • Comparing the value of Shopify’s integrations and their functionality
  • Are Shopify’s latest updates developer-oriented? 
  • Jordan’s recommendations on features merchants should be aware of
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Event Partners

Coalition Technologies

Coalition Technologies is a leading SEO, PPC & web design agency in the United States that does a variety of work across leading eCom platforms including: Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Vtex, and others.

Connect with Coalition Technologies

Guest Speaker

Jordan Brannon

Jordan Brannon LinkedIn

President at Coalition Technologies

Jordan Brannon is the President of Coalition Technologies, a company that provides SEO services in digital marketing, design, web development, and PPC advertising. Jordan’s expertise in digital strategies has shaped his career for more than a decade, where he focused on developing solutions that allow for more qualified leads, better traffic conversion, and SEO optimization.

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Event Moderator

Jordan Brannon

Jordan Brannon LinkedIn

President at Coalition Technologies

Jordan Brannon is the President of Coalition Technologies, a company that provides SEO services in digital marketing, design, web development, and PPC advertising. Jordan’s expertise in digital strategies has shaped his career for more than a decade, where he focused on developing solutions that allow for more qualified leads, better traffic conversion, and SEO optimization.

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Tuesday everybody, my name is Aaron Conant, I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director here at BWG Connect. We're a giant networking and knowledge sharing group with 1000s of brands, we do exactly that we networking knowledge share together to stay on top of all the different trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it is that the network is interested in. So myself and Tiffany on my team, we spend a lot of time talking to brands to stay on top of those trends. And when the same ones come up over and over again, we host an event like this. And so you know, as we get started here, a couple of housekeeping items. We also do a lot of in person events. Now if you'd like to join those, I put a link over there, there's a podcast now oh, we should put a link to that. I'll put a link to a podcast as well. Jordan, I'll do the one with you. And the what Google wants to know about face tattoos wants you to know about face tattoos. And the idea here is to help everybody across the network stay on top of those newest trends. We're starting at three to four minutes after the hour. And just so you know, we're going to wrap up with three to four minutes to go in the hour as well give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. More than happy to connect anybody after the call, I'd love to have a conversation with you as well. And just find out what the pain points are. If you need any connections. That's what I spend most of my time doing. That's you need help vetting service providers or recommendations on anything from Amazon to direct consumer. Or if you just want to chat digital strategy more than happy to do it.

As we kick this off, you know, just a lot of questions right now around Shopify, we've done a ton around eCommerce or headless commerce but you know, Shopify is latest updates, whether new features, what are they they're how we use them all that fun stuff. And so we got a great friend partner support of the network for a long time now, Jordan Brannon over at Coalition Technologies, and just been all around great for for the network as a whole the open to knowledge sharing across the board. I don't know for four years now. So thanks, Jordan, do you want to, you know, kick it over you if you want to do a brief intro on yourself and Coalition? That would be awesome. And then we'll kind of start to pick apart the latest update. Sound good? 

Jordan Brannon 2:24

Yeah, sounds great. So name is Jordan Brannon, President at Coalition. We are a full service, eCommerce-focused digital agency. So we do everything from sort of the upfront strategy and consulting to figure out what is right for you in terms of eCommerce initiative, digital commerce initiative, and then also the execution and design and development of of new storefront and new storefront experiences, or enhancements of an existing property. We also do support and maintenance, custom apps and quite a bit of marketing, or I think really well known for our marketing prowess. And so we have been in eCommerce for a long time, I love eCommerce. That was what paid for a slightly nicer slum for me during college, when I was doing a drop shipping business and partly that into a career. And so it's been a lot of a lot of a lot of fun and love sharing what, what I know, and some of my team knows, in these calls, and hopefully help make make eCommerce bit more viable. For reals. 

Aaron Conant 3:26

Yeah, awesome. And just a reminder, if anybody has questions along the way, drop into the chat, drop into the q&a, or you can always email them to me, Aaron And in for the email address that includes tomorrow next week or a month from now you have any questions you ever want to connect, just hit me So kind of kick this off. Jordan? I know you guys have been with Shopify for a long time, if you want to just kind of give some background around that.

Jordan Brannon 3:58

 Yeah, I think we're probably one of the oldest Shopify partners and experience if I mean, I know, you, Jordan and you, but it's alright. This zoom smoothing feature is really good. I can I can look younger than I am. But the Yeah, we probably one of the oldest Shopify partners with an existence and then an experience. And I haven't had anybody sent me a cease and desist yet in the last few years since we've been saying that. And I think that means it's accurate. But do we actually we started out as an affiliate partner before there was any sort of DEV or agency partner program. We had run some Shopify stores were blogging about that experience running some YouTube content. So back in the early 2000s, and late 2000s 2010s, but are the initial ones. And so when they did launch a agency and developer partnership, we were immediately moving over into that and so we've had a lot of experience with the platform. today. We're a Shopify Plus partner, and have probably built you know, I don't know into the hundreds have stores over the past 12 years that custom stores for the most part, and are placed on pace to build more Shopify stores than we ever have plus or otherwise this year. And so that experience and that kind of breadth of knowledge for Shopify has certainly grown over time.

Aaron Conant 5:15

Yeah. Awesome. And just for perspective, also, you know, I know you have this great purview, awesome partners, and the big commerce side is just across multiple platforms. So a lot of times everybody's we do a platform selection call, because they're kind of platform agnostic, they have this great purview across all the different platforms. But as we focus on Shopify today, I know a lot of the conversation we have has just been around the maturity curve across all these different platforms. So you want to, you know, speak briefly just around, you know, Shopify, and it's kind of evolution over the past few years. That'd be awesome.

