My journey as a Shopify partner began in late 2008. I was working as a lead designer at company that utilized the up-and-coming company as a solution for its customers who needed to sell products online. My first project was for a guy that was world famous for selling snakes. He actually produced, raised, and sold the current Guinness Record for the world’s largest snake. Crazy, right? During the project he even allowed us to come by his snake farm for a visit. Talk about getting to know your client’s business! Best part was when he casually mentioned that a snake seemed to be missing. Missing. Like slithering around the same building I was in missing! It was a memorable first experience with the platform, and after this project I fell in love with the concept of building ecommerce stores and dived right in.
Back in those early days, we used a program called Vision to develop for the Shopify platform. Developing a locally running store required jumping through several hoops. Not a very inviting process. Their documentation was lacking, at best, so a lot of the experience was mainly guess work and using the forum to discuss development. It was the wild wild west of Shopify's history, but looking back I'm glad I have the perspective of where we've come from.
Fast-forward seven years. Shopify is now a publicly traded company with multiple office locations, a staff of hundreds, and over 200,000 active storefronts. My company Rehash (formally Shopaholla), once just myself, is now a growing team. Our revenue continues to increase by multiples each year and we've played a varying role in over 4,000 Shopify stores to date. So, what happened in those seven years to make all this possible? A community was born.
Now I know that a lot of hard work, talented people, new features, and other aspects factored into the success, but the value Shopify places on building community is why it stands out among competitors. Ever since I started working with Shopify, they have prioritized support. They have continually created and invested in programs such Shopify Experts, Shopify Partners as well as their theme and app stores. Through their blogs, free resources, and meetups, they have created a commerce education experience second to none. Shopify seems to almost care more about your business than their own. Why is that? It is because they understand the value and importance community has. At our company, we phrase this as "our success is tied to the businesses we work with". If we are helping a business solve issues and making them more profitable, in the end we will benefit from this through referrals and additional projects with them. Community plays out between a brand and its customers, from Shopify to its partners, and from partners to the business they are helping. Community matters, and Shopify gets it.
The Next Step
2016 marks the first time in Shopify is hosting a conference for developers and partners. Unite is set for March 22–23rd in San Francisco, California, and I personally could not be more excited. We finally get to put faces with the names and spend time in the same room with the people who are changing commerce. I would challenge all partners and those considering becoming one to make it a point to attend the conference. The value of the conversations, workshops, and relationships that will come from Unite could not be overstated. Community matters. Take the time and make the effort to be a part. Join me at Shopify Unite 2016.