As new year kicks in, we usually offer our top 10 predictions for the online store managers, to help in planning and modernising your shops.
However, anyone who has been awake through turbulent 2023, will realise that so called “Forward Insights” are really a fool’s game at the moment. Even our favourite insights guru Keith Teare from Signal Rank is ducking out of predictions, so things must be very bad for forecasters in tech.
Keith’s point is that nobody really predicted last year that AI will suck out all air from all IT conversations. Crypto was considered dead, but Bitcoin is now back up over 45,000 dollars and Solana Wallet being integrated with Shopify as a Payment Option.
With the speed and volatility of tech changes, we are finding ourselves in equivalent of Ocean of Storms on the Moon, an area where turbulent dust clouds and violent solar winds cause unpredictable conditions. This section is marked by cartographers as “not-to-land-on-under-any-circumstances”.
So instead of forecasting, this year we will stick to positive vibes and spell out what we hope for. As medics noted, hope can be a medicine all by itself so we are looking to manifest our deep tech desires hoping we can move them from the realm of dreams into digital reality.
Tech Challenges for 2024
1. War on complexity or death-by-apps
The large amount of Shopify apps (over 8200 and rising) has created useful range of tools for the store owners. However, this high number of players has also alarmingly increased complexity of everyday operations. Some of the apps drop an upgrade without telling the customers, some introduce significant changes just before Peak Trading, some just go glitchy and disappear into the matrix as the dev team might have moved to greener pastures.
To address some of those chaotic changes, in 2024 Shopify is introducing a gradual ‘nativisation’ of the key apps.
We have already seen a native replacement of “Recharge” for simple subscriptions, which is great news, considering how time-consuming Recharge app can be on onboarding.
It is still very much a loved app, and we use for MyMonex to a great result.
For many Shopify brands, Recharge is too complex and pricey as they don’t need that level of sophistication. Those brands would be happier with Shopify own subscription solution.
Here is hoping that native subs app will be usable on more Themes and with more Payment Options
2. Native Search improvements
Shopify gods “Hath Spoken” and moved away from external Search apps like Boost into native, simpler to manage Shopify search.
It covers basics well and unless you are a large, multicategory brand, it does the job and makes operational management of it very simple
Just those two will help keeping your online operations simpler and more resilient, without exposure to 2 external development teams, so here is hoping that Shopify dev team will embrace the spirit of war on complexity and bring more key apps to native framework.
More native apps to come so watch this space as we are running tests for some exciting native tools to come out of beta!
3. War on labyrinth of spreadsheets
To replace a bunch of stock data spreadsheets with a native Stocky would be a dream for many small and medium size merchants. This mini-ERP supports the more complex back-end operations, tracks demand curve and provide a much-needed bridge from Excel to a more structured Stock system. The team working on this integration is making a good progress so watch this space for more announcements later in 2024, as now Stocky is wholly owned by Shopify.
4. Put your name on it
2024 will see a growing gifting market, but that requires increase in Personalisation choices. Alas, Shopify out of the box is not kind to brands that offer product personalisation and customisation.
Here is where the external apps still win. As services like named engraving on rings for jewellery are growing in demand, Product Customiser is getting better and can be now used to support adding a name, maybe a Gift Bag option and a few extra colour and finish choices. The team is working hard in new improvements, as gifting market is predicted to be one of the bright spots for Valentine and Mother’s Day.
5. Crypto saves the day OR how do we get to cheaper payments
As 2024 kicks in, online store owners are under pressure to cut the costs where possible but make their stores increasingly attractive. Introduction of Solana Pay is one of the new options to offer payments using customer’s Solana cryptocurrency Wallet. It is cheaper for the merchant and will allow creating of extended digital product ranges like NFT and Collectibles.
6. Fingering – the art of a new gesture-based interface
For physical store owners, there is a new solution that invites the customer to select their choices just by a gesture of pointing a finger at the right section of the screen. No stabbing, touching and smudging while making a selection, which is no doubt a welcome news for food outlets that battle with keeping the screens squeaky clean.
Fashion and beauty boutiques can place these Gesture-Controlled screens in the stores, and let the customers try virtual outfit or personalised styling before buying, all without actually touching the screen. Gesture control will soon work through the glass, enabling customers to interact with the products and screens even from outside of the store.
We will see more of America.de at Integrated Systems Expo in Barcelona in 2024
7. Things are going the get real – 3D images go mainstream
With new Apple VR headset dropping in March 2024, we will spend more time in virtual stores/bookshops/cosmetic stores and product just needs to be available easily in 3D. Fashion world has already put their well pedicured foot into the world of 3D modelling, and there is an good number of talented designers than now can support the brand owners with well rendered images.
Shopify is making it easier to import 3D images into stores so the only limit is your imagination – we are seeing luxury shoes and handbags leading the way, with clothing and homeware to follow.
Here is hoping that tech community around Shopify and Retail systems will get us through the Ocean of Storms and we will land on the other end of 2024 as smoothly as astronauts on much anticipated Moon landing planned for November next year.
Happy 2024 from Eva & The Retail Practice Team!!!