Ottawa-based Shopify Inc. SHOP-T is unveiling more than 100 new e-commerce products on Wednesday, including a variety of partnerships with Apple AAPL-Q, Google GOOGL-Q and Twitter TWTR-N, along with a new feature that allows customers to unlock personalized versions of online stores through cryptocurrency wallets.
In an interview ahead of the launch, Shopify president Harley Finkelstein described the products as part of a broader, consumer-oriented focus at the company to help merchants connect with customers on platforms they might be more comfortable with, such as social media websites. According to recent estimates, Shopify provides tools for around two million merchants globally to run their online stores.
“Going back a couple of hundred years ago, commerce was done in the town square. That’s where the baker sold bread and the cobbler soled shoes. And the reason that was the case was because that’s where people spent their time,” Mr. Finkelstein told The Globe and Mail. “If you think about where people are spending their time now, it’s everywhere. I mean, it’s on TikTok, it’s on Pinterest, it’s on Facebook and Instagram, it’s offline in stores, it’s at the farmer’s markets.
“And so, fundamentally, we want to be the commerce, the retail operating system that makes it easy for merchants to sell across any one of those surface areas.”
Shopify’s new offerings are being announced as technology companies face a global downturn after thriving during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first quarter of 2022, Shopify posted its slowest quarterly growth in seven years – missing analysts’ projections on earnings, revenue and gross merchandise volume.
Big tech companies, including the ones Shopify is now partnering with, have altogether lost trillions of dollars in market value this year as many investors sell their shares and the U.S Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate.
Some of Shopify’s new products will only be available in the United States before they are launched in other markets. This includes a partnership with Apple Inc. that allows Shopify merchants to accept payments directly from their customers’ iPhones without the use of point-of-sale machines.
The company is also launching a local shopping feature on Alphabet Inc.’s Google that will allow customers anywhere to search for a product and be shown one available nearby, listed on a Shopify merchant’s website.
Additionally, Shopify is Twitter Inc.’s exclusive global partner for Twitter Shopping, that will offer merchants a built-in feature to offer products to customers through the social media app and website.
Earlier this year, Shopify confirmed a deal to buy San Francisco startup Deliverr Inc. for US$2.1-billion, which was Shopify’s largest acquisition to date and part of a push toward expanding its warehousing and delivery services. Since then, the company has offered two-day delivery and free, six-month storage for its merchants. On Wednesday, Shopify launched shipping services to France and Britain.
Mr. Finkelstein said he’s particularly looking forward to Shopify’s new “tokengated” feature that will allow merchants to create exclusive benefits, such as unique products and collections for customers, which could only be accessed with crypto wallets and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). He called it a “golden ticket” for customers.
Shopify’s new foray into crypto is announced as digital assets such as bitcoin plummet to multiyear lows, while a wider industry rout has caused large crypto firms to cut big portions of their staff and one major player to halt all transactions indefinitely.
“Our job as the retail operating system for brands all over the world is no matter what a merchant wants to do on Shopify, we have to make that available,” Mr. Finkelstein said.
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