Shopify announced several new offerings this week at its annual Unite developer conference, including a plan to open a brick-and-mortar store that would sell Shopify point-of-sale equipment and other products and services, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The store is scheduled to open this year at an undisclosed location. It's intended to operate as a showroom for Shopify products, but also as a place where merchants can attend workshops and seek advice about growing their businesses.
Shopify also announced POS upgrades for its retail store clients, with a Tap & Chip Reader for accepting all major forms of contactless payment, new support for multi-channel returns and exchanges, in-store pickup, tipping options, a companion app for a customer-facing checkout experience and a developer software development kit.
Opening a brick-and-mortar store to connect with the clients your company has helped launch into the e-commerce universe is a strange and ironic idea — but not a bad one. In reality, all kinds of e-commerce players have been turning to brick-and-mortar as a way to better forge a more personal bond with customers, and now Shopify can help many of them navigate this new environment from the same standpoint.
Another bit of reality is that Shopify already sells many different kinds of equipment and solutions for brick-and-mortar stores, such as POS systems and barcode scanners. Shopify’s future brick-and-mortar presence likely will depend on how well its client base responds to this first concept.
It should also be noted that in keeping with current trends about what defines a retail store, Shopify appears to be designing Shopify Space with a "showrooming" mindset, making it a place for customers to touch and test products. In addition, it sounds like the company is taking a page from Apple’s retail store philosophy in highlighting the store’s mission to educate and inspire.
The news of Shopify’s retail store launch almost overshadows other announcements the company made this week, including the introduction of the new Tap & Chip Reader. Retailers need education and inspiration, but they also need new technology to help them keep up with the times. A system that allows them to accept Apple Pay, Google Pay and other forms of contactless payment fits the bill.
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the brick-and-mortar location, which does not have a name.