Mailchimp & Shopify: What The Break Up Means For You

BLOG / eCommerce

If you haven't already heard, two of the internet's favorite platforms are breaking up. Last week Shopify announced they had booted the Mailchimp app from their platform, throwing a spicy curveball to thousands of shop owners and marketers.

Here at Harlo we work on a lot of eCommerce websites. Whether we’re building custom digital products to increase conversions or designing a user-friendly shop on another platform, success usually comes down to one thing: Data.

It was no surprise then that data is at the heart of this Shopify and Mailchimp break-up. Shopify wants more data and Mailchimp refuses to let it go. The result is a he-said-she-said melodrama between two services we all love. Let’s dig into what happened and where we go from here.

What Shopify Has to Say

As we’ve noted in the past, eCommerce is growing and shows no signs of stopping. Of all the eCommerce platforms out there Shopify is by far the largest and most popular. It’s the platform we suggest for clients looking to open up a new store or move to a new platform.

Shopify is a Canadian eCommerce company launched in 2008, just as eCommerce really began to take off. Since then, it has grown right along with the industry and now dominates the market. It supports thousands of business with an open ecosystem designed to accommodate third party and open source apps and plugins. One of the most popular plugins was for Mailchimp email marketing, but not anymore.

In a blog post released on March 22nd, 2019, Shopify announced that MailChimp would no longer be available in the Shopify App Store. It was a move that shocked many shop owners and marketers, but perhaps one that has quietly brewing for some time.

According to the statement, “Shopify has had growing concerns about Mailchimp’s app because of the poor merchant experience and their refusal to respect our Partner Program Agreement.” It goes on to claim that, “our terms require app partners to share all important data back to the merchant using Shopify’s API to help them run their businesses. It’s critical for our merchants to have accurate, complete insight into their businesses and customers, and this isn’t possible when Mailchimp locks in their data.”

Clearly, Shopify wasn’t happy with the flow of data from Mailchimp. But as we all know, there are two sides to every story.

What Has MailChimp Been Up To?

As you might have guessed, Mailchimp released its own statement on March 22nd as well, and this one sings a different tune.

It begins, “yesterday, we asked Shopify to remove the Mailchimp for Shopify integration from their marketplace. We made this decision because Shopify released updated terms that would negatively impact our business and put our users at risk.” Obviously, they are putting their own spin on it, but it is a bit funny to see these two mammoth companies engage in such posturing.

The bulk of the beef is explained later in the post, and it gets back to user privacy and data collection, “our shared users have complete control over their own data. By continuing to connect with Shopify through third-party integrations, we’re providing our shared users with the choice to share that data going forward.”

The explanation continues, saying that, “what we’re not willing to do is automatically and retroactively share all of this data with Shopify, including data acquired outside of and not connected to the Shopify platform, without the user involved. From our perspective, that data belongs to our users and isn’t ours to share directly with Shopify.”

Here’s the thing, while we believe their arguments to be valid, there’s also a deeper context to this data tug-of-war.

For the last year, Mailchimp has been increasing the eCommerce offerings in their service. They recently launched shoppable landing page through a partnership with Square, and following the break up with Shopify announced the acquisition of LemonStand, a Shopify competitor. All of this is to say, maybe there’s more to this than just data.

What’s Next For You, The User?

But let’s get down to brass tacks. You don’t care about corporate beef and posturing, you just want an eCommerce store that works! We get, and lucky for you Mailchimp has some pretty simple workarounds for their Shopify clients.

Mailchimp shared a list of Shopify solutions that allow you to maintain the use of both services with the help of third-party apps. While in the end it will be easy for users to resolve this beef, it’s an interesting case study on the competition in the eCommerce space. This beef is a gentle reminder that eCommerce businesses need to constantly stay up to date with the happenings of their industry, or risk missing out on changes that affect their services.

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