Jordan Brannon 5:52

Yeah, I mean, I think it's, it's sort of a narrative that, you know, some people are probably familiar with, but, you know, we started with Shopify was very much a approachable Small Business micro merchants solution, you know, that the value pitch was quick to deploy simple to use, you know, $20 a month price point, after you got off your, you know, three month free trial. And, you know, didn't do everything. And it wasn't really competitive with, you know, the needs of a larger merchant, but that was okay, because there was a lot of people who wanted to be doing eCommerce and really couldn't. And so, you know, a lot of the big cost centers that were maybe a barrier for a brand to get into eCommerce or taking care of, you know, hosting IT security, you know, some feature enhancements over time. And really, at that sort of launch, you know, Shopify as competition was a lot more convoluted open source platforms, if you're a small business trying to do eCommerce, a lot of people kind of began with a Magento, or an open cart, or some the other ones out there, because they were free, you know, which is always appealing. And developers always said, Yes, you know, if you want an eCommerce Store that did this, they say yes, and they would build some some weird version of that.

Aaron Conant 7:03

You were in early on my like kibow Mozu. And then jumping over to Magento. You were in on all those conversations. Perfect. Yep.

Jordan Brannon 7:10

Exactly. And so yes, we can do that. Yes, yes. It was, yes. Always. Yes. But nobody realizes that all the fine print that comes, there's a guy on the radio who's just like, No, nobody's gonna make me because, you know, explosive, bleeding out there. What's that? But yeah, so they, that was really sort of an easy win for them. Right, the the pitch was really compelling, as they layered in some features and some enhancements, and they became more viable for bigger merchants. And we just saw sort of saw that boom of eCommerce, both, you know, in, in public conception, you know, so there's a shark tank, and other things are sort of helping to promote that, you know, social media influencers, podcasters, all of that. That value pitch, you know, became very compelling and sort of became what our expectation was. And so we saw some of the open shopping cart solutions start to tank. And you know, Shopify, and others really began to sort of eat that lunch. Now, what was sort of interesting is that Shopify really stayed focused on that small business, you know, micro merchant, for a longer period of time, perhaps, and some others did, you know, we talked about big commerce and big commerce started to sort of look to the larger merchants, the merchants with more maturity and more complexity. And Shopify really sort of stayed true to that kind of, again, that very small, simplistic merchant requirement, sort of understanding that a lot of those merchants, you know, could sell, you know, 10s of millions of dollars without needing a lot, and would be pretty happy with the platform, and Shopify really invested in the sales and marketing to that audience. And you know, as they hit IPO move past IPO, that pitch really remained the same, even though you could kind of see Shopify as priorities as a platform shift away from the shopping cart, and more into sort of these add on things that allowed Shopify to take a higher percentage of transaction for them from their merchants without actually charging merchants more. So anything about the payment solution is probably the best example that now, you know, our criticism of them and we've been talking for four years was that, that focus on these add ons, these extras, were really good for Shopify, and if you're Shopify investor, they they sort of substantiated some of the crazy valuations that we saw for a little while. But you know, if you're a merchant, you just sort of are consistently getting this platform that was falling a little bit further behind every year. It's still very popular, still sold very aggressively by a, you know, a pretty broad base of of developers and agencies. But the reality was that, you know, it was becoming less and less of a really great value proposition merchants were begin coming more app dependent. And, you know, that didn't really get fixed, you know, after like, you know, sort of think about like the eCommerce boom, they didn't really move to solve that problem. They instead tried to pivot and become more of the pretender to the throne of Amazon and eCommerce. They've kind of tried To set themselves up as the arming the rebels were the next best thing behind amazon, you know, fulfillment network and other things that they've done since then. And so I think, you know, of late, you know, kind of in that narrative arc, maybe bring us back to where we are today in the conversation today, we are sort of finally seeing some real investment and maturity and commitment back to the merchants who are on platform where we're seeing them making up some of that competitive ground. And again, using the resources, they have to become more of that front runner instead of a really good platform that's easy to use, if you want to spin up an eCommerce Store, but perhaps not the best platform for most merchants. And so I think they've sort of made that shift. And we see a lot of indicators that that's going to be a continued investment for them.

Aaron Conant 10:44

Yeah, where do you see them falling the furthest behind them right now? That's what I think. I think you're you're dead on, they came out very aggressively. They were literally at every single, you know, digital retail show that was out there that had the biggest booth, I mean, aggressively marketing, across the board. And at the time, where people were just doing digital checklists, they were easy to implement and didn't have. You didn't need a lot to get them up and running. And I don't know if they just kept pouring into that. But anyways, you know, when you think about, you know, from your perspective, where are they fallen behind the most?

Jordan Brannon 11:21

I think that it's sort of the double edged sword of relying on simplicity, and then also failing to maintain competitiveness, you know, when you say you're going to do something, simply, it really does require a really big filter and how you approach things. And if you want to address more merchants, though, you have to be able to address complexity. You know, a lot of merchants love to use simple tools, but they also come with a lot of complexity that needs to be supported. And so I think there was sort of the issue that Shopify ran into, they felt the most behind is that anything past sort of the simple use case in terms of catalog requirements, customer accounts, checkout, Shopify was coming up short, really outsourcing a lot of that work to apps in kind of kludgy, you know, half hearted ways that just introduce more complexity for merchants who, again, are already by business requirements complex. And so it really sort of was the area where we saw probably them fall the most behind other merchants was just the lack of ability to make complex business simple and an eCommerce software.

Aaron Conant 12:23

So how did you see like, from your perspective, how so many merchants end up on Shopify? Love your perspective?

