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“What can we expect to see next on Shopify's roadmap?”

Top predictions for Shopify Unite 2020

Shopify Unite Reunite 2020

Published on by Tim Powell

It's Shopify (re)unite next week, a livestream experience for Shopify merchants that see's executives and senior leaders share upcoming features and announcements in the Shopify roadmap.

Last year, our team predicted many of the features that would be released at Shopify Unite 2019. For Shopify Reunite 2020, we wanted to share our predictions ahead of the event.

When looking through Shopify API’s you can normally gather insight into the availability of potential upcoming liquid and data that could be leveraged in your store, right now. Two great resources you can view to understand what's on the radar are developer changelog and Shopify changelog. These resources are useful for merchants and developers who want to explore the new features available to them directly in their Shopify Administration system, or via working with a Shopify Expert on theme/application development.

Our main predication from 2019 was ‘Internationalisation’. We'd anticipated new features that would allow us to target multiple languages and territories from a single Shopify store. Our wish was granted, albeit with a few caveats; you can only add up to 4 additional languages at present and a paid partner application is required to handle translated content such as Langify ($17.50/month).

10 predictions for Reunite 2020: what can we expect this year from Shopify

Below, we've listed our top predictions giving each a probability rating out of 10 which shows the likelihood of this feature being announced (1 being unlikely and 10 being certain). Let's dive in:

  1. Enhanced shipping rules / regions & granularity via regular expressions
  2. Shopify enhancements for hospitality (takeaways & restaurants)
  3. Subscriptions via recurring payments & storing card info for future transactions
  4. Finance Options & tools – think product page per month prices
  5. Checkout apps
  6. Improved search functionality
  7. Sections everywhere & master pages
  8. Product complexity increased from three to four options
  9. Further monetisation of Shopify Experts & Jobs via premium listings / paid placements
  10. Products sections

1. Enhanced shipping rules / regions & granularity via regular expressions

Expect more granularity on shipping to specific locations and less requirement for external paid applications for shipping rules.

We're hoping this year Shopify will also announce a regular expression-based shipping rules update – this would allow merchants to add more granular rules based on delivery provider and location.

Merchants can very rarely run with Shopify's default shipping system due to its limitations on ‘Zip codes / postcodes’ which can't be extended at present without an application.

Probability: 9/10

2. Shopify enhancements for hospitality (takeaways & restaurants)

We expect to see this in late 2020 or early 2021 as Shopify extend support for brick-and-mortar businesses including restaurants, cafés & takeaways. Functionality on the radar could include:

  • Ability to set your Shopify transactional opening times
  • Limit the number of orders during the opening hours – a merchant will be able to select an algorithm to dynamically limit the orders based upon the number of orders already received
  • Orders will have attributes such as delivery time etc. which will be shown on the basket / success pages – this requires the ability to add more functionality to the success page
  • Reservation system e.g. restaurants bookings
  • Pre-ordering – critical for takeaways and cafés – as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and lock-down restrictions are eased, merchants will have to offer pre-ordering to avoid queues in-store
  • Queueing systems – ensuring an order is maintained e.g. first in first served

These features will give takeaways, restaurants, cafés and coffee shops the ability to leverage Shopify as their platform of choice.

Probability: 7/10

Let's talk Shopify

3. Subscriptions via recurring payments & storing card info for future transactions

Are we likely to see subscriptions and deposits payment options in Shopify's consumer checkouts? This would be an amazing addition for millions of merchants – the ability to have a recurring source of revenue and the ability to secure future sales via out-of-the-box functionality.

Shopify announced last year that they would be opening the order page to edits (originally orders were locked). Now you can edit an order, it makes sense that for some products (with agreement by the consumer at the checkout) card details are saved and approved for additional payments in the future (recurring payments).

This is a big change from the existing direct payment checkout process that exists currently. It would be great to see this prediction come true and allow for both a direct payment and a recurring transactions via a Continuous Payment Authority (CPA).

A CPA is an authorisation given by a customer for you to take payments from them by credit or debit card. Payments can vary in frequency and amount. CPA is often referred to by other names such as:

  • include recurring transactions
  • continuous card payments
  • recurring payments
  • continuous authority transactions
  • guaranteed payments

Using CPA, the checkout capability for merchants to leverage subscriptions would likely increase revenues for any stores selling consumables that could be scheduled going forwards.

A positive side effect of storing a recurring transaction would be that merchants would have the capability to take a deposit, thus securing a large transaction. This could also be rolled out to Shopify POS.

We're hoping that the Checkout is upgraded to allow this functionality and the APIs are made available to Shopify developers like ourselves. We can then build integrations to allow merchants to leverage subscriptions without the requirement for an external applications and external payment gateways which are ‘offsite’.

This would require:

  • Card details to be stored with the recurring transaction token
  • Consumer ability to add/edit/delete a card
  • Subscriptions to be viewed/edited
  • Payment gateways to have the capability to use both direct and CPA merchant numbers

Benefits of Shopify building this functionality into their platform include:

  • Secure recurring payments without the need for external apps
  • Hassle free – easy for merchants to setup without a developer
  • Trust signals at checkout – the customer won't have to leave your Shopify site

Did you know?

