photo courtesy Shopify Plus

This past week we had the chance to attend Shopify Unite in San Francisco, a two-day event for developers and Shopify partners to come together and discuss the future of Shopify, commerce, and technology. As Shopify partners, we were excited to attend and learn more about how we can continue to partner with Shopify to build incredible experiences for our ecommerce clients. Amidst the product announcements, workshops, keynotes, and a city-wide power outage, a few themes emerged, hinting that the future of ecommerce will be as much about empowering businesses as it will be about customers

Business owners (and their employees) are users too.

In the age of the customer, when so much innovation in ecommerce is geared toward transforming experiences for consumers, it’s easy to forget that businesses and their employees are users too, who also rely upon innovative technology to make their lives easier and make their businesses run better. Setting the tone for the rest of the conference, Day 1 opened with 4 different people sharing personal stories of how they were struggling professionally. One turned out to be a business owner, another a developer, and finally the owner of an agency. The presentation connected individual stories to focus on how, at their core, Shopify is ultimately about empowering entrepreneurs, and helping businesses do what they do best, and not about becoming a major IT organization. This was a theme that run through the entirety of the conference

Buisnesses should be able to run from anywhere, on any device.

In line with their ultimate goal of empowering entrepreneurs, another theme that emerged was how to help business owners more easily run their businesses across different platforms and devices; much of the technological innovation happening at Shopify is working toward this end. For instance, among their many announcements they announced that they will be opening Shopify up to new channels, allowing businesses to create seamless buy buttons for shopping on Buzzfeed, Instagram, Kik, Wish, Trendly, Linkr, Want and others. Additionally Shopify is creating component-based native mobile apps for iOS and Android, making it super easy for businesses to create and publish native apps without having to write a single line of code. This will help businesses create more immersive experiences for customers with relative ease.

With the right technology and customer experiences, small businesses can compete with global giants.

While the threat of the Amazons of the world will never be completely mitigated, there are lots of interesting ways Shopify is seeking to help small businesses compete. For one, they announced a new credit card reader and Shopify Pay. The self-designed credit card reader, similar to Square, allows businesses to accept credit cards via chip or swipe, by hand or on a countertop and will be available free of charge to all Shopify POS users. The new card reader, alongside Shopify Pay, which promises to bring the checkout process down from 16 steps to 2 for customers who choose to save their payment information via their phone number, will make shopping on any Shopify-powered store as seamless as shopping exclusively at Amazon.

Shopify also announced important updates to how they will help businesses plan for and manage sales, discounts, and inventories, making their platform more and more competitive with the likes of Magento, who has long beat out any other ecommerce solution for their customizability capabilities. Shopify is now fast on Magento's heels.

2,500 businesses are now using Shopify Plus, making them number 2 for ecommerce software solutions–and this all in just 2 years. As Shopify continues to focus their business strategy on what is best for their users–entrepreneurs, business owners, and developers (not just on technology)–all while supporting them with easier more innovative ways to support customers (you can check out our recent white paper on the topic), we expect to see amazing things and are thrilled to call ourselves Shopify Plus partners. To see a complete inventory of announcements made at Shopify Unite, check out the Shopify Plus blog.