Anton shares updates from Shopify Unite 2019 including new design changes and the Shopify Fulfillment Network.
All right, what's up, everybody? Anton Kraly here, and welcome to another episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast. If you are not listening yet, go to ecommercelifestyle.com, click on Episodes. You can find our entire back catalog. I think this is episode 76, so we've got a bunch of them. The reason I wanted to hop on today and record one is because I realized one of the first episodes that I ever did was back last year, and it was right after Shopify Unite.
If you're not aware, Shopify Unite is their annual conference. They have thousands, I think when I went last year, there was like 3,000 or 4,000 people there, something crazy like that, but it's a partner conference. They bring in their developers, people that are working in their ecosystem, so making themes, making apps, making courses, which is why I was there last year. That was when we won Best E-commerce Course. I was happy about this, as a side note. They did not have any awards this year, so I think they're only going to do Best E-commerce Course one time, so we are the sole winner. That is awesome.
Also, before we get into what I'm most excited about that they announced at Shopify Unite last week, I just want to say thank you to our new five-star review on iTunes. This is from Original Scotty D. He gave five stars and said, "Every episode is densely packed with practical information. I love this podcast." Thank you Scotty D., and thank you to everybody else that leaves reviews on iTunes. If you haven't yet, I would really appreciate it. It helps more people hear it. It helps us spread the word. Yeah, if you could just leave a quick review, go over to iTunes, search for eCommerce Lifestyle, let me know what you think in the reviews, I would appreciate that.
Back to Shopify Unite. They covered a few different things. They're releasing a bunch of different updates. Basically, what they do at this event is they have their executives, like they're the higher levels at Shopify, and they announce what they're going to be working on this next year, so big releases. The good thing that I actually really do appreciate about Shopify is they pick a few things, and they focus on them, and they actually get them done. A lot of these software companies will announce, "Here's our roadmap of things that we're going to do," and they'll announce like 30 different upgrades or feature requests. It's just stuff that never happens. But what I like about Shopify is when they say they're going to do something, they do it, and they do it right.
With that being said, some of what they announced doesn't really apply to me or my businesses. If you're watching this and you're running the type of store that we run, they don't really apply to you either, so I'm not going to talk about everything, just what is most relevant, again, to the type of stores we build.
The first thing is they're changing basically how we build stores. The way that they titled it is "a reimagined design experience for your online store," and if you build on Shopify now, you know that... when was it? It feels like forever ago. Maybe two years ago they started to allow us to build sections on our homepages. You can create different sections, for example, a collection section, a product section, a testimonial section, a video section, a text section, whatever. You could drag them up. You could move them around. Kind of like a basic page builder, but again, that's been for the home page. Well, what they announce now is that that is no longer exclusive to the home page. Basically, what that means is now it's basically drag and drop and more customizable not only on your home page but on other pages on your site. Also, they said you could do it multiple pages, you can make master pages. I think they mentioned it's coming with product pages as well, but what this made me think of is now, instead of using the third-party tools that we use, I'm not going to name any, but you know who the Shopify landing page builder tools are, I kind of think they're going to be obsolete.
This didn't happen now, but as they start to roll this out, I don't think we're going to need to pay these extra fees if we want that customizability of drag-and-drop page builders because, again, the announcement basically said now they're not limiting that to home page. They're making it so you can do it anywhere on your site, which is really cool.
This is kind of something that's like a theme with Shopify, which I don't know how developers feel because let's just say you were a developer that invested six figures or maybe even seven figures into a software that's a landing page builder, and now, Shopify basically says, "Now you could do that with us," that sucks for them. But as a user of Shopify, I appreciate it because the less tools that we have to use as business owners, not only the less we have to spend, but typically, the less breakage points there are because it's just more streamlined. If they built it, it's part of Shopify. It's not going to break. That's the first big thing, not needing third-party tools for landing page builders.
What I like too is let's just say you have a template that you build with different sections. You can make a master template and use it on multiple pages. Let's just say you have your about us page, your shipping page, your price guarantee or your price match policy, and you have a certain layout you want to use where you have the same calls-to-action, the sidebar, and the same header image that goes across the top. Well, now you could build one template, you could save it as a master template, and you can use it across all of those pages instead of having to recreate it over and over and over, but you can also make custom ones for each page. Basically, it's as customizable as you want it to be, again, without needing to rely or pay for a third-party tool. That was a really cool update that definitely appreciate from a cost-savings perspective, and again, having to use less and have less breaking points.
