At the end of June, Shopify held its 2021 developer conference Shopify Unite (virtually) and the Accorin team tuned in to read the tea leaves and get some insights into what Shopify might have in store for us in its development roadmap. For many merchants and brands, especially in the B2C world, Shopify is synonymous with “e-commerce.” We have heard prospects say “we’re looking to build out our Shopify channel in addition to our Amazon channel” when what they really mean is they want to build out their D2C. That is how pervasive the Shopify brand is with the small business world now. 1.7mm merchants use Shopify to run e-commerce businesses. That’s a massive number.
But enterprises have now for years adopted Shopify because of its scale, its ability to support “enterprise” B2C brands with solid infrastructure and staging environment (on Shopify Plus), and front end theme choices. Extending core Shopify functionality relies on an app ecosystem which provides plentiful options for those willing to manage all the apps outside of the core Shopify interface. So what is Shopify looking to do next? The content of Shopify Unite provide some insights:
No Code, Low Code, Custom Code
The value proposition of Shopify for developers is really captured by the metaphor used a few times in the update; “No Code, Low code, Custom code.” Shopify intends to start with merchants and grow with them from store version #1 through their evolution to a highly customized user experience. They are going to achieve this operating metaphor by expanding the graph QL API availability and adopting and promoting the API-First mentality. New core themes (Liquid, you need more friends!) and a new storefront cart API will include new cart capability “from the ground up” and a preview playground with mobile data integrated.
Incentivizing the App Ecosystem – Dropping the Rev Share on Apps
As of August 1 Shopify is going to drop the rev share requirement for app developers. This is big news and a sign that Shopify wants to truly incentivize app developers to innovate and break new ground extending core Shopify e-commerce features. The way it was described, “partners will pay $0 on everything developers earn from the app store every year up to the first first $1mm and thereafter only 15%. What does this mean? Watch for the Shopify app ecosystem to explode; Shopify is going to bet that the e-commerce development world can drive a lot of innovation and adoption of its platform. As an app developer and owner of an app available for Shopify, we firmly believe this is good news for everyone in the ecosystem and merchants alike.
More Themes and Easier Theme Editing
Front end developers and merchandising managers will love that Shopify is moving to full git integration for full theme development. New themes are going to be announced on July 15 – we’re looking for faster mobile themes and simplified mobile-first themes with full editing ability.
Shopify is going to continue to expand flexibility for developers to change Shopify checkout and now beyond just Shopify Plus; this will help Shopify to shed the long-standing reputation that designers and developers don’t have any control over checkout look and feel and UX. The focus will be on app extensions to checkout, UI extensions, overhaul of scripts and new payment platform options ‘enabling more payment flexibility all around the globe.”
Shopify claims that it is now going to be within 100k of anyone in the world with its hosting and DN infrastructure. This is going to increase overall performance but so will page rendering enhancements with the front end improvements and an overall focus on storefront performance across from and back ends.
The Bottom Line
It seems like Shopify is focused on incentivizing app development and performance in the short term. I was expecting more specific announcements like some new R&D efforts or even partner trial programs for B2B functionality but there was no mention of it at all on this call. Given where Shopify’s current market share with B2C merchants worldwide, they might not need to worry about that sector at all; but our bet is they will soon.