Shopify releases SDK to expand merchant sales channels

The SDK will allow companies to develop a sales channel into the Shopify platform. In turn, Shopify merchants will be able to market their products within previously uncharted territory.

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Small business e-commerce platform provider Shopify is launching a new software development kit (SDK) designed to significantly expand where and how its merchants sell their wares.

Shopify generally targets small business merchants with access to customizable store templates, marketing tools, sales analytics and inventory management to help them with the jump into online retail.

But with the Sales Channel SDK, Shopify quips that that the company "isn't built to help you sell online anymore -- it's built to help you sell anywhere."

In a nutshell, the SDK will allow companies to develop a sales channel into the Shopify platform. In turn, Shopify merchants will have simplified access to this new wave of sales channels, allowing them to market their products within previously uncharted territory -- such as smart TV and virtual reality apps.

Shopify says sales channels from Ebates, Houzz, and Wanelo will be the first available. The Canadian company previously inked partnerships with Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter to allow its merchants to sell products via buy buttons on the social platforms.

Interest in buy buttons -- or contextual commerce, if you want to get technical -- has ballooned over the last two years, with merchants, technology providers and social media companies eager to experiment with how they can use the technology to increase digital sales.

But the technology is still relatively new, so it's unclear whether consumers will adopt the concept as enthusiastically as the tech world. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see the degree of impact buy buttons have on e-commerce and consumer shopping habits.