Jordan Brannon 12:31

Yeah, I mean, I think market share is a big one. Yeah. So people hear sort of the name brand that's out there. And so again, a lot of merchants were just beginning to get into eCommerce for the first time. Shopify was their first experience, that was a pretty pleasant one, right? I wouldn't be surprised. And I think there's a good number of attendees on the call, probably a fair number of them had their first you know, eCommerce experiences on Shopify. And so then they moved to a different job in a different brand. And they carried sort of some Shopify advocacy with them. And sometimes the bigger brands, I'm gonna need a Shopify was also really aggressive in sort of building out an affiliate market of eight developers and agencies, and, you know, especially those that were on, you know, open source platforms. And, you know, pair that was sort of the economic boom time and eCommerce we saw, you know, I think probably Shopify just really sort of, you know, get into that position of, you know, the million plus stores, or whatever those counts are. I think, for complex merchants, a lot of them went through a sales process, and were sold that, you know, Shopify can do what they needed. But sort of the fine print was not necessarily how they needed it to be done. And by the time they figured that out, they were into a design and development contract or getting close to a launch date. And the stakeholder and decision maker doesn't want to be the one who goes to the CEO and says, we made a mistake here. And so they will live. And they've been on Shopify for a couple of years, and maybe have found ways to sort of reach and do what they need to or maybe are, you know, have re platformed or, you know, are sort of biding their time and hoping that this update call today will answer the problem they've had for a few years.

Aaron Conant 14:05

Yeah, I mean, and I totally agree from the, you know, once they've been on Shopify, when I have that comparison come out from brands, anybody who's been on Shopify Shopify for a long time, the switch to a big commerce or Magento is a lot harder. But if you get it right out of the gate, and there's comparison, especially at enterprise level, a lot of times they're going away from a Shopify, just because some of the functionality gap. So, you know, was most of that functionality gap made up for in apps and customizations in your opinion? Yeah. Or?

Jordan Brannon 14:35

Yeah, yeah, for sure. I think, you know, Shopify, I think most merchants have tried to find a way with apps. I think the you know, we pull in inventory merchants as we're beginning to talk to them as a client. But the average merchant has something like 19 apps installed and you know, again, half of them are not used, but they've tried using them because it solved a problem that they needed to solve temporarily and so You know, I think some of those maybe they weren't solved, or they just got abandoned. So it's something that was a business requirement two years ago. You know, it maybe is a business requirement elsewhere, just sort of got abandoned for digital, and it hasn't been a function there.

Aaron Conant 15:14

Well, you've been tracking like, the United announcements for a long time. Right. It seems like, you know, Shopify, a lot of times just announcing that their new platform updates. You know, when you look at those announcements, you know, they've been coming up short. For your expectations, are they meeting them or

Jordan Brannon 15:33

Yeah. I mean, I think usually you can kind of sense the sentiment a bit, there's a, you know, a lot of ways they do kind of come up short and have over time. I think, on the on one hand, it's sort of as they, they make the announcement, and we don't see sort of general release of that feature widget tool enhancements until, you know, the next year just before unite, you know, and maybe we get access to what was promised last year. And then again, you know, that creates a lot of problems for us as an agency, right? We have merchants who hear like, hey, Shopify just announced this big new internationalization effort, or b2b and multi store and then, you know, we're sort of left to tell them that, yes, that's what they put out in the press release. But you know, here's how that comes up short for you. And that's detrimental to our relationship with our clients. I think, you know, on the other hand, we saw, you know, when they did, you know, a unite announcement, there's a big new feature, sometimes we would get into a situation where you just you peel back that sort of that layer, open the hood, and you find that this is maybe not the race car, we thought we've got an old Honda Civic motor in here that's got 300,000 miles, and it's just sure it'll drive but it's not going to do what a lot of merchants wanted it to when they heard the announcement. And so the features did get released, but perhaps came up a little bit shorter than where we wanted them to be.

Aaron Conant 16:52

from your standpoint, now, just some conversation we have, you know, do you feel like there's, like optimism here. I mean, over and over again, I know brands have been asking for updates, they want the comparison, people don't want to jump off, they don't want to replatform they don't want to learn a new platform. But you told something over and over again. It's coming. It's coming. It's coming. And it sounds like it gets dumped on you to kind of explain around the timing. You know, I've heard you kind of, you know, cause raise your sentiment around Shopify compared to years prior? Is that where you sit now?

Jordan Brannon 17:23

Yeah, I think that we're definitely more optimistic about Shopify as value in 2022, as an eCommerce platform for merchants than we have been in some time. So yeah, I think our optimism has probably increased.

Aaron Conant 17:37

It's just, you know, when you look at stock is booming, your sentiments going down stocks coming back down to earth, your sentiments going up.

Jordan Brannon 17:47

Yeah, I have laughed a little bit about that myself. either. I'm really bad, or I'm just a good like, forecaster. So this is not really stock advice. It's really geared more towards that merchant Tucson, on Shopify as a as an eCommerce shopping cart software. And that's always sort of been what what we've been really focused on is, you know, how, how much value does is present to a merchant? Who is going to rely on it to sell product? And so, yeah, maybe, maybe in a few years, you should sort of remember this conversation and or bylo? I don't know. But yeah, it is. It is definitely more on the merchant focused side of things and less about what what stock performance looks like?

Aaron Conant 18:27

Well, I mean, I think it's fairly common to the people who sit on the inside a lot of times are like scratching their head, like, why is there this valuation? It's happening as a whole? As you see, you know, under the covers a little bit, it's kind of like, I don't quite understand all the optimism still good, but not quite all the optimism. But if we're thinking about their like, newest, you know, updates as a whole, like, what are you most excited about? Kind of, you know, bringing back the conversation. Thanks for the background, love that perspective to kind of set the stage for where we're at now. And optimism is there what, what has you and your team excited?

