Just a week ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the Imagine 2018 – April 23 to 25 – at the Wynn in Las Vegas. We had a wonderful experience at Imagine, and the conference turned out to be great. Now it’s Unite 2018 – May 7 to 9 – in Toronto, Canada. Unite is the biggest event in the calendar for Shopify’s developer and partner community.

Last year’s Unite happened in San Francisco, and people might well remember it because of the power outage during the last day of the conference. Thanks to Shopify for bringing Unite to Toronto, their hometown – indeed a smart move.

At DCKAP, we’re super busy attending back-to-back conferences, travelling across States and Canada, and writing recap blogs. What follows are few memorable happenings and snapshots from Unite 2018.

What’s Unite and how’s it different from Imagine?

Unite to Shopify is very similar to what Imagine is to Magento. However, the similarities end right there. Unite pretty much has the developers, designers, and partners as audiences, whereas, Imagine brings the whole merchants, agencies, and developers together. Nonetheless, the notion of conducting these conferences are very much the same – “To unveil the new features and vision for the future that could do wonders to the eCommerce ecosystem.”

Unite 2018 was rather startling

To people who’d ask “Is really Unite a thing as big as Imagine?” The answer is indeed a YES. It’s the biggest thing that happened in Canada lately because the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was there at the conference and had quite a chat with Tobi Lütke, founder and CEO of Shopify. Amber Mac moderated the discussion, focused on creating more opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Their conversation had a lot of swaggering involved.

When Canadian friends of mine would go bragging about their Prime Minister, I thought it was an exaggeration. However, when I happened to meet him for a nick-of-time moment, something struck hard in my head saying “you won’t get this chance ever again.” All I did next was to grab my phone and click a selfie with him.

Karthik with Canadian PM (1)

That said, three colleagues from DCKAP team joined me for the conference, and we had a blast, to say the least. The party, the photo booths and fellow attendees, everything was exciting and fun-filled.

Unite 2018

Thanks to Shopify’s Klik app interface, where people could click each other’s badges (a Greenlight would glow) to exchange contact information instead of exchanging business cards. It helped in networking.

Product Announcements

This is one big reason you would want to attend a Shopify Conference. I was blown away with their product announcements last year in San Francisco (and this was one of the key reasons for us to start a Shopify practice). This year was no different. You could find all the product announcements here. One has to wonder how Shopify can innovate so rapidly. Their execution seems great, and this is something we should learn from. Here is the one person to follow for all the product updates, Satish Kanwar.

Our final thoughts on Unite 2018

Perhaps, I’m nitpicking, but yes few things could have been better at Unite. Regarding logistics, we had to shuttle between venues and the Hotel to the Venue was not walkable as well. The Conference App could have been better and, some of the sessions (especially the Pop Talks) were overcrowded, and many were left to stand. All that said, Unite 2018 gave us a different-yet-unmatched experience to know the actual happenings and trends in the ECommerce Ecosystem.

One particular thing that stood out from the conference was the announcement that Shopify is going to open brick-and-mortar stores to help Shopify merchants (similar to the Apple stores). Based on my understanding and knowing Shopify for the last year or two, they benchmark themselves with  Google or Apple (or at least they have a bigger vision than being just an e-commerce platform).

At Unite 2018, with hundreds of tech and retail people, there was plenty to learn. I am glad that the DCKAP team and I set time aside to learn, experience & witness the innovation of Shopify and its growth at an unprecedented scale and speed.

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