This week we dive into some exciting technological advancements among big players in e-commerce including Shopify's new Online Store 2.0, PayPal's launch of an integrated POS system, Adobe's cookieless future, BigCommerce's Bitcoin play, and more.
With all that happens each week in the world of e-commerce, who can keep up?? Hopefully this newsletter is helping you do so. If you've been getting value from my weekly Shopifreaks newsletter, I kindly ask that you share the link above with your friends and networks and help us grow our subscriber base.
And now, onto the 24th edition of Shopifreaks newsletter….
1. Major changes announced at Shopify Unite
During a live event on June 29, 2021 called Shopify Unite, the company announced significant updates and changes to their platform and business structure including:
- New Developer Revenue Sharing – Shopify will lower its commission on app development revenue to 0% for the first $1M and 15% thereafter (down from 20% across the board). A bold and pioneering move that puts a lot of pressure on other app marketplaces (like Apple) to take care of their smaller developers.
- Dawn – Shopify's new theme standard that's supposedly 35% faster than its current default theme. This will serve as a model theme for developers to build around Shopify's new best practices.
- Push Towards Headless – To ensure that merchants never have to replatform to build headless solutions, Shopify's storefront API will include new cart functionality, selling plans, localized buyer experiences, and international pricing. Headless is happening with or without Shopify, and the company wants to ensure that they adapt with the times.
- Checkout Extensions – Developers can now build apps into the Checkout system — an important area of the Shopify experience that was previously unable to be modified except by Shopify Plus subscribers.
- Built-in Meta Fields – This allows merchants to add product data directly within Shopify on their product pages. For example, Product Sizing, Part Numbers, Washing Instructions, etc. Previously this required the use of an app or hard coding the product data into a theme — both which were clunky and cumbersome processes.
- Content – Shopify created a new block based Content Management System that allows store owners to reuse content throughout their storefronts. Previously, product pages were front and center and content pages felt like an afterthought, but now Shopify is giving the other areas of merchant sites (outside of the products themselves) a major upgrade.
- Templates – They've made it easier to create templates for all parts of the store including products, pages, collections, blog posts, etc.
- Online Store 2.0 – A theme is now a set of separate components, and the separation makes it possible to let apps create their own sections and blocks without touching a theme's codes, whereas previously, installing and uninstalling apps required hands-on code addition and removal, which was beyond most Shopify users capabilities without employing a developer.
- Made For New Browsers – Realizing that most people user browsers that auto-update, they've created their new theme structure to take advantage of the latest web standards instead of trying to make everything backwards compatible to IE6.
- Faster Stores – Through increased usage of API, they've been able to significantly reduce the number of lines of code rendered in the user's browser to perform the same functionality as before — such as with cart functions.
As a Shopify store owner and developer for the past decade, I can tell you with certainty that these are HUGE updates! Some are long overdue while others are keeping ahead of the changing landscape of e-commerce. I look forward to seeing them in action — many of which are set to become publicly available on July 15th.
2. Etsy is acquiring Elo7 (the Brazilian Etsy)
Etsy is acquiring Elo7 for $217M. This will be the company's 7th acquisition. The announcement is coming just a few weeks after we reported Etsy's announced acquisition of the fashion resale marketplace Depop for $1.625B.
Elo7 has approximately 1.9 million active buyers, 56,000 active sellers, and 8 million items for sale, the majority of which are made to order. (So pretty much the Brazilian Etsy.)
Etsy CEO Josh Silverman was quoted in a press release saying, “Elo7 is expected to provide Etsy with a local brand in the fast growing Latin American market, where ecommerce penetration is <10%; and Brazil is the largest ecommerce market. The Latin American ecommerce market is projected to reach approximately $29 billion in 2021, with a 26% CAGR forecasted through 2024.”
Elo7 will continue to be headquartered in Sāo Paulo, Brazil and operate as a standalone marketplace run by its existing leadership team.
3. PayPal launches a digital POS for US merchants
As you might remember, PayPal bought the point of sale company, Zettle, in 2018 for $2.2B, however the services have remained relatively independent since then. This week, however, they launched an integrated solution called PayPal Zettle which combines the worlds of online and offline sales for their merchants into a complete POS system. Through the new integration, PayPal will be able to manage sales, payments, reporting, and inventory across both online and offline channels.
In recent months, Wix launched a POS system, Lightspeed POS announced that they are buying the e-commerce company Ecwid, GoDaddy and MailChimp launched e-commerce platforms, while Shopify made Shop Pay available to everyone. The worlds of e-commerce platforms, POS systems, and payment services are colliding at record speeds. Companies that previously specialized in one of these areas of commerce are bridging the gap between online and offline sales for their merchants.
Will attempting to provide complete in-house solutions for merchants prove to be a good move for these companies? Or will spreading themselves too thin take away from their core focuses causing them to fall behind in the marketplace to nimbler startups?
