Shopify have launched a new app called ‘Shop’ – and with it potentially an entire new business – that they intend to compete directly with Amazon.
The app is a new brand, and completely new business model for Shopify. From early signs, the company appears to believe this new business could be bigger than ‘Shopify’ itself, and may be the next stage in a total rebrand of the company from ‘Shopify’ to simply ‘Shop’.
For years, every Shopify vendor has had their own store, with its own presence, accessed via the web or via their own app. Today Shopify have changed that – building their own app that allows you to buy directly from their ecosystem of brands & retailers all in one place.
Shopify’s ‘Chief Product Officer’ teased the launch yesterday, calling it ‘one of Shopify’s most significant products ever’, before revealing the launch fully today.
From that alone, you can see how high priority this is within Shopify. They’ve launched a new Twitter account for it: twitter.com/shop, and a website at https://shop.app – both further indicating their massive ambitions for this.
The app launch also follows their rebrand of Shopify Pay to ‘Shop Pay’ (and, of course, their NYSE share ticker is simply ‘SHOP’). In other words, they’re trying to own the word ‘Shop’ as a new brand, and place this app at the centre of western commerce a little like Tmall or JD.com did in China.
Shopify will no doubt be hoping the app takes space on users’ home screens, taking some of the attention they use currently to shop at Amazon, Ebay, Depop, or even retailers own apps, instead shopping directly through their walled garden.
While the app is called ‘Shop’, the concept is more akin to a ‘Mall’ – something familiar to anyone who’s shopped online in China, via AliBaba’s Tmall, or JD. While Shopify’s revenue for 2018 was a little over $1billion, JD’s 2019 revenue was $83 billion. If ‘Shop’ allows them to push into other markets, it may assist in unlocking some of that revenue too.
The app also incorporates package tracking, purchase history, updates from shops you follow, product recommendations from stores you’ve followed or previously purchased from. The app has been in production since 2018, with a previous MVP called ‘Arrive’ focusing purely on the package tracking part of the journey.
For now, they aren’t pushing product recommendations from competing retailers within the Shopify ecosystem unless you have shown a prior interest, but – just as Google and amazon make huge amounts of their revenue through allowing retailer to advertise to consumers – no doubt Shopify will roll out features like this in the longer term.
There’s no word on whether retailers and brands using alternate ecommerce platforms can gain access to sell through ‘Shop’. For the meantime it’s likely Shopify would maintain that as a competitive advantage for their own customers, but – if the ambition to rebrand the entire company toward ‘Shop’ is as it intends to be – it’s likely they would open up direct access over time to others, and perhaps even allow giant brands such as Nike, Adidas, or luxury businesses such as LVMH or Kering to go virtually ‘DTC’ via the app, as they do via China’s online mall apps.