Shopify releases

Last week Shopify released their latest consumer-facing product: In the second half of 2019, they released the Shopify Fulfillment Network and made their largest acquisition to date in a warehouse fulfillment solution (6 River Systems). This latest product release follows the trend of their strategy to compete directly with Amazon in creating a collaborative shopping experience across Shopify brands.


Shopify claims that Shop is “the most convenient way for shoppers to buy from their favorite independent brands.” While this is a lofty statement, it says a lot about the bets they are placing in driving higher sales on their platform. Some food for thought in reading between the lines:

  • There is momentum for mobile-first shopping experiences. As of 2020, mobile web traffic has eclipsed that of desktop web traffic.  Retailers are increasingly realizing that their digital experiences cannot be one-platform-fits-all.  A native mobile app shopping experience provides consumers with a far superior offering while on a mobile device.
  • Consumers buy from brands that they trust, love, and relate to.  Brands themselves have value and drive revenue, not just the products they sell.  In a recent study by Edelman, 81% of consumers responded that they need to trust the brands they buy from. 
  • Speed to checkout and order visibility are paramount to a world class shopping experience.  It is important to understand your user journeys and optimize for them.  Furthermore, it is important to recognize that checkout is not the end of the journey!  Build brand loyalty by nurturing relationships through to delivery and beyond.  This is possible with technology.

Focus on the brand; not just your products.

Shop does not allow you to search for products, only brands.  They are banking on the brand equity that has been created across their 500,000+ active storefronts.  It appears that in the eyes of Shopify, commerce is not about buying products but rather about investing in brand experiences.

Shopify's brand exploration interface

A familiar mobile interface.

My first thought was “this looks a lot like Instagram.”  It is estimated that on average Instagram users spend approximately 1 hour per day on the platform.  That’s roughly 6% of a user’s waking life.  While I’m sure there was plenty of user testing and UX research that went into the design and creation of this app, I also recognize that Shopify didn’t need to re-invent the wheel.  And why should they?  There is no shame in adopting best practices across the web in creating your own digital experiences.

Shopify's brands interface

Platform-Agnostic Shipping/Fulfillment Visibility

Shop’s package-tracking features were initially released by Shopify in 2017 under the name “Arrive.”  Clearly they have made a bet on the importance of providing consumers with fulfillment and delivery visibility across all of their purchases (or perhaps it’s a data play).  When Gmail initially asked me to consent to Shop having access to my emails, I was skeptical.  However, the outcome is admittedly pretty slick.  The app scans order confirmation emails in your inbox and provides real time tracking of orders.  The competitive market is compressing timelines on fulfillment and delivery expectations.  While it is important for retailers to optimize supply chains for faster delivery, I believe that this is a race to the bottom.  In many cases, realiability and visiblity are as important, if not more important, than speed.

Shopify's order tracking

Relating these trends to your business

I am not suggesting that you run and build a native mobile app, allocate all spend toward brand awareness immediately, or double down on fulfillment visibility.  I am, however, suggesting that there is still blue water — areas where you can win.  At Aloi, we have a fundamental belief that there are incredible technology tools out there that can bring significantly added value to your business at a low cost.  We’re here to help you build that Playbook.

From Around the Web

Interesting Reads:

It’s Time to Build – A16Z
You may have already read this, but if not it’s definitely worth a few minutes. Marc Andreessen provides some interesting perspective on the need for innovation. It is a poignant and inspiring commentary on the state of the world.

Getting More Out of Marketplaces
Our friends at Mirakl have fantastic perspective on marketplace management and innovation. This article has some good actionable tips in considering e-commerce operations in the current climate.