Highlights from Shopify Unite 2021 (And What They Mean for Merchants)

Shopify Unite 2021

Today at Shopify Unite 2021, our annual partner and developer conference, we introduced the biggest set of infrastructure investments in Shopify’s history. We’re opening up brand new opportunities for small business owners to sell in even more unique and customized ways. 

Shopify’s mission is to make commerce better for everyone, and we can’t do it alone. We’re giving developers the tools they need to create a world of possibilities for small businesses on Shopify. In short, we’ve made the important things simple for you, and everything else possible for developers to build.

Here’s a look at our Unite announcements, which will power merchant experiences on Shopify. These changes enable powerful, customized commerce solutions for businesses of all sizes, with more tools and features still to come later this year.

We can’t wait to show you what’s in store.

Curious to learn more about the technical aspects of the announcements? Read our developer blog.

1. Customize your store, any way you want

Control the layout and aesthetic of your store 

At Shopify Unite, we announced one of the biggest updates to our platform to date: Online Store 2.0 is a combination of new features and improvements that significantly expand your ability to customize your online store.

With Online Store 2.0, it’s easier than ever to control the layout and aesthetic of your store, giving you increased flexibility and access to more data, so you can provide your customers with a standout experience. 

Completely customize your online store without editing code

With sections and blocks, you can now personalize every page of your store by adding, rearranging, and removing content—all without editing code. 

Starting in August, business owners will see exciting new themes in the Shopify Theme store. These themes will be built on the new Online Store 2.0 platform and use the powerful features introduced at this year’s Unite. If you’re a technical whiz, you can update your Liquid files to JSON template files and start using sections and blocks to customize your store.

🔖 See how you can implement these changes with JSON templates.

Display flexible store content

Metafields are extra pieces of data you can attach to products, customers, orders, and other objects in the Shopify universe. They’re made for storing information that doesn’t otherwise have a home in the Shopify admin—think fabric care instructions, delivery time frames, backorder dates—and can be displayed anywhere in your store, such as your product pages or even checkout.

Available later this year, you can define and edit metafields directly in the admin, connect metafields to apps or your theme, and make them accessible to anyone on your team. 

Metafields also allow easy product and variant configuration right on the product page—for example, displaying the appropriate size chart for a specific vendor. 

🔖 Learn more about metafields.

Expect faster themes coming to the theme store

Improving the customer experience starts with a great theme—and Dawn is the result of our work: a beautiful, fast storefront built for conversions.

Dawn is a flexible design that can be used to express any brand while giving your customers a great shopping experience. It’s built with aesthetics in mind, with image-focused product pages, beautiful product grids, and smart color systems.

Plus, Dawn is fast. Out of the box, Dawn loads 35% faster than our most popular theme. 

Available later this year, Dawn is the new benchmark for themes. More themes are coming to the theme store this year, all built with amazing speed and performance to enhance the customer experience. 

🔖 Learn more about Dawn.

2. Build for conversions

Drive conversions, repeat customers, and retention with Shopify Email

Shopify Email is an out-of-the box email marketing tool that lets you acquire, engage, and reactivate customers. Select from a new gallery of ready-made templates to share product restocks, new product launches, and sales. The templates will automatically pull your logo, discounts, product images, descriptions, and prices directly from your store. 

In August, you’ll be able to personalize your email with custom fields to improve your email campaigns. 

Shopify Email is directly integrated with your online store so you can track your email engagement metrics, add-to-carts, and conversion all in one place.

🔖 Learn more about Shopify Email.

Give shoppers more payment options

Shoppers around the world have a diverse set of preferred payment methods. For example, although credit cards are the most popular payment method in the US, 52% of online shoppers in Brazil use a QR code to make a purchase.

No matter where your buyers are from, the right payment method can help you increase checkout conversions by delivering a more localized buyer experience.

We’re launching Shopify’s Payments Platform to unlock future opportunities for growth in new markets and industries. Enabling payment providers to build new integrations into Shopify opens up a broader ecosystem of gateways offering niche functionality. This brings new business value to merchants by helping them sell more, and in more places. 

payment platforms on Shopify

🔖 Learn more about our payment options.

Increase average order value with buy now, pay later

When you give customers greater flexibility to check out with larger cart sizes, you boost conversions by up to 50% and increase average order value. Shop Pay Installments* lets your shoppers buy now, pay later, and split their purchases into four interest-free payments, with 0% interest and no additional, hidden, or late fees. 

Currently available on orders of $50–$1,000, including taxes and shipping. 


🔖 Learn more about Shop Pay Installments.

3. Scale with confidence

Build custom buyer experiences the world has never seen 

Shopify supports every stage of your business as your ideas and technical skills grow. Create unique buyer experiences that make your brand stand out with the tech stack (including a headless commerce architecture) and business logic you want.

Build custom storefronts using Shopify’s Storefront API, which will now unlock even more commerce capabilities, like international pricing for your global shoppers, curbside pickup, and subscription selling plans. Create non-Liquid custom storefronts on Shopify with your existing developer frameworks and tech stack so your brand can turn any screen into a shopping channel—from web pages and mobile apps to smart mirrors and wearables.

Seamlessly optimize your local pickup experience

If you manage inventory across multiple locations, you know how challenging fulfillment can be. Business owners on Shopify can now level up their local pickup experience by designating pickup-only locations.

Avoid time-consuming and costly errors by letting customers pick up their order from your designated pickup-only locations without having to ship online orders out of that location. Inventory at these pickup-only retail locations will not be included as “available” for online shipping orders.

For example, if your warehouse is out of stock on size 10 shoes but one of your pick-up only retail locations has stock, the shoes will be treated as in stock and available for pickup, but not for shipping. 

A South Asian shopper picks up an online order from a store clerk

🔖 Set up your first pick-up only location.

Start your wholesale side hustle

Get your products in front of a bigger audience when you start selling wholesale with Handshake*, a wholesale marketplace built by Shopify. All products on Handshake come from Shopify-powered brands. Simply sign up, set your prices, and publish your catalogs from inside your Shopify admin. 

Unlike other marketplaces, there aren’t any fees or commissions to sign up or for orders, and if you have existing wholesale relationships, Handshake gives you a way to move those transactions to Shopify.

All suppliers go through an application process and are approved by Shopify, and all buyers must confirm they have a reseller ID. 

List your products on Handshake

🔖 Apply to sell on Handshake.

Source new products to sell

Retailers, online curators, and brick-and-mortar store owners can use Handshake to bolster their offering with unique products from independent Shopify-powered businesses.

Plus, Handshake’s personalized product recommendations ensure members are constantly discovering new products. 

Stock your store with on-trend items that customers will love. All brands on Handshake are handpicked, so you know you’ll shop from distinctive makers from across the United States.

Source new products to sell on Handshake

🔖 Find new products to sell on Handshake.

Pushing the boundaries of commerce, together

The announcements from Shopify Unite 2021 are investments in the future of commerce that we see coming. We’re focused on building the most powerful, meaningful, and human commerce experiences on the planet—and we’re making them available to everyone.

Thank you to our developer ecosystem that is building alongside us, bringing to life the ideas of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. 

For a deeper dive into the technical aspects of these announcements, read our partner blog.

* Features currently available in the US only.