In case you didn’t know it, the good folks at Shopify are into innovation in a BIG way. They even have a separate business unit called “Garage” where product developers work on new apps and innovations. And even in the middle of the current holiday shopping crunch, the Garage team is tinkering away madly on some new stuff for our eCommerce Christmas stockings. They’re sort of like Santa’s elves, but instead of toy trains and dolls they wrote code for all the good little merchants on the Shopify platform “nice list.”
We’ve been keeping a sharp eye out for news on what they are working on, and a string of announcements coming out of the Garage unit got us excited, so we called in and got a little info on three new developments that we want to share with you. This is the first one of those.
The Arrive App by Shopify – What Is It?
As the name “Arrive” might imply, this app is designed to track and inform you about your online shipments and deliveries. Importantly, not “just” the online shipments coming from Shopify stores, but ALL online shipments. So, if you're a Shopify merchant, you might be asking yourself why you should care, right? After all … this is an app for online shoppers to use – not an app that you can install in your Shopify store.
Why Store Owners Should Care About the Arrive App
If you’re Amazon.com, you have advanced package tracking capabilities. And if your eCommerce customers have installed the Amazon app on their tablet or smartphone, then you can send them push notifications telling them the status of their orders and when packages have been delivered. If you're Dominos Pizza, your app can do the same thing. But these apps can cost tens of thousands – or in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars – to make. In short, these kinds of specialized apps are for the top tier of eCommerce businesses.
If you have a Shopify online store, your site is already mobile responsive – allowing your customers to order online. But the vast majority of us in the Shopify Community can’t afford to have a custom integrated delivery app. That’s where I see the Shopify Arrive App coming in to deliver BIG value to the small business. When it’s fully developed, it will bring the power of enterprise-class tracking and delivery tracking apps within reach of the small to medium-sized retailer.
Privacy of app in question
A big issue with a lot of ARRIVE users is privacy, or what they perceive as a lack of privacy. Engadget is reporting that while Slice, a Rakuten-owned app that works essentially like ARRIVE, mines your data for consumer insights, Shopify claims it will only use your information to improve the in-app experience.
However, consumers responding to the ARRIVE app are complaining about the "ridiculous amount of permissions" required for using their Gmail accounts. One customer wrote: "Great UI, but falls far short of being useful until non-Gmail solutions are implemented."
Another customer wrote: "Probably a good app. Too bad I cannot use it cause it requires a ridiculous amount of permissions in Gmail. There is no way to use this app without signing away full access to your Gmail emails. Why do they need to read my emails and why is there no way to uncheck that option?"
The ARRIVE app is not a first for Shopify, Last year, they launched Frenzy, an app for flash sales. I guess you have to be a shopaholic to keep track of all the apps out there, but perhaps there is still time for Spotify to come up with a personal shopping assistant app.
How the Shopify Arrive App Works
All eCommerce businesses send confirmation emails for each purchase -- it's standard practice. The Shopify Arrive App connects with an email account and monitors it for all order, shipping, and delivery confirmation emails – including tracking numbers. It processes this information and displays it in the Arrive App and creates alerts (if you want them) – just like the big-boy retail giants.
What Are the Limitations of the Shopify Arrive App?
Let’s be clear … this thing is brand-spanking new. I am personally testing this initial release right now and there is a way to go. For example, it is currently only available on iOS – Apple devices – through the Apple App Store. And this first version is only compatible with Gmail email accounts. I have no insider info, but they are obviously working to broaden to other email systems and to work on a version for Android devices as well.
The Best Part(s) of the Arrive App
Let me put on my economist hat for a second and summarize all the coolness.
- The Arrive App by Shopify has the potential to level the playing field a bit more by taking away a core advantage of the eCommerce behemoths.
- Customers of Shopify stores – and all online stores, really – will get an improved, more satisfying shopping experience.
- There is no additional charge to the store owners. If you send confirmation emails and your customer has the app, you get to play in this sandbox for free.
- Shopify is making no statements to this effect, but they have a real opportunity here as well. I am just speculating, but even though the Arrive App terms of service promise not to sell of share shopping and shipping data with outsiders, they should be able to glean some serious eCommerce Big Data analytics info for the habits of online shopper that will be, quite frankly, worth a truck-load of money and competitive advantage.
It feels like democratic eCommerce capitalism. I just do not see any downside here. Everyone will win EXCEPT the big online retail giants.