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Shopify Debuts Consumer-Facing App to Support Local Merchants

Known for powering the back end of more than 1 million online businesses, Shopify is now branching out to the end consumer to with a new mobile app in the hope of connecting its merchants with more buyers.

The platform has released Shop, a mobile app designed to bridge the gaps in online shopping and make the e-commerce shopping experience easier during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shop allows North American shoppers to browse and purchase products from any merchants that use Shopify’s e-commerce logistics platform or its in-store point-of-sale services.

Although Shopify is perhaps most closely associated with its partnerships with major digitally native e-commerce brands such as Allbirds, Brooklinen or Kylie Cosmetics, the company has built out experiences for a much larger segment of lesser-known smaller businesses. The Shop app enables users to discover these merchants, receive relevant product recommendations from their favorite brands, check out upon purchasing and track all their online orders in one app. Brands get the benefit of not having to pay any additional fee to be on Shop, nor do they pay commissions for any app-derived sales.

Shop combines various features already introduced by Shopify to power the app experience, integrating Shop Pay, a one-click accelerated checkout, into its online order delivery tracking app Arrive. To date, Shop Pay has processed more than $8 billion in sales, while 16 million shoppers have used Arrive to track their e-commerce orders.

“Shopify has focused the last decade on solving complex problems for entrepreneurs by making commerce seamless and accessible,” said Carl Rivera, general manager of Shop. “Now, we want to do the same for customers. We set out to solve the common pain points in the customer’s shopping journey today, while developing specific features, like local business discovery, that will be relevant today and in the future.”

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The app could be a lift for local businesses that have seen slowed traffic during the COVID-19 crisis. According to the Brookings Institution, retailers that qualify as micro businesses (businesses with fewer than 10 employees) and are five years old or less are highly vulnerable to job losses, having experienced a 32 percent dip in job creation from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a $320 billion funding replenishment for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on Thursday, but only after the original $2.2 trillion stimulus package that established the PPP ran out of money, creating a sense of unease among small business owners wondering how they would continue to operate during the pandemic.

Via the Shop app, some of these small businesses that are operating Shopify technology could gain greater exposure to local shoppers.

Shop users can locate nearby merchants via filters, which identify local businesses currently offering shipping, pick-up and highlights return policies. The app delivers personalized recommendations including new releases and deals based on previous brand visits. Shop ensures merchants’ customers consistently rediscover the storefronts of their favorite brands, as well as new brands.

Upon making a purchase, shoppers can use the Shop Pay feature to check out across any brand accessed via the app. With the Arrive feature, shoppers can then track the status of every package and view real-time updates.

Shopify has a history of assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs as they attempt to build an online presence. In January, the platform introduced starter loans of $200 to help people launch online businesses. Entrepreneurs don’t need a personal guarantee or credit check to get the loan. The funds are paid back in 60 days as a fixed percentage of sales.