3 Takeaways from Shopify Unite

Tobi Lütke on stage at Shopify Unite

I've been in the eCommerce world for a while. And generally speaking I'm a fan of open-source platforms because you can customize anything and there are no restrictions.

But Shopify has been growing like crazy. And I wanted to poke my head in and see if it's something to look at. So I attended their 2nd annual Unite conference.

I learned quite a bit. And I got to know the company a little better. If you're thinking about using Shopify for an upcoming project keep reading.

Invest In Your Partners

The conference starts with the CEO Tobi Lütke. He talked a lot about how entrepreneurship is getting harder. There are fewer and fewer of them. And since the costs of running a business are going down what could be causing this?

Lütke thinks that the issue is education, that the learning curve is too steep. ECommerce is admittedly very complex. There's SEO, pay-per-click advertising, managing inventory, QA, fulfillment, customer support, and a whole lot more.

To solve this Shopify is focusing on making that learning curve less steep.

Their ultimate goal to help more people build businesses on Shopify.

Harley Finkelstein, the COO for Shopify, talked about the economy around Shopify. And how they've built Shopify and the market place around it in such a way that their partners make more than they do.

  • Shopify: 389M
  • Partners: ~400M+
  • Merchants GMV: 15.4B

These numbers only include payments directly from Shopify. So app sales, theme sales, affiliate income, etc. Actually building websites for clients isn't included. So it's much bigger than the numbers they shared.

It's clear that Shopify is investing in their partnerships. If you want to build Shopify stores for clients you can expect to make good money. And you can expect more & better tools as they continue to grow.


Shopify has had an app for their merchants for a while. It's great to see new orders and how much money you've made that day. But it's never been as powerful as the Shopify website. You can't add apps, customize your theme, or do other administrative tasks.

But something happened last Christmas.

Shopify merchants used the app more than the website. Shopify has always focused on mobile. And their checkout experience is phenomenal on mobile. Now they're putting the same effort into their app for merchants.

And they've redesigned them all so the website, the mobile app, and the point of sale (POS) solution have a cohesive design.

Shopify knows how valuable mobile is. They continue to make the power of Shopify more and more available on mobile devices. You don't need an IT team. You can already run most of your store from your phone. And soon you'll be able to run even more.


Shopify is the biggest hosted eCommerce platform. They have an insane number of merchants on their service. And because of that they have a lot of data.

They've started to use that data to make it easier for merchants to make decisions (going back to that learning curve). So if you open a shoe store they'll recommend apps that successful shoe stores in your area already use.

But they're also using this data to make the consumer's life better. Many websites let you save credit card information for faster checkout. Which is great for repeat business. But it doesn't help the customer get through the cart the first time they visit you.

Shopify is fixing this with ShopifyPay. If I've ever checked out on a Shopify site before. As soon as I enter my email address. I'll be prompted to get an SMS confirmation code. As soon as I enter that code all of the rest of the checkout fields are filled out for me.

This is huge for merchants. It will drastically lower the abandoned cart rate. And it will make everything more secure.

Just to clear. Shopify doesn't share your actual credit card information with a merchant. They pass along something called a credit card token to the payment gateway. Merchants can't access your credit card number or anything like that. It's very safe.

Bonus – Be Flexible

I want to share one more thing. I've helped put on several tech conferences. And it is hard work. You have to find speakers, a venue, affordable ticket price, the right dates, etc. It's a lot of work.

And Shopify did all of this. AND they also had to deal with a city-wide power outage Friday morning.

Right before the sessions were supposed to start the venue lost power. And they handled it like bosses.

Color Me Impressed

I'm very impressed with Shopify and the Unite conference. They put on this event to inspire, educate, and grow their partners.

They're incredibly user focused. When they noticed that mobile was a big deal they invested in it. They're continuing that investment from the merchant stand point.

When they see a problem they attack it and do things no competitor has done (ShopifyPay).

I'm pumped about Shopify. I already have a Learn Shopify: The Basics course and I can't wait to look into Shopify theme & app development courses.

If you're thinking about using Shopify for an upcoming project. It's a solid platform trusted by hundred of thousands of merchants and thousands of partners. And I was very impressed by their conference. I'll be attending again next year.

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