Shopify Unite Recap 2021

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4 min read
by: Holly Kuldell07/12/2021

Quick Summary After watching Shopify’s 6th annual partner and developer conference, we summarized the new features, announcements, and tools that were launched at the event.

Shopify Unite is an annual conference for partners and developers where the Shopify team displays brand new features and tools. The first conference occurred in 2016 and was an in-person event, but ever since the pandemic, the event has moved to the virtual space. This year was the second virtual event and was nothing short of extraordinary. 

The uplifting tagline for Shopify Unite 2021 was “Coding commerce. Together.” The speakers brought up the difficulties of 2020 and focused on the hope associated with 2021. Founder and CEO Tobi Lütke started off the hour-and-a-half-long presentation saying “we’re all in this together” before launching into the many upgrades coming soon to developer and merchant’s fingertips. 

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From Our Team

“Avex is extremely excited about the new releases announced at Shopify Unite. As developers and creators, it was refreshing to hear Shopify talk about the new tools available to us and our merchants. We plan on leveraging the platform to create amazing, high-performing and scalable eCommerce stores for our clients.” - John Surdakowski, Founder and CEO of Avex

“Shopify took an "everybody wins" approach with this Unite. Online Store 2.0 will empower SMBs to control their site's customer experience with the improved theme editor and sections. They also took a bold leap with Hydrogen and Oxygen by demonstrating the growing demand for less restrictive, more complex experiences for more prominent/enterprise brands. It makes me proud to work almost exclusively with this platform.” - David Anzalone, Senior eCommerce Strategist at Avex

Announcement Highlights

Online Store 2.0

One of the biggest and broadest announcements was something that we have all been waiting over 2 years to see. Originally titled “Sections Everywhere”, Online Store 2.0  reimagining the Shopify experience for developers, merchants, and content managers... Below are the specific expansions associated with the new feature.

  • Sections: Sections are now available everywhere, not just on the homepage. Everywhere! Templates can be used to ensure that coding or custom apps aren’t required to personalize each page of your eCommerce store. To watch the demo on sections and templates, click here

  • Theme App Extensions: Apps can now integrate with merchant’s themes using app blocks within the Theme Editor.

  • Improved Metafields: Merchants are able to add metafields without coding, and developers are able to add presentation hints to the metafields. 

  • Theme Editor: The Theme Editor has been updated to show a new view of a page’s content which specifically makes it easier to change the order of the photos and text on your site’s page. 

  • Developer Tools: Shopify introduced new tools such as Shopify Github integration, Theme Check, and a new Shopify CLI tool.

  • Dawn: Dawn is a new reference theme that is source-available and focused primarily on faster speeds. In fact, Dawn loads 35% faster than the popular theme Debut.

Shopify Theme Store

Thanks to the new and improved Online Store 2.0, Shopify announced that they will be reopening their Shopify Theme store. Starting July 15th, developers will be able to submit their themes in hopes to get them approved and published. Partners will have to pay $99 to submit plus a 2.9% processing fee. 

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Update on Revenue Share

In even bigger news, Shopify will be removing the 20% revenue share on the first million dollars made on the Theme Store beginning in September. After making more than $1 million per year, you pay only a 15% revenue share. The profits made resets every year as well, so if you’re making between zero and $999k a year, you pay 0% revenue share.

Checkout Extensions

One of the more common reasons merchants would upgrade from Shopify to Shopify Plus was to get access to customizing their checkout experience. Now, merchants can save their money and still reap some of those rewards. Checkout extensions grant merchants access to personalizing parts of the process such as shipping methods and payment methods. 

Shopify introduced their first beta checkout extension for Plus merchants during the presentation—the post-purchase app extension. It allows you to upsell or display content on a post-purchase page before the customer gets to the “thank you” page. 


Last but not least, Tobi live-coded a website using Shopify’s new developer toolkit, Hydrogen. This demo showed how quickly and easily developers can build custom storefronts using the new solution. Oxygen, where you can host Hydrogen storefronts on Shopify, was also mentioned to be coming soon. 


Tobi made sure to finish the conference on a high note. He wanted to emphasize that having fun is not only a great way to spend your time, but also important for your store, calling fun both “underrated” and “good for business.” 

Harley Finkelstein, the President of Shopify, also spoke at the end of the broadcast and focused on the partners. He talked about his goal of having the merchants and partners see more success than Shopify itself, including that in 2020 the partner ecosystem generated $12.5 billion in revenue—4 times more than what Shopify made. 

With most of the updates already rolling out and many still to come, Tobi thanked everyone for watching and included this final call-to-action: “Let’s work together to make sure that the internet stays vibrant, full of loud and unique voices, and allow ourselves to have some fun while doing it.”

Watch the full conference on youtube here. 

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