Jordan Brannon 19:02

Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest thing is there is again, sort of this culture shift that seems like it's happening for them as a platform, which is important. And again, I don't know that I've got, you know, the one sort of silver thing is silver bullet out there. But there does seem to be a shift in how Shopify is addressing its platform. And so probably the thing we're most excited for, in a specific way, our development teams who are working on a lot of these builds are really, really excited about some more extensive API offerings for merchants. You know, merchants hear API and they sort of think, not for me, but really, the API is is sort of today's way of taking a really good core product, and then making it something that is really robust and rich and finished for merchants. And so you know, Shopify has been really trailing farther behind competitors like big commerce. And that meant merchants on platform were really captive to sort of a narrower body of functionality than what they could get elsewhere. And so Shopify had sort of this summation of of their updates. Hold the summer editions, which sounds like it'll sort of be a continuing kind of rollout method for them. That kind of talked about some of their publicized API releases for things like checkout extensibility. They're selling plan, API's, b2b API's, and those are really well received. And then sort of as a part of that bundle, our dev team was really excited by Shopify functions, which is, again, kind of a part of that release segment. And then, you know, for Shopify Plus merchants, audiences has been really compelling. And that's been a really key differentiator for them. And that's actually been we, I think we've mentioned this in a previous conversation here, and then just that you and I are talking, but that's actually been a needle mover in terms of some merchants who are on advanced, moving up to plus, because it does really help close some of the gaps that merchants were seeing when third party data value is restricted and less accessible. And that started to hit their advertising. And so I think, you know, there's a lot on the API side of things we're really excited about. And then some things certainly that maybe are less API driven, that we're also really, really keen on this to see released.

Aaron Conant 21:06

So super interesting. You didn't flag you know, hydrogen, and oxygen isn't part of, but you'd be excited about, like any explanation as to why and I don't know, maybe like just rundown briefly on what they are. And others. Just a quick reminder, if people have questions as a whole, you can drop into the chat and drop into the q&a. We can email them to me,

Jordan Brannon 21:31

Thank you, I think, yeah, so hydrogen, oxygen, they're sort of they're fun developed her things they sort of allow for some, you know, I think it's more interesting sort of trial and test projects, but, but really, they're they're things that Shopify is doing to try to compete more in a headless and a composable. Commerce sort of RFP. A hydrogen is a react based framework and toolset that really helps to speed up sort of build time for headless front ends and stores and maybe more meaningfully integrate them into a Shopify back end. And then oxygen is sort of a hosting solution for non Shopify, Korea creations. And so kind of think about like Shopify, you pay for your Shopify plan, you get your storefront, you get the admin and you get hosted. And so oxygen sort of allows for hosting of sort of non Shopify components on a Shopify architecture. And so I think neither one of them is super thrilling to me from the business use case or from the typical merchant use case. I think first, the existence of headless and composable commerce conversations is really sort of about a critique of eCommerce platforms themselves. So if you if you hear someone pitching you on headless or composable commerce, what are they saying? Oh, well, they're saying your current eCommerce platform isn't fast enough, it isn't flexible enough, it isn't powerful enough. It can't do what you need it to do. So inherent to sort of Shopify saying, We're headless, friendly, we're composable friendly, there is sort of this question mark of Well, I wouldn't need headless, I wouldn't need composable if you were better. And so to me, there is sort of a an acknowledgement that, you know, when a platform kind of moves to be very headless forward that it just says, like, hey, we can't keep up with sort of the leading edge of merchants. And that's okay, when it's really a leading edge. It's a problem when you know, merchants have to go headless, because you're so far behind. And I think both tend to be costly. And so you think about hydrogen, oxygen, either need to be a plus merchant, actually on a Plus plan, or well above that just in terms of GMV to make oxygen makes sense, make a hydrogen sort of headless front end, and maintain that experience makes sense. So there's just big costumes that a lot of the merchants we talked to are going to be making. And certainly I think, in a sort of given economic forecasting, a lot of people are thinking about how to spend less, not more on eCommerce build. And so I think, you know, to me, those things just don't make the list for that reason. And I do love headless is a specialized way of sort of advancing what's possible for some merchants. But I think the whole thing is a bit oversold. I think it's a at its heart. It's really just, again, that sort of acknowledgement by shopping cart software companies like Shopify that they need to do better.

Aaron Conant 24:09

Yeah, awesome. Well, thanks for kind of highlighting hydrogen and oxygen there. And the additional thoughts for sure. You know, but, you know, back to kind of more recent announcement as a whole, you mentioned that checkout customizations were a recent announcement. You know, you guys were kind of excited about we'd love to hear more about that as a whole. Yeah,

Jordan Brannon 24:30

I think sort of big picture. Again, there's this sort of forecasting that says, you know, hey, maybe Shopify can see outside of its own walled garden mindset towards checkout. And, you know, again, that may recognize some vulnerability in its positioning in eCommerce for the next five years. But ultimately, I think that there is a sort of a change in direction that's happening with the checkout extensibility. You know, if you've been a merchant on Shopify for three or four years, you've seen them sort of buckled down rather than increased flexibility in checkout, they've banned some other third party checkout partners, they've limited some of the app functionality that comes through there. And that sort of has almost countered what everybody else is doing, you know, big Commerce has sort of been pushing to be more cart and checkout customization friendly. And Shopify sort of seemed to kind of go the other way. And so I think the checkout extensibility, which is API driven, really sort of hints that, hey, we're going to open up some of what we had kind of walled off and create opportunities for app developers or private app developers, for merchants to really improve on sort of what's there already in Shopify is that great one click Checkout speed and experience. But there's just a lot of other things that have been sort of shortcoming. And so the checkout extensibility will allow merchants to increase some of the logic around discounting that happens in inside of the checkout experience, improve styling. So again, just branding, that checkout experience has been a big plus creating sort of more personalized experiences for that particular transaction and session for user. And so that's sort of where we see checkout, extensibility has been really kind of an exciting area where we can create that personalized kind of presentation where you can drive better conversion rates better EOB, things like that.

