Ottawa, Ontario-based Shopify powered more than 600,000 merchants across 175 countries as of last August.
The new offering, which is built on the TrueCommerce Foundry platform, will give Shopify merchants a unified scheme for greater integration across all commerce channels within a business’ systems and supply chain network.
In addition, TrueCommerce will provide the greater Shopify community with access to more than 92,000 fulfillment partners that will be pre-connected on the TrueCommerce global network.
Through this integration, Shopify will have a unified multichannel platform for the seamless handling of orders placed either on the Shopify storefront or through national retailers and other digital marketplaces.
Tracking information and order confirmations can be sent back to Shopify automatically, while inventory can be synchronized in real time.
“The current wave of retailing places pressure on organizations across the value chain to grow their brands and retool their supply chain to offer a true omnichannel experience,” said TrueCommerce president Ross Elliott.
“TrueCommerce’s innovative supply chain solutions help equip organizations with the key capabilities needed to build and grow their digital strategies in a complicated and fiercely competitive market,” he added. “TrueCommerce integrated our full capabilities with the robust Shopify platform to better serve our customers who are asking for our help equipping their business to compete more effectively and grow in today’s marketplace.”
Shopify recently announced a partnership with Deliv to offer same-day delivery capabilities. It also recently joined forces with Google in an ad-based partnership. Shopify last year entered an integration partnership with Amazon, whereby it would allow merchants to sell on Amazon via their respective Shopify stores.
Enriching the User Experience
For retailers, another advantage of the TrueCommerce platform’s integration with Shopify will be the ability to have enriched product content published directly on the Shopify storefront, which could help optimize product listings and assortments.
Further, it will offer seamless integration with Shopify orders from more than 25 leading accounting and ERP systems, allowing orders to be synchronized and have their fulfillment status updated accordingly. The fulfillment capabilities can be enhanced along the way with direct integration of the TrueCommerce Pack & Solution, a Web-based, end-to-end automated platform.
All of these operations will be pre-connected with the necessary dropship vendors or third-party logistics providers. The integration also will leverage available product information management capabilities that will enable users to sync product data and pricing between various business systems and a Shopify store.
New Twist on an Old Idea
Although the TrueCommerce and Shopify partnership offers benefits for both parties, as well as associated retailers, at its core, it is just a new twist on existing concepts.
“The vision of e-commerce that emerged during the dot-com boom in the 1990s was of a virtual playing field that was level for businesses of every size, kind, and location,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
“Two decades later, the reality is quite different, with behemoths like Amazon and Walmart slugging it out over cutthroat pricing and super-fast delivery, and mom-and-pop micro-businesses leveraging eBay and similar sites,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
“Caught in the middle are tens of thousands of companies that need the Web to support their businesses but seldom have the time and resources to exploit its full potential,” King added. “Such organizations use Shopify to set up and manage their online stores and retail transactions.”
Taking On Retail Giants
The TrueCommerce integration also could allow smaller retailers to take on giants such as Amazon and Walmart, but Shopify could be hedging its bets by partnering with Amazon as well.
“In the same way enterprises are trying to transform IT into a multicloud procurement strategy, online retail sales are increasingly multichannel,” said Paul Teich, principal analyst at DoubleHorn.
“Shopify grew from a small business focus, where its inventory and back-end functions are fairly simple,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
“That makes Shopify easy to use, but if a vendor is selling through its own storefront plus a few other e-commerce channels, such as eBay, Amazon, and others, then inventory management and order fulfillment for all of those separate channels may become a challenge to manage in a unified fashion,” Teich explained.
TrueCommerce claims to interface with enterprise-class accounting and ERP systems on the back end and also handles multicarrier shipping, noted Teich.
“The sweet spot for this bit of integration will be growing multichannel e-commerce businesses that may be struggling to coordinate order fulfillment across all their channels,” he suggested.
Importance of Managed Solutions
For small to mid-sized businesses, this integration could help ensure that they will not be displaced online the way some brick-and-mortar SMBs have been driven off Main Street by big box retailers.
“We’re seeing tech trending from point solutions that solve specific problems toward platform solutions that provide integrated and powerful solutions with one dashboard,” said Rick Ducey, managing director at BIA Advisory Services.
“SMBs want tech that is reliable, easy to use, secure, and cost-effective, and it has to integrate easily with other tech,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
However, only a third of SMBs currently have e-commerce solutions, and just over a fifth plan to add these services, according to BIA Advisory Services’ recent research.
“This leaves an attractive gap as an addressable market for TrueCommerce and Shopify to target and serve,” said Ducey.
“SMBs find a variety of service levels — ranging from DIY (do it yourself) to DIWM (do it with me) to DIFM (do it for me) — helpful, depending on their circumstances,” he added. “We’re seeing the costs for tech platforms become more attractive to SMBs while also becoming better integrated and more powerful as accessible solution sets in terms of learning curves and maintenance. These factors combine to create an environment that will foster more sophisticated operations for SMBs and more competitiveness.”
In addition to being helpful to smaller players, the TrueCommerce integration could be a market disrupter by removing the middleman from the sales process.
“On paper it is like Amazon for merchants, and it could go a long way to making distributors obsolete,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
“We used to call this ‘disintermediation,’ and if executed well, it would better allow merchants to compete with Amazon without as great a need for scale — and both enable and support new structures like Nordstrom Local,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
“As an initiative, this is very powerful. As a model, this could change the competitive dynamic between smaller stores and Amazon dramatically,” said Enderle.
Getting Consumers Engaged
It’s unclear how important this integration will be to consumers, who may not notice any of the benefits or improvements it brings to their experience.
“Consumers are still trying to decide what they like best on the front end, while on the back end — where things really don’t show up for consumers — the real integration challenges take place,” said BIA Advisory Services’ Ducey.
“This is where much of the all-important customer experience actually gets built and operated,” he said.
“E-commerce is only about 10 percent of total retail sales, but critical to consumer engagement and satisfaction with the brand both online and in bricks-and-mortar,” Ducey pointed out.
“The stakes are high for managing the back end of e-commerce in ways that let businesses focus on the customer experience and let others drive the tech behind the curtains,” he noted.
“In essence, Shopify and TrueCommerce aim to reduce or remove many of the headaches associated with online retail with services,” said Pund-IT’s King. “Those are benefits that many Shopify clients are likely to welcome.”