Shopify Unite 2017 Report

Our team just returned from our trip to San Francisco for Shopify Unite 2017. A lot of exciting announcements at the event this year.

We’re pretty impressed with the Shopify platform and team and are eager to start exploring use-cases here at Degica.

Event Summary

  • Shopifypay release announcement
  • Shopify mobile app released
  • Shopify investing hugely in POS by releasing custom hardware for retail stores. They expect 50% of merchants to be selling POS this year with Shopify.
  • Shopify expands into online gaming with a new Unity SDK
  • Shopify launches Polaris design guidelines for developer productivity

Day 1 - Keynotes

Tobi Lutke (CEO of Shopify)

  • Entrepreneurship is in decline worldwide. It’s becoming more difficult to start your own business.
  • Shopify needs to flatten the learning curve for starting a business
  • Shopify’s mission statement is to “Take the path which leads to more Entrepreneurs”. Everything the company does will follow this simple goal.

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Lynsey Thornton (Director of UX)

  • 400,000 merchants on Shopify
  • 1,000,000 active users buying on the Shopify platform
  • Age of merchants is changing. People are starting businesses well into their 60’s (all age ranges)
  • There are now more female merchants than male. Early adopter market (younger males) is gone. Shopify is showing the general population now
  • 80% of merchants now rely on developer created apps for running their stores. There is huge money to be made here for third-party app developers.


Satish Kanwar (Vice President of Product)

  • Storefront API launched. You can now create, manage, display storefronts using custom applications
  • Mobile Gaming API launched with Unity SDK
  • Shopify expects 50% of merchants to be selling offline with Retail this year.
    • Shopify POS has 65,000 customers using it.
    • Returns, Exchanges, Discounts, Customer Profiles (POS support)
    • Shopify Hardware (Credit Card Reader)
    • “People serious about software should make hardware”
    • Card reader device (Chip and swipe reader FREE)
    • Coming June 2017

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Shopify Director of Apps (Attlee Clark)

Attlee introduced several new API’s for app developers on the Shopify platform:

Draft Orders API

Manually insert orders via API. This is great for applications which want to create orders outside the Shopify platform. For example, taking orders over the phone, in person, via chat, etc.

See Draft Orders API Docs

Marketing Events API

Super powerful API which enables marketing apps to show value directly to merchants. For example, if you’re developing a mailchimp app which does e-mail marketing you can send Shopify an API event when a user views your mail or clicks on a link. These events are then showed on the dashboard so the merchant can see what value your app is giving them. It also ties into a powerful reporting system so merchants can see exactly where their customers are coming from:

Shopify’s Marketing Events API

Store Front API

Shopify is investing in GraphQL for new API’s. It’s very powerful. You can render an entire store front using a single API call using GraphQL query language.

Using the API you can manage everything a user can do on a store front For example: Categories, collections, prices, stock levels, create a cart, etc.

See the Storefront API Docs

Embedded Apps API (EASDK)

You can develop applications which embed directly into Shopify’s mobile apps and website. This gives customers a consistent UI and ensure they never have to leave Shopify in order to use your custom applications.

See EASDK Docs

Day 1 - Presentations

Polaris: Tools for a Better App UX

Polaris is one of the most impressive tools Shopify has released from a developers perspective. The project is open-source and it’s basically a branding guideline for UI and UX across all Shopify apps and products. It’s bundled with re-useable HTML/CSS components for developers which allow them to create applications quickly without needing to worry about design or how to present content. This allows the hundreds of third-party app developers to build consistent UI and UX experiences for Shopify app eco-system. It’s also a guide for Shopify developers to use when developing new applications.

Polaris includes:

  • Language guidelines for developer apps (how to write content). Plain language on how to communicate with users
  • Includes Grammar, verbs, dates, currencies, etc.
  • Includes Color guidelines
  • Includes re-usable CSS and HTML components for building applications.

Building Storefronts anywhere

With the launch of the new Storefront API this talk explained how to use the API to manage every aspect of your Shopify store. The API allows you manage almost every resource on Shopify:

  • Carts
  • Products
  • Customer Accounts
  • Checkout

Several examples on how to use the API are available on Github. These include some simple applications which use the API to display products from Shopify on a custom storefront:

See Github Example


Building Powerful Marketing Apps

Shopify supports a growing eco-system of third-party developed marketing apps. Store owners will use many apps which enable them to sell through many sales channels (Facebook, Google Ads, E-mail, etc). Using the new Marketing Events API app developers can send custom events to Shopify to indicate user actions. For example “User views e-mail”, “Clicks on advertisement”, etc. These events are then aggregated and displayed to store owners so they can track the entire user journey.


Mobile-First Apps

Mobile traffic is starting to exceed desktop on Shopify. Not only are customers using their mobile devices more than desktop but the number of merchants managing their Shopify stores using mobile has increased with the release of the Shopify mobile app.

Mobile is here to stay and whether we like it or not all our applications must be developed to support mobile devices. Having a repsonsive app is no longer a nice to have it’s a requirement in modern application development.

Luckily for us developers at Shopify have been working hard to make it easy for developers to build responsive apps. The talk went into details about how to build responsive apps with the help of Polaris.

Day 2 - Power outage 😅

Unfortunately the second day of the conference many talks were cancelled due to a power outage across America. The second day was not wasted though as we spent a lot of time networking outside with other attendees while waiting for the power to be restored. Due to the fire rules in San Francisco no one is allowed inside buildings during a power outage.

Shopify is going to send every attendee recorded videos of the missed talks which we can review on our own time.


Overall we’re very impressed with the Shopify platform and team. They continue to grow at an amazingly fast-pace despite the size of the company.

The platform is extremely flexible and has a vast number of third-party apps which could help us automate a lot of things we’re doing here at Degica.

Event Pictures

Shopify Unite Afterparty at City Hall in San Francisco


Power outage on second day. The cities fire code prevented everyone from entering the building :(


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