codal insights

5 Features Unveiled At Shopify Unite 2019, Ranked By How Stoked We Are About Them

Sean
June 21st, 2019
5 MINUTE READ

It was a good time to be in Toronto. Last week, the hometown Raptors’ won their first-ever NBA championship. On Monday, the occasion was celebrated with an all-out parade that matched the victory in significance and scale.

On Tuesday, the festivities were finally winding down, and walking along the streets of downtown Toronto felt a bit like waking up at a blowout party the morning after, traversing a wreckage of strewn Solo cups and half-empty beer cans.

But in Toronto’s Beanfield Centre, the party was just beginning.

That’s because Tuesday also marked the kickoff of Shopify Unite, the annual conference hosted by the eCommerce giant that invites their partners—agencies, developers, designers, store architects, and more—under one roof to learn about the latest and greatest in all things eCommerce.

This year’s conference featured a slew of exciting announcements from the eCommerce platform, from improved features and reworked tools to brand new offerings. It may not seem as exciting as an NBA championship, but for eCommerce design agencies like us, it’s a cause for celebration. Here are just a few of the biggest news items to come out of Unite, ranked by how hard Codal’s attendees geeked out over them.

5. Order Editing

We work on a wide variety of eCommerce sites here at Codal—apparel stores, vitamin retailers, and furniture depots, just to name a few—but all of them, no matter the sector, share one commonality: shoppers mess up their orders.

So the reveal of order editing APIs at Shopify Unite sent a wave of cheers throughout the crowd, and our attending eCommerce specialists were no exception. Finally, whenever a shopper input the incorrect shipping address, or realized they had purchased the wrong model, it wouldn’t throw an entire wrench into the post-checkout, pre-fulfillment process—store managers could simply correct the issue, before it became entangled in the post-purchase workflow.

To err is human, and part of being a UX design agency is to minimize the impact of that inevitability. With these APIs, Shopify has given us a powerful tool in our arsenal for designing more efficient eCommerce workflows. Best of all, the APIs are already available.

4. Delivery Profiles

We recently designed an online store for a client with a massive product catalog that consisted of different chemical solvents, sealants, coatings, and other potentially hazardous materials. This meant highly complex shipping logic. Some products could only be transported via air, some came with an additional hazmat fee, and some had both. And that’s all without mentioning tariffs, taxes, and shipping rules needed for international destinations.

Basically, we would’ve traded an arm and a leg for the delivery profile APIs Shopify debuted at Unite. They offer extremely granular shipping logic—you can create per product and per location shipping rules. And based on the migration guide, it seems these APIs will play nice with existing shipping apps as well.

Right now they’re only available in their dev preview environment, but the official rollout is later this summer. Merchants (and us) won’t have to wait long.

3. Multiple Store Management

Running an online store is no easy task. Running several can be a nightmare. That’s why we can’t wait for the upcoming release of the overhauled Shopify Plus, which promises a centralized hub for larger companies to easily manage multiple stores, users, and their data.

The value of multi-store management is self-evident, but what really takes it to the next level is the at-a-glance dashboards that Shopify teased with it. We’re big statheads here at Codal, so seeing KPIs like this displayed so elegantly means our work just got a whole lot easier.

2. Shopify App CLI

We don’t like to reinvent the wheel at Codal. When our clients need a functionality that isn’t native to Shopify, we’d rather implement an app from Shopify’s exhaustive App Store. Most of the time, the App Store has what we need. But for the few cases it doesn’t, we take matters into our own hands.

That means crafting an add-on from scratch. With the debut of the Shopify App CLI, our developers have breathed a sigh of relief. With the new command-line interface tool, our Shopify engineers can code, test, and even generate dummy data. It’s faster, simpler, and much more efficient than our current app workflow, and best of all its completely stack-agnostic.

Our developers are already messing with the tool in open beta, and some already have some feedback for Shopify.

1. Shopify Fulfillment Network

These three little words appeared on the massive screen overlooking the main stage, and the Shopify Unite crowd broke the applause-o-meter. This new offering has been a long time coming, and if the numbers Shopify floated hold—less than one day to fulfill and two to deliver, plus a 99.9% order accuracy—this could be the biggest takeaway from Unite.

As the name suggests, the new network consists of a handful of fulfillment centers strategically placed throughout the United States. But these aren’t your typical warehouses. Shopify touts that their new centers leverage the most cutting-edge tech on the market, from smart inventory-allocation software to predictive machine learning. You can read a full list of its perks, but we were most impressed with its ability to support multiple channels, returns, exchanges, and even custom packaging.

The only drawback? The network isn’t operational just yet, but merchants can apply for early access here.

Until Next Year’s Conference

We’ve only scratched the surface of the all the announcements and debuts from this year’s Unite, and you can read a more comprehensive list on the eCommerce platform’s Partners blog (and while you’re there, read a few of Codal’s contributions too).

As a certified Shopify Plus partner, this wasn’t our first Unite, and it definitely won’t be our last. This year’s Unite attendees are already looking forward to next year’s. Next time, they’ll hopefully remember to bring their blog writing coworker a souvenir.

Sean McGowan
AUTHOR

Sean

Sean is a technical researcher & writer at Codal, authoring blog posts on topics ranging from UX design to the Internet of Things. Working alongside developers, designers, and marketers, Sean helps support the writing team to ensure Codal produces engaging web content of the highest quality. When not writing about the latest and greatest in digital design, Sean can be found baking, watching movies, or complaining about the shortcomings of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.

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