20 things we learned at Shopify Unite 2019

Shopify Unite 2019 - Toronto City -IMG_9485.jpg


Shopify is big and getting bigger. There is no doubt about it with a distinctive and Unite-wide focus on global expansion, services expansion and increased access for all countries and languages. Globalisation.


This was, without doubt, the biggest and most loved, and most hated, buzz word of the conference - ‘Headless Commerce’. It means ecomm businesses that are built using a stack of different technologies, with Shopify at the core. Jargon horror show.


The market is watching Shopify and listening carefully and on the day of the main keynote, it was heard to be said that their share price rose by 8%. Cha-ching.


If you like to stay right up to date with your terminology, here’s a good one for you. It’s not ‘ecommerce’ any more, it’s just ‘commerce’. So, like, 2018.

Digital Uniform

Regardless of the seniority of position, the uniform for digital business people, agencies, and app developers appears to be trainers, jeans and a no-logo tee. Hip.

Meet the maker. Shopify co-founder Tobias Lutke fields questions.
Meet the maker. Shopify co-founder Tobias Lutke fields questions.


The fulfilment announcement is a big deal with Shopify launching their own warehouses, packaging and fulfilment centres across North America. This represents a big expansion in terms of what the Shopify entity offers the ecomm sector. We deliver.

Bricks & Mortar

With an obsession for customer service and experiences driven by the online environment, physical stores are also finding (or re-finding) their place in the (e)commerce landscape. Why? Because touch and smell and direct, real-life interaction always has its place. Full circle.

What Office?

We were somewhat surprised to find that so many technology companies run so many of their staff remotely. It is common for app companies to run all of their employees remotely, working from their homes and co-work spaces, with no office at all. Progressive.


NBA anyone? While we were in LA we watched the Toronto Raptors win the NBA title for 2019. This is a Very. Big. Deal. For Toronto. And Canada. Like, huge. So, when we arrived in Ontario’s capital, funnily enough just a few hours ahead of the Raptors themselves, the whole city was Raptors mad and it stayed that way for the duration. Go Raptors!


We met a lot of people, from all over the world, and have been connecting via emails, phone calls and LinkedIn since we returned home. Meeting great people and collaborating with them makes everyone better at ecommerce. Win-win-win.

Shopify do have an office, several in fact.
Shopify do have an office, several in fact.

Wrap Party

While some questioned the logic of having the wrap party on the second night of a 3 day conference, no one questioned the party itself. In a word, it was BIG. 1700 people, the huge Rebel nightclub, open bar, Lupe Fiasco. One large.

Eco System

The ‘Shopify Eco System’ is a phrase you hear a lot when you work with Shopify, and even more at Unite. Yes, it’s a bit more jargon for you, but it’s an interesting concept to see so many businesses, from all around the world, who exist, make their living and deliver services that are all dependent on Shopify. Mutual.

Jet Lag

It seems to be true that jet lag when flying from Perth to North America, and back again, is far less severe than the jet lag incurred when flying from Perth to Europe. We’re not sure why, but we’re happy about it. Phew.

Premium Economy

For the 2 major legs of our 3 leg journey (Perth - Sydney, Sydney - LA, LA - Toronto, and back again), we invested in Premium Economy. We flew with Virgin, and in terms of the extra leg room, the larger seats, the increased ability to sleep better and for longer, and the food service, yes, it is worth it. The beef please.


Neither Scott nor Ben had been to Toronto before and we were impressed. The city is pretty, dynamic and with a great energy, the lake foreshore is lovely, the dining options are many and varied and it is a place that welcomes you to spend more time. Oh Canada.

We go a long way for Shopify and it was all worth it.
We go a long way for Shopify and it was all worth it.


Toronto is developing a strong reputation as a technology centre in North America - the San Francisco / Silicon Valley of the east coast, if you will. And the evidence is clearly there. Major offices for major players, from Shopify to Facebook and Google. Plus the physical location and proximity to other major North American cities. Relocate?


We have to address Poutine (it might not be what you think). We heard about this pre-trip, so we had to try it. A national dish of sorts, traditionally it is chips, gravy and cheese curds. In reality, it is chips, gravy and cheese curds plus any other ingredient you can imagine, from jalapeños to bacon and beyond. Tasty, yes, but more suited to cold weather than balmy spring days, IMO. Pass the poutine.


Shopify are growing. But they are also retaining their personal touch through their well organised network of partner managers across the planet. This system was in full effect at Unite, and we’d like to thank the Australian and APAC Shopify people (they know who they are) for their help, attention and introductions. At the end of the day, they are here for us, to help our agency help the Shopify business people we work with. Thank you.


This was nice messaging from Facebook and a simple idea to use to find ways to improve your ecommerce store. Friction-less commerce simply means making things easier for customers. That might be from your niche, to your product images, from your navigation to your loyalty club. When online shopping is smoother, people stay for longer, buy more and return sooner. Be silky.


Unite 2019 was a big commitment, and it was well worth it. For the learning we achieved, the people we met, the expansion of our knowledge, services and the help we can give Perth ecommerce businesses, Unite is priceless. We are already thinking about the 2020 conference and how we will make it even more valuable than 2019. Opportunities.