Shopify Unite 2021 Annual Conference Highlights

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • 0% Revenue Share Annually on your First Million Dollars in the Shopify App Store
  • Online Store 2.0
  • Extend Shopify Checkout through Apps
  • Improved App Development
  • Upgraded Storefront API
  • Shopify Oxygen & Hydrogen
  • Conclusion – Shopify in 2022


Brands creating unique customer experiences, backed by development teams who make those experiences possible using Shopify e-commerce are driving the future of commerce. Shopify announced the largest set of infrastructure innovations in Shopify’s history at Unite 2021, Shopify’s annual partner and developer conference, opening up a whole new world of customization for brands.

Shopify is the most advanced SaaS platform for D2C e-commerce stores. Businesses seeking the best customer experience will no longer be limited by technical constraints. Shopify unlocked more developer capabilities to help merchants build the future of commerce. In addition, the Online Store 2.0 was one of the major announcements made at Shopify Unite 2021 for merchants.

Here’s an overview of Shopify Unite 2021 announcements, which will power Shopify’s merchant experiences. These changes enable powerful, customized commerce solutions for businesses of all sizes with more tools and features announced in 2021.

0% Revenue Share Annually on your First Million Dollars in the Shopify App Store

For those building apps for the Shopify App Store, Shopify offers 0% revenue share on the first million dollars you make annually on the Shopify App Store as of August 1, 2021. You can register to no longer pay revenue share if you make less than $1 million USD per year in the Shopify App Store. Every year, these figures are reset. Also, you’ll pay a 15% revenue share if you earn more than $1 million USD, down from the previous 20% revenue share.

This change to Shopify’s revenue share model demonstrates their support for developers, the potential of building on Shopify, and how much they want the best developers in the world to improve commerce for everyone. This change means you’ll have more money in your pocket to invest in your business, expand your resources, and create more Shopify merchant solutions.

All developers who signed up after August 1 were charged a one-time registration fee, which will be paid when they submit their first app for review. The new infrastructure and technologies that Shopify Unite 2021 announced are the greatest benefits of Shopify. Let’s take a look.

Online Store 2.0

At the Unite 2021 conference, Shopify announced one of the most important updates to their platform to date at Shopify Unite. Online Store 2.0 is a combination of improvements and new features that increase your ability to customize your online store.

1. Upgraded Theme Architecture

One of the most significant changes in Shopify 2.0 is the upgraded theme architecture for the online store, which will benefit both merchants and developers. It’s easier to control the layout and aesthetic of your store with Online Store 2.0, which gives merchants and developers more flexibility and access to more data for delivering a unique experience to their customers.

  • Sections & Blocks on Every Page
    Using sections and blocks., merchants and developers can now personalize every page of your store by adding, rearranging, and removing content without editing code. In August 2021, the Shopify Theme store added exciting new themes for business owners. These themes will be built on the new Online Store 2.0 platform and will take advantage of the powerful features unveiled at Unite this year.

By moving all of a theme’s Liquid code into JSON templates, which are available across the online store, Shopify made themes fully modular. These templates define a page’s structure, including everything from the number of sections to how each setting is configured. Sections are now available on more pages than just the homepage.

2. Theme App Extensions & Blocks

Developers creating apps for the storefront will benefit greatly from the improvements in Online Store 2.0. Theme app extensions for developers are now available, allowing you to integrate apps into merchant themes via app blocks.

  • Built-in Modularity
    The theme app extension transforms how customers interact with your app in the storefront. They’ll be able to easily integrate your app into their theme without touching the code with the help of an app block Liquid file that allows them to manage apps directly from the theme editor.

Use the Theme API and Assets API to see if a merchant is using a theme that is compatible with your theme app extensions. Knowing which theme a merchant uses will help you provide the best onboarding experience possible for merchants who want to integrate the app into their theme.

