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Aug 03, 2023

From Content Creation to Customer Support: Exploring Shopify's AI Tools

Here's everything you need to know about Shopify AI, including the features, benefits and potential ramifications for businesses.

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Shopify, one of the leading e-commerce platforms, is embracing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to change the way it operates. With the recent announcement of Shopify Magic and Sidekick, Shopify is taking a large leap towards leveraging AI technology. In this article, we will take a look at everything you need to know about Shopify AI, including the features, benefits and potential ramifications for businesses. 
 

Topics we will be going over in this article …

 

 

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An Introduction to Shopify’s New AI Tools

Shopify Magic is Shopify’s catch-all brand for generative AI. It offers a range of free AI-powered features designed to empower merchants and enhance their online businesses. Through the use of proprietary Shopify data and large language models (LLMs) like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Shopify Magic can generate blog posts, product descriptions, marketing emails, and more. This allows merchants to automate content creation and save valuable time.  

Sidekick, on the other hand, is a conversational AI assistant that aims to “know and understand all of Shopify.” It can interpret questions and prompts related to business decision-making and assist merchants with tasks such as setting up discounts, segmenting customers, and creating reports. Sidekick can even modify Shopify merchant shop designs, providing suggestions for product collections and even help with the hero banner copy. 


The Power of Shopify AI

Shopify’s foray into AI technology stems from its belief in AI’s potential to transform businesses of all sizes. By leveraging AI, Shopify aims to keep its merchants on the cutting edge of technology and provide them with tools that can drive growth and success. The use of AI allows for personalized customer experiences, automated content creation, and improved decision-making, all of which contribute to the overall efficiency and profitability of businesses. 

One of the primary benefits of Shopify AI is its ability to generate content. With Shopify Magic, merchants can effortlessly create blog posts, product descriptions, and marketing emails. This not only saves time but also ensures consistent and high-quality content creation. Moreover, Shopify AI can customize the tone of voice and translate content into different languages, catering to a global audience. 

Sidekick, the conversational AI assistant, acts as a valuable resource for merchants. It can provide instant answers to questions, assist in decision-making processes, and even offer design suggestions. By automating tasks and providing real-time support, Sidekick empowers merchants to make informed decisions, improving customer engagement and optimizing their online stores. 

 

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How to Ensure Accuracy and Control in AI Content

Shopify understands the need for accuracy and control when it comes to AI-generated content. To address this concern, Shopify merchants have the opportunity to review and approve content generated by Shopify Magic before it goes live. This ensures the content aligns with its business goals and maintains its brand voice and messaging. 

Additionally, Shopify takes data privacy seriously. Conversations and data shared with Shopify AI features are not shared with third parties. The use of proprietary Shopify data, combined with LLMs like ChatGPT, ensures that merchants’ information remains secure and confidential. 


Shopify AI and the Impact on Customer Support 

While AI-powered assistants like Sidekick can provide quick and efficient responses to merchant inquiries, some concerns have been raised regarding the impact of AI on customer satisfaction. A recent Twitter, or rather, X thread from an anonymous Shopify employee, has broken their non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to shed some light on this …

 

In the thread series, the employee shares a series of events, starting from the first quarter of 2022 when Shopify promised job security to its staff … only to have a massive layoff in July of the same year. 

Why is this being attributed to AI? Well, it is because, according to Shopify employees, these job cuts were a shift towards replacing full-time employees with AI chatbots. 

 

I Can't Get No (Customer) Satisfaction

The cost-cutting strategy of Shopify employee layoffs and moving to more technology options have already negatively impacted customer satisfaction. The reduction in staff and the rise of outsourced, cheap contract labor have led to significant delays in customer support, leaving frustrated merchants waiting for hours to get their problems solved. 

Another frustration that has popped up recently for Shopify customers is that the Shopify teams that are tasked with monitoring fraudulent stores are struggling to keep up. This has also led to a potential uptick in scam businesses on the platform. 

 

The Toll on Shopify Employees

Concerns have also been raised for the current Shopify employees and their well-being. Since the layoffs, the remaining staff members have reportedly faced increased workloads without being rewarded with the appropriate benefits, leading to burnout, anxiety, and stress. Some Shopify employees see this move as further proof that the company’s focus on AI-based solutions is now superseding the human customer service experience. 

 

The Pros and Cons of Shopify Changes for Small Businesses

For small businesses, the use of Shopify AI tools and its recent changes presents both pros and cons. Let’s take a look at both. 

The Pros

By leveraging AI tools, Shopify aspires to enhance the support experience, allowing merchants to access information and assistance more quickly. The introduction of AI tools is aimed at empowering merchants and streamlining their operations. By helping to automate tedious tasks and providing valuable insights, Shopify AI can help small businesses compete on a larger scale and achieve greater growth in a rapidly changing digital world.  


The Cons

With these recent changes from Shopify, both employees and customers have questioned the company’s integrity and commitment to its original mission of empowering small businesses. With the shift in target market focus of supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, Shopify now seems to prioritize larger players with its revenue model relying heavily on payment transactions rather than subscription software.


Final Thoughts

Shopify's foray into AI technology holds significant potential for transforming businesses, but it also comes with challenges and considerations. Striking the right balance between leveraging AI for efficiency and maintaining a customer-centric approach will be crucial for Shopify to continue fostering positive growth and support for merchants of all sizes.

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