Aaron Conant 26:16

I mean, checkout has been, you know, all over, you know, I'd say the digital news, you know, with some of these big players having devaluations as a whole. So I mean, check out, you know, you still consider it that important of an area and like what are some of the the opportunities you see coming from Shopify is doing here?

Jordan Brannon 26:35

Yeah. So I mean, Shopify has had strength without one, click Checkout, the integration, the shop pace, there are some upside things. But ultimately, some of the logic of just you know, what happens inside of checkout was a bit deficient. And so we kind of liked some of the things were, again, one of the big things is just sort of creating additional value inside of the shopping cart. You know, you know, just if you get a customer into that experience, well, let me step back a bit. Right now a lot of our merchants are talking about, well, how do we continue to sort of make the revenue numbers we have, despite sort of this, this down economy, how do we increase our margins, despite sort of what's you know, projected for us in terms of, you know, quarter three, quarter four, and one of the easiest answers as well, if you can take that customer who is already in checkout, and you can get them to buy, or you can get that person who is, you know, maybe in checkout, and was going to buy anyways, make them buy more, all of your sort of sunk costs in terms of the marketing and the content. And all of that is sort of taken care of. Now, you're just sort of increasing margins by doing that. And so, again, this checkout, extensibility allows us to do that. So again, you hit a certain dollar amount inside of your cart, you're now into the checkout experience, we want you to get free shipping, here's how far you are. Here's some suggested products that you can add into this cart right now. And they're actually really embedded into the cart, not sort of an afterthought, that sort of lives outside of that checkout experience, discounting the logic again, so you know, volume purchasing inside of checkout. And some of those other things that have been again, kind of you had to get done before you made it to the checkout, Shopify is now allowing merchants to do a bit more. That's also sort of ties into that Shopify functions feature I mentioned earlier, where you can kind of build with your developer or with an app developer, you can have some of these custom logic builds, in areas where Shopify maybe is more natively restrictive. And so you can kind of combine discounts for specific cart specific combinations of products, specific purchasing thresholds. And then again, I think, you know, within checkout extensibility, we see sort of an opportunity for more data capture, where you can act as you know, maybe first party data aggregators of your own audiences. And so that really allows you to, again, recover some of that lost signal that you perhaps saw as a result of sort of the, you know, iOS changes everything else that's happened over the last couple of years. Yeah,

Aaron Conant 28:57

I mean, you mentioned like Shopify, you know, functions alongside checkout. Now, you want to kind of like highlight, you know, you know, is that only Shopify Plus, you know, what is Shopify functions? Do? We'd love to hear thoughts around that as well.

Jordan Brannon 29:12

Yeah, so Shopify functions is going to be available and checkout extensibility there, they're going to be available to Shopify as base through the use of App Store approved apps. So if you are not on a Shopify Plus plan, you have to sort of wait for app apps that have been approved, to bring them live and to be able to access them. So custom apps, however, if your Shopify Plus merchant can be built to take advantage of both. So I guess in theory, you know, both, you know, audiences will have a chance to sort of take advantage what's happening through functions. You know, and I think ultimately, you know, Shopify functions is sort of starting out as a paired release with Shopify checkout, because the initial function that's offering are sort of really tied to making the checkout extensibility matter and so I think example Shopify actually, you Using their announcement was sort of the ability to build add in cart value inside of the checkout experience. And so for us, as developers, and as a development agency functions really allows us to create, you know, again, discounting logic where we can say, you know, this particular merchant needs these things to happen before you get a specific discount. Or maybe there's a bundle price that we want to occur for a table and chairs or something like that, that otherwise just in the normal shop, Shopify app experience or shop by purchasing experience isn't going to be available. And so I think that sort of logic is really going to be helpful and will increase sort of the value that you get from Shopify checkout with Shopify functions. 

Aaron Conant 30:40

Yeah, I mean, just going back to some of your earlier commentary, you know, is this, you know, kind of a necessity, you know, to help them catch up?

Jordan Brannon 30:48

Yeah, for sure. I mean, it's still app dependent, both these things are still kind of app dependent to start. But again, we're not talking about deficient apps, like one of the things that a lot of merchants have experienced is they have 20 apps, but they don't like most of them, you know, most of those apps don't really do what they need to and the reasoning is, is that Shopify has not enabled app developers to build some more robust experiences because of these API limits. And so these are really big things, even though you may not necessarily go in and, you know, one click install and sort of suddenly your store is dramatically changed. There are a big deal, because the apps that you're getting will have more meaningful, robust experiences, and really complete the logic you thought they had, you know, back in mid 2000s, we talked about Magento, open source community had a really robust if then logic for its part, and checkout discounts. Big commerce had sort of launched a similar approach, and has sort of been advancing that for more than a decade. And Shopify was just doing coupon codes, coupon codes, coupon codes for, you know, most of its existence. And so I think now we're finally sort of moving into a spot where Shopify saying, Hey, we can and will be competitive in some of these areas, like discounting that. And again, we're maybe not going to build the one, but we're going to really enable a lot of the apps you use already to offer meaningful outcomes.

Aaron Conant 32:08

Yeah, I mean, it seems like functions in checkout, right, are kind of like this bundle that comes together, right, then, you know, for them, you know, get the full value, right? They need to be worked together. Is that correct? And then are there other additions that are similarly integrated? That should be highlighted?

Jordan Brannon 32:28

Yeah. So yeah, check check out and functions are basically, you know, they're kind of separate announcements in the recent Shopify group, but they really are dependent on one another from a b one standpoint. And I think ultimately, we're hoping to see more near term releases that sort of build value on each of those functions will likely have a chance to take a much bigger role eventually, because just the the idea of it is that you can create these kinds of custom logics, that overlay on Shopify data. And you can see how that can expand well beyond just the checkout, maybe, again, functions tied to what happens on a login page, or what happens on a created account page or or, you know, again, a specific product page. And so I think, ultimately, alongside those two checkout in functions, there was some new announcements around what they call the selling plans, API's, as well as some b2b API's. And I think those are going to sort of kind of help round out this sort of initial launch to create, again, more value and all of them.

