Shopify: Balancing automation with humanized digital connections

Shopify: Balancing automation with humanized digital connections

4 min read


We recently caught up with Shopify’s Hain Joubert who told us about exciting new Shopify features, gave sage advice for merchants, and discussed how the global pandemic has changed ecommerce, probably forever. 

It took a while to pin down an interview with Hain Joubert, Shopify’s partnerships manager for Europe, East Asia, and Africa. The South African, who now lives in London, is a busy person given the enormous growth in ecommerce, especially since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

When we did speak to him, Joubert was eager to reveal improvements and changes that are underway at Shopify. The platform’s fulfilment network is being revamped with better software and features that give merchants more control and flexibility in managing their orders. This allows merchants to hand over the logistics of stock keeping, delivery and fulfillment to Shopify.

Even more exciting is the development of Shop, an all-in-one mobile shopping assistant that helps consumers search for and buy products. Shop also makes it easier for consumers to discover merchants. For example, filters can help shoppers find anything from Asian, or woman-owned businesses, to merchants that practice and promote sustainable commerce.

By the end of the first quarter in 2021, Shop already had more than 107 million registered users, nearly a quarter of which are monthly active users – a testament to the growth in ecommerce.

Are you harnessing the power of automation?

Joubert discussed how several Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants undervalue the automation capabilities that Shopify offers. In particular, he recommends Shopify Flow, which is quick and relatively painless to set up.

Using Flow, merchants can:

  • Automate inventory management for low-stock products
  • Standardize merchandise and product organization
  • Notify customers when sales starts and about wish list items that are back in stock
  • Automatically cancel high-risk orders or prompt a review

The app also provides opportunities for businesses to better connect with customers by using tags and segments to identify loyal customers and reward them for their buying behaviors and lifetime spend.

Out with the old

Joubert believes that the future of ecommerce for large merchants lies in new enterprise solutions. Platforms that don’t require a lot of time and investment (while simultaneously making useful and user-friendly features readily available) are likely to experience increased success.

“Legacy enterprise software is broken. You don’t need a thousand days to install software, an army of developers to support it, or millions of dollars to run it,” he says.

Medium and large businesses have traditionally invested a lot of time, energy and money to build systems that support them and their needs. Software used to be a lot more rigid and customization would have to be developed specially to fit a business’s needs.

Many newer solutions are more agile and easily customizable and it’s not necessary to have specialized knowledge to work with it. Joubert maintains that small and large businesses should embrace solutions like Shopify that have software that is mobile and responsive to fast changing demands in commerce.

The needs of customers have and will change, and it’s more important than ever to have a solution that can adapt and change with them. As a seller you don’t always have time or resources, so making things simple and easy to use has become important.

The Shopify Effect

Joubert, who has worked for Shopify for four years, has enjoyed watching how modern commerce technology has enabled incredible entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and grow their ideas. While he has seen major transformations in technology and commerce over the last 20 years, the last 18 months have really picked up the pace.

A move towards taking business global via ecommerce while emphasizing responsible local and ecological impact, is one of the biggest trends he’s witnessed. Companies that experienced the most success were those that invested in genuine relationships with their customers and local providers.

Despite the enormous pandemic-related challenges of 2020, more than 1,700,000 businesses in 175 countries across the globe have made over $200 billion in sales using Shopify.

This ripple-effect impact is what Joubert and his colleagues call ‘the Shopify Effect’. “ShopCreatify has been part of the journey and one of the early groundbreakers in South Africa helping some great brands to be even more successful,” he says.

Foster real connections and support local providers

“The pandemic certainly amplified the need to put consumers first and engage with audiences in an authentic and community-responsible fashion,” says Joubert.

He encourages merchants to continue paying attention to issues of immediacy, the consumers’ digital experience and relationships as key factors for success.

In a world where people are increasingly connected online only, people are seeking out a more human digital experience. Consumers don’t just want the cheapest option; they want a rich experience that involves them and you.

Personal stories and a human touch tell people that your product is worth looking at. And engaging customers through a rich digital experience can help you connect with them fully.

They also want to be able to interact with your brand conveniently. If it’s easy to interact with, they will feel like there are people on the other side of the product rather than it being a soulless corporation.

Consumers also want to support local businesses and economies. They want to know where products come from and how they’re made. Was it made sustainably from both an environmental and a human perspective? Joubert says it’s important to show your customers how buying your product is good for them, good for you, and good for the people making your products.

The world needs more entrepreneurs

The pandemic has changed the world irrevocably, and the changes in ecommerce reflect that. There is a growing space for entrepreneurs who can create products that are authentic, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable.

People want to feel connected to the brands they buy and they want to buy things that truly make them feel happy – whether that’s artisanal flour or handmade tote bags.

Joubert, who is a true believer in the entrepreneurial spirit, says that we need to continue using modern technology to share our ‘superpowers’ or talents with communities across the world.

“No matter if your superpower is creating a unique product, painting a beautiful artwork, singing or dancing - somewhere in the world someone will appreciate your gift. And Shopify’s goal is to carry on empowering these entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes, and help them become more successful,” he concludes.

Gabi Falanga
Gabi Falanga

Hi, I’m Gabi, a communication specialist who loves writing about interesting topics. Follow me for more information.