Shopify Unite: Behind the Scenes at Shopify’s Partner & Developer Conference

June 7, 2018 1:27 pm | Published by |

Shopify Unite: Behind the Scenes at Shopify’s Partner & Developer Conference



Hey! Ezra here behind the scenes at Shopify Unite 2018.

I’m representing Zipfiy Apps at Shopify’s Partner & Developer Conference, where they’re going to unveil their roadmap for the next few years and what we as collaborators can expect from them as a company…

Including a sneak peek at some awesome new tools like augmented reality, multi-currency checkout, BOGO offers and more.

So let me to take you around, introduce you to some people, and show you what you can expect from Shopify in the near future.

Tobi Lütke, Founder & CEO

I’ll be honest: I fanboyed out a little here, because I’m a big fan of Tobi’s. As the Founder and CEO of Shopify he oversees such a massive operation, so I wanted to know what he’s most excited about and how he’s able to step back and give people autonomy.

Q: You’ve announced a lot of stuff this year. What are you most most excited about?

A: Usually I’m very involved… This year [at Unite] my team just went to me and said, “You do your keynote, you be you… We got this.” So I did my thing and then I got to step back and actually watch presentations that I’ve never seen about all the cool things that Shopify is doing.

We wanted to give people an appreciation for where Shopify is coming from. We are a Canadian company and there are some values that come from this… Canada as a country has a mindset that says, “Hey, make sure my neighbors are doing better,” rather than “I’m going to go out and win this no matter what…”

So we are really committed to this partner ecosystem. This is really important to us. There’s no strategy here. There’s just authenticity, and in today’s tech industry, that’s rare.

Q: My team is now 75 people, and I’ve struggled personally with letting go of control. You have done that on a major scale… How has that gone for you personally, stepping back and letting people have autonomy?

A: There’s this concept — this metaphor — of the trust battery. If you recently charged your phone, you’re not thinking about your battery. But if your phone is like 20% left, then you [are]… So we try to get people to 100% and then say, “You’re really excited about this… Go do your best.”

It is tough as a leader. You need to learn how to fall backwards and just know that someone’s going to catch you. I had the privilege of doing this Shopify thing surrounded by absolutely brilliant people for over a decade, and it’s one of the most wonderful feelings to be on a journey surrounded by friends…

My tagline in business is “Serve the world unselfishly and profit,” and I think Tobi and the rest of Shopify really live that idea.

Cassie Kaiser, UX Researcher & Designer

I like to mingle at events, and Shopify Unite was no different…

But I noticed I kept having to ask for people’s names because their lanyards had accidentally flipped over.

So when I saw that Cassie had the foresight to optimize her lanyard to show her name on both sides(!), I knew she’d have some great insight to share on UX research and design.

Q: What makes you most enthusiastic about UX, and what kind of value does it add to merchants?

A: I spoke about UX research and provided a framework for app developers to use in their app creation process… Whether that be starting from what problem to solve and what to build, or iterating on a current app concept

At Shopify, we always say UX is not owned by one team. It’s actually something that everyone’s responsible for, because it’s what our merchants experience. A poor UX means a poor experience for them.

So how research fits in is that we help project that message by bringing in the merchants’ voice and also the partners’ voice into all of our projects so that there’s that consideration when we’re making decisions.

Kurt Elster, Host of The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Kurt is a prominent figure in our community, with an awesome podcast and a Shopify agency (Ethercycle) that I highly recommend.

He has the opportunity to see what a lot of the big stores are paying attention to, so I definitely wanted to hear what he had to say.

Q: What are the trends right now?

A: The thing [business owners] are investing in is using automation to find every roadblock in their business, whether it’s in their operation or for their customers, and kicking it out of the way…

Which is one of the coolest things. Because here we have Flow… and now we have dynamic checkout buttons which is a huge friction point.

Q: Straight from product page to checkout, that’s working really well for you guys?

A: It’s unbelievable. I thought it would hurt average order value, and it doesn’t. In fact it increases impulse purchases, so AOV ticks up often.

It isn’t [a problem] because the cart is an opportunity for people to rethink that purchase, whereas with dynamic checkout, you can be in and out in less than 10 seconds.

Q: How’d your agency start doing business with Jay Leno’s Garage?

A: I commented on a post that one of their people put in the Shopify Plus Facebook Group. I just said, “Hey, I’m a big car guy and I love what you do.” And that turned into a conversation, turned into a relationship, turned into a client. So again, my favorite Shopify feature: community.

Q: Do you have one specific example of someone using automation in a way that’s helpful?

A: You want to get relevant messages to people — get the right message to the right person at the right time. And you can add some of that personalization using Shopify Flow.

Let’s say you sell apparel. Look at what things a person has bought, tag them based on that, figure out what gender they’re buying for, and what they’re buying commonly. Then put that stuff into various collections, and when they log back in and return to your store… have that on the homepage.

Flow and automation are an easy way to add personalization, and that should be the end game there.

Q: What in 2018 has inspired you after seeing the keynotes?

A: The elephant in the room is Amazon. People are going to go there if they want convenience, but if you want to hear the brand’s story, and buy from a person, that’s what these tools are going to let you do.

We have automated labor so you can do more of what you love. We have automated conversations… and all of that is there so that instead of doing these “jobs to be done” and worrying about them, we’re just delegating them to the Tesla autopilot of ecommerce.

Now get out there and tell your story. I say it all the time, “People buy from people, not brands.” Amazon is just one big ugly brand. You go be you. Put yourself in your business.

Jenny Izaguirre, Content Manager

Jenny is Shopify’s Content Manager for Spanish-speaking users…

And at Unite, Shopify announced the translation of their admin into a number of languages, including Spanish.

Q: How do you think that affects ecommerce in general, and Shopify specifically?

A: It’s a game changer. People are so thankful that they can finally understand… If you open a business and you cannot understand the core of the platform because of the language, it’s the hardest thing to do. So right now they can use their native language to understand the processes and all the different components of their store.

Gerard Pinto, Agency Partnerships

Gerard is new to the Shopify team and it’s his first time on camera, so take it easy on him!

He’s a Brooklyn-based employee who handles overseas agency partnerships on the east coast. Let’s see what he has to say.

Q: Tell us a little about what you do at Shopify.

A: We work with a lot of Plus agencies based in New York, so I get to go hang out with them and talk about their businesses. Everyone is super excited to be working with Shopify and particularly Plus, and it’s just a great ecosystem.

Q: One of the things I really appreciate about Shopify is how well they treat their partners. Here at Unite, what are you really excited about for the coming years?

A: Seeing a lot of my partners come to together and be willing to share all that knowledge with other agencies is really exciting to me.

Because we’re at a point with Shopify where there’s so much business, and everyone’s going to win when they work with us. Looking at other partner programs other there, there’s a very limited scarcity mindset. They’re like, “Oh I’m not going to share any of my secrets.”

Like what you do with Smart Marketer: you open to default. And that’s something that we value a lot with our agencies and partners. Strengthening the collaboration between all of them is going to be so amazing.


Wow, what an amazing event. And let me tell you: a lot of care went into Shopify Unite.

Shopify didn’t have to go whole hog on their Partner & Developer Conference, but they did because they care about their community, which is why I think they have such a great group of people.

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