Aaron Conant 33:27

No, I think it's a great lead in because just, you know, a couple of thoughts, you know, I'd love to hear around the selling plan API's, and especially the b2b side of things as well. I mean, that's been coming up more and more across the board is b2b.

Jordan Brannon 33:43

Yeah. I mean, b2b has been sort of an interesting, kind of, it's bucked the COVID, you know, trend in some ways. And I think it's an area where, you know, certainly there's still a lot of growth opportunity, even with sort of a down economy, it's, most of our b2b merchants have seen a lot of success, independent of sort of the pandemic shift, simply by being able to onboard their their selling processes to a commerce experience. And so, yeah, I think it'll be a big part of eCommerce going ahead, especially for platforms like Shopify, but with with with sort of the theme again on on these two releases, selling plans. And then also b2b Is that Shopify is really opening up a lot more enhancement opportunities for apps, or for private apps, or for customizations built for merchants. And ultimately, the goal, hopefully, is that Shopify begins to sort of launch some of its own functionality to sort of close those gaps, you know, directly for merchants. But right now, these apps will be again, much more robust than where they've been in the past. Again, if we did like a show of hands thing with the zoom function, we probably see a lot of merchants just sort of dissatisfied with their app experiences on some of these points. And so the selling plans API's, specifically is going to allow Shopify merchants to offer things like a pre order functionality where someone can purchase an item today have that order curry dated, but have the card processing held until something can ship now obviously, like the tribe before you buy as big for fashion merchants today. And that's been sort of a category we've had a lot of experience in. But we've got merchants who customize products. And so they're bringing in different components. And they have to build something or make something to before they ship it. And a lot of their customers didn't like having the withdrawal on their account already. And so for merchants like that this is going to be really helpful release. b2b API really is designed to sort of take the more narrow and limited version of b2b that Shopify has today and again, enhanced create opportunities for enhancement through apps. And so there's endpoints now for business customers, price lists, payment terms attached to b2b. And if you're on a b2b Shopify plan, you've seen some of those limitations. And so kind of pairing in these new b2b AP API endpoints, and functions and checkout and selling plans. You can do things like, you know, purchasing thresholds, specialized product releases that are only available to certain customer groups, in a limited catalog offerings based on who's logged in within a specific customer account, minimum purchasing requirements, payment on net 30 terms payment on shipment, payment on receipt, you know, all these things, where again, it's just vital for b2b merchants to have these these endpoints really do allow apps or, again, custom development to take care of some of that.

Aaron Conant 36:33

Awesome, love it. And so is where I want to bring up just two things I keep hearing about, I want to ask about, you know, first everything seems to be very API driven. Second, you seem to hedge your bets a bit with some of these features. And then just kind of a question that comes in I think that ties these two things together. Is everything Shopify doing right now going to be developer or app dependent. And separately, is there immediate value for most Shopify merchants?

Jordan Brannon 36:59

Okay. Yeah, good questions. I think there is a lot of developer centered stuff right now. And ultimately, that means, for most merchants, you're going to first sort of find out about it in apps experience and app experiences, and not necessarily natively in your own store back end. So there'll be a bit of a delay, or maybe a filtering that occurs through the apps as they kind of onboard some of these things. But I would say, you know, if you're working with an app right now, and it's pretty good, but you kind of see how it can be enhanced, start talking to them about when they're going to release some of these updates. A lot of these things are now available for developer beta, develop developer release, and so they should be working on them. And maybe you need to help kind of cue their roadmap a bit. And so I think that can be kind of disappointing. You know, since again, a common critique of Shopify is that it's app dependent. But on their hand, these are really sort of features that are necessary are vital, are going to enhance what's happening from sort of the Shopify side of things. And so I would say, as a merchant, you should be excited about this, because it will, again, create a lot of opportunity for you. And you can go the private app route, if you're a plus merchant, in some of these areas, and kind of address some of these things directly or, again, go to the merchant or apps that you're working with there. And so again, I think that that will be sort of a draw for merchants, I think I am sort of hedging my bet on some of these features. For one, a lot of them, again, are going to be app dependent. And then some of them I think, also, we're just sort of getting the announcements and limited releases today. We don't necessarily have public release date, and things like that, where we can sort of say like, Hey, by this quarter, for you're going to have all of these new features available to you. So some of it is Yes, sir. Maybe hedging that bet a bit just because of we've haven't quite reached the point of seeing them live and in our hands and across the boards.

Aaron Conant 38:48

And is there anything that you're you're looking at right now that you think merchants should be looking at? That isn't necessarily, you know, as much, you know, developer dependent?

