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Nov 2, 2022 - Linda Topp

Shopify Unite: Toronto Recap

Shopify Unite Toronto

This past summer, Shopify released Editions: Summer 22, a showcase of platform features and improvements, all speaking to a new era of commerce where making connections with customers takes center stage. This album drop, if you will, of new and remastered work demonstrated Shopify’s commitment to bringing merchants closer to their buyers in powerful new ways. This fall they took Editions on tour, with Shopify Unite 2022 shows in London, Melbourne, and their hometown of Toronto. This also marked the first in-person Unite event since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In Toronto, we found the two-day conference this year was purposefully smaller, more focused on developers, and, as it turns out, more collaborative and intimate. Shopify set out to connect with developers in ways that invited more dialogue surrounding recent new features and how to leverage them—rather than monologue pitches. The agenda featured Shopify senior developers, growth managers, and engineers leading hands-on workshops, one-on-one technical sessions, and guided discussions that were allowed to evolve based on attendees’ interests. A self-described ‘unconference’ indeed.

Linda and Justin

The main stage, typically the center of the Unite universe and a place for exciting announcements, repositioned itself this year, showcasing partners ready to share real-world strategies, solutions, and case studies that highlight the different ways they have been taking advantage of Editions features.

The end result? The event served developers of all shapes and sizes well. Recurring sentiment revealed how “encouraged” and “empowered” partner shops felt having close access to Shopify experts, with their attention, ideas, and feedback. We found more attendees filling the hands-on technical workshops than what might be considered keynotes on the main stage.

Shopify Unite Toronto stage

Here are the top three upcoming Shopify product releases that we’re most excited about:

Shopify Content Platform

First and foremost, the most exciting announcement and demonstrations were around the Shopify Content Platform. This will essentially expand and augment the current metafield functionality and—eventually—provide a robust headless CMS within Shopify itself by leveraging those basic metafields and blocks to create more complex data models.

Content Platform was something Shopify started discussing publicly as early as June of 2021, but it is now officially in beta and will be rolled out to stores in waves soon.

Think of this as a way to create entirely new custom content types—essentially they work like custom content resources—that can be referenced from existing resources. For instance: custom crafted size charts, product features, and testimonials. All native types, and all manageable from the Admin panel. One of the more exciting uses we witnessed in action was the ability to work around the core platform’s product variant cap of 100 by using references to a custom content type which could newly represent the product ‘variants.’

And because these are essential new core platform resources, you will be able to create content once and publish it to all of your channels, not just the online store.

Shopify Functions

We were also very intrigued to see Shopify Functions in action. Now in developer preview mode, Shopify Functions—essentially a set of component libraries—make it simpler for backend developers to customize the logic that powers discounting, payment, and shipping options at checkout via custom-developed apps. Workshops walked us through spinning up volume and tiered discount logic in a private app, augmented with configurability baked in via the app’s UI, for ultimate control from the Admin perspective.

Doubling Down on Headless

Headless was another topic dominating discussions this year, and we saw several solid examples of Hydrogen, Shopify’s React-based framework (along with Oxygen, its hosting platform) for headless ecommerce. In guided workshops, we learned how straightforward and painless building a product page could be, but what really got our blood pumping was the sheer speed of the UX built and presented.

Shopify Unite Toronto 2022

Overall, the unique event this year had a calmer buzz, a more technically-focused audience, and a more intimate feel that we’ve felt in past years—all of which was unexpected, yet refreshing. We’re looking forward to helping our clients utilize all the upcoming product releases to the maximum.