Third & GroveThird & Grove
Jun 30, 2021 - Justin Emond

Shopify Unite 2021: Online Store 2.0


“Creativity is the most human of traits.”

Tobias Lütke, CEO of Shopify, dropped this nugget at the beginning of Shopify Unite before introducing the most significant foundational upgrades to the Shopify platform for at least five years. 

The beginning of Shopify Unite 2021 hit the ground running. What you may, may not have, or what you silently wished for, just came speeding through in 60 minutes and the excitement across social media was palpable. 

We are still digesting the treasure trove of impressive announcements that were dropped today but couldn’t wait to share what we feel are the most crucial changes every merchant needs to know about. OK, here we go:

Apps on the Checkout

This. One. Is. Big.

The Shopify API has been extended to allow a new class of apps to make changes to the checkout flow; safely and securely.

The innovation in this space is about to explode, and we can bet you’ll see some great options emerge that early adopters will use to get an edge on the competition. The ability to add checkout apps and more to change the look/feel is huge; it may even make the process faster, easier and safer to install rather than hacking checkout Liquid. Developers will have the ability to build apps directly into checkout; server-side business logic to UI changes. 

What you could and couldn’t change about the Shopify checkout flow was a hot topic for competitive platforms to discuss in the sales process. No longer.

Merchant tip: Start looking for chatter from early-adopting brands using new checkout apps to boost site engagement. Regularly check the app ecosystem for new entrants, and evaluate them quickly.

Sections Are Now Everywhere

Round of applause. A feature long coming and finally here; the ability to create meta fields directly in entities, no app. Plus, Theme App Extensions means that apps can use sections that can translate to less overhead. 

Merchant tip: Recognize that you might not be able to take advantage of this new feature without a complete theme overhaul (your theme has to be built to support it). Carefully weigh the pros and cons of the effort involved to do this.

Money and oxygen

Yes, it is brand spanking new and definitely still quite beta, but Shopify’s announcement of a new React framework for building decoupled ecommerce experiences is major news with a major long-term impact to the platform. The headless wars are heating up at the same time that the enthusiasm for decoupled architectures is outpacing adoption. Still, the long-term headwinds are decidedly behind microservices architectures, and a native framework has a huge competitive advantage over third-party platforms like Gatsby, Nuxt.js, and Vue.

In addition to Hydrogen, the name of the new Shopify headless and decoupled React framework, Shopify also announced Oxygen, the cloud solution that allows you to host Hydrogen right on the Shopify global edge network.

Integration Opportunities

Did they, did we just, is this happening?! A potential integration feature with Shopify and Contentful?!

Shopify showed off some exciting CMS enhancements today that provide support for richer content models and relationships. It was easy to miss, but it appears that Shopify is extending its new API for metafield to support a Contentful-like content model in the cloud. They then heavily hinted that it will soon be possible to connect Contentful and Shopify directly. Once Shopify upgrades its CMS to be entity-based, offloading it to popular cloud headless content platforms like Contentful becomes much simpler.

Shopify is getting serious about the promise of content and commerce.

Merchant tip: Do not roll out any major new content build projects on Shopify CMS until later this summer and fall when details on platform integrations become public.

Speed Improvements


5x render speed improvement will take Shopify to the next level. 

Merchant tip: Check your Google PageSpeed score to make sure you see improvements and investigate if not.

Doubling Down on Culture

As much as we’ve seen an impressive push towards assisting merchants and partners on their journeys with options like Shopify POS, Shop, and Shopify Capital, not to mention the many personal stories they tell on their Shopify social media accounts, they’ve just gone and outdone themselves again. On Aug 1st, they are removing all revenue share on the first $1M! Meaning merchants keep 100% of their first $1M when they sell on Shopify. 

Plus, at the end of every year, the numbers reset! So every single year, their 1st million is all theirs. Mind blown? Yeah, ours too.  

If they were ever trying to solidify their promise to keep their mission of making commerce better for everyone, they just had a major hit run with this one. 

Merchant tip: The Hidden Insights in Shopify’s Q1 Earnings

For those on the fence, the Online Store 2.0 enhancement announcements will look pretty damn appealing to finally take that plunge, while those who are already merchants will want to choose to double down. The ability to have even richer content, more engaging customizable designs, and easier management capabilities while having a substantial community backing is almost a no-brainer.

The future of Shopify will be one where records will continuously break, revenue will constantly rise, and consumers will always be racing to stay in the know.