Microsoft announced a partnership with Shopify in late October, stating that they are “always looking for ways to help connect brands with consumers”.
This new partnership comes in the form of simplified integration for Shopify merchants with Microsoft Search Network, Microsoft Audience Network, and a number of other Microsoft products. The adoption of Shopify as a partner in the ecommerce space closely follows Google’s Shopify and WooCommerce integration across its own search products.
Exploring the New Partnership
Primarily, Microsoft’s new partnership with Shopify takes on the form of integrated services in search results and interactive elements on Microsoft Edge (the company’s web browser) and Microsoft Bing (the company’s search engine). Shopify is also being integrated into Microsoft Start, as well as the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central service. According to a blog post announcing the partnership:
“Using the Shopping tab on Microsoft Bing, and Microsoft Edge, you will now see more diverse products, better prices, and improved discovery of deals. You will also be able to simply check out via the Shopping tab on Microsoft Bing quickly and securely.”
More concretely, Shopify merchants can begin adding their products to Microsoft Search Network and the updated Microsoft Start via the new and improved Microsoft Channel app in Shopify. Merchants will need to create or use an existing Microsoft Advertising account to get started.
Once they’ve logged themselves into the app, merchants will be able to review and amend their ad campaigns via Shopify and check performance metrics on Bing and other Microsoft products.
So far, Microsoft has confirmed that all product listings are automatically able to be shown on the Microsoft Start Shopping tab, and the Microsoft Bing Shopping tab.
Other announced features that are still in the works include quick checkout via product listings and ads on Bing and other Microsoft products.
Getting started with the Microsoft Channel is quite easy. Once you have your Microsoft Advertising account, you can select the Microsoft Channel app on Shopify and log in with the account of your choosing. Unlike the Microsoft Advertising app previously providing Shopify integration, you will no longer need to fill out a form to create a Microsoft Merchant Center.
One of the major identifiable differences between the Microsoft Advertising app on Shopify and the new partnership is the availability of free listings. Microsoft came to the same conclusion as Google, in the sense that you need people to find shopping on Microsoft products like Bing, Edge, and Start easy and convenient, and have a wide variety of listings available. Google revealed last year that switching to mostly free listings on the Shopping tab led to an 80 percent increase in merchants on Google, with most of them being small to medium businesses.
You could previously only launch new ad campaigns by filling out the relevant information and setting a daily budget under Shopify. But with Microsoft Channel, you can automatically include your product listings and ads as free listings, by oping in under Microsoft > Sales Channels > Get started > Free listings. You can also continue to manage and review paid ad campaigns launched on Microsoft products via Shopify. You can learn more about installing apps on Shopify via their help desk.
In addition to expanding the functionality of Microsoft apps on the Shopify platform, Shopify has teamed up with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central to provide business management tools for Shopify merchants utilizing the Shopify Global ERP Program, which allows Shopify merchants to utilize Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) products for more functionality on the Shopify App Store. More information can be found on Shopify’s news page.
Shopify and Microsoft Start
Microsoft’s new partnership with Shopify will allow merchants to integrate their ad listings on Microsoft Start, in addition to Microsoft Edge and Bing.
Microsoft Start is a rebranded version of Microsoft News, and is available on mobile devices (both Android and iOS), the News and Interests service widget on Windows 10 and 11, the Microsoft Edge new tab page, and the web.
It functions as a personalized news feed and was released earlier in September. According to Microsoft, Microsoft Start is utilizing “enhanced AI and machine learning paired with human moderation” to pick and choose content for users.
Microsoft Start is best seen as Microsoft’s efforts to consolidate the features and changes they’ve implemented over the years to MSN, Microsoft News, and the News and Interests service widget.
However, while Microsoft Start will provide content and information users might be interested in, Shopify ads are currently confined to the Shopping tab on the Microsoft Start page.
Other Shopify Integrations
Each of these integrations point towards an ever-growing culture of corporate collaboration and data-sharing in the ecommerce space, empowering merchants to grow their business online through a variety of avenues and platforms, all without ever needing to leave the Shopify app.
Microsoft Teases More to Come
During its announcement, Microsoft went on to clarify that this is just the beginning. The company plans on introducing “some great new shopping enhancements we will be rolling out to provide thoughtful, convenient, and more secure experiences for shoppers.”
What exactly this means, however, remains to be seen. As we’ve mentioned, the new Shopify integration is following suit in Google’s similar partnership with both Shopify and WooCommerce this year, and both companies seem to be banking on an ecommerce boom in the second Black Friday of the pandemic.
Whatever might be in store for us, Shopify merchants and users of other common ecommerce platforms will want to keep an eye out for new partnerships, app integrations, special deals, and other news to come. Ecommerce was one of the fastest growing industries over the last two years, and it’s clear that the pace isn’t slowing.