The next thing that I really liked is when you use Shopify, it's theme-based, so you choose what theme you want to use, very similar to WordPress. There are a bunch of different themes, but the thing has always been with Shopify, if you want to switch your theme, you can do that, but there's a lot of things that don't transfer over. Basically, what you would have to do is make sure you make a note of anything custom that you've done on your current theme. Then you upload the new theme you want to use. Then you manually transfer over the content and just everything. It's a manual process. Not terrible, but there's work involved.
What the announced just last week, again, is they're calling it "portable content that moves with you." They're saying that your shop's content will now follow you when you want to make changes to your store, whether that's downloading a new theme, trying out a new one. There's no more need to duplicate your theme or move content over manually.
Basically, if I see a new theme, and I'm like, "Oh, cool. I like this one. Let me see what my store looks like with that theme," I don't need to go through this process of a few hours of moving everything over. It'll just happen, which is really cool. It's a big time-saving. A lot of times, the reasons people don't switch themes even though they think they should or they want to is because they're afraid of having to redo everything, but now, you don't have to, so that is a very welcomed upgrade.
The other thing they announced that really stands out to me and that I'm excited for, they're calling it "a new workspace to update your store," so they're saying you could make little tweaks or big changes, but what you're doing is building it basically like on a, I don't know how to best describe it, but you're building a draft. You could do this, you could save the draft, you could preview the draft, and basically, you can make either these little tweaks or major tweaks without actually changing your website. You're doing this all, and then if you're happy with your draft, you could publish it. If you're not, you could just say, "You know what? Discard this draft and keep it as is."
I think that's really valuable to the people that are in their stores working on them themselves. Again, going back to the being afraid to try something new or the being afraid to install a new theme or the being afraid to get into the code or make minor tweaks, well, now, if it's all in draft mode, then what do you have to worry about? If it doesn't work, it you break your site, just don't publish it. That is very welcomed, and I think that's something that we've been looking forward to for a long time, especially when you're the solopreneur that wants to go into your site and play around yourself, less worrying about having to break it.
Some of this stuff that they announced that, again, I'm not going to use anytime soon so it doesn't really interest me, I'll skip over, but what I'll do is on ecommercelifestyle.com on this episode page, I'll post a link to the whole announcement, so if you're interested in some of the other things, you could read through all that.
The biggest thing, my opinion, the biggest thing that they announced that I am definitely going to take advantage of is what they're calling the Shopify Fulfillment Network. I gotta say, I had somebody that works closely with Shopify not only as a user, as a customer, but also as a partner, I really didn't see this coming. This is kind of out of left field, but for me, it's perfect timing. Again, they're calling it the Shopify Fulfillment Network. If you're familiar with Amazon FBA, Fulfilled By Amazon, this is pretty similar.
There's always been, since I got into ecommerce back in 2007, there has always been an issue of finding fulfillment centers that consistently perform. A fulfillment center, if you don't know what it is, let's just say I wanted to sell, I'm just looking at what's near me, let's say I wanted to sell more of my book, Dropship Secrets. I would find a... and if I didn't want to have a warehouse and if I didn't want to ship them myself I would find a fulfillment center. These are also known as 3PLs. What I would do is maybe ship a thousand books to them. They would keep them on a shelf somewhere in their warehouse, and then when orders came in, we would have Shopify or whoever we use to sell the book send the order to the fulfillment center. Fulfillment center would pick the order from the shelf. They would package it. They would ship it to the customer. That's fulfillment center.
Again, there's a lot of big fulfillment centers. Amazon is the biggest with Amazon FBA, but if you don't want to be dependent on Amazon, which you probably know by now, I don't, if you don't want to, then your options, they're there, but more than likely, you're going to run into customer service issues, and this is whether you're small and sending a hundred items to a fulfillment center or if you're huge and sending 50,000 units a week. There's always issues that come up.
But what Shopify is doing is making their own fulfillment network. I'm going to just read how they're describing it. They're talking about how getting people items quick, as fast as possible after they order is obviously super important, which, yeah, that's why we work with US suppliers in our businesses. But what they're doing now is basically partnering with different fulfillment centers that are already all over the states.
