Shopify 2021 Year in Review & Predictions for 2022

Ellie Ho
Jun 7, 2024
3 min read

2021 saw the continuing flourish of eCommerce. As businesses around the world were forced to close, merchants and consumers alike turned to the digital landscape to fulfill their shopping needs. It was a particularly great year for the eCommerce platform, Shopify, marked with record-breaking achievements and innovative updates.

With 2021 now firmly behind us, it’s time to reflect on the most noteworthy updates, achievements, and events that defined the platform and take a look in our crystal ball to see what the future holds for Shopify. But first, let’s see some key statistics that really show just how much Shopify bloomed in 2021.

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Shopify 2021 Highlights

Key Shopify Statistics in 2021

In 2021, the Shopify platform was used by 1.75 million businesses in 175 countries, accounting for almost 11% of the market share. This figure shoots up when you take a look at its biggest market, the US. It got 29% of the eCommerce market, making it the most popular platform in the United States.

shopify market share in global commerce | shopify year in review

Data from Statista puts Shopify as the third most popular eCommerce platform in the world.

shopify stock market

It’s also one of the most highly valued web-based companies. (Source: Monster Post)

And it’s not just merchants taking advantage of this platform, but also consumers. When compared to 2020, at its highest, Shopify’s Gross Merchandise Volume managed to climb up by a staggering 40%. Thanks to this widespread adoption, the eCommerce platform raked in $3.23 billion in total revenue by the end of the last reported quarter.

To put Shopify’s meteoric rise into perspective, we’ll break down the company’s astounding achievements quarter by quarter. Hold on to your seats, because you’re in for a heck of a ride!

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Shopify in Q1 - Record-Breaking Growth

The start of 2021 saw the world in the grips of the new COVID-19 variants, forcing businesses to close and shift to the online world as consumers embraced online shopping. As a result, Shopify experienced its biggest growth to date.

During this quarter, the company experienced record-breaking YOY growth of their total revenue - 110% to be exact. Thanks to swarths of merchants rushing to use the platform, Merchant Solutions Revenue also climbed to its highest ever for the year, growing by a massive 137% ($668 million). For the same reason, Subscription Solutions also increased by 71%. Plus, Shopify’s partner ecosystem experienced record-breaking growth as about 45,800 partners referred a merchant to Shopify, up 73%.

Shopify in Q2 - Major Updates to the Shopify Platform

This was another impressive financial quarter for Shopify. It gained over $1,11 billion in total revenue, with Subscription Solutions revenue rising by 70% YOY again.

A highlight of Q2, however, was undoubtedly the annual Shopify Unite event. Here Shopify unveiled its most comprehensive update to the platform ever. The following is a brief recap of the exciting innovations announced:

  • Online Store 2.0: Lauded as the biggest update to the Liquid platform yet, Online Store 2.0 will feature a number of customizations and offer greater flexibility. Shopify merchants can create exceptional online experiences, better showcase their brand, and integrate with apps all without code. This will be through upgrades to theme architecture, improvements to theme dynamic sources, new developer tools, and the re-opening of the Shopify Theme Store. Dawn was the first free Online Store 2.0 theme revealed at the event.
  • Checkout Customization: With the checkout process being the bread and butter of eCommerce, crafting this experience to perfectly suit your customers is crucial. Thanks to this update, all Shopify subscribers will be able to tailor their checkout process and post-purchase experiences through the use of checkout extension apps.
  • Payment Platform Update: In today’s day and age, payment methods vary greatly around the world. As a response to this, Shopify has made it possible for developers to create payment gateways as Shopify apps.
  • App Development Optimizations: App developers rejoiced at this set of updates. Building and testing apps was to be made faster and easier with the new Developer Console. It provides a more realistic experience for developers as they can create and test their apps in a real store environment. Documentation also received a makeover so developers could easily find the information they are looking for. Moreover, improvements to the Shopify App Store are set to boost the discoverability of apps, making it much easier for app partners to connect with merchants.
  • Storefront API: Shopify merchants were presented with even more capabilities to help them build better custom storefronts. This included international pricing, improved filtering, local and curbside pickup solutions, and subscription selling plans.

Shopify In Q3 - Cross-Border Shopping Takes Flight

Strong financial results once again defined this quarter. Total revenue soared yet again, amounting to over $1.12 billion, with cumulative GMV reaching $400 billion. As more merchants continued to join the platform, revenue from subscriptions increased by 37%.

shopify markets | shopify year in review

Shopify Markets gives merchants all the tools they need to sell internationally effectively. (Source: Shopify)

Finances aside, a key announcement also took place - Shopify Markets. Consumers are more inclined to making purchases from overseas retailers with 57% of them having done so before. Previously, for Shopify merchants to equip their store with all the functionality needed to sell to foreign customers successfully, various third-party apps had to be installed. With Shopify Markets the international selling process is streamlined thanks to a number of features. Let’s check them out.

