Unite is the annual Shopify partner and developer conference. It is the one platform where you get to meet established technology companies that serve merchants on the Shopify platform, as well as aspiring Shopify app developers, bootstrapping tech founders, and Shopify apps that have become multi-million businesses.
And that’s not all. Small scale agencies to those with 100s of employees spanning all over the globe, Shopify-only to platform-agnostic dev shops, can-do-anything to those that specialize in setup, small tasks, speed optimizations, influencer marketing, performance ads, branding, and much more – think of payments, logistics, and online advertising space, the conference brings everyone together.
Think of it as the one time when the entire (or most of it) Shopify ecosystem comes under one roof.
But amidst it all, most of us tend to get too overwhelmed and are not able to prepare ourselves to make the most out of the opportunity presented at Unite. So as we prepare for the conference ourselves, we thought of sharing a few things we are following.
Right from being absolutely clear about your goals to aligning your schedule and meetings accordingly and keeping room for a few random occurrences and inquires, we want to prepare for it all – with you.
While things are going to get serious here on, don’t forget one little rule to follow at Shopify Unite – Have Fun!
Shopify Unite itself is packed with keynotes, workshops, office hours, round tables, lightning talks, and much more. But additionally, a lot of Shopify Partners organize networking events and parties during the Unite week. You cannot possibly attend all of them, but here is a list that you could choose from:
MON: Toronto Pre-Party
TUE: The Tech Refresh
TUE also has the “official” happy hours from 6 pm to 8 pm:
- `Apartment 200`, sponsored by Omnisend
- `Böehmer`, sponsored by Listrak
- `Convenience`, sponsored by Trustpilot
- `Death and Taxes`, sponsored by TaxJar
- `SoSo Food Club`, sponsored by Simplr (“Outsource Shopify Customer Service”)
- `The Drake Hotel`, Octane AI and Justuno
These are just the public events. Message me if you care about the private ones.
Get up-to-date with everything Shopify
This part is really important if you don’t want to get caught off-guard. As you start to have more conversations with the attendees, there is a high chance you stumble across varied topics related to what Shopify has been in the news for recently.
While we’re head first into preparing for this part, here are a few things you must cover:
- Get your hands on Shopify’s first State of Commerce Report – The report highlights the changing consumer trends and behavior and how merchants can prepare themselves.
- Catch up on all the recent acquiring – Swedish competitor Tictail, Handshake – an eCommerce platform for B2B, and mobile app Return Magic.
- Shopify and MailChimp removed their integration (the app is gone from the app store), and Mailchimp partnered with Square to launch its shoppable landing pages.
- Shopify introduced the Instagram sales channel and signed a similar agreement with Snapchat earlier this year
On June 2, Shopify experienced an interruption of service by Google Cloud that made stores inaccessible.
“It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.“ But our friends from Ecommerce Mag listed down 9 things to expect from Shopify Unite this year. You can read it, here.
Please message me if I forgot a must-know!
Hey, it’s time to update your social media profile too!
Do you still have that graduation photo on your profile, is your company not searchable or do your social media feature images not convey what you do? Well, it’s time to get your social act on.
Fixing how you look on social will barely take a few minutes. But it will go a long way in making it easier to find you during and after the conference.
Make sure to create or share Shopify Unite posts so that your followers can meet up and engage with you there.
Follow the relevant hashtags and posts to figure out who is going to the conference, starting today. Here are some tips to get you started on social:
- Post in Shopify Partners: List of Facebook Groups
- Follow the #shopifyunite on Linkedin and see all the public postings: Conversations on LinkedIn
- Follow the #shopifyunite on Twitter to see upcoming and live action: Conversations on Twitter
Also, every one of us has this one guy in our network who knows just about everyone and every event happening. Don’t forget to get in touch with them (and maybe grab a beer).
And if you don’t mind, do introduce them to me as well! (And if you are that person, help others out!)
Prepare your pitch for Shopify Unite
What do you reply when asked, “So, what do you do?” Prepare a one-liner that can open the door for more conversations and helps people remember you. Comparisons work well: “We are the Amazon/Uber/… of XYZ” – it’s just sticky!
It is also a good time to prepare your elevator pitch – your 2 min pitch including your “AHA” moment and prioritized discussion points to fill up any conversation that spans over 10 minutes or more.
Consider the potentially vast different audiences at Unite. You will need to listen and understand who is who and what they are interested in first before talking about your product or service.
Maybe even have a quick product demo at hand or a case study you can reference and forward via email.
Schedule meetings upfront
Connect with the people from service and tech partners you frequently work with. To shake hands, celebrate together, or receive further relevant introductions and build new partnerships, should be one of your goals.
But the key here is preparation.
While flexibility during the conference can be beneficial, try to use downtime from sessions that are not so relevant to you for scheduling meetings with (potential) partners.
