Their new AI-powered tool is called Sidekick, and it has garnered massive enthusiasm among e-commerce operators and tech folks alike. As someone with a deep interest in both e-commerce and AI (as part of a team building an AI design tool for e-commerce businesses), I have taken a closer look at this new feature to help you understand what it offers and how it might impact your business. Let's dive into the details.
What is Sidekick?
Sidekick is an AI assistant developed by Shopify, designed to assist store owners in managing various aspects of their online stores. Unlike typical chatbots, Sidekick is built to adapt to the unique needs of each store owner, providing targeted assistance in areas such as inventory management, customer support, sales analytics, and marketing. This isn’t Shopify’s first foray into AI – Shopify Magic, which Sidekick is a part of, has been helping Shopify owners write product descriptions, create emails that convert and generate FAQs on the fly for some time now. But Sidekick, which is currently in closed beta, is sort of like the chat-based AI assistant tying all of these features together. Here’s Tobi Lütke, Shopify’s CEO, giving an overview of the new product.
How Does Sidekick Work?
Sidekick employs machine learning and natural language processing to understand and respond to user queries. As said earlier, it’s a chat-based product, meaning that it’s fairly straightforward to use and its UX is comparable with other well-known AI-based Chat tools like ChatGPT and Claude. It can handle a wide range of tasks, learning from your interactions over time to improve its efficiency. When you ask Sidekick a question or give it a command, it provides the relevant information or assistance – it’s also able to perform tasks for you.
In the video above, we see several examples of what Sidekick can do, including explaining sales trends, extracting insights from sales and traffic data, creating and applying product discounts, altering product displays, and changing the site theme. I appreciate the chat-based interface, which is familiar and likely to encourage adoption.
However, there's a potential downside: the paradox of choice. If shop owners can ask Sidekick anything, they might feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. Shopify could address this by offering templates or pre-written questions tailored to each store and its data, which would help narrow down the options and make it more appealing to try out Sidekick.
Best Use Cases for Sidekick
As the name and the product’s web page suggest, Sidekick is an “AI commerce assistant”. It is therefore safe to assume that it can perform an incredibly wide range of tasks and answer all sorts of questions. Based on my research, here are the top use cases I’ve identified for Sidekick that I believe will most positively impact shopify store owners.
Sidekick is designed to help you keep track of your inventory levels with precision. For instance, you can ask Sidekick to provide information on the stock levels of specific products, receive alerts when certain items are running low, or even simplify the process of reordering products from suppliers by providing clear next steps and to-dos. Sidekick can also assist in managing inventory across multiple sales channels, ensuring that your stock levels are consistent and up-to-date.
Sidekick offers real-time customer support capabilities that can enhance the shopping experience for your customers. For example, Sidekick can answer frequently asked questions about products, shipping, or returns, handle complaints, and even assist customers in finding the right products for their needs. Sidekick can also provide personalized product recommendations based on a customer's browsing history and preferences.
Sidekick's sales analytics features enable you to gain valuable insights into your store's performance. You can ask Sidekick to provide you with information on your best-selling products, track the performance of specific marketing campaigns, or even analyze customer behavior to identify trends and patterns. Sidekick can also provide you with reports on sales metrics such as conversion rates, average order value, and customer lifetime value.
Sidekick can assist in planning and executing marketing campaigns, making it easier for you to reach your target audience and drive sales. For example, Sidekick can help you create and schedule promotional emails, manage your social media marketing efforts, or even analyze the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns by tracking metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on investment.
Sidekick can also offer suggestions for improving your marketing strategies based on your store's performance data, and even create blog articles based on your inventory and upcoming holidays.
One area in which Sidekick's shortcomings shine through is in the creation of visual assets for your social media or ads. This is why we're working hard to bring Smart Layouts to market. With it, store owners will be able to generate beautiful and on-brand creatives for their social media feed in seconds. You can sign up here to be the first to know when it launches.
A World with More Entrepreneurs
Ever since I began closely following the e-commerce industry years ago, I've never been as excited about an innovation as I am about Sidekick. The sheer breadth of tasks it can handle is astounding. This has many implications, such as the elimination of mundane tasks, increased creativity, and giving more time back to entrepreneurs. But perhaps the most significant impact is the potential influx of new entrepreneurs. As Tobi Lütke, Shopify's CEO, stated in his announcement:
"Imagine how much more entrepreneurship there would be in the world if everyone had someone by their side that is deeply competent, totally committed to you, available around the clock without judgement or fear, and that knows everything there is to know about Shopify and entrepreneurship writ large."
The introduction of Sidekick is a step towards this vision. It provides a powerful tool to help store owners navigate the complexities of e-commerce more easily and confidently. This is a mission that we’re also passionate about at designstripe. If you’re a Shopify store owner and would like to streamline and simplify your social media and ad creation process, head over to Smart Layouts and sign up to the waiting list.