Shopify is best known for its ecommerce platform that has enabled over one million businesses to create online stores. The platform also allows the creation of third-party apps and plugins, which has helped create a robust developer community and made it even easier for businesses to use Shopify with their existing PoS, communication, and delivery services.
In 2019, Shopify announced significant services and acquisitions that would help them compete directly with Amazon. In June 2019, they launched the Shopify Fulfillment Network, and in September 2019, they acquired 6 River Systems, maker of cloud-based fulfillment software, and mobile robots.
As Shopify has gotten closer to competing with the efficient ecommerce and fulfillment processes that Jeff Bezos helped create, they’ve been missing one essential component: a marketplace for consumers.
New Shop app consolidates Shopify orders and provides limited shopping features
Shopify launched a new app called Shop that makes shopping at Shopify-powered stores more cohesive. Similar to Amazon, every order that’s made from a merchant on Shopify can be viewed and tracked in the app. The Shop app also allows users to follow stores and buy products directly from the app.
When someone follows a store, the app aggregates and displays some of the products from each store on a single page. Tapping on a product or store opens the store in a browser view within the app.
Shopify has taken a store-first approach instead of leveraging it as a shopping search engine. When you search for a shop, you’re presented with a long list of stores that match your query. After you follow a store, you are then presented with a small list of products from that store.
What’s missing from the app is the ability to search for products across multiple stores. That would create a true marketplace for Shopify and enable consumers to find and purchase products similar to how Amazon.com does it today.
The app is also limited to just iOS and Android. Similar to Quibi’s recent launch, Shopify didn’t release a web version of the app. Perhaps when and if they develop a product-based shopping search engine, they’ll port the app to the Shop.app website.
Shopify and Shop app as the best alternative to Amazon
Even with Shop app’s shortcomings, it’s a big step in the right direction for Shopify. The app gets them closer to not only providing a better shopping experience than Amazon, but it also lays the groundwork for a marketplace where consumers can easily find and purchase products.
When and if Shopify develops a marketplace with a robust product search engine, it’s likely they’ll get a significant amount of merchants that are currently on Amazon to move to their platform. That’s because Amazon has been exposed for using merchant data and then competing against them by making and selling similar products.
Craig Miller, Chief Product Officer at Shopify, was recently asked on Twitter how Shopify uses merchant data. He replied,
No, we don’t store emails, nor do we use data for any bad reasons.
Unlike Amazon, Shopify has taken an ethical business approach and doesn’t compete with the companies that use its platform. Right now, Amazon merchants don’t have a choice, but a Shopify marketplace might finally give them one.
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