  • Manage & Host Assets
    You’ll be able to add your app’s supporting assets to your theme app extensions for faster hosting via Shopify’s CDN, as well as easily reference those assets from within your theme extension’s app blocks.
  • Streamlined Developer Tools
    The developer tools included in Online Store 2.0 also aid in the development, testing, and deployment of your Shopify apps. You can publish your extension when you’re ready to make it available to merchants. The current live version served to shops that have your app installed is replaced when you publish the extension version.

3. Flexible Content for your Store

Developers no longer need to hardcode metafields into themes or rely on APIs to make changes to product pages with Online Store 2.0. Now, theme developers can use dynamic sources to add standard metafields and known resource properties as setting defaults. To improve the theme’s dynamic sources, some changes have been introduced:

  • File Picker
    Images and PDF files are now supported by Metafields. Merchants can easily upload and select media on product pages using the metafield file picker. All images saved in the Settings/Files section are available to use right away.
  • Files API
    The new Files API will also give developers access to the contents of Settings/Files. Apps can use this GraphQL API to upload or select media content from Settings/Files. Access to this area of the admin is now available to apps.
  • Metafields
    Metafields now have a more flexible type system. Metafields can be defined and edited directly in the admin now, as well as connected to apps or your theme and made accessible to anyone on your team.

4. Developer Tools for Building Shopify Themes

In conjunction with your local development tools, the following developer tools help you quickly set, test, and share Shopify themes.

  • Dawn
    Dawn is Shopify’s first open-source reference theme, designed for high performance and taking advantage of all of Online Store 2.0’s new features. It’s a mobile-first, ultra-lightweight theme with atomic components, JavaScript-only-as-needed, and other features. It provides merchants with maximum flexibility while minimizing complexity.

Built for conversions, Dawn is a versatile design that can be used to express any brand while delivering a great shopping experience to your customers. With image-focused product pages, beautiful product grids, and smart color systems, it’s designed with aesthetics in mind.

Dawn is 35% faster than most popular themes by Shopify. Also, more themes will be added to the theme store, all of which will be built with incredible speed and performance to improve the customer experience.

  • Github
    As specified in the Unite 2021 conference, Shopify added a new Github integration that allows you to continuously pull changes to your themes. This means you can work together safely with native version control support and set up workflows where changes must be reviewed and merged on GitHub before being applied to a live theme.

You can share preview links from your local server without having to manually sync or push zipped files when GitHub is synced, making it easier to collaborate with your clients and team.

  • Shopify CLI
    Shopify CLI has been expanded to include theme development. You can use the Shopify CLI to:
  • Develop, preview, and test changes to themes safely within development themes.
  • Re-load Liquid and CSS changes
  • Publish and push themes from the command line
  • Run theme check
  • Fill test data with products, customers, and draft orders.
  • Theme Check
    Theme Check is a Liquid and JSON language server that scans themes for errors and highlights Shopify themes and Liquid best practices. This tool works with text editors like Visual Studio Code and can detect a variety of issues in your theme code, such as Liquid syntax errors, missing templates, performance issues, and more. it’s included with the Shopify CLI tool.

Extend Shopify Checkout through Apps

The checkout process is the most important part of the online shopping experience. It’s where merchants make a sale and customers make a purchase, and it’s where conversion happens. Shopify makes it a priority to ensure that Shopify Checkout is capable of handling large volumes of sales.

In the Unite 2021 conference, Shopify also announced that merchants and developers will be able to extend checkout through apps. Ranging from simple customizations to complex user interfaces (UI) and business logic, the new Shopify capabilities will be aligned with business needs. Checkout extensions, changes to Shopify Scripts, and a new payment platform are all included in this update.

  • Checkout Extensions
    Shopify introduced checkout extensions, a set of extension points, APIs, and UI components used to build checkout apps, to allow developers to create custom checkout experiences. Using these tools, you can create flexible checkout solutions while avoiding the risk of checkout.liquid being hacked.