  • CPAs are a safe way for merchants to secure future transactions from a consumer, without putting them at risk of incurring bank charges due to the consumer going over their agreed limit? When a CPA is unsuccessful, the transaction is declined due to insufficient funds being available. This is more friendly to consumers compared to failed direct debits, which incur a fee to the consumer, and a charge could also be applied by the merchant due to a missed payment
  • Some banks allow an expired card CPA to be re-proposed and may authorise the transaction to go through

Probability: 7/10

Let's talk Shopify

4. Finance Options & tools – think product page per month prices

We're likely to see product “prices per month” based on enabled finance providers and the ability for developers to use the new Finance library to build finance calculators with sliders for terms.

With the recent announcement that Shopify are introducing some tools for Finance, we're expecting some new useful libraries that will allow developers to add finance calculators to Shopify and monthly prices based on the finance provided, e.g. from $7.99 per month.

Probability: 8/10

5. Further monetisation of Shopify Experts & Jobs via premium listings / paid placements

One for Shopify Partners – lookout for the introduction of Ads & premium listings on the Shopify Experts marketplace.

Probability: 9.5/10

6. Checkout apps

Allowing for the direct integration of applications to the checkout process. This would be a great way for developers to extend the checkout process with things like:

  • Adjust a recurring subscription directly on the checkout process for a product that has been added to cart
  • Fine tune your finance application on the checkout page
  • Affordability checks on the checkout process for finance applications
  • Wishlist functionality directly in the checkout process

We already know this one is coming, but its current functionality is unknown, expect an announcement about this update during Reunite 2020.

Probability: 6/10

7. Improved search functionality

Shopify's predictive search functionality example

Expect to see big improvements in the search functionality of Shopify with new features including search pages filters (based upon tags) and an improved search algorithm.

This year Shopify made available predictive search for Shopify Partners to implement on customers themes. This was the first step in improving the default functionality for all merchants.

This update will bring tags to the search page which Shopify Partners will be able to utilise in your Shopify theme.

Useful resources:

Probability: 5/10

Let's talk Shopify

8. Sections everywhere & master pages

Due to the complexity of updating the liquid language and building the new customize, we've seen a delay in the availability of Sections Everywhere & Master Pages that were announced last year. We're expecting an update on when this will be available to Shopify Partners.

This feature will be available for all Shopify merchants, not just Shopify Plus – it's a highly anticipated feature that will make our lives as Shopify Developers much easier!

Probability: 5/10

9. Product complexity increased from three to four options

Adding a fourth product option to Shopify would allow merchants to breakdown variants into better categorised options helping consumers browse and filter products in a friendlier way.

We're doubtful this one will be happen, but it would be great if it did! There are times when clients have a product that needs the flexibility of to a fourth option to provide a consumer with a simpler choice of options.

This would require the default variant limit to be lifted from 100 to say 200. This feature would help reduce duplicate content being listed in search engines for complex products.

Probability: 3/10

10. Products sections

Our final prediction is product sections. This will give Shopify Partners like ourselves the ability to build custom templates that can be used on product pages.

We already know this functionality is available on the developer preview, so it's not much of a prediction. We're expecting an announcement detailing when this will be publicly available. This will give developers the option to create various types of templates which can be added/ordered just like a merchant can edit the homepage.

Expect the limit on the settings_data.json to be increased as merchants use more of this data store. We have a feeling that the new {% liquid %} tag was created to allow dynamic sections.

Probability: 9/10

Let's talk Shopify

Notable mentions

These didn't quite make our top 10 prediction list, but are well worth a mention:

Shopify liquid tag

Shopify recently introduced the liquid and echo tags. We're expecting these to be used in implementing, Sections Everywhere, and checkout page optimisation.

Interestingly, these help code readability, removing the required control characters {% %} {{ }}.

Extended email marketing functionality

Expect a big update on Shopify email marketing, introducing automated workflows and further ability to create custom emails.

Account pages

Finally, the account pages can be changed using sections everywhere, allowing us to add custom content that's personalised for a logged in user. We'll also have the ability to enhance the consumer experience with subscriptions etc.

Demo of checkout apps which are now available

Let's hope we see a demo of some new checkout apps and how they work. We're hoping to see finance / subscription integration which was in our top 10 predictions.

Click and Collect

More improvements to click & collect. The functionality is quite basic right now – we're hoping to see a few features announced adding more capability to make this suitable for all merchants.

Internationalisation

Shopify internationalisation is almost perfect – we're expecting an update on the potential of a territory being added to the language path e.g. shopify.com/en/ becomes shopify.com/en-gb/ allowing a store to target not just the UK, but also USA via /en-us/.

The default territory has no language. It would be nice to see all URLs including the default language using the same convention, rather than the root directory.

Shop App

With the recent updates to the Shop app and merchants being searchable, we see this being extended further to bring all merchants from Shopify into ‘Shopify’ ecosystem, similar to marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

New order editing capabilities

Shopify have added the ability to edit an order. It feels like we might be able to take deposits soon out-of-the-box.

Let's talk Shopify

Final thoughts

We're waiting with bated breath to see which of our predictions come true next week at Shopify Reunite on the 20th May 2020. It's always an exciting time for us – we've been dreaming about what's coming soon and we're looking forward to implementing all of these new features into our clients stores

Do you have your own predictions or highly anticipated Shopify feature request? Do you need help improving the performance of your Shopify store? We'd love to hear from you – Let's talk Shopify.

Tags: E-commerce, Shopify Tips, Shopify, Shopify Conferences

About the author

Tim is our Software Development Director at META, leading across all design & build projects. Tim has gained vast experience leading projects over 15 years in industry servicing prominent secure sectors such as Utilities & Finance.

When being introduced to clients, Tim often refers to himself as 'the nerd that clients like to work with'.

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