New Tools for our Toolbox: What we are most excited for from Shopify Unite 2017

There are many reasons to be excited about Shopify

It was a crisp, grey, morning in April when four intrepid Able Sensers boarded a flight in Halifax bound for Shopify Unite 2017.

This year’s event was held on April 20th and 21st at the Fort Mason Centre on beautiful San Francisco Bay.

After an evening getting acclimatized — as Canadians we needed to un-pack our t-shirts — it was time for a good night’s rest to get ready for a packed conference schedule.


As with many conferences, the first morning was filled with keynotes from company executives and directors. Thankfully for those of us in attendance, the speakers didn’t come prepared with slideshows full of graphs, numbers, trends and buzzwords. Instead we were treated to success stories from all over the world, both from merchants, developers and the broader Shopify community.

One of the things I like about Shopify is how they don’t tell us how lucky we are to have them. They continually remind us of how lucky they are to have us, the merchant, agency, and developer community.

Photo of inside conference venue
Shopify Unite 2017

These keynotes were also an opportunity to announce new products and services from Shopify. This is always fun as we get to hear first-hand about all the work happening internally at Shopify and learn what it means for both us as an eCommerce firm and the merchants we work with.

Let’s look at a few of the bigger announcements:

Shopify Pay

I think we all know how it feels to add some products to cart, hit the checkout button and be presented with a wall of fields to complete before actually purchasing.

Shopify Pay aims to make this process faster and easier for customers by offering to save all those details so when they checkout on any Shopify store they are simply asked to verify with a code sent to them.

That’s it! No more re-entering your name, address, contact and payment information every time you visit Shopify merchants. This will speed up checkouts and increase conversion rates.

New Chip and Swipe Reader for POS

Shopify makes it easy to sell almost anywhere, but carrying around bulky payment hardware can be a pain for those who have limited in-store space or have a more portable setup for markets, fairs and popup shops. Enter the new chip and swipe reader for point-of-sale!

The Chip and Swipe Reader is a small, beautifully designed reader that connects to your device via Bluetooth. This brings a new level of portability and convenience to POS setups.

Better Discount Management

Discounts have been a simple affair in Shopify, coming soon though will be the ability to more easily manage discounts in the administration, a new discount report and the ability to combine discount conditions and edit discount codes.

Slate, Polaris and APIs oh my!

Improvements announced at Unite 2017 weren’t limited to merchants. Developers got some new tools to play with too:

New APIs

Shopify announced new APIs to help developers better serve merchants and their stores. Among these are the new Marketing Events API, Reporting API and Draft Orders API.

Using the Marketing Events API, “developers will have the ability to automatically add tracking to an app, which can be used to highlight performance data, show merchants how much traffic apps drive, and how they lead to sales”. Bringing metrics right into marketing apps will allow merchants to quickly see the impact individual marketing efforts have.

The Reporting API will allow developers to generate customized, app-specific reports that go hand-in-hand with available data from APIs such as the Marketing Events API. This makes it much more convenient for merchants to see important data in a quick to understand format.

The Draft Orders API allows developers to provide another way to create Draft Orders, perhaps allowing a merchant to add items not typically available in regular store inventory, or adding additional costs that don’t fit into the regular order process.


From the official site:

Slate is a theme scaffold and command line tool for developing Shopify themes. It is designed to assist your development workflow and speed up the process of developing, testing, and deploying themes to Shopify stores.”

Slate will help Shopify theme developers get up and running quickly with a sparsely styled default theme that uses Shopify’s best practices for creating themes. Slate incorporates ThemeKit, a tool many theme developers already know, and uses many of the same commands. After installing using npm, a simple slate theme [name] will generate a new, blank theme.

Slate includes some Sass helpers including normalize / reset styles and mixins, as well as a number of vendor and helper Javascript scripts.


Polaris is a new design system introduced by Shopify to help build cohesive stores for merchants, providing a thoughtful, consistent interface to the administration panels merchants use every day to run their stores. Polaris won’t have any effect on a store’s customer-facing theme, but instead benefits merchants who are faced with the ever-increasing complexity of managing their stores.

Panoramic photo of interior of conference venue
Shopify Unite 2017

Wrapping Up

Whew! That was quite a bit, but still not everything.

Want more? The complete list of announcements at Shopify Unite 2017 is available on Shopify’s website. If you need some video to binge on, Unite 2017’s talks are available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

Overall, Unite 2017 was an entertaining, engaging conference full of wonderful people and stories. There are many reasons to be excited about Shopify. Here at Able Sense we’re looking forward to using these new tools to provide the best experience for Shopify merchants and their customers.

See you in Toronto for Unite 2018!

Able Sense is excited to help host Shopify when it brings its Shop Class to Halifax on June 27-28, 2017. You can find more information on the event here