Shopify Inc. wants to make it easier for online retailers to market themselves and ensure their transactions are secure.

To that end, among the numerous new and improved products announced Tuesday at the ecommerce darling’s Unite conference in Toronto was Shopify Ping, a new app designed to streamline marketing and administration; Fraud Protect, which provides opt-in protection for orders processed via the company’s Shopify Payments service; and Locations, which allows retailers to manage their inventory across multiple stores.

Shopify vice-president of user experience Lynsey Thornton

“We’ve been making significant investments in limiting the amount of time that it takes merchants to actually manage the complex day-to-day tasks of running their businesses,” Shopify vice-president of user experience Lynsey Thornton tells ITBusiness.ca. “One problem is that as the number of social platforms goes up, conversations with buyers are happening across all types of different places. It might be Facebook Messenger. It might be email.”

“What Shopify Ping aims to do is create a new workspace that consolidates a lot of these conversations.”

Resembling an email inbox, the mobile-ready Ping allows Shopify customers to communicate directly with their own customers and employees, regardless of the platform the other party is using. It also supports Kit, Shopify’s virtual marketing assistant who could previously only be accessed through Facebook Messenger.

Courtesy Shopify

“You can talk to Ping,” Thornton says. “It can give you advice and help you manage conversations so that you can respond as quickly as buyers are expecting you to these days, which is getting increasingly more difficult for merchants across multiple platforms.”

During Unite, Shopify officials also noted that beginning this summer, all Shopify partners and developers will be able to teach Kit new skills, allowing the virtual assistant to support retailers in tasks other than marketing.

Sell with security

Fraud Protect in action. Courtesy Shopify.

Fraud Protect, meanwhile, helps online merchants address the challenges posed by fraudulent transactions – stolen credit cards being used to make purchases – and, more importantly, alleviate the amount of time they must spend reviewing orders and contacting buyers to ensure every order is legitimate, Shopify general manager of financial solutions Mohammad Hashemi explains to ITBusiness.ca.

Shopify general manager of financial solutions Mohammad Hashemi

“With Fraud Protect, we’re giving online businesses a real-time protection decision on every order they receive through Shopify Payments,” Hashemi says. “We’re managing all of the risk that comes with the transactions. If the transaction is indeed fraudulent, Shopify will eat the loss. We’ll also manage chargeback disputes with Visa and Mastercard. Effectively, we’re helping them fulfill more orders, in a shorter amount of time, while giving them peace of mind.”

All businesses need do to enable Fraud Protect is select the option on their Shopify Payment settings. Pricing for the service has not yet been announced.

Location, location, location

Finally, Locations, true to its name, will allow retailers to manage their inventory across multiple store locations, creating a more streamlined, department store-like experience for customers.

“Typically, the businesses that would’ve needed to hold inventory across the most locations would’ve been the largest retailers,” Thornton explains. “That’s not really true today. Many smaller businesses run nimble operations where they need to have inventory at a pop-up shop, in their basement, in their car. Shopify hasn’t been able to natively support the multiple tracking of that inventory. Now it can.”

Enabling Locations will prevent smaller businesses from accidentally selling out their inventory in one location while overstocking another, Thornton says.

“It’s going to provide a lot more flexibility to these businesses.”

Ping, Fraud Protect, and Locations were just three of the new or improved servces that Shopify announced at Unite. Others include:

  • An improved point of sale platform that allows for multi-channel returns and exchanges, in-store pickup, single-click mobile orders, and location-specific payment options;
  • A new marketing section in the Shopify dashboard that allows merchants to monitor their marketing campaigns using the company’s mobile app; and
  • The “Shopify Space,” an online hub where retailers can access Shopify’s newest products, services, and technology, and receive education and customer support.
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