A great commerce experience cannot be distilled to a single number. It’s not a Lighthouse score, or a set of Core Web Vitals figures, although both are important inputs. A great commerce experience is a trilemma that carefully balances competing needs of delivering great customer experience, dynamic storefront capabilities, and long-term business — conversion, retention, re-engagement — objectives. As developers, we rightfully obsess about the customer experience, relentlessly working to squeeze every millisecond out of the critical rendering path, optimize input latency, and eliminate jank. At the limit, statically generated, edge delivered, and HTML-first pages look like the optimal strategy. That is until you are confronted with the realization that the next step function in improving conversion rates and business.
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The journey, often, starts “simple” with localization. But then, quickly advances to contextual pricing, juggling complexity of large and frequently updated product catalog, managing continuously running multivariate tests and promotion campaigns, and serving customer-tailored dynamic recommendations. Eventually, you reach a realization that every page is similar to an open Tetris board where each “slot” can and should be dynamically tailored by dynamic visitor preferences, all powered by an ever-growing set of dynamic business rules.
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From connecting back-office operations to front-of-the-house A/B testing and dynamic personalization for each customer, the shared foundation is fast server side rendering powered by fast storefront data access. On top of this foundation, we add layers of caching, prerendering and edge delivery optimizations — not the other way around.
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Surveying the existing landscape of available developer tools and runtimes, we felt that there is a gap. Enabling dynamic commerce requires close integration between server and client, an optimized streaming and data fetch strategy, and a production platform that operates at scale. These are hard technical problems that Shopify can help solve and this is why we’ve been hard at work on the Hydrogen framework. It’s a React-based framework optimized for commerce and specialized to be powered by Shopify APIs and infrastructure: The future of commerce is dynamic and personalized.