his past week, Jinesh and I had the privilege of attending Shopify Unite, the company's annual partner and developer conference - it was a blast. It was a blast to learn how much this ecosystem has accomplished together, and it was a blast to find out what's in store for Shopify and, in turn, all of the small businesses, solopreneurs, and large companies that take advantage of Shopify's never-ending pursuit of retail innovation.

Yes, I've clearly drank the Shopify cool-aid. I'm okay with that. But in the spirit of making this blog actually helpful and beneficial to the reader, I will try to cool it with the general praise and focus more on the major take-aways from attending the conference.

Why Does Shopify Host Unite?

Unite presents an opportunity for Shopify to educate its world-class network of partners and developers on what new features and improvements are coming down the pipeline so that this group of innovators can incorporate these enhancements into their various products and services for merchants. In other words, if Shopify is serving up the ball, it's up to the conference attendees to hit it out of the park.

But why do they do this? Why not host this conference for merchants instead?

Instead of trying to be a one-size-fits-all platform for all their merchants, Shopify focuses on making it easy and affordable for merchants of any size to create the right experience for their brand by tapping into a large network of developers and agencies. With this approach in mind, Shopify can use a conference like Unite to educate this ecosystem of partners who are then incentivized to improve their own services and market these new enhancements to their respective merchant customers - this strategy proves much easier than educating the 800,000 merchants that are currently using Shopify on what features are coming out.

What We Learned

Attending Shopify Unite meant hearing first-hand what Shopify has accomplished over the past year and where it’s headed. Below are some of the details I found most interesting:

  • If you combine all the merchants on Shopify, Shopify represents the third largest retailer in the US, after Amazon and Ebay
  • Shopify’s new fulfillment centers will enable all their merchants to compete with the likes of Amazon when it comes to faster, more reliable shipping for customers
  • Shopify POS now powers over 100k merchants globally
  • The company is introducing subscription options directly into its checkout, so that any merchant can turn a one-time purchase into a recurring opportunity for shoppers
  • With Shopify’s multi-location functionality, merchants will soon be able to offer customers BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) so that shoppers can choose how they’d like to actually acquire their new items

What We Shared

As a POS app, Endear was invited to speak on a panel to help educate the Shopify community on why we are invested in seeing physical retail succeed. We were thrilled to speak about working with brick-and-mortar stores alongside the founder of Marsello, Brent Spicer, and the founder of the Shopify app ClockedIn, Rhian Beutler. Together, the three of us focused on the following:

  • Stores lack a tremendous number of tools and resources compared to their digital counterparts
  • Endear and its POS friends believe that in order to continue to grow, most brands will need to evolve into true omnichannel players, offering their customers in-store and online experiences that work together harmoniously
  • Customers have already adopted the mindset that they should be able to start their purchase journey anywhere and end it anywhere – its now up to merchants to deliver on this expectation
  • Store management is still incredibly analog, and its up to apps like Endear to help retailers overcome these outdated habits and ways of operating so that they can improve their performance and continue to grow
  • As more apps, services, and agencies that cater to stores emerge and digital marketing becomes increasingly more expensive and competitive, stores will once again become efficient investments from both a sales and marketing standpoint, particularly when done in a modern, data-driven way that leverages everything brands have learned from managing their online businesses

Endear hearts Toronto

While previous Shopify Unite’s were held in San Francisco, I was thrilled that the company decided to re-locate to its own HQ city of Toronto, so shout-out to Toronto for being an incredible host city – visiting right after the Raptors’ big win only made the city more alive, and yet not at all overwhelming. It’s truly a wonderful place to visit and I’m already looking forward to returning next year. Highly recommend making the trip!

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