You’ll have access to the following features if you use checkout extensions:

  • Extension APIs are a set of APIs that can be used to integrate powerful checkout customizations into apps. These APIs will allow you to access and modify checkout line items, discounts, customer information, metafields, the buyer journey, and cart attributes while they are still in development. Custom apps offer an entirely new way of distributing your solutions to multiple clients at once if you’re an agency partner.
  • With new extension points, you’ll be able to create experiences for various parts of the checkout process
  • A component library will be used by your app to create custom experiences and inject them at different extension points
  • New APIs give you more control over certain aspects of checkout, such as the Branding API, which allows you to change the colors, spacing, typography, and more of the checkout experience.

App Bridge Checkout is a new technology that allows Shopify to take your code, host it on Shopify’s CDN, and run it in a secure Web Worker sandbox in the browser. Custom Shopify checkout experiences created with checkout extensions will work seamlessly with accelerated checkouts like Shop Pay, allowing your users to benefit from the higher conversion rates that come with faster checkouts.

Extension for Post-Purchase Checkout

At the Unite 2021 conference, Shopify released beta access to the post-purchase checkout extension, which is their first available checkout extension. Developers can use this extension to create post-purchase experiences directly within Shopify Checkout.

After a purchase, but before the customer leaves the store, there is a post-purchase interaction between the merchant and the buyer. It is between the Shopify checkout pages and thank-you pages, providing a captive and engaged audience for product upsells, donation or survey requests, discount offers for future orders, and more.

You can use the post-purchase checkout extension to:

  • Integrate directly with Shopify Checkout so you can focus on creating great post-purchase experiences for your users’ buyers while Shopify delivers a reliable and fast checkout
  • To make your app fully integrated with Shopify platform features, API updates, and improvements
  • Meet your merchants’ business objectives and help them grow, whether it’s increasing average order value with an upsell offer, gathering critical customer information through surveys, or providing promotional offers to drive future business.

You’ll need to submit your app for review once it’s finished and ready for approval. Please keep in mind that app developers who want to add the post-purchase checkout extension to an existing app must first get approval.

Shopify Scripts

Shopify Plus merchants have access to Shopify Scripts, which allows them to create backend custom logic that is unique to their brands. Shopify has completely rebuilt the Scripts experience with WebAssembly to make the development process easier, improve reliability, and speed up your scripts.

Shopify also updated the Scripts developer tool, allowing you to create Scripts using your preferred local development workflow rather than the online Script Editor. Scripts can also now be deployed and installed via apps. This means that your Scripts can now be installed on multiple stores and used by merchants without touching the code.

Payment Platform

The newly launched Shopify Payment Platform opens up new Shopify markets and industries for future growth. Allowing payment providers to create new Shopify integrations opens up a larger ecosystem of gateways with specialized functionality. This provides merchants with new business value by allowing them to sell more and in more places.

Also, the new Shopify Payment platform will replace the legacy integration points and allow you to create payment gateways as Shopify apps. The payments platform is designed to work with Shopify’s most recent checkout technology stack, providing developers with a single point of integration.

In addition, giving customers the option to check out with larger cart sizes can increase conversions by up to 50% while also increasing average order value. Stores with Shop Pay Installments* allows your customers to buy now and pay later, splitting their purchases into four interest-free payments with no extra, hidden, or late fees.

Improved App Development

At the Unite 2021 conference, Shopify released a number of enhancements to help you improve your development workflows.

  • Better Developer Documentation

Shopify’s developer documentation has been updated to focus on making it easier to find the information you need. Changes to typography, layout, and multi-programming language blocks in tutorials have also been made to make them easier to understand.

  • Developer Console

The Developer Console, where you can build and test extensions in a real store environment, is being introduced to help improve the process of developing app extensions.

Any changes you make to your local environment will render immediately in the Developer Console, so you won’t have to push or publish your app to see your changes. By instantly rendering the mobile version of your extension via QR code, you can ensure that it renders properly in both desktop and mobile environments.

  • Google Cloud Pub/Sub

Developers can now login to Google Cloud Pub/Sub to manage webhook events more easily. You can control the rate at which events are pulled in with Pub/Sub. This means that even during the busiest times, incoming events will be delivered more reliably, and app errors and delays will be minimized. And you won’t have to worry about scaling web servers.

