Shopify Unite 2021 was broadcasted on June 29th, and the conference was loaded with a lot of amazing announcements! Here are the main information you absolutely need to know.
You can also listen to Episode 21 of our podcast The ShopiShopaShow. In this last episode of the season, we discuss all the new features and technologies announced at Shopify Unite.
Online Store 2.0
The long awaited “Sections Everywhere” evolution, first announced at Shopify Unite 2019, has arrived! It’s now called “Online Store 2.0”, and it’s as good as we were all expecting it to be!
First, the theme architecture has been seriously upgraded, with sections being now available on all pages (instead of only the homepage). This will unlock a range of new opportunities for merchants to personalize their stores.
And not only will sections be everywhere in the pages, but a new feature, called “Theme app extensions”, will allow App developers to extend themes in a way that protects theme code integrity and provides better app development and merchant experiences. Yes, Apps will now be able to directly manage sections within the theme!
In the mean time, the Theme Editor design has been upgraded to take advantage of these improvements. Notably, the editor now displays a tree view of all the content of a page in the sidebar. And from this sidebar, merchants can hide most blocks, with the exception of the header and the footer (which can contain blocks that can be moved or hidden, but can’t be hidden themselves). These changes let merchants easily update the hierarchy of a page.
Online Store 2.0 is immediately available on all new development stores. No clear info on when it will be available for existing stores, could be this Summer. But we know that Theme Editors will be allowed to submit to the Theme Store the new version of their themes starting July 15th.
A new free theme: Dawn
To support Online Store 2.0 improvements, Shopify is offering a new free theme, Dawn, which is now the default theme for each new development store. Dawn is built with semantic markup with HTML and CSS, instead of leaning on external libraries, to create great experiences on all browsers. It’s designed to maximize flexibility while minimizing complexity.
Metafields in the back-office
And here it is: metafields are officially “first class citizens” in Shopify! Immediately available for development stores, a new option “metafields” has appeared in the Settings menu. No need for an App anymore to create and manage metafields!
From the back-office, merchants can already work on products metafields. Access to collections, orders and customers metafields is not yet available, but these options are already visible in the back-office with a “coming soon” tag.
Note that there is a structural change with the products metafields: you can only create a metafield for all the products, not just for one or a few products. In our opinion, it makes metafields easier to manage. Metafields have also now a more flexible type system: it makes it simpler for custom themes to work out of the box on stores.
As Vanessa Lee (Product Director, Online Store) said during Shopify Unite presentation, "Metafields are going to be a really important part of Shopify going forward". We 100% agree with Vanessa!
Apps for Checkout
As you may know, Shopify Checkout cannot be customized, except if you run a Shopify Plus store and you ask Shopify Plus support to activate the checkout.liquid file.
Now, by introducing Checkout Extensions, Shopify is making it possible to extend checkout through apps for all Shopify merchants.
These new capabilities will let build whatever merchants need, from simple customizations, all the way to complex user interfaces and business logic.
Shopify has already opened a beta access to the first checkout extension, the post-purchase app extension. Other checkout extensions will be available in developer preview later this year.
Aside from the Checkout Extensions improvements, Shopify is announcing a better way for payment providers to integrate with Shopify. The new payments platform will soon replace the legacy integration points and will enable payment providers to create payment gateways as Shopify apps.
Payment providers will be able to offer rich merchant experiences by leveraging app extensions, APIs, and built-in merchant experiences for a customized onboarding flow.
The new payments platform will be available to developers later in 2021.
Better tools for App Developers
Shopify is making several improvements to help App developers, a critical ecosystem for its success.Among the improvements that have been announced during Shopify Unite:
- The developer documentation has been redesigned
- There is a new Developer Console, where developers can build and test extensions in a real store environment
- Google Cloud Pub/Sub is now available to developers as an easier way to manage webhook events
- Discovery in the App Store has been enhanced
- Payouts will soon be received in different forms (like wire transfers) in addition to Paypal
No fee until 1 million dollar of revenue
Regarding App developers, the biggest news was actually not a technical one, but a business one: starting August 1st, Shopify is cancelling the revenue share fee on the 1st million dollars of business made via the Shopify App Store!
And it’s on a yearly basis: so each year, App developers will pay nothing to Shopify under 1 million dollars of revenue. And above 1 million dollars, the fee has been lowered to 15%.
This is a smart move by Shopify : it will help attract App developers from the iOS and Android ecosystems, and grow even faster the Apps offering in the App Store.
During Shopify Unite presentation, we have had a sneak peek at a brand new option in the main menu, named Content, that will appear between Products and Customers options.
This is a New Content Management Platform, and it will come later this year.
Via the Content menu, it will possible to manage a lot of different contents, like Blog posts, Pages, Testimonials, Size charts, or Product features.
We do not have more info on that Content menu for the moment, but it seems promising!
To discuss Shopify Unite new features, and find out how ShopiShopa Consulting can help your organization take advantage of them, feel free to contact us.