An Insider's Look at the Technology That Powers Shopify

Quick Summary

Watched this talk because I thought it was more software architecture related but it turned out to be a very general and high level overview on 4 areas of Shopify's technology. Lots of cool Silk Road. economical, and historical references though.

Open Internet

  • Joined W3C in 2016 as a founding member of the payments working group, to standardize payment actions on the internet for 3 years+.
    • Principles:
      • "Do you have a wallet?"
      • "Can you make a payment?"
      • "Let's make it fast."
3D Models
  • Shopify is working with the Khronos Group (an open standards body) to advance 3D model formats for the internet.

Security & Privacy

  • A merchant's data belongs to the merchant.
  • "We have the tools to support you, but you have to use them".
  • The biggest threat to a merchant's data is compromised credentials, mainly from phishing emails.
  • New identity vault launched:
    • One account and one setting for everything you do on Shopify.
    • Supports new Web Authentication API (WebAuthn, nice guide here).
      • Allows Shopify servers to interact with secure identity meechanisms on devices (TouchID, Windows Hello, etc.)
  • Additional support on data ownership and privacy through new webhooks and APIs
    • Data request and deletion API.
    • Greater app permission transparency.
  • Ranking and monitoring apps on Shopify platform to make sure that their partners are building applications that respect data on behalf of the merchant.
  • Processing more than 10 billion events everyday, which totals to 10 petabytes of data.
  • Network of 3000+ security engineers who have been paid out more than 1 million USD to find and report vulnerabilities (on test shops).
  • Increasing investment on metafields on Shopify platform.


  • Providing unique products and experience is a key product to make commerce exciting and enjoyable.
  • Guided by the philosophy of The Silk Road.
  • 5 years ago Shopify API had lag between announcing APIs and features.
  • As of this talk, Shopify is powered by the same REST and GraphQL APIs used by clients. No lag between feature announcements and API announcements anymore.
  • New PoS is being built with apps as a core feature built into the experience.
  • APIs are features.
  • Comitting to building as many APIs they can to keep Shopify the most creative platform for commerce experiences.

Global Infrastructure

  • Scaled from 2 points of presence to 180 in over 80 countries in a single year. Decreasing latency for buyers by 30% - 50%.
  • Launching 4 new regions in next 18 months from this talk's date.
  • Requests reach around 5 million per minute.
  • Some merchants are selling more than 8000 orders a minute.
  • Speed matters more than scale for most merchants.
  • Two big performance wins:
    • Upgrade to image delivery service by using WebP (30% smaller and faster).
    • New Liquid renderer that's 7x faster.