The time we have all been waiting for has come!
On June 29th, Shopify hosted Unite, their annual partner and developer conference.
(Fun fact: did you know that Lucid was one of the first agencies in the world to work with Shopify—and we were one of only a dozen or so agencies invited to join the Shopify Partner program when it launched!)
Announcing Shopify Online Store 2.0—and “sections everywhere”
What excited us so much about Unite this year is that Shopify didn’t just announce a bunch of cool new things—they actually launched many significant improvements immediately after the event!
The biggest announcement is Shopify Online Store 2.0—one of the most significant updates to the Shopify platform to date.
What is Shopify Online Store 2.0—and what does it mean for merchants?
For the past several years, merchants have been able to manage content on the homepage using drag-and-drop sections and blocks. But, beyond the homepage, this functionality was limited—and required a number of developer hacks and workarounds to implement.
With Online Store 2.0, we are now able to design and build Shopify stores with full support for sections and blocks throughout the entire site—including collections, products, pages, and blogs.
This gives us the ability to design better-performing, more intuitive ecommerce experiences with dramatically improved customer journeys, richer content and storytelling, and more complex merchandising and product structures.
Not only can we design better ecommerce stores, but the new tools provided to merchants also make it extremely easy to manage online storefronts with intuitive drag-and-drop editing tools—without the need to edit code.
We’ve always been strong advocates for giving our clients the ability to manage and maintain as much of their online stores as possible so we are thrilled by these changes and can’t wait to see what we can build!
Improved theme editor
With the ability to craft richer experiences comes more complex content structures. The theme editor has had a major update that makes it easier and more initiative to manage complex content throughout the store.
Metafields as “first-class citizens”
Shopify has always provided a powerful extended data layer through metafields. Unfortunately, up until now, metafields were somewhat of a hidden feature—accessible only through third-party apps.
Metafields are now natively supported—starting with products and variants, with collections, customers, and orders rolling out soon.
Metafields are extremely powerful as they enable us to build more complex data structures—such as parent and child products, nested collections, configurable product kits and bundles, or richer product structures such as product specifications, ingredients, fabric care instructions, delivery timeframes, backorder dates, etc.
Following on from the significant work Shopify has been doing behind the scenes over the past year or so to speed up online storefronts, they have launched a brand new open-source theme called Dawn.
Dawn is designed as a framework to form the foundations for more rapid development of beautiful, fast, functional, highly-converting stores. This will enable us to build faster, more reliable, more scalable online stores.
Theme app extensions and checkout extensions
Shopify merchants tend to rely on numerous apps to enhance and improve their online stores. Up until now, most apps require some level of developer support to install, integrate, and maintain.
Not anymore! App developers will soon be able to integrate apps seamlessly into themes without any custom code or code injections.
Through theme and checkout extensions, merchants will be able to add app elements throughout the storefront using the same drag-and-drop interface as theme sections and blocks.
Not only will this make it easier and more reliable to install apps, but it will also enable app developers to provide richer, more seamless app integrations—so, expect to see some great new features from app partners in the near future!
Better developer tooling
In addition to the new features merchants have access to, our development team also has access to some significant improvements to the tools we use to develop and maintain themes.
These new tools will enable us to better manage complex sites and improve the reliability of deployments and testing. It will also significantly improve the ability to deploy and maintain themes across multi-location stores with multiple storefronts—and keep them all in sync. Let us know if this is something you have been struggling with.
Can Shopify Storefront 2.0 features be implemented in existing themes—or is a full rebuild required?
Great question! The short answer is that we can incrementally add new 2.0 features and functionality into existing themes right away—and we have already been doing this with some of our clients.
The longer answer is that if you have been hacking away at small, low-hanging fruit changes for some time while you have been waiting for “sections everywhere” and the technical debt has been mounting, it may very well be a good time to consider planning for a more considered, thoughtful rebuild.
With the major holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, our recommendation is to focus through the rest of the year on smaller, more tactical, incremental improvements while AB testing new things and collecting data with the goal of carrying these learnings into the New Year ready to kick off a full rebuild at the start of 2022.