Roundhouse Issue 001: Pay-to-win

Over the years, many people – many of you, in fact – have built incredible businesses around the Shopify ecosystem. You’ve built apps, themes, and tools for merchants to use to grow their business. But who’s helping you grow your business? Shopify shares what they want to talk about, and some partners periodically share content that’s helpful. But there really is a missing editorial layer around what we all do every day.

While you’ve been building careers around Shopify, we’ve been building careers around you for the past 10 years. From building the App Store, to working for the fastest growing partners, to consulting alongside countless clients, we’ve shared a lot and learned a lot. With Roundhouse, we want to bring the same high-level strategic and low-level tactical thinking that we’ve shared one-to-one for years to the many – to you all. We’ll see you right here, in your inbox, every Wednesday.

This first edition is going out to a small group of good friends and colleagues. Many of you have asked in the time leading up to this first edition what you can do to help. First: if you enjoyed this and found it worth your time, send it to three friends that you think would find it worth their time. Second: let us know what you think. We want to write about what will be most helpful for you, and for you to enjoy reading it.

We’re grateful for your time.

Blair & Jordan

Main Feature: Pay-to-win

Opening up pay-to-play opportunities in the App Store would accomplish things that are a net benefit to all key stakeholders, especially if done in line with Shopify's values of truly wanting the best for Shopify's merchants.

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Thank you

Roundhouse is sponsored this week by Assembly, an ecommerce software & services investment platform building a family of category leading brands solving the SMB merchant journey across ecommerce platforms like Shopify and marketplaces like Amazon. Think you fill a critical gap? Reach out at

Ecosystem Roundup

The big news last week was Shopify’s announcement of Shopify Email. The product today is … very basic. Everything is organized around one-off campaigns, with no real support for trigger-based emails, DRIP marketing, etc. Nevertheless, the announcement made waves, particularly among the ESPs still active in the Shopify space (I’m sure Mailchimp isn’t concerned). There’s no need for them to worry right now with the product in its current state – let’s hold any panic until we see what it looks like in February 2020 for it’s planned wide release.

Also worth checking out is the post Chris Geiss – CEO of Seguno – wrote for Shopify about the benefits of integrating with Shopify Marketing. One benefit he doesn’t mention: being placed front and center to everyone using Shopify Email, which Seguno is.

One of the points we made in our editorial this week was that there were very few effective paid acquisition opportunities for Shopify apps. Ryan Kulp disagrees in his article, “All Acquisition Is Paid”, from this summer that we missed and thought you might have to. “However you acquire customers, there’s a cost in achieving their attention. But instead of calculating just the dollar amount, consider the currency, too.”

New App Spotlight

Thinkific, a leading online course management suite, has landed in the App Store, with a notable Shopify integration. Other platforms looking to build a Shopify integration, take note: Thinkific has done this right. Unlike many other existing platform integrations, Thinkific seems to have stuck to the rules and built a really great Shopify experience. They’ve built a custom UI using Polaris just for Shopify merchants and adopted the usage-based Billing API for a smooth billing experience. One downside: they’ve opted to build this Shopify-dedicated experience without using the Shopify App Bridge, which is puzzling given that they’ve trimmed enough features from the admin to be able to fit well inside the Shopify Admin.

Thinkific admittedly doesn’t have broad appeal, but it serves a niche very well that was previously serviced only by digital download tools – leaving merchants to manage everything else about their course on their own.