  • App Discoverability

Shopify made improvements to the Shopify App Store to help you connect with merchants more effectively so your app can grow. Shopify can identify what merchants need at what time using data and insights from them. Shopify has rolled out this new app store experience to a select group of merchants.

These findings will inform Shopify’s new personalized Shopify App Store homepage, which will include new content types, improved taxonomy, more informative app category pages, and a modular approach.

Awareness Ads on App Store

At the Unite 2021 conference, Shopify announced that they are expanding the capability of Shopify App Store ads by introducing awareness ads for developers looking to invest in accelerated growth.

Conversion ads will be the new name for search ads. Whereas conversion ads help merchants with pre-existing intent who are looking for a specific type of app or have a specific need in mind, awareness ads can help merchants learn about opportunities they hadn’t considered before.

This new advertising space will place your app on the app store’s homepage, and thanks to Shopify’s new personalization engines, merchants who would benefit from your app’s offering will see it. Awareness ads give you more creative format control by allowing you to match the color of your ad-block to your brand.

  • Managing Payouts & Bills
    With enhancements to the Partner Dashboard, Shopify also improved how you manage the backend of your app development business on a day-to-day basis.
  • Refunds and Charge Overview Page
    The Partner Dashboard’s new Charge overview page makes it easier to view app subscription charges, allowing you to better manage your billing and payouts, as well as directly resolve refund requests. This update will make it easier to understand how merchants deal with charges and estimate how much you’ll get paid.
  • More Payout Methods
    In addition to PayPal, you’ll be able to receive payments in a variety of ways as specified in the Shopify Unite 2021 conference. Local bank transfers, wire transfers, and other payment methods are included. Now, Shopify allows you to receive payouts in over 200 countries and regions around the world, and ensure you get the best exchange rates possible.

Upgraded Storefront API

With the tech stack (including a headless architecture) and business logic you want, you can create unique buyer experiences that make your brand stand out.

Create custom storefronts with Shopify’s Storefront API, which now includes international pricing for your international customers, curbside pickup, and subscription selling plans, among other features. Create non-Liquid custom storefronts on Shopify using your existing developer frameworks and tech stack, allowing your brand to turn any screen into a shopping channel, from web pages and mobile apps to smart mirrors and wearables.

  • More Cart Capabilities
    Shopify added new cart capabilities to the Storefront API to help meet the merchants’ needs and deliver the best shopping experience with a focus on performance, reliability, and scale. It is designed to provide a consistently low latency response and the ability to scale without any store-wide rate limits.

The cart unlocks features like estimated totals with taxes, discounts, duties, and so much more when combined with a powerful and secure checkout.

  • @inContext GraphQL Directive
    A new @inContext GraphQL directive allows you to pass in relevant buyer context as unveiled in the Shopify Unite 2021. The inclusion of this in Shopify’s APIs enables features such as international pricing and local pickup, both of which can be configured by the merchant.
  • International Pricing
    Shopify introduced international pricing support to give cross-border sellers more flexibility. In the Storefront API, Shopify has replaced presentment currencies with international pricing on storefronts.
  • Local Pickup
    If you manage inventory in multiple locations, you’re well aware of how difficult fulfilment can be. Business owners on Shopify can now designate pickup-only locations to improve their local pickup experience.

Shopify local pickup allows customers to pick up their orders from your designated pickup-only locations without having to ship online orders out of that location to save time and money. These pickup-only retail locations’ inventory will not be listed as “available” for online shipping orders.

