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Shopify Updates their Partnership Terms, MailChimp Leaves Platform

Shopify recently updated their partner terms of service. In effect, it says that a Shopify partner cannot “actively” recruit a merchant to move off the Shopify platform and that any data collected by partners must be fed back into the system for Shopify to have access.  

This update prompted Mailchimp to completely sever ties with the platform claiming that the data Shopify was requesting they feed back into the platform wasn’t theirs to distribute. It’s a valid argument, one that led to Shopify replying that this requirement was in the best interest of the platform and merchants as other partners could then leverage that data in meaningful ways.   

Shopify understands that they are a payment and data platform that provides eCommerce services. They know the value in having access to all the data they can possibly collect. I for one don’t believe that this symbiosis is the driving force behind this change, but it’s a pretty legitimate excuse and I can see the value of it so my optimism is going to give them a pass on this one.    

Now, if all sorts of partners start having access to the data that’s specific to each system you use I’d be interested to see how that affects data privacy, GDPR, and the merchants ability to remove a user’s data upon request when you don’t know who all has it stored. Not my problem, but it may be yours if you use Shopify.

The more interesting clause is the prohibition of a merchant actively recruiting a merchant to leave the platform. The devil is in the details and how awful this is really depends on how they enforce the term “actively”. However, the fact that it’s in the terms is problematic.    

No ecommerce platform on the planet is right for every merchant. The fact that an agency has to wonder if their partner status will be revoked if they advise you that a different platform is better suited for your needs is strong incentive for them to not be truthful to you.

Hopefully, you have an agency partner with a strong sense of ethics and they are constantly doing what is best for your business. However, if the terms of their status at Shopify require that they not be open and honest about your platform selection that means you have to be a bit more cautious with their advice.   

Strong relationships are built on trust. I feel like clause undermines the trust that agencies have with their clients and just casts a seed of doubt over their motives.   

If it’s to keep someone from signing up as a partner and getting access to inside information and mass soliciting someone to another platform then I get the desire to stop those actions. However, I’m not sure this is the right way to go about it and opens up the possibility of misuse and straining relationships with agencies that service multiple platforms.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these updated terms. You get it? You think Shopify is out of their damned minds? Let me know in the comments and I look forward to seeing you in the next video.

Author:

TJ Gamble