We joined the first Shopify Meetup in Hanoi which was dedicated to the large Shopify developer community that is based out of Vietnam and its capital Hanoi. And here’s the one thing we came away with echoing through our minds – we were surprised by how many local Shopify developers we were able to meet and their global reach!
The event saw a huge interest on social media, expert groups and across local development companies. Around 150 developers attended the meetup that was hosted at VTC Academy – a private academy focused on teaching development skills in a practical and relevant fashion to aspiring coders.
Our pre-event survey showed that participants had on average 4 years of development experience and besides Shopify, were most experienced working with WooCommerce.
Most participants joined the event to learn more about Shopify App development – also the main topic of the event.
If you weren’t able to attend the event or missed out all those awesome social media coverage, here’s everything you need to know (there was a live stream!) – from the Shopify developer ecosystem in Vietnam to the meetup topics and opinions gathered at the event.
Status quo Shopify ecosystem in Vietnam
Vietnam is home to countless Shopify app developers.
To name a few (in alphabetical order): Beeketing, BoostCommerce, FireApps, GemPages, Globo Software Solutions, Judge.me, NitroApps, Omega, PageFly, Secomapp and Zotabox are all present here.
Combined, they serve 100,000s of merchants on the Shopify platform with generic freemium apps and even solutions that are targeted towards specific niches or enterprise businesses using Shopify Plus.
But this is not a Shopify-only phenomen. Vietnam is also home to global players for themes and extensions running on Magento, WooCommerce, Joomla, PrestaShop etc. — anyone being familiar with these platforms has most likely installed a theme or extension developed by a team based in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
Many of these development companies have gained experience in eCommerce tech and product development over a decade or more. Therefore it is no surprise that the interest in developing with and for Shopify is huge.
Building a successful company (Shopify apps and Themes)
The event was focused around sharing everything one needs to know about building a Shopify app and themes that merchants love. But most importantly, it covered how to run a successful company as the competition in the Shopify App Store increases.
Here’s a quick gist of it all.
Building a Shopify App – overcoming limitations
With many developers in the audience being well-versed in eCommerce development in general, Dung “Stephen” Do explained to the audience what the specifics of Shopify app development are. For example, the limitations of the Shopify API (rate limit) and how to overcome them.
He also added additional pointers for the audience for Shopify’s Terms of Service, dealing with private data, and how to handle uninstalls.
Our observation: Many locals working with international clients usually have a second, English first name that has a similar sound to it for easy relatability.
Theme development – a popular business model in Vietnam
Similar to app/plugin/extension development, theme development in general (not only eCommerce) is very popular in Vietnam. Some of the themes developed here rank very high on Themeforest and similar platforms.
A hot topic at the event was of course, joining the official Shopify Themes store, which is highly selective. So far no local theme developer has been able to make it to the store, even when their themes are doing well on other platforms.
ShopiLaunch has a strong track record in theme development. The team of 20 has created more than 70 Shopify themes serving 6000+ merchants.
Phuc Nguyen shared 10 Shopify theme tips. From developing with SEO, mobile, and loading speed in mind to testing and making sure that the documentation and customer support is always ranking five stars.
Building local Shopify knowledge
Aligned with the topic of the meetup, VTC Academy presented their new course framework that teaches Shopify development to local students.
VTC Academy already provides training to their 3000 students on the Hanoi and HCMC campus in programming (web, mobile app, game development) and design (graphic design, 3D modelling/animation, visual effects). And now, they are adding Shopify to their portfolio.
VTC Academy’s mission is to provide training to local app developers, freelancers, agencies and theme designers so that they can serve the international Shopify client base.
“4,000+ hours — 0% success” is how things started
Tony and Richard from PageFly (also the event hosts – more about them below) shared insights about their journey and especially the business aspects of building a product development company.
By sharing with the audience their failures (building themes for Nitro on WooCommerce, failing with Shopify themes) and their success (they succeeded with a page builder app for Shopify), they inspired the audience to not only start coding with Shopify but also keep the business aspect in mind. They shared relevant lessons with the developers attending the event, to help them meet success.
Our observation: For the whole event, all the slides were kept in English. But the presentation, Q&As and the networking were in the Vietnamese language. Local developers are very familiar with written English — especially reading technical documentation, but prefer explaining their thoughts and ideas in Vietnamese.
The future of the partner ecosystem in Vietnam
The meetup was potentially the first time that Shopify app developers in Vietnam came together. It became their platform to mingle with other developers; also those working on various other platforms.
So what does that say about the future of the partner ecosystem in Vietnam? Well, we asked this at the event and here are the answers we got.
Namra Deka, Shopify Market Development Manager APAC
“The app and affiliate ecosystem has developed well over the years serving and referring global merchants. However, the value-added partnerships (like web design, web development and digital marketing services) have a lot of potential but is still at an early stage.”
Namra has met dozens of Shopify partners in the past weeks in both Hanoi and HCMC. He shared insights on the status quo of Shopify in Vietnam and globally to provide additional context, and he joined the meetup to address the audience in person.
Tri Nguyen, Co-Founder of BoostCommerce
“We have many merchants and partners here but the community (both merchants and partners) do not have a strong connection yet. The meetup series from the top partners in Vietnam and especially the presentation of the Shopify Partner Manager mean a lot to the ecosystem here. We are trying to build a strong community and help local merchants and partners here to be more connected.”
Tri is the Co-Founder of BoostCommerce, the development company creating the wildly popular Product Filter & Search app for Shopify and Shopify Plus.
Sam Thomas, CEO at Mageplaza
“I saw some companies moving to Shopify from other platforms: Magento, WooCommerce, PrestaShop. They do apps, themes and development, Beeketing and PageFly are good examples. I think the Shopify Partner Community will grow up fast in Vietnam, because of the human resources in IT. Vietnamese developers are doing well with product development. It would be great if Shopify implements an initiative to help Vietnamese Partners develop for the local market as well. There are 64M Vietnamese people on the Internet and 55M people are using social media. There is no reason to believe that Shopify cannot grow in Vietnam.”
Mageplaza is the #2 extension vendor for Magento 2 and has served 1M+ extension downloads so far.
Alice Mai, Partner Development Manager at Growthgig
“I think the Shopify ecosystem is definitely growing fast in Vietnam. I was actually very surprised to learn that the merchant base grew by 350% this year without any effort from Shopify! As for Shopify partners, I hope Shopify can give us the support we need. I know many app partners or developers who are struggling with their businesses because a lot of things are blocked or have limited access in Vietnam. If these limitations are solved, I reckon the ecosystem is going to grow even faster.”
Growthgig is a gig-based marketplace for Shopify stores to find experts for any Shopify-related jobs.
While we have definitely come away with a lot of input about the Shopify market in Vietnam, we owe it to the event hosts for it all.
Hosting the Shopify meetup, like a boss!
A great meetup is owed to obviously those who hosted it with all their heart and hard work.
The meetup was organized by PageFly and VTC Academy.
PageFly is an advanced page builder app that has been around for more than 3 years and caters to more than 15,000 active merchants. It is developed by BraveBits — a seasoned developing company with experience in developing for Joomla and WooCommerce as well. They’re also a Shopify Expert (Sellersmith)!
VTC Academy is a local educator with Academies for developers in Vietnam’s two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. VTC Academy recently went into a partnership with Shopify to become Vietnam’s first localized educator for Shopify partner resources.
While this was the first Shopify meetup in Hanoi, we’re sure there are more to come and lots more to learn.
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