Jordan Brannon 39:00

Yeah, yeah. I think, um, you know, if you kind of look at some of the things that are not developer dependent, I think Shopify has really doubled down on some of its strength. You know, so if you think about sort of, one of the biggest appeals and differentiators for Shopify, in sort of the eCommerce ecosystem, really has been social shopping and social marketing tool sets. You know, a lot of merchants have chosen Shopify because of that commitment, that sort of leading edge advantage. And again, we've seen a bigger shift towards people purchasing natively inside of the social experience instead of going to or going to a storefront, especially as we sort of again see the loss of signal value for third party cookies. And so that forces social platforms to sell more directly. And so Shopify has doubled down on a number of of those strengths and social shopping or social marketing with Twitter shopping was announced as part of the recent group, Link Pop, which sort of allows some of the profile links to enhance sort of a shopping experience, dovetail, which is I think was an acquisition for them. Where it's a sort of an affiliate and influencer identification tool set. Again, a lot of merchants are working through some very weird ecosystems of third party agencies and other things. And so dovetail sort of helps umbrella that in, it's really been good for some of our smaller merchants, again, who are kind of managing that on their own today, and maybe don't have the resources to pay for a full influencer sort of engagement agency type campaign. We also saw that announcement recently, the Shopify YouTube sort of partnership to be able to allow purchasing for channels that have over 1000 subscribers. And those are really good incremental increases and improvements. And again, just show that commitment from Shopify to social, I think merchants, you know, need to sort of be attentive to that, because there is sort of the the writing on the wall that the storefront, unless there's some sort of change is going to become less important in the purchasing experience for different categories than it has been for the last 15 to 20. And so, social selling is a big part of where customers are going, and social purchasing is where customers are going. And that's where we need to go as merchants and agencies, we need to be addressing that social selling piece. And so I think that's, that's important, also announced, but I think will really be important for that mid sized merchant is some new order and inventory management functionality. If you are the Econ manager, or your marketing person, you may not have a lens into sort of how painful it is through apps and connectors and the expense that goes into that. And so I think Shopify, sort of closing that gap on order and inventory management is really a big deal. And so I think that'll be, again, help free up some dollars, because third party connector apps that help with OMS sort of functionality and fulfillment functionality are expensive and problematic to work with sometimes. And so the new functionality there is sort of designed to, you know, kind of handle bulk orders to track inventory, be able to print shipping labels. And sure, you know, sort of the overall fulfillment side of things, not a pain point are not dependent on a third party. And I do actually sort of project that I think Shopify will invest a lot here on on OMS. On fulfillment, we already sort of seen the SFM piece from a warehousing but I think this sort of integrated fulfillment software solution, SAS solution will be a big part of the the Shopify cart, product and value add for merchants. So maybe not, that may that may not be the most sexy announcement, but probably one of the most important ones for Shopify for maybe the next five years or so.

Aaron Conant 42:49

Yeah, for sure. I mean, are there, you know, other additions that, you know, announcements or things that have popped up that are, you know, more accessible for merchants as a whole that, you know, you're kind of advising people to take a look at, or, you know, keep an eye on?

Jordan Brannon 43:05

Yeah, hey, we touched on this. And maybe in a previous podcast, you might have done one, specific to online store 2.0, which was Shopify is sort of first, again, 2.0. So its first sort of big revamp of its theming framework for merchants. And so that's a really good one for merchants to spend some time digging into, especially if you're on a store that's two or three or four years old in terms of its theme. The whole idea behind online store 2.0 was to improve sort of the speed of the storefront itself, but also to increase sort of the ability for a non technical admin to really manage the content and front end experience of that store, when that theme is built well. And so there's the ability to create different content blocks, which can really be featured throughout the store and more unique pages and unique content sections. There's some enhancements to the way that themes handle apps. A lot of merchants are sort of surprised to know that when they remove an app from their storefront, the front end code doesn't necessarily go out with it. And so you can disable an app stop using it three years ago. And that front end code can still be included in your theme. And it could be slowing your store down, it could represent some other liabilities and risks for you. And so really, it has a lot of a lot of value add there. What else? Shopify audiences, I think is a huge one, again, a plus plus focused offering. But the audience piece is probably one of your best opportunities as a Shopify merchant to close some of that gap that we're seeing inside of third party advertising. So if you're kind of dealing a bit with both the eCommerce management and the advertising piece, you've probably seen things like Google Performance max. And performance Max is being pushed as this AI and machine learning brilliant tools to enhance advertising performance. But the reality of it is Google's way of trying to respond to we've lost signal. And we don't know how to do it. And so we need you to give us audiences, so that we can start to build out campaigns for you and for everybody else. And so Shopify audiences is going to be part of how you do that you can use the data that you're getting from Shopify audiences, to feed back into your different advertising campaigns, with Facebook, with Instagram with Google, so that they actually begin to have a performance value, both in terms of targeting your existing customer, but also reaching new customers who sort of match that audience or have a good profile. So that's, that's a really big one. And again, I think I touched on this maybe a touch earlier in the call, it's one of the things that we see as being a bigger reason to go to Shopify Plus, you know, so if you're in that advanced category, you've sort of been unwilling to sign the contract. And you know, pick up the extra fees and things like that Shopify audiences, if you're doing a lot of social selling a lot of Pay Per Click advertising could be one of those things. We didn't see just kind of as a footnote, it was not announcement come up today from Klaviyo think they took an investment from Shopify think is sort of the underlying phrasing and their thing today. But again, potentially, for email and SMS campaigns, sort of Shopify audiences, that deeper integration with Klaviyo, and some others could really be a value add for you. filtered search. So filtered searches, that ability is sort of, I want something that is available and in stock today, it's red, it's in my size, that sort of experience has really been dependent on third party apps for Shopify merchants for a long time. And expensive ones. Like if you're using search spring or others, they're great. But they also cost a pretty penny sometimes more than your Shopify plan. And they can sometimes impact the load speeds negatively. And so Shopify released a filtered search function, which allows you to integrate that into your store experience. Again, I think it's an online store 2.0 theme dependent thing, so you will need to sort of look at that upgrade as part of it. What else maybe last one, just on that same note, I'd say is meta fields, which is a weird one, but meta fields are basically this sort of opportunity for you to to define recurring content, or schema for different products. And so if you're in a store, and you're really tired of just sort of the regular descriptor, like this short little one thing, you can create fit guides, you can create, you know, the narrative behind how the store was created, if it's, you know, ethically sourced, or, and you can kind of build out a lot more content, we have clients, we're using meta fields to create your make model, sort of fitment type matches for filtered search and things like that. And so a meta field is really valuable and can really help enhance SEO, which is something that we're really big on for Shopify. And so that could be another really good value add that's available, and you can use without sort of needing a big sort of development, commitment or investment.

