What does Shopify’s biggest update mean for online retailers?

Brad Haynes
May 30, 2022

Is your online store running on Shopify’s newest theme framework—Online Store 2.0? 

If your answer is “no” or “not sure”, “how can I tell?”—and perhaps most importantly “should I care?”—then read on. 

Released mid last year, the Online Store 2.0 update was a big one; Shopify’s biggest update to its eCommerce platform yet, in fact. It comes as consumer expectations are at all-time highs, and brands need to do more to stand out and satisfy.  

With Online Store 2.0, merchants enjoy much more control over faster online stores. We know you love developers and all (because we’re great), but with Online Store 2.0, it’s easier than ever for you to shape your store the way you want, and ensure it oozes your brand personality and style, without complex design and development. Customised apps won’t slow your site down, and your customers can find their way around your store more easily (and add more to their baskets!).

Here are the biggest benefits of Online Store 2.0 for online retailers, and why now, more than 6 months post release, is the perfect time for you to design or redesign your store on it. 

At a glance, these benefits are:

  • Faster page load times
  • Easier front-end editing for merchants
  • Showcasing dynamic content through metafields
  • New storefront filtering

Faster websites

It’s true, we don’t like to wait. According to one study by Google, bounce rates (i.e., the percentage of visitors who abandon your website after only one or no page views) increased by 32% when page load speed time increased from 1 second to 3 seconds, and then up to 90% when page load time increased to 5 seconds! 

Many stores running on Shopify’s previous framework, Online Store 1.0, encountered long-standing speed issues, a problem commonly attributed to the volume of Shopify apps and third-party code the site had to load.

With Online Store 2.0, updates to the way apps connect with your site, a brand-new foundational theme, and new developer tools for diagnostics were introduced to optimise website performance.

We don’t want to go into too much technical detail, but to break it down for those interested:

  1. Shopify apps formerly relied on JavaScript to work as intended on your website, which slows page speeds. With Online Store 2.0, JavaScript is no longer required to power Shopify apps; and developers can more easily create customised apps that won’t slow your site down.
  2. Shopify introduced a brand-new Dawn theme in its 2.0 update, which was built from the ground up to align with modern best practices for web performance. Every 2.0 theme built with Dawn as the foundational framework benefits from this new, optimised configuration. 
  3. Two new developer tools, Theme Check and Shopify Lighthouse CI, were introduced to help developers spot, diagnose and avoid code issues which limit website performance.  

So far, we’ve been able to get speed scores in the 90s (on a 100-point scale) for stores on both desktop and mobile platforms running on Shopify’s new Online Store 2.0 framework. 

Customise every page, not just the home page

The only easy customisation Online Store 1.0 offers merchants is the ability to configure ‘Sections’ on their Shopify site’s home page. Sections are a series of Shopify modules, or templates, which allow store owners to build a web page in a visual editor without any code. 

Sections include:

  • announcement bars
  • pop-ups
  • headers
  • text
  • images
  • videos
  • product carousels and collections
  • column layouts
  • … and more.

Owners and editors simply add a Section to their home page in any order and, depending on the type of Section, populate it with their chosen images, videos, products or text.

As Online Store 1.0 allowed this function on a store’s home page only, other pages, such as individual product pages, were often static, purely functional and relied heavily on a developer’s input and third-party apps for any customisation.

In Online Store 2.0, however, store owners can easily organise and introduce Sections on every page of their online store. This is beneficial, for example, because it allows for:

  • merchants to personalise any page easily and better educate and excite customers about their brand and products
  • more opportunities to scale based on testing and enhancing your customers’ experience with your store
  • strategic promotional, cross-sell and upselling opportunities
  • quicker landing and web page creation with consistent design through page templates without the need to write code every time
  • more time to focus on other exciting pathways to scale your brand and revenue! 

It’s in the detail; so add more

Working in tandem with the extended Sections functionality to enhance your customers’ online experience is Shopify’s new metafields capabilities. Metafields allow online retailers to incorporate and promote super-detailed content dynamically across their entire store—again, without touching any code or having to rely on (or pay monthly fees for!) third-party apps. 

Say you want to add a Section to your product pages that tells an engaging product story through video, showcasing the selected product’s stand-out features. With metafields and the new Sections functionality, this is easily done.  

All you would need to do is create a new metafield in your Shopify Admin; you could name it ‘Product Video’, for example. Then, you would add your product video’s URL into this new field. On your product page, then, you would simply add a new video module Section.

Every product with a unique product video can be pulled from your back-end metafield data to display as a vivid video on your product pages, encouraging your website visitors to learn more about your amazing products and engage with your brand.

Or, if there’s any detail you’d like to emphasise outside of the main description, like a product’s material, you could do so dynamically. Simply add a new Section, a text module, to your product page, and populate it with the product material Metafield. (You may need to create this Metafield first if you do not have it.) This will direct Shopify to reach into your inventory and populate that text across every product page accordingly.

Customers find more, more easily, with storefront filtering

With Online Store 2.0, Shopify is moving away from product tags to product filters with its brand-new collection filtering feature. The filter serves to simplify the customer experience, allowing consumers to navigate a large range of products quickly and more easily.

Merchants can now filter collections natively in Shopify; that is, without requiring third-party apps to power the filtering system, via the following attributes:

  • Availability
  • Price
  • Product type
  • Vendor
  • Variant options
  • Metafields – which offers plenty of room for customisation!

Note that for existing Shopify users to harness this feature, you will need to update your product data structures, but that’s where we can help. We ensure our clients can maintain their data easily through automations; once we’ve set them up once for you, you’ll be all set to go. 

See Shopify Online Store 2.0 in action

Shopify Online Store 2.0 brings with it a host of website performance benefits, as well as greater flexibility for Shopify store owners wanting more editorial control over their slice of the online marketplace. 

Of course, that means that you can do more, more easily, without needing to outsource – but it always pays to have strong foundations, and the right know-how, before you do.

At Drive Digital, we’ve been helping clients design or redesign their websites on Online Store 2.0 with excellent results. Born from years’ experience and our genuine passion to help brands make more money from their online store, our approaches focus on boosting the metrics that matter: conversion rates, average order values, and customer lifetime value.

Whether you’re in need of a fresh new online store, or you’re ready to take advantage of Shopify’s new features to scale your already growing store, we can help you.

If you’d like to see an example, check out our friends over at workwear brand TradeMutt, who have seen a 61% increase in conversions and 175% increase in revenue in the first 30 days since we launched their store on Online Store 2.0. 

Why update now?

As Online Store 2.0 was released in June of 2021, Shopify developers have had plenty of time to understand, leverage and build incredible themes based on this new framework. That means that now is the best time for that redesign you’ve been considering; you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to options and customisation.

You can learn more about the major updates in Shopify’s Online Store 2.0 update here, or book a free consultation call with us to learn how we can help you upgrade to Online Store 2.0 and unleash the full power of Shopify.

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