- Shopify has been on a product-launching spree, looking for new ways to grow its customer base and reach consumers.
- Shopify is launching a business bank account called Shopify Balance, and a buy now, pay later product called Shop Pay Installments.
- It’s also working on new features for local merchants, like delivery services.
- The e-commerce enabling tech company typically serves online retailers, but is now looking to new segments like restaurants.
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Shopify has long been known as the e-commerce platform where merchants can sign up and start selling online.
But over the past few months, as brick-and-mortar businesses closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, Shopify has seen a new wave of retailers moving online. And as its merchant base grows, Shopify has been launching several new products to meet retailers’ new needs.
At its virtual Reunite conference for its merchant and developer community Wednesday, Shopify announced its new business banking offering, Shopify Balance, which will be available later this year in the US (which accounts for over 50% of Shopify’s customer base). It also announced plans for a buy now, pay later product that merchants can integrate into their online stores.
“We’re definitely on a product launching spree,” Craig Miller, chief product officer at Shopify, told Business Insider.
These new products have been in the works before the coronavirus pandemic, which has accelerated many of the digitization trends Shopify was seeing, Miller said.
“Shopify has been working on a lot of these projects and products over a number of years,” Miller said. “COVID really just accelerated the transition to everything moving online, and e-commerce becoming much more of the norm.”
Brick-and-mortar retailers, for one, whose shops have been shut down have been quickly pivoting to online stores to continue selling.
In-store retail purchases through Shopify’s point of sale (PoS) declined by 71% between March 13th and April 24th. But those brick-and-mortar retailers were able to make up 94% of those lost in-person sales with online transactions, according to Shopify’s first quarter earnings.
E-commerce has been steadily growing, and has continued to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic as total retail growth slows. In 2019, online sales accounted for over 10% of all retail sales in the US.
And the shift to digital is likely to have a lasting impact on retail. As shops reopen, connecting in-store with online shopping will be key.
Here’s a look at some of the products Shopify is rolling out to cater to existing e-commerce customers, new industries, and consumers.
Shopify is launching a business bank account for its merchants
For small businesses, banking can be a major pain point. Large banks are often catered toward the larger end of the small business segment, and often business owners end up using their personal bank account to get started.
Now, Shopify is hoping to do the same with the launch of Shopify Balance, it’s business banking product.
“Traditional banks are built for traditional businesses,” Miller said. “This is 2020, the world has changed. Merchants have very different needs and consumers have very different needs than in the past.”
Balance will include a checking account, digital and physical debit cards, and real-time access to cash earned on sales through Shopify’s platform.
The account, which has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, can be used through Shopify’s existing merchant portal, where business owners can monitor their cash flow, pay bills, and track expenses.
Like many fintechs, Shopify is working with a partner bank, which provides the core banking infrastructure. Shopify is not disclosing which bank it’s partnered with.
Early access to Shopify Balance will begin later this year for US merchants.
With a new focus on local businesses, Shopify introduces delivery services
Helping e-commerce businesses get up and running has been Shopify’s bread and butter since its founding in 2004. But now, it’s seeing interest in new industries that typically wouldn’t have run on Shopify, Miller said.
Shopify’s e-commerce retailers, untethered to a brick-and-mortar footprint, typically have ambitions to sell globally. But for local sellers currently unable to operate out of their brick-and-mortar locations, e-commerce has become a new channel for sales.
“We saw a huge uptick in businesses that wanted to sell much more in their local area,” said Miller, “versus e-commerce, which is traditionally about selling everywhere in the world.”
And local merchants’ needs are a bit different to that of a global e-commerce retailer. Delivery, for one, is a necessity these days. And Shopify has been rolling out a platform where merchants can define their local delivery zone and take orders through their Shopify-powered online store or PoS.
And it’s catching on quick. As of April 24th, 26% of Shopify’s brick-and-mortar retailers in regions like the US and UK were using some form of local pick-up or delivery, compared to just 2% in February.
Shopify is building new templates and features for restaurants
Restaurants, too, have been turning to Shopify looking for new ways to sell food online, Miller said.
“It’s something that Shopify wasn’t designed for,” said Miller, “but what we saw is these types of businesses increasingly going on Shopify.”
While Shopify has built new store templates catered toward restaurants, they can be run like any other website, where consumers go online, purchase their products, and pick up in-store, Miller said.
“I think part of it is that a lot of them want to sell direct,” Miller said, “and selling directly has always been the premise of Shopify.”
Selling directly to consumers, as opposed to reaching them through marketplaces like Doordash or Uber Eats, has its advantages.
“We are not a marketplace,” said Miller. “Shopify allows a business to establish a relationship with a customer and because of that, there’s no worry about competing with others parties.”
“There are no crazy high fees like some of the food ordering apps, and I think a lot of them are really starting to like that,” Miller added.
In addition to building out new templates, Shopify rolled out a tipping feature that any of its merchants can use.
Shopify is appealing to consumers, too
In addition to building out new products for merchants, Shopify is also looking for ways to reach consumers.
This year, it’s planning to roll out a buy now, pay later feature on it’s platform, giving Shopify merchants the ability to offer shoppers installment payments at checkout.
Buy now, pay later has been surging during the pandemic, and it’s a crowded space with players like Affirm, Afterpay, and Klarna all competing for merchant partnerships. They’re often marketed as a way for merchants to boost sales and convert browsers to buyers.
Shopify’s product, called Shop Pay Installments, will be launched later this year with an undisclosed partner, and will be available to all US merchants using Shopify Payments.
In early May, Shopify also launched its consumer-facing shopping app, Shop. The brand discovery platform was launched sooner than Shopify had planned in response to the coronavirus, Business Insider has reported.
“Shop wasn’t initially planned to launch this early, but we saw this huge need from consumers that were looking to buy from local merchants,” Miller said. “We decided that that made sense for us to get that out into the hands of millions of consumers faster than initially planned.”