Shopify Is Building And Buying

Shopify Is Building And Buying

Dear Studio Fam,

In the last two months, you’ve seen keynotes from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI that all focused on AI. At Shopify’s Editions 2024, AI was hardly more than a footnote in a series of major product announcements focused on reducing Shopify merchants' reliance on third party services. Yes, Shopify merchants can now generate PDP images with an integrated diffusion model and train an LLM to talk to customers about an FAQ. But these were literally one twelfth of this week’s announcements. Read on to see our in depth review of all the new features, but consider first the build and buy strategy behind them.

“Build vs. Buy” is a classic dilemma in digital transformation practice, and there’s no single rule that informs every solution. Studio’s product-driven approach to digital transformation adapts to either scenario, resulting in a beautiful user experience powered by bespoke Studio engineering or an off-the-shelf service. Shopify seems to take a similar approach, as this week’s announcements represent a combination of strategic acquisitions (Checkout Blocks) and strategic product launches (Hydrogen).

Hydrogen is the much more significant feature. Shopify’s first “headless” design and content management system, the new tool is based on the open-source Utopia project. Utopia connects design and coding environments so that changes to one system are reflected in the other. This concept is at the heart of tools like Contentful, Webflow, and Bubble. Traditionally, a Shopify merchant who wants their websites to do more than sell things relies on these and other tools. Now they can get the same experiences directly from Shopify, and Shopify didn’t have to spend billions of dollars acquiring Contentful to do it.  


By Studio: What’s Important From Shopify Editions 2024

From The Product Team
For all the conferences and keynotes and platform demos that happen month after month these days, Shopify Editions is done with easily my most favorite format. One long page, 100s of tactical product improvements to explore. Shopify has done something really exciting in the Hydrogen Visual Editor. We’ve seen first-hand brands and stores that would benefit from headless implementation suffer from a frustration in the admin and merchandising capability that becomes limited without familiar theme editing. The new Visual Editor enhancement is a great bridge between stores that need headless but don’t want to frustrate their content production team.

The acquisition and integration of Checkout Blocks is another great tool, and I’m excited to push on the limits of checkout customization and extensions, as well as customer account extensions, as new ways to bring rich and more robust customization to stores that benefit from ‘complex’ accounts views.

And finally yes, Shopify is no different from any other tech company in that a major platform update must mention AI – and Shopify Magic and Sidekick are both here to take that place, but Shopify wins for me in that while AI is an add, they have so many other tactical, iterative platform improvements that it isn’t the meat of what’s being discussed, just an appetizer.

For feedback on Shopify Editions 2024 from the Studio Engineering & Design teams, read the rest on the Studio blog.

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