Shopify managing director says changes announced at Unite 2021 part of making company more developer-friendly

Shopify

During Shopify’s latest annual developer conference, the Canadian retail tech giant announced a number of changes to its platform designed to arm developers with a larger share of their early revenue and increased creative control over their online brands and stores.

At Shopify Unite 2021, the Ottawa-based e-commerce company disclosed a series of new platform investments, ranging from changes to its revenue share agreement with developers to enhancements to its Storefronts and Checkout offerings.

“It’s really the biggest upgrade to Shopify’s liquid platform ever,” said Ian Black, Shopify Canada’s managing director.

In an interview, Ian Black, managing director of Shopify Canada, told BetaKit Shopify is trying to put the “focus back on developers.” Black said these moves are part of Shopify’s push to become more “developer-friendly,” adding that the company sees developers as “key to the future of Shopify and to the commerce infrastructure that we’re building together.”
 

Black referred to the changes announced at Shopify Unite as Shopify’s “largest set of infrastructure innovation” to date, describing them as a “complete revamp” of the retail tech giant’s developer tools. “It’s really the biggest upgrade to Shopify’s liquid platform ever,” he said.

“The aim of these [changes] is to give developers and merchants the creative power and flexibility to control their brand experience on the internet,” said Black, who added the updates will give developers and merchants the opportunity to build more.

According to Black, in terms of the technical changes, the focus here is twofold: Shopify wants to give its smaller developers the tools they need to excel and differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive e-commerce environment, while also enhancing its infrastructure capabilities for larger brands seeking to make more advanced additions or updates.

RELATED: Shopify announces changes to its developer revenue share model at Unite 2021

“We really want this platform to be a place where everybody feels welcome and everybody has the help they need to succeed,” said Black, who claimed that within the app developer ecosystem, it is becoming harder for smaller developers to thrive.

Shopify’s most significant change aims to address this issue. The retail company has revamped its developer revenue share model, dropping App Store commissions to zero percent on the first $1 million developers earn annually from merchants, a number that will reset each year.

Previously, Shopify charged developers a 20 percent share on all of their revenue. Under the new system, developers will pay 15 percent on all “marginal” annual revenue, meaning all revenue earned after the first $1 million.

“Earlier in the year, we got some criticism for doing the 20 percent split the way we did,” said Tobi Lütke, Shopify’s CEO, during a Discord ‘ask me anything’ event following Shopify Unite. “People were specifically saying that [the split] was onerous when starting out because that 20 percent could be the difference between a business that actually makes it and becomes profitable and one that does not.”

RELATED: Shopify sees its developer platform as key to driving the future trends of e-commerce

“The mission of Spotify is the entrepreneurship network,” said Lütke. “This is really the downstream effect we hope that happens.”

“Commerce accelerated so much in this last year, we’ve basically pushed the industry forward by 10 years,” Fatima Yusuf, Shopify’s director of partnerships, ecosystem, told BetaKit in a May interview. “Not only are more consumers shopping online, but it also completely propelled forward the need for more e-commerce tools and technology.”

Yusuf, who oversees Shopify’s growing developer ecosystem, added that as Shopify’s merchant base grows and diversifies, Shopify aims to give them the tools they need to grow and scale their businesses. Another part of Shopify’s aim to become a “developer-first company” is plans it announced in January, to double the size of its engineering team by hiring 2,021 new technical staff.

“The ultimate goal is to get as many developers [as possible] building, to create value for merchants,” said Yusuf. “We want merchants to win, and we want as many developers on our side of the table.”

RELATED: Shopify hires new VP of engineering, looks to add 2,021 new technical staff this year

“We’re committed to being the platform for all brands in the world who want to innovate … whether they be small brands or large brands,” said Black.

Black said Shopify’s Storefronts and Checkouts overhauls in particular are also designed to give entrepreneurs “even more creative power.” With the changes, merchants will be able to add extensions and other payment services to Shopify Checkout, which Shopify said will now be able to facilitate transactions much faster.

“We want Shopify to be the platform where the most innovative and best developer talent in the world comes to build, and we want creativity to be at the core of commerce online,” said Black. “We think these announcements help move Shopify, as well as commerce on the internet, in that direction,” said Black.

Feature image courtesy of Shopify

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit staff writer who loves to tell Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.