New physical space, services marketplace lead flurry of Shopify Unite announcements

Shopify Unite

Today at Shopify’s Unite partner and developer conference in Toronto, the company announced new features and products as it looks to solidify its global position in the ecommerce space. The announcements span across the spectrum of Shopify’s offerings, from improvements to its point-of-sale and payments platforms to completely new services for bricks-and-mortar merchants.

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s next for the retail giant.

A Shopify physical space

Shopify plans to open a physical space by the end of this year, which will act as a hub for Shopify products, services, and new technology, and provide support and education for retailers on its platform. While a location hasn’t been confirmed, it will be in the US, and is part of Shopify’s goal to support its merchants that are increasingly opening physical stores.

“After five years of investing in real life programming such as ShopTalk, Retail Tour, and ShopClass, we know that face-to-face help makes a huge difference for our partners’ and merchants’ businesses,’” a Shopify spokesperson told BetaKit. “We’ve vetted global cities with the aim of providing an extension of human help that can make a big difference for our ecosystem.”

Shopify Tap & Chip Reader

Improved payments

Shopify also announced a new Tap & Chip Reader, available only in the US for $49 USD starting fall of this year, with plans to expand to other markets in 2019.

The new tap and chip reader, which is PCI and EMV certified, will support Google Pay and Apple Pay as well as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. Payments processed will sync with a merchant’s back-end operations, including inventory, orders, and fulfilment.

BetaKit covered the launch of Shopify’s POS card reader back in April 2017, its first designed internally by the company, and also initially available only in the US. Shopify’s chip and swipe reader will still be available for free to Shopify merchants.

“The reason that this card reader doesn’t make a whole of sense in Canada currently is because it doesn’t support PIN entry. And because of that, it also won’t support Interac,” David Seal, product manager at Shopify, said at the time. “If you care about this device being used in a retail setting, in a brick and mortar store, not being able to accept Interac is not going to be very helpful to those merchants.”

Shopify’s POS service is also getting an upgrade, and will include: multi-channel returns and exchanges; in-store pickup; tipping options; a companion app for a customer-facing checkout experience; and a developer SDK. The company last upgraded its POS in June 2017 to better reach merchants working in settings like pop-up shops.

Shopify also said it will now allow customers to pay using country-specific cashless payment methods.

Ping and Services Marketplace

Shopify is launching Ping, a new platform centralizing business conversations. Ping pulls from the messaging apps merchants use, including Facebook Messenger, Rep.ai, and Chatkit, and brings those conversations into a single mobile app. Ping will also be a medium for merchants to work with Shopify’s Kit offering, a virtual marketing assistant that automates the process of running Facebook ads and email marketing campaigns.

“Our merchants are often managing their finances, inventory, marketing and customer conversations across many different applications, all while trying to grow and scale their business,” said Michael Perry, director of product for marketing technology. “With Shopify Ping, our merchants will have all of their business conversations streamlined into one application, allowing them to seamlessly manage and prioritize their interactions.”

The company said that the goal is for Shopify Ping to be the app that centralizes all business conversations, including those with employees, as well as an intelligent inbox that surfaces conversations by priority. Ping will have added skills for Kit that will support merchants beyond marketing.

Shopify Services Marketplace

Shopify is also launching an offering to let merchants connect with talent on creative projects. The Services Marketplace ​will bring Shopify Partners and merchants together in on one platform offering Shopify Partner expertise like website design, marketing, and photography. Merchants will be able to request by job, such as store setup, and the platform will run on the same algorithm that powers the app store to determine what merchants need and recommend the ideal expert to help them.

“Shopify is dedicated to ensuring that our merchants and partners are set up for success, and part of ensuring that success is making it easier for the two to discover and work together,” said Atlee Clark, Shopify’s director of app & partner platform. “We’re leveraging our understanding of merchant challenges and our partner ecosystem to build a seamless services marketplace for entrepreneurs.”

The services marketplace will launch as a public beta this summer to select areas.

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