Aaron Conant 48:05

Yeah. Awesome. So a few questions that have popped in here. First one is really easy. You said, you're going to drop in the link to Jordan and face tattoos podcast. So that's coming over in the chat. Now, what Google wants you to know about face tattoos tell you to listen to that. Next one, what is this inventory management edition called,

Jordan Brannon 48:27

it doesn't actually have a name for it. So it's, it was sort of a bundling of, of features to their order management and inventory fulfillment. It's not yet a general release. But it sounds like that should be available before quarter four. But the whole idea there is right now, most merchants are paying 200 To 300 to $400, depending on your size four basic connector tool that's going to handle some of the basic OMS and inventory management kind of tooling, either to get it to a warehouse or to another app or software solution. And so it's sort of an enhancement that for most merchants, again, if you're not maybe high volume, high volume, you should be able to use Shopify without necessarily having that 300 $400 piece which, again, cost savings today are everything. So that should hopefully be available soon. But it doesn't have a specific kind of cool name like hydrogen or oxygen or anything like that. 

Aaron Conant 49:19

I would go with nitrogen would be my guess is the next one. Nitrogen. Time to break out your your crystal ball here. Google Analytics for integration native for Shopify, when will this happen that the clock is ticking?

Jordan Brannon 49:36

Yeah, well, let me

Aaron Conant 49:39

I'm gonna throw that in there. Because the next one is using two coupon codes at once. Shopify promised it still has to happen.

Jordan Brannon 49:46

Yeah. So this is this is fine. So I again, I have I have no insight. This is all public information. So I'm not sure it's insider, but I do expect the GA for integration to happen before we hit quarter four. So for those of you who don't know As the current sort of iteration of Google Analytics is going to be expiring early next year. And ultimately, when it does go, you will lose all of the data that's in it. So if you don't have an agency or someone who is setting you up on Google Analytics for to start pre capturing and building some history, you needed to do that, like yesteryear. And so GA for integration is going to be a big piece of you want that done, and you want it to now today, Shopify does not support the GA for integration natively. And so it's again, sort of a clue G solution. But you again, the main goal is you want to get your data into Google Analytics, your Google AdWords for profile starting now. And so clue G is better than nothing. And so, again, that well, we have not heard that is, sometime before quarter four, we shouldn't see something that is native for Shopify. But again, whether or not that actually is delivered on I can't promise or deliver two coupon codes at once Shopify promised to but still hasn't happened. Again, I think this is an area where the checkout extensibility is intended to sort of help bridge that gap. So in theory, in theory, all of these API endpoints that Shopify is creating also exist internally. And that's sort of how some of Shopify as native functionality works. And so I would hope that with the checkout extensibility with functions, we actually are sort of seeing them surface simultaneously to them natively delivering two coupon codes at once I'm my hope is that native this will be available in general release for all plans. But at a minimum functions and checkout extensibility should allow us to layer coupon codes, or have them operating simultaneously. Again, that's going to be app dependent. Unless you're a plus plus merchant, you do something on the private app.

Aaron Conant 51:46

And the last one, and we'll wrap it up here in the next 90 seconds. So what are the risks? Was Shopify cutting back their employees? Should we consider other platforms in the near future?

Jordan Brannon 51:57

Yeah, I mean, it's worth shopping around. So I'll start with the latter half of that and sort of consider other platforms, I think it's good, the a lot of the risks for migrations has gone away, if done well. Keys for good migration is don't just plan on sort of a wholesale rebranding, redesign redeployment of content when you migrate, take the baby step, move everything you have, as you have it, or close to it over to your new platform today, in terms of your content, your catalog, your navigation, those things, when you do that, you'll find that you kind of rebound really quickly from any sort of impact. And it's a lot easier for your team to sort of learn the new platform, too many brands trying to still do this, like the face tattoo thing, where they just are blowing everything out of the history that they've had for the last 10 years, and then showing up with something really dramatic and different and nobody gets it. And it's not not great. So I would say just certainly every two to three years at least, you should be looking at sort of a replatform right now that the markets moving that quickly, your business has probably changed quite a bit in that timeframe. So again, sort of a good inventory, even if you decide to stick with the same platform, overhauling the theme, cleaning out your apps, you know, all those sorts of things, probably useful every two to three years. Cutting back the employees, I think a lot of it is sort of things that were maybe not necessarily directly beneficial to merchants, you know, they're talking about cutting back on recruiting, on sales on some of their marketing and things like that, which again, you as a merchant didn't benefit much from anyways. And so I would say, you know, near term, I don't expect that to have any sort of negative consequence, I did hear that they were going to cut on support. But honestly, if you're Shopify merchant, you probably have scratched your head and said, What support and so most of us have not liked that experience. And frankly, I found the Shopify community and others to be more helpful. So I don't actually see there being a risk for that today,

Aaron Conant 53:46

so awesome. Well, I see we're right at time again, Jordan, thanks for your time today. Anybody who dialed in encourage you to have a follow up conversation if you're looking for any help in this area whatsoever. Re platforming, paid media, SEO, whatever it might be anything in the digital space that's you know, big commerce, Shopify, whatever they've been around forever and just help a ton of people out within the network. So come highly recommended worth a follow up conversation if you're in the in the market for an agency as a whole. And with that, we're gonna wrap it up, encourage you to check out our website upcoming events, both in person and virtual. Check out the podcast as we interview, you know, all the digital leaders across the landscape as a whole that we can get lined up. With that we're gonna wrap it up everybody, take care, stay safe and look forward to having you heard a future event. Thanks, Jordan.

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