  • Currencies and Payments: customers visiting a Shopify store from overseas will see prices on the storefront, checkout page, refunds, and notifications automatically converted to one of over 130 currencies via Shopify Payments. Additionally, support for local payment options, bank transfers, and digital wallets is available.
  • Domains and Languages: an entire Shopify store will be able to be translated to up to 20 different languages. And to assist international SEO, merchants can choose to have either a subdomain or a country domain for the foreign markets they operate in.
  • Taxes: duty fees and import taxes will be calculated and presented to customers upfront.
  • Complete control over logistics: through Shopify Admin, merchants can configure their market areas to be managed either in regional groups whilst maintaining local currency and payment methods, or individually. Pricing for products can be customized per market by uploading a CSV file or manually with specified markups in Shopify Admin too. Store owners can also easily stay on top of their stock as international warehouses and inventories can be set to display the available items in every visitor's region.
  • Smart settings: to optimize selling in foreign markets, Shopify will use aggregated data taken from 1.7million global stores to automate how, where, and when to sell in different markets.

Shopify in Q4 - More Exciting Updates, BFCM success & Allbirds IPO

The beginning of the quarter saw Shopify releasing some handy new features for its APIs. This included:

  • Cart API: store owners can now interact directly with carts using the Storefront API. All contextual information regarding an upcoming order can be retrieved without delay in case customers are not ready to pay. Also, it is no longer tied to the checkout throttle.
  • Storefront API Improvements: thanks to newly added fields to the QueryRoot, you can quickly and easily get whichever resources you need in the GraphQL response.
  • Bulk Operation Webhooks: these webhooks notify clients if a bulk job has been completed, failed, or canceled. This reduces the impact of bulk operations on the API call limit.
  • Manual Fulfillment Holds: fulfillment workflows are more powerful with this updated version. Apps can now place holds on items for backorders or pre-orders before the product is available for fulfillment.
  • SMS Consent: apps that perform marketing activities can stay up to date on customers’ preferences regarding SMS marketing. API clients can fetch, add, and update a customer’s consent to receiving marketing messages via text.

BFCM was a huge hit for Shopify, surpassing the records it broke in 2020. 47 million shoppers purchased from Shopify stores during this period, with sales amounting to $6.3 billion - an increase of 23% YOY.

bfcm 2021 of shopify

BFCM was another resounding success. (Source: Shopify)

Key trends in eCommerce also continued to thrive during this sales event. Social commerce proved itself to be an even bigger player in 2021 as sales from social media integrations tripled in comparison to the previous year. Consumers flocked to their phones in droves for BFCM with 71% of all purchases coming from a mobile device. Additionally, cross-border shopping spread its wings as 15% of all orders were international ones.

Product details page built in Hydrogen (Source: Shopify)

We also witnessed the rollout of Hydrogen, a React-based framework for building custom storefronts, in developer preview. In case you missed it, Hydrogen aims to foster personalized and contextual experiences for shoppers without compromising on speed. Developers can now build dynamic storefront experiences easier and faster than ever before. Even better, Hydrogen is completely open-source so developers around the world can be instrumental in building and fortifying it.

allbirds shopify ipo

Allbirds went public in November. (Source: CNBC)

Other exciting news this quarter included the 7th store to be powered by Shopify, Allbirds, going public to start trading on Nasdaq. The sustainable footwear and apparel retailer raised over $300 million in its initial public offering and its shares skyrocketed by 91% on its very first day of trading. This led to it gaining a valuation of $4.1 billion - congrats Allbirds!

What Does 2022 Have In Store?

With all this thrilling news of 2021, we’re sure you’re scratching your heads wondering what more Shopify has in store that could possibly top such a great year. You’ll be pleased to know that there will be plenty to get excited about in 2022.

Updates to Online Store 2.0 and Shopify Markets are in the works.

The beginning of January has seen the first new feature of Online Store 2.0 come into fruition. Metafield definitions can now be added to Orders, Collections, and Customers rather than just on Products and Variants. This will allow merchants to store and display information more efficiently. Plus, Online Store 2.0 will soon incorporate simple filtering on search results.

Shopify Markets will be further optimized so merchants can create custom market-specific storefronts, and offer unique products tailored to the regions they operate in. Payments made in different currencies will be able to be routed to businesses preferred bank accounts.

Also, be prepared for the launch of Oxygen, the platform that will host Hydrogen storefronts. Thanks to the heavy investment by Shopify in its global infrastructure, Oxygen will have over 100 server locations meaning speed and stability will be optimized for Shopify merchants using it. Plus, store owners using Oxygen and Hydrogen will be able to store any format of the content in their stores.

Financially things are looking very promising for Shopify in 2022. Investors predict that Shopify’s market share and the stock price will be on the rise. This is due to the company’s strong track record of increased earnings in addition to new COVID-19 variants compromising consumer confidence in shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

And what about our predictions for Shopify here at Boost? Perhaps we’ll see more prominent improvements to the platform which enhance personalized, convenient, and flexible shopping like omnichannel support for all Shopify stores.

Despite 2021 being full of challenges, the year presented tons of innovations that strengthened the eCommerce platform as well as huge increases in sales and revenue. Shopify merchants can step into 2022 with confidence, assured that the platform will continue to strengthen their ability to deliver exceptional online shopping experiences. Here’s to another prosperous year!

Ellie Ho
Content Marketing Specialist
June 25, 2024
6 min read