VL OMNI at Shopify Unite
On April 20 and 21st, legions of Shopifiers descended on Fort Mason in San Francisco, California for the second annual Unite event. Shopify Unite 2017 brought together top Shopify brass, as well as developers and partners from around the world. Shopify now has partners in 182 countries!
As is the norm at these events, there was the usual plethora of product announcements, horn blowing and general rah, rah, rah. The highlight of the product announcements, on the Thursday of the 2-day conference, for me was a nugget buried in the presentation of Shopify Pay. Shopify Pay was rolled out as the third party credit card killer tightly integrated to Shopify stores. The card swiper was slick looking — almost Apple-esque in its footprint. The nugget was the announcement of a passport-like profile that a customer has to only enter once for payments on a Shopify site. This bundle of customer data is now available at any store across the entire Shopify platform. The consensus was it sounded rather creepy, but then again we all get used to ease and flexibility with time.
As with last year’s event, Shopify always throws a good party. The 2017 edition was no exception with Shopify renting out the San Francisco City Hall. The hall is a Beaux Arts monument that was opened in 1915 that has been featured in numerous films (my favourite was the James Bond film a View to a Kill where Roger Moore survives the burning of the building — thankfully the building seemed all there and intact when I visited).
The Friday of the conference started off with everyone collecting at Fort Mason for the start of day two. While I didn’t get stuck in an elevator, the second day turned out to be a perfect storm for Shopify: San Francisco experienced a citywide power outage. Rumours were flying around about a possible terrorist attack, but in the end it turned out to be nothing more than an explosion and fire in a hydro vault. San Francisco’s mayor and head of PGE spent the evening on the news talking about outdated infrastructure.
For Shopifiers, the power outage ended up being an unexpected networking event. Because there was no power at Fort Mason, none of the carefully planned presentations could take place. So we all assembled in the courtyard to increase out vitamin D intake. With a breeze blowing off the harbour and a perfectly clear blue sky, we were all lulled into a sense of warmth and community. And… everyone got sunburned. The next afternoon on the flight back to Toronto, you could definitely tell who had been at Unite!
So what were my impressions? Shopify clearly has a roadmap of where it’s going both on the Shopify and the Shopify Plus side. The new product rollouts were all designed to give merchants more flexibility and control. ‘An entrepreneur’s platform for the nimble’ is the way I would describe it. On the Plus side, I think we will see an acceleration of name brands using the platform and the pace of migration off of other platforms to Shopify Plus will only increase. One of the side effects of this growth is that the old boys network of developers in the know will have to change as the ecosystem expands. New pressures will be put on Shopify to be much more inclusive.
Did You Miss Out On Shopify Unite? – Relive The Experience Here
In closing, Tobi announced that Unite 2018 would be in Toronto. ‘Finally!’ was the sigh from almost everyone I spoke to. Why a Canadian powerhouse needs to have its annual conference in San Francisco was beyond most people… until I heard that the highest concentration of Shopify developers was in California.
Until Next year!
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