In light of the pandemic and recent Covid-19 measures introduced in Hong Kong, businesses should look to online channels to reach new and existing customers. In this article, we will cover some of Shopify’s latest and upcoming features announced at the company’s virtual ReUnite event in May, 2020. This summary will focus on how merchants in Hong Kong and Asia can make use of these tools to start online retail or expand their ecommerce business.
Country Specific Stores for Localized Cross-Border Sales
In an early session, Agatha Karjewski, Shopify’s Online Product Director introduced country-specific stores that enable merchants to serve localized content for their customers. For example, a .fr store for France can serve content in the French language and charge in Euros. Customers will pay in their local currency and merchants will be paid in their local store currency.
Since payment localization has long been a consideration for merchants, Shopify will offer merchants two options: an already available automatic FX rate, with product prices automatically adjusted based on a home currency price and an upcoming CustomFX exchange that allows merchants to set prices as they like and stabilize them for international stores. The automatic option serves small to medium businesses that may currently see a few sales overseas, while the custom option will give merchants selling in different markets more control over how their prices display. For example, North Americans might be used to seeing prices as $5.99 while other countries are used to rounded prices such as ¥500. The CustomFX feature is in the works at the time of this writing and is expected to come out later in 2020.
Online Store Editor Upgrades For All Pages
In the past, Shopify focused on giving merchants customization for their stores’ homepages. Now, the new online store editor will allow merchants to create and adjust content across product pages and collections to have more control over customization, localization, and personalization of their stores. Merchants should explore how media such as videos and app integrations, such as product reviews, can be embedded into their product pages to give shoppers engaging information. Merchants setting up a store in a non-English language can easily input product tiles and descriptions in their target language.
Merchants should also make use of Shopify’s newest payment models to offer online shoppers more flexibility. The Gift Card is now available to all plans, and Tipping is also an option (calculated separately, with the option to donate to local charities as well). Shopify also announced upcoming subscriptions and upsells, but if your store needs a recurring payment solution immediately, you can use popular third-party subscription apps.
Faster Content Creation and Improved Inventory Options
Lindsay Thorton, Shopify's VP User Experience also introduced features that will be handy for many merchants in Asia: product creation can happen right after you take photos on your smartphone. Now, merchants can quickly create a new product and save a draft product if they are still collecting materials. Merchants should also look out for an upcoming “archive” state option so that they can remove old items from the inventory, but reuse the content in the future. This inventory management allows entrepreneurs to get their products online quickly as well as high-volume merchants to manage products, especially seasonal ones.
Increasing Local Delivery and Fulfillment Support
In 6 weeks during the Covid19 pandemic, shipping increased 176% amongst Shopify merchants. Thea Earl, a Product Marketing Manager, introduced local delivery for all merchants. This means that merchants can now set a delivery area by postal code or a certain distance from a point. This option allows businesses to save on delivery costs and make local deliveries or offer local pickup options. You can read more about how to set up local delivery here.
As Shopify is a North American-based business, we also encourage merchants in Asia offering local delivery options to also consider adding other order fulfillment services to offer the best customer shopping experience. For example, businesses in Hong Kong will likely want to offer S.F. Express as a delivery option or local locker pickups and can use the app we have created, HK Pickup Options. If you are operating in another Asian market, check whether your popular delivery services have Shopify integrations or apps.
Offering Seamless Channel and Marketplace Purchase Options
In addition, Shopify is integrating more deeply with online sales channels by adding Google Search products to the Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Ebay channels. Merchants will also be able to have a small version of their online store on Instagram, which is synced with the Shopify store.
More Features and Upgrades to Check Out
In addition to the features listed above, Shopify has introduced many products and services aimed to help merchants sell more easily. Most of these features are available globally, while some features such as ShopifyPOS and the fulfillment network are still focused on the US market. Below are some of the highlights we recommend merchants in Hong Kong and Asia, or selling to the US, to further explore:
Shop, a personal shopping assistant with 16 million users and helps shoppers track all their Shopify purchases, orders, packages and is a channel for Shopify stores to re-engage customers.
Shopify Ping is Shopify’s customer service platform, with iOS, Android and an upcoming Web app that allows teams to talk to customers with questions directly. It is also integrated into Shopify Email, enabling a coordinated customer service effort for staff.
Shopify POS now enables merchants to customize their interface, from drag and drop sections to embedding apps, adding staff permissions, and using a contactless QR code scan. Merchants in Hong Kong should note that the full POS system is not available yet locally, but they can still use the iOS app.
During the Covid19 lockdown, Shopify also introduced a variety of merchant support initiatives, such as dispersing cash to merchants via Shopify Capital and helping businesses get online with a Single Page Online Store. Finally, Shopify is offering merchants free upgrades until the end of October, 2020 for:
Now is the best time to get started on your online business, whether it is with a Single Page online store by Shopify, via a channel such as Instagram, or a full branded store with multilanguage and multicurrency support. To get started you can download our freeShopify Guide for Hong Kong, which will walk you through considerations for setting up a full store, including themes, Chinese language support, products, payment gateways, and order fulfillment.