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Shopify Unite carried on after a tumultuous year of pandemic fueled closures and cancellations. This year, Shopify announced its largest set of platform updates in its history. 

The company said in 2020, 450 million people checked out on Shopify, and processed nearly $120 billion (with a B) in Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV). Not too shabby.

Let’s get into some of the more groundbreaking announcements.

1. Online 2.0

Shopify announced one of the more substantial updates to their platform to date: Online Store 2.0 is a combination of new features and improvements that significantly expand merchants’ ability to customize their own online store.

Shopify explained that with Online Store 2.0, it’s easier than ever to control the layout down to the nitty gritty aesthetics of the store. This allows for increased flexibility and access to more data, so merchants can provide their customers with the most efficient experience possible. 

To aid this, starting in August, business owners will see new themes in the Shopify Theme store. These themes will be built on the new Online Store 2.0, and will utilize the storefront’s new editing features. If you’re a tech genius, you can update your Liquid files to JSON template files and start using sections and blocks to customize your store.

The kicker is all of this can be done without coding. 

Shopify also introduced Hydrogen, a new React framework for developers to build custom storefronts that will launch in the near future. It will also underpin Oxygen, the future hosting platform for custom storefronts on Shopify.

2. Checkout

The company also announced efficiency updates to their checkout. Shopify Checkout will be even faster, giving any shop the capacity to handle tens of thousands of purchases per minute. Shopify’s main objective is for a single merchant to be able to sell 300,000 pairs of sneakers in just over eight minutes, and for each individual shop to have the ability to handle as much sales volume as they would across all of Shopify at the peak of Black Friday Cyber Monday in 2020.

They’ve also extended flexibility to check out with larger cart sizes, boosting conversions by up to 50% and increasing average order value. The addition of Shop Pay Installments* also lets shoppers buy now, pay later, and split their purchases into four interest-free payments, with 0% interest and no additional, hidden, or late fees. 

This feature is currently available on orders of $50–$1,000, including taxes and shipping. 

In the same breath, they’re launching Shopify’s Payments Platform to unlock future opportunities for growth in new markets and industries. Shopify explains that enabling payment providers to build new integrations into Shopify opens up a broader ecosystem of gateways offering niche functionality. This brings new business value to merchants by helping them sell more, and in more places. This feature was fueled by a statistic highlighting that although credit cards are the most popular payment method in the US, 52% of online shoppers in Brazil use a QR code to make a purchase.

3. Wide-Scale Opportunities

Shopify’s Storefront API will now unlock even more commerce capabilities, like international pricing for your global shoppers, curbside pickup, and subscription selling plans. Merchants can make non-Liquid custom storefronts on Shopify using existing developer frameworks and tech stack so brands can turn any screen into a shopping channel—from web pages and mobile apps to smart mirrors and wearables. 

Handshake, a wholesale marketplace built by Shopify, was highlighted at the event. All products on Handshake come from Shopify-powered brands. Merchants sign up, set your prices, and publish your catalogs from inside your Shopify admin. This allows merchants to easily run side-hustles using a fully integrated platform. 

Unlike other marketplaces, there aren’t any fees or commissions to sign up or for orders, and if you have existing wholesale relationships, Handshake gives you a way to move those transactions to Shopify.

Plus, Handshake’s personalized product recommendations ensure members are constantly discovering new products. 

Shopify’s announcements at Shopify Unite lets everyone know that they aren’t just betting on a world full of merchants, but on a world full of developers and technical entrepreneurs. The company’s newly revamped infrastructure updates give developers and merchants even more tools to create, customise, scale, and monetise on Shopify, and at the end of the day, monetization is the goal.