If you are a Shopify expert that frequently promotes/recommends/installs apps for your merchants, the app developers and tech partners are just one email or support query away.
For app developers it is sometimes tricky to find out who is aware of your app or who has been promoting it, here are some tricks to still find them:
- Look into who is logging into the app (Shopify Auth API) and search for staff accounts and collaborator accounts.
- Collaborator accounts are typically created for agencies and staff accounts could be experts hired to set up your app.
- Find references in Facebook groups to find influencers talking about your app already.
- All testimonials in the experts’ directory are saved together with the Shopify subdomain – compare them with your client base to find mutuals with an expert.
Also with the Shopify Plus partner directory, you have a powerful address book at your fingertips to reach out to highly relevant players in the ecosystem.
Plus partners often have dedicated partner managers at Unite and other conferences. So make your best pitch digitally to get a chance to schedule a meeting during Unite and discuss potential partnerships.
Register and prepare for the sessions
The general schedule for Unite 2019 can be found here and is divided into:
- Partner Day (“Day 0”): June 18th
- Day 1: June 19th
- Day 2: June 20th
For Day 1, you will have to decide between talks from track 1 or 2, lightning talks, round tables, workshops and office hours all happening at the same time (2 pm – 5 pm).
Talks from the track, lightning talks and round tables are found inside your Unite app: Agenda > Schedule, while workshops and office hours require individual bookings.
Here is what to expect:
- Sessions from track 1 and 2 are 30-40 min insights from Shopify
- Lightning Talks are partner-led 15 min condensed business insights
- Round tables are Shopify-facilitated feedback sessions
- Workshops are 60 minutes, run by Shopify and limited capacity
- Office hours are 30 min help sessions booked with Shopify on topics like API, Apps, Shopify Plus as well as Kit and Themes
Day 2 has a more stretched out schedule but with tracks all over the day, and workshops and lightning talks solely in the afternoon. The closing remarks end at 5 pm.
Here is a convenient spreadsheet of all the events listed down with information about the respective hosts: List of Shopify Events.
Main stage and track sessions will be recorded later, including lightning talks. Workshops and round-tables will not be recorded.
My personal favorite session is on Partner Day:
10:35 am – 11:25 am Wellness: Spinning at Ride Cycle Club (led by a top-secret Shopify executive)
Message me if you know how to get fit for a spinning class within a week, please!
Debriefing with de:brief
You have heard me talk a lot about the preparation, but truth be told: Debriefing is just as important.
Make sure to attend the De:brief hosted by Keir Whitaker and Cat Hunter. It is an exclusive half-day event for Shopify Partners, that takes place right after Unite 2019.
Over 150 industry experts, colleagues and friends come together for this meet to discuss the impact Unite will have on the eCommerce industry and businesses. It brings insights, analysis and more clarity to the announcements made at the conference.
Attend (or host) Shopify Meetups for wrapping-up Unite
If you can’t make it to De:brief, fret not. There are a number of other meetups that place right after Unite and you can go to any one of them for summarising and discussing everything that was announced at the conference.
Don’t go hunting down meetups now, you can check the upcoming ones right here (the list will be updated soon): List of Shopify Meetups.
Two meetups in the region that we have on our list are:
Message me if you are planning to host Shopify Meetups!
Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up.
“Not following up is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.” (No kidding.)
You will meet hundreds of Shopify Partners. Make sure that they remember you and you remember what you talked about.
Think of the “forgetting curve” while planning your follow-ups. One tends to forget half the new things they learn just a day after.
Following-up quickly can help you to get a new introduction while still being at Shopify Unite!
Have some simple follow-up templates in place, or just shoot out a quick note with what was discussed. What we have learned is that nobody minds a little scribble as long as it is about something that interests them.
And don’t forget: If you say you follow up, you have to follow-up.
Think you have the best follow-up strategy in place or feel like setting up one? Message me, and we can do this together!
Mind the basics
Got your ticket for Shopify Unite? Good.
If not, you can get them here.
Have your business cards in place, but also get the Linkedin app for connecting with attendees using the QR code.
Also consider that you might need to bring an adapter for your charger. Canada uses type A (2 pins) and type B (3 pins, grounded) sockets. Your adapter needs to have a type A plug to fit any socket.
And of course, don’t forget to get the official Shopify Unite 2019 app.
Dress Code: Here are some photos from previous Unites: Unite Album – be fashionable, but not outrageous!
Please bring some swag along! (stickers). Message me if you want to do a swag exchange during Unite.
Shopify Unite is the biggest opportunity you can get – to network, to make partners, to get industry insights that help you grow. So make sure you go prepared. Know what you want and know what you want to walk away with. Having a plan can go a long way in making the most out of Shopify Unite!
Know someone who is attending Unite and would find this post helpful? Don’t forget to share it with them.
Till then, let’s get to the prep and we’ll see you there!