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Shopify director of EMEA expansion on assisting retailers through the power of AI

Shopify's Deann Evans

Question: What do Shopify, Zalando and Amazon all have in common?

As well as being some of the biggest ecommerce brands in the world, they are have all utilised the power of artificial intelligence in a bid to help its customers and vendors help navigate through its platforms.

Last month, Zalando launched a tool powered by OpenAI which allows customers to ask questions using their own fashion terms and words, which it claims makes the process more “intuitive and natural”, and Amazon is to invest heavily into its AI-division, with the launch of its own ChatGPT-style product search.

Ahead of her panel at the IRX in Birmingham this week, InternetRetailing speaks with Shopify’s director of EMEA expansion and partnerships, Deann Evans, about helping retailers expand their online presence and future plans involving AI.

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On the importance of an omnichannel strategy

“Customers want to stay connected with a brand, they want to have the same experience wherever they are, whether that is online or in-store,” Evans says.

Referring to the strategy as “retail everywhere”, Evans advises brands to stay connected to consumers, claiming that they need to offer “great interaction between the offline and online experience”.

“Since the pandemic, we have seen a huge growth in the ecommerce market, with more brands and retailers trading online and direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies that started during the pandemic, now opening pop-up stores and testing the high-street,” she states.

This echoes comments from the managing director of Google Retail, Kevin Mathers, who claims retailers need to ensure they’re building “emotional connections” with their customers.

He says: “This is where a strong omnichannel strategy becomes vital, alongside the right use of AI and automation tools.

On being in the AI era

Evans agrees with Mathers, saying that “we are currently living in the AI era.”

“When you have humans working alongside AI, the productivity levels are going to be something we have never seen before,” she states.

Recently, the shopping platform that has a raft of retailers in its portfolio including, Gymshark, Decathalon and Fashionnova, launched an AI-powered assistant on its shopping app.

Last month, the platform introduced Shopify Magic, a feature for generating product descriptions with AI, in a bid to save vendors significant time and help to allow customers to find the products they are searching for.

“Product descriptions being already generated for retailers and brands on the platform will make trading a much easier experience,” she claims.

However, Evans also hints at more updates on the customer-facing app being launched shortly, utilising AI.

On helping retailers expand their online presence

“Shopify is all about meeting shoppers wherever they are shopping and giving them the experience they want,” Evans explains.

“Facilitating that connection between consumers and retailers is vital, especially now where we are seeing more businesses moving to cross-border commerce.”

Using sportswear retailer Gymshark as an example, which was born on Shopify from a garage in Birmingham, Evans reveals the company, owned by Ben Francis, has turned into a “global category leader”, with its flagship store on London’s Regent Street.

“The UK and the EMEA region as a whole are vital to our future success and the future of commerce,” she states.

As a result, the platform launched its Shopify Market tool reducing those barriers that help with the complexity of trading internationally. These barriers include issues with optimising international stores, translation and helping localise the customer journey.

“We’re focused on how do we and grow our business in EMEA, to continue to support our partners that are gonna be driving growth in retail,” Evans concludes.

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