Web Development

Shopify Unite 2021 – Exciting Announcements

The announcements from the Shopify Unite 2021 event you should be really excited about.

No matter if you are a Shopify developer, eCommerce business, or an agency relying heavily on the platform, you must be really excited about the announcements made during #ShopifyUnite 2021 yesterday. Although marked as an event for Shopify developers, there is exciting news for everyone. And if comparable, Shopify made much more significant announcements than what you may have seen at the Apple Event this April.

And 2021 is just the continuation of great improvements Shopify is constantly making. They took the opportunity COVID-19 gave them but didn’t just lay on that. Since 2020 they:

  • Introduced many initiatives in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to help merchants
  • Launched the new Shopify POS and introduced POS Pro subscription offering
  • Expanded Shopify Capital to support merchants in the United Kingdom and Canada
  • Brought commerce to TikTok – the most trending platform nowadays
  • Launched partnership with Alipay to help merchants access new global consumers
  • Rolled-out ‘buy now, pay later’ product that lets merchants offer more choice to clients
  • Deepen the commerce collaboration with Google
  • Announced that Shop Pay will be available for all merchants on Facebook, Google, and Instagram

The list is endless, so let’s focus on Shopify Unite and what exciting announcements were made.

Shopify Unite Announcements Overview

💸 Zero Percent Revenue in the Shopify App Store

As of August the 1st, 2021, Shopify offers zero percent revenue share on the first million dollars anyone makes annually of the Shopify App Store. This way Shopify wishes to show support for developers making commerce better for everyone.

In addition, the numbers resent for bigger revenue amounts as well. For example, when a business earns more than $1 Million USD it will pay a 15% revenue share in contrast to the previous 20%.

Shopify also introduces a one-time registration fee for all developers who sign up after August the 1st. That fee will be paid when the developers submit their first app for review.

🛍️ Online Store 2.0

Shopify’s biggest announcement introduces the full rebuild of their online store experiences with fundamental changes and a new set of developer tools.

With the upgraded theme architecture, there will be more flexible customization options.

  • Sections on every page: You can now add sections to all the pages, not just the homepage.
  • Theme app extensions with app block: Developers can build UI components that can be added, removed, and configured directly through the theme editor. No need to touch the theme’s code anymore.
  • Metafields improvement: You can add the exact content you need on your product page and anything that is unlikely to appear in the core store editor, via metafields without the use of APIs.
  • Metafield file picker: You can now insert all your images and PDF files that you save in Settings/Files in the file metafield on your theme without hardcoding it.
  • Files API: Enables apps to access the admin area Settings/Files to use the content for media metafields.
  • Theme Editor Enhancements: The editor displays a tree view of the page’s content in the sidebar. It also adds a new liquid setting to reduce the need to manually change the code of a theme.
  • Dawn: This is Shopify’s new theme that is also the very first source-available reference theme with Online Store 2.0. The theme is very fast by default, already loads 35% faster than Debut. It also has JSON templates for all of its pages already so you can unlock sections on your own themes if you use it as a model.

New Developing Tools

For developers, Shopify also added new developer tools to introduce an entirely new way of building apps and themes. Here are the highlights:

  • Shopify Github integration (including in combination with Git subtrees)
  • The Shopify CLI includes themes
  • Theme check new code editor

In addition to Online store 2.0 and the new environment for merchants and developers, Shopify also announced the big reopening of the Shopify Theme Store on July the 15th. This is a great opportunity for developers to get in early with their own Shopify themes and establish themselves as trusted theme developers.

To do that, developers could start migrating their themes and apps to the new requirements.

🛒 Extended Shopify Checkout with Apps

So far all merchants could make small changes to the checkout through the editor, while Shopify Plus partners could make bigger changes via checkout.liquid . This is no longer the case as the new update promises to extent checkout through apps for absolutely everyone. Let’s see what new capabilities it will bring.

  • Checkout extensions: A new set of tools to build custom checkouts Shopify opened beta access to their first extension, the Post-purchase checkout extension that allows developers to build on Shopify Checkout, fully integrate with the platform, and grow merchant businesses.
  • Shopify Scripts: The Shopify Plus feature for custom backend logic gets a rebuild. Shopify remakes the experience using WebAssembly to make the development process simpler. Scripts will be deployed and installed via apps, available for multiple stores.
  • Payments platform: It will enable the creation of payment gateways as Shopify apps, giving developers a single path to integrate. The platform with its new checkout and payment features will be available in Q4 this year.

⚙️ App Development Improvements

With over 1.7 million Shopify merchants globally, now’s the best time for building apps. New updates and changes come to this as well, so here’s how developers can take full advantage.

  • New documentation: Not just updated, but an entirely revamped documentation that is focusing on the specific outcomes.
  • Developer console: For developers to build and test extensions in a real store environment.
  • Google Cloud Pub/Sub: Developers can also pull in events at a pace they can control with minimized app errors and delays.
  • App discoverability enhancement: Shopify made improvements using data and insights from merchants to identify what they need at what time. This is how they take care of the organic discovery so developers can focus on developing.
  • Awareness ads: Shopify adds awareness ads to their App Store that can inform merchants of unconsidered and undiscovered opportunities. It’s a new advertising space for the apps to be on the App store’s homepage and appear to merchants who would benefit from them.
  • Managing billing and payouts: The update includes a Charge Overview page in the Partner Dashboard where the merchant can view app subscription charges and manage their billing and payouts or resolve refund requests.
  • Additional Payout Methods: In addition to PayPal, other forms of payment will also be available, such as local bank transfers, wire transfers, and others with the best exchange rates possible.

The biggest announcement in this department is the introduction of Hydrogen. It’s a full storefront solution for developers to create custom storefronts quickly. The toolkit is still in early development, so there is no release date.

🛠️ Storefront API Updates

The big improvements to the performance don’t end here as Shopify also announced to bring GraphQL to every region so everything you need could be within 50ms of every buyer.

  • New cart capabilities: Designed to provide predictable low latency response. The cart unlocks estimated totals with taxes, discounts, duties, and others.
  • New @inContext GraphQL directive: It aims to pass in relevant buyer context. This includes international pricing and local pickup that that merchant can configure.
  • International pricing: International pricing support with cross-border selling.
  • Local pickup: This allows you to query for product availability at a particular location via location ID.
  • Selling plans: Merchants will be able to enable subscriptions, preorders, and create custom policies.

In conclusion

All those insane updates, new features, and big things are coming for Shopify and soon all of us will get to benefit from the new environment. The major investments in the platform will give agencies, developers, merchants, and all entrepreneurs limitless capabilities and power of creativity so this is something we’re all looking forward to.


By the way, if you scroll hard enough through the official announcement page, you’ll also find some digital swag from the event and a small 8-bit game Snow Devils. because why not, it’s fun.

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