Shopify's new Shop mobile shopping assistant

Shopify, the e-commerce platform for indie retailers and major brands, is entering the consumer shopping app arena.

Dubbed “Shop,” its latest mobile app, announced Tuesday, is exactly what the name suggests. The software helps consumers track what they buy online — on Shopify or even local businesses — and stay connected with the latest deals and products from their favorite Shopify brands. It also crunches through the info to zero in on shoppers’ preferences to recommend products.

Since it began 16 years ago, Shopify has had a front-row view of consumer behavior. And as it hit the million-merchant milestone last year, it noted another interesting detail: “That same year, we had over 300 million unique buyers come through Shopify host stores,” Carl Rivera, general manager of Shopify’s Shop app, told WWD. “And what’s really exciting, when you think about that, is if Shopify was a buyer destination, it would be one of the largest in the world today.”

The Shop app is an evolution of the significant retail tech chops powering Shopify’s platform, which swells with more than one million businesses now, and features like Shop Pay, its one-click payments feature, and its Arrive delivery tracking app. Arrive will be sunsetted with the launch of Shop, but most recently, the app broke 16 million consumers with 116 million orders tracked. 

That tech might be most crucial in the app experience. Without the universal delivery tracking feature, Shop might resemble any other shopping app in the App Store or Google Play. 

Shop corrals delivery details in the home tab, which features a map and real-time delivery tracking. “What’s exciting is that it’s pulling in my online orders, no matter where I’m shopping from — so, you know, I might be shopping from Amazon, from Etsy, from Walmart, from an independent third-party retailer or from a Shopify brand,” Rivera explained. “And for the first time, I get to have all of those sort of purchases kept in one place.” For Rivera, that sort of transparency is particularly needed now in this era of delivery disruptions. 

Tracking within the Shop app.  Courtesy image

With permission, Shop connects to the user’s e-mail account to scan for shopping receipts and tracking numbers. Rivera emphasized that the company does not read customers’ e-mails, paying strict attention to Google’s Gmail privacy policies. The only purpose is to locate shopping orders, so it can add the details to the app for the shopper’s convenience.

He also pointed out that the app can help users discover local businesses, a notable feature considering how the coronavirus pandemic is kneecapping small merchants. 

And of course, while people are in there, it’s a golden opportunity to strengthen the customer relationship with Shopify brands and recommend new ones or other items that might fit their tastes. For Shopify, that’s the main goal of the app. 

Shop users can follow certain brands and see their profile pages, which includes a quick introduction, cover image, logo, their social networks and other details, such as whether they offer free shipping. There’s also a feed of recommended products, based on previous purchases. Naturally, customers can also buy using the app. 

Thanks to its size, the company has a unique opportunity to support a large swathe of retailers, many of which are struggling. While over the past 30 days, the platform saw spikes in some categories — for instance, skin-care masks and peels (197 percent), motorcycle jackets (194 percent) and shapewear (169 percent) — that only represents a fraction of its fashion stores, beauty brands and other merchants. 

A look at the Shop Local section and Allbirds profile page within the app.  Courtesy image

Toward that end, Shopify isn’t charging brands or consumers for the app. It’s free for both.

“What we really want to do here is to create a place for independent brands and retailers in a native app context that they can feel that they own and control,” Rivera said. “[So] let’s fill those first genuine authentic relationships, and let’s not charge for it. That’s an important piece.” 

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