I'm not sure if this is going to be worldwide. I know for now, it's going to be all over the US, and it's in beta, but the way it's going to work is you can send your orders in to Shopify's fulfillment center, and they track orders on your store. Again, it's a direct integration because Shopify owns this, so they're going to know, let's say I sell these books and I send them a thousand units. If half of my orders are shipping in the tri-state area, like around New York, then they're going to know, "You know what? Let's get 500 books to the New York distribution center so they can get shipped the fastest and the cheapest." If they know that, I don't know, in California I have the smallest amount of customers, they're going to maybe keep 50 books closer over there.
This all happens with machine learning. It all happens with AI. What's cool about this is Shopify's not going out there and saying, "We're going to go build 50 different warehouses." They're tapping into existing warehouses, but they're partnering with them. Instead of having to make all these connections yourself, instead of having to work with all of these different 3PLs, you can work with Shopify Fulfillment Network, which will be in your dashboard inside of Shopify, and they will automatically know where to put your inventory and how to best get it to your customer.
This means faster shipping. This means better support. This just means, again, less headaches. This is lifestyle, all about less headaches. I'm really excited about this. As far as the dropshipping side of the business, it doesn't affect it because we're not going to be sending any of those products there, but a lot of what we're doing now in our ecommerce businesses is introducing our own product lines again. The idea was obviously use fulfillment centers, but now it's like instead of having go to through the headache that I knew I was going to deal with, I don't have to do that.
Now, again, with the way this works now, you do have to apply for early access. It's not live for everybody yet, but it's something that, like I said, Shopify doesn't release a lot of new things, but when they release them, they do them right. I'm sure it'll be out relatively soon. Yeah, it says it's available in the United States at this point. Some things that they share as why this is important, you get a single back office, so your order, inventory, and customer data, it's automatically synced and it's automatically up to date across all warehouse locations and sales channels, whereas, again, it used to be like if you worked with different 3PLs, everything was separate. Now it's just all together, it's all in one place, it's all real-time, automatically linked and updated to your store.
They give you recommended warehouse locations, so like I mentioned, if my sales were in New York, they would find the best warehouses and the best centers in New York, where we should store them, and where we can get the cheapest shipping options. They have automatic low-stock alerts, so if inventory runs low, you'll get a notice, like, "Hey, you're down to, whatever, a hundred copies of the book. You should replenish this," again, all in your Shopify dashboard.
The thing that I love here is they're claiming 99.5% order accuracy, so they're just... I think it's because it's so connected that there's not going to be issues. You're not going to run into issues of an order not shipping or an order shipping two weeks late or orders getting crossed and data getting corrupted because it's directly integrated. That is huge. Again, less headaches.
Then the final thing that I really like about it is they're saying you're getting hands-on warehouse help where you're going to get a dedicated account manager that will help you to find the best way to get your products to your customers for the best price. I hope that means that you're going to have a phone number and someone could call if issues do arise. Knowing Shopify, I do think we will. At the very least, I'm sure we'll have live chat and 24/7 email, hopefully, again, the phone number too, but what's what I'm excited about.
If you're watching this or listening to this right now and you're dropshipping and you're running on the dropship lifestyle model, again, that probably doesn't apply to you right now, but the way it does apply to you is now when you get to a point where you're up and you're running in you're profitable and you're making money and you want to introduce your own product line, so much of what used to be the headache that went into, "Well, what do I do with this stuff?" now it's very, very, very easy. You still have the cost of products, but you don't have the headache of trying to figure out where to put it if things are actually shipping, how's inventory doing at different places, am I getting the best shipping prices? Shopify basically eliminated all of those headaches.
I don't think that this is going to take out Amazon FBA or anything like that, but I do think it is a huge, huge, huge move in the right direction. I think it's only going to help Shopify's stock even go up anymore, and I think it's going to help a lot of people get into making their own products who previously wouldn't have.
Just wanted to share that. The things, again, I'll be using are definitely the Fulfillment Network. I'm going to be tapping to that in a big way, probably in Q3, which we're basically about to get into. We're having our meeting in two weeks, our big team meeting. We're going to be talking about this and how we're going to be leveraging it there, and then, of course, just the easier ways to design pages, to make master templates, and to be able to try new themes without breaking everything.
That's it, guys. Just wanted to share that. Again, I will link the article where they talk about all the announcements, the other things that I'm not excited about because they don't apply to me, but you could check them out. I will link them up over at ecommercelifestyle.com/episodes. Any questions, head on over there and ask. Thank you, everybody. Appreciate you, and I'll talk to you all in the next episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast. See you.
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