What are your thoughts? Hit reply and let me know.
4. Prime Day has become another shopping holiday
eCommerceBytes reported that shoppers spent $11B online on Amazon Prime Day (June 21-22) — but not just Amazon benefited. Large retailers saw a 29% boost in online sales compared to an average day in June, while smaller retailers saw their online sales increase by 21% on Prime Day. This was a 6.1% growth over last year’s Prime Day total which boasted online revenue of$10.4B.
In essence, Amazon has created a new summer sales extravaganza day that other retailers have no choice but to jump on board or get left behind — resulting in yet another annual shopping holiday to the likes of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Made in the USA Day, Fair Trade Day, and others.
5. Adobe launches tools for the post-cookie era
Last week they launched new capabilities to their Adobe Experience Cloud that will help retailers utilize the customer data they already own. Their new feature called Segment Match will let brands collaborate to expand first-party datasets via partnerships.
In other words, companies will be able to share your data with each other and create collaborative profiles about you that they can all use to create personalized shopping experiences — which is a nicer way of saying “track you”.
6. Potheadless? Jane Technologies releases a headless e-commerce solution
Jane Technologies, a software company that created a cannabis marketplace, announced its new headless e-commerce solution, Jane Roots, built alongside Forage, a new online cannabis discovery tool. A further indicator that headless is the future of all industries, no matter how niche.
In a world that many e-commerce platforms and ad networks are hesitant to dabble in, Jane Technologies created an e-commerce solution specifically for the industry that works seamlessly with Forage, developed by Columbia Care, which helps customize the individual shopping experience for customers.
Jane powered more than 20 million orders and $2 billion in cannabis sales and is used by more than 2,000 dispensaries and brands across 34 U.S. markets.
7. China proposes rules to punish illegal pricing activities
China's market regulator issued draft rules on Friday to punish illegal pricing activities such as heavy subsidies (which reduce the product to below cost) and the practice of charging different prices based on customers purchasing behavior.
Lu Zhenwang, CEO of Wanqing Consultancy, said, “The pricing practices have been widespread among online platforms and it is a hidden problem to ordinary consumers because it's not very easy to notice.”
Last April, major Chinese e-commerce companies including JD.com, Meituan, Alibaba, Ele.me, Trip.com, and Didi pledged not to take advantage of big data to charge loyal customers more. However China isn't going to leave it up to the promises and pinky swears of companies to do the right thing. Violation of the rules could incur a fine of 0.1% to 0.5% of a business' annual sales or even suspension of operations.
8. BigCommerce brings Bitcoin payments to 60k merchants
BigCommerce merchants will soon have the option to accept payments in Bitcoin through a new partnership with payment processor OpenNode, which will make OpenNode the exclusive Bitcoin payment processor for BigCommerce.
While this is a big step for BigCommerce merchants to be able to accept the leading cryptocurrency as payments, I'm curious why the partnership had to be exclusive. While BigCommerce will only accept Bitcoin through their service, OpenNode, on the other hand, works with Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, OpenCart, and a host of other e-commerce platforms. In the spirit of decentralization and open data, I'd think that BigCommerce would keep the door of competition open to invite other Bitcoin payment processors onto their platform in the future.
9. Jeff Bezos hands the keys to Andy Jassy today
27 years to the day after Amazon was incorporated, Bezos will transition the role of CEO over to his protégé, cloud-computing boss Andy Jassy.
While the title and role of CEO to America's largest retailer has its perks, it also comes with some baggage. Amazon is currently being probed by antitrust regulators in the US and abroad, employees routinely express grievances about working conditions, and labor unions have their eyes set on Amazon's workforce, among other things.
Ann Hiatt, who served as Bezos' assistant from 2002-2005, said that Jassy has served as Bezos’ “shadow” in the early 2000s and “brain double” in recent years, offering another set of eyes and ears in meetings. Executives have said that Jassy resembles Bezos more than any other senior executive at Amazon, indicating that the transition should be relatively seamless.
Get ready for Andy Jassy to be a household name!
10. This week in seed rounds….
- Tapcart, a mobile commerce platform that enables Shopify store owners to launch mobile apps, raised $50M in a Series B led by Left Lane Capital with participation from Shopify.
- Paper, an educational software provider that powers tutoring services in schools, raised $100M in a Series C led by IVP.
- Locad, a startup that helps e-commerce companies with cross-border fulfillment, raised $4.9M led by Sequoia Capital India's Surge.
- Co-op, a platform that facilitates cross-promotion between brands, raised $5.8M led by Sugar Capital.
- Shogun, a drag-and-drop page builder that works with Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce, raised $67.5M in a Series C led by Insight Partners that values the company at $575M.
What'd I miss?
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See you next Monday!
Paul E. Drecksler
PS: Last night all the members of Justice League got together to discuss Bitcoin, except for Superman, because it was crypto-night.