Attending conferences has never been high on our list of priorities when it comes to growing Milk Bottle Labs. Our core customers are business owners, entrepreneurs and established retail businesses and you don’t often get to meet those folk at many conferences - they are simply too busy running their own enterprises to spend time elsewhere. So it feels a little bit odd that myself and Keith are spending the next week in Toronto at a conference. Not only that, it’s a conference where there won’t be any potential customers for us to connect with. So why are we going?
Well for starters, it’s not just any conference - it’s Shopify Unite. Now in its third year, the Shopify Unite event is a gathering of the global Shopify partner community, hosted by Shopify with contributions from all elements of the Shopify ecosystem - designers, developers, marketers, agencies and many more.
The conference itself follows a familiar format to most conferences hosted by tech companies. There will be the big keynote presentations from Shopify’s leadership team on both days followed by full day-long packed agendas on all aspects of what makes the Shopify platform so great. Workshops for deep-diving into some of the more technical areas and best practice sessions given by some of the partner community on how they’ve encountered and solved merchant challenges around the world.
I’m looking forward to these sessions no question, but what we're most excited about is (re-)connecting with other Shopify Experts and App Developers from across the globe. There’s a really great community within Shopify Partners that allow us to share challenges, discuss solutions and best practice when it comes to helping merchants around the world become more successful.
At Milk Bottle Labs we’re a small agency helping businesses sell more. The challenges that we face in building and growing our customer base as well as solving our customers’ challenges are shared by other Shopify agencies around the world. Meeting and connecting with those allows us to learn from each other and provides a solid network for the rest of the year and beyond.
As the world of commerce evolves so too do the range and complexity of available solutions to meet those demands. The Shopify App store has grown rapidly and now offers thousands of apps solving hundreds of specific challenges. Shopify Unite allows to us to engage directly with many of the leading Shopify App developers, increasing our knowledge of their offerings and providing for a faster response to our customer’s issues. Nothing beats having already had face-to-face meetings with someone to accelerate a feature request, support ticket, or get some advice. By engaging directly with these app developers we’ll be better able to provide a more valued service to our customers.
We’re luckier than most Shopify Experts to have over 300 Shopify staff based in Ireland, so we get to meet many of them on a regular basis either at the Shopify Ireland Meetups, at Shopify staff events or industry events. Unite takes this to another level this week with a large number of Shopify staff across every level and function in the business available throughout the event. It’s possible that they even get more our of their engagements with us due to their voracious appetite for knowledge of what Shopify Merchants love about the platform and where it can be improved. i’ve never met a Shopify employee yet who wasn’t hungry to learn about new areas where either they themselves or the platform could be improved upon to solve Shopify merchant challenges. Being present this week in such significant numbers underlines Shopify’s commitment to the Shopify partner community and by extension the success of shopify merchants across the globe.
If Shopify is the driving force behind democratising commerce then Unite is the national convention - it’s where knowledge-sharing, connections and camaraderie amongst the global family of Shopify Partners takes place. We’ll be hanging out with other Shopify Experts from Australia to Zambia. Meeting old friends and making new ones. We’ll be teaching, listening, learning, and encouraging. We’ll all emerge from the week empowered and re-charged and ready to continue to play our part in helping Irish and International business thrive and prosper in the challenging world of modern commerce.