  • Selling Plans
    Merchants can create custom billing, pricing, and delivery policies using selling plans. Merchants can now enable subscriptions, preorders, and other ways to sell. The Storefront API now allows you to retrieve the selling plans associated with each product.
  • Shopify Metafields
    At the Unite 2021 conference, Shopify also announced that now you can retrieve all of your Shopify metafields via the Storefront API, beyond what was previously available. This update adds more flexibility to how products, product variants, orders, customers, and all other Shopify types are interpreted.
  • Storefront API Schema
    Shopify released a major update to the Storefront API schema to improve overall ergonomics and make it more intuitive to use. Check out Shopify’s preview playground, which includes mock data that allows you to explore the schema’s features.
  • Handshake – Wholesale Marketplace by Shopify
    Start selling wholesale with Handshake*, a wholesale marketplace built by Shopify, to get your products in front of a larger audience. Unveiled at the Shopify Unite 2021, Handshake only sells products from Shopify-powered brands. From your Shopify admin, simply sign up, set your prices, and publish your catalogs.

There are no fees or commissions to sign up or place orders on the Handshake – Shopify B2B platform, unlike other marketplaces, and if you already have wholesale relationships, Handshake allows you to transfer those transactions to Shopify. All suppliers must apply and be approved by Shopify, and all buyers must confirm that they have a reseller ID.

Handshake’s personalized product recommendations also ensure that members are always learning about new products. All of the brands on Handshake have been hand-picked, so you can be sure you’re buying from unique designers from all over the country.

Shopify Email
Shopify Email is an email marketing tool for acquiring, engaging, and reactivating customers. To share product restocks, new product launches, and sales, choose from a new gallery of ready-made templates. Your logo, discounts, product images, descriptions, and prices will all be pulled directly from your store into the templates. With the launch of Shopify Email, you can personalize your email with custom fields to improve your email campaigns.

Shopify Email integrates directly with your online store, allowing you to track email engagement metrics, add-to-carts, and conversions all in one place.

Shopify Oxygen & Hydrogen

Launched at the Shopify Unite 2021 conference, Hydrogen and oxygen are the tech stack of the future. Dynamic, quick, dependable, and responsive. The new stack has the potential to usher in a new era of D2C e-commerce, with Shopify being by far the largest provider of online stores.


The quick-start environment in Hydrogen makes it simple for web developers to create custom storefronts quickly. Hydrogen is a developer toolkit that includes scaffolding to get you up and running quickly, as well as a set of React components to help you build the foundation of your commerce website so you can focus on styling and designing the features that make a merchant’s brand unique.

Shopify has also prepared a list of React components that are ready to be seamlessly integrated into its new stores in addition to the Hydrogen launch. They’ll make the development process easier and more enjoyable for developers.


Shopify Oxygen is a new platform that allows you to host Hydrogen storefronts on Shopify. React-based Hydrogen stores can seamlessly integrate with the Shopify Storefront API using Oxygen. In addition, Shopify Oxygen is available in 100s of local server locations around the world.

When combined with the new checkout APIs, which were also unveiled at the Shopify Unite 2021 Conference, store owners will be able to sell 100,000s products per minute.

Conclusion – Shopify in 2022

Shopify is the most advanced e-commerce platform available. More D2C brands will migrate to Shopify in 2022 to take advantage of their superior tech and marketing stack. Shopify’s Unite 2021 announcements were focused on providing the Shopify store owners with high performance, better customer experience, more scalability, and conversions.

Digital flagship stores are becoming more prominent and important to D2C e-commerce. These stores can now be built natively on Shopify. Smaller brands with limited resources can now create quick, exciting, and engaging stores without having to consider going headless. This bold move by Shopify is raising the bar for e-commerce experiences in the D2C market.

But for large multinational brands selling a large number of products to a large number of customers across a wide range of languages and cultures, going headless remains the best option. Shopify is harnessing the power of headless stores and integrating it into their native setup with Hydrogen and Oxygen. These updates are a significant upgrade to the Shopify tech stack, and they open up new possibilities for brands that want fast, interactive stores without making the switch to headless architecture.

In 2022, headless e-commerce continues, but you should consult with your e-commerce agency to determine which option is best for you and your brand. PROS is a leading e-commerce agency with 20+ years of experience in providing technology and marketing solutions. Get in touch with our Shopify expert today.

Scroll to Top