Shopify’s annual partner and developer conference, Unite 2021, took place this month and saw the platform releasing the biggest set of infrastructure investments in their history. There are many developments aimed at developers and partners alike but the announcements also signal big leaps for ecommerce merchants and smaller online businesses.

Here, we round up some of the main features that have been released and some which are due later in the year – all designed to increase your customers’ shopping experience and streamline the admin process for you behind the scenes.

Control the look and feel of your store

One of the biggest annoucements from the platform is the release of Online Store 2.0, which is a combination of new features and improvements that will help you to significantly customise your ecommerce offering.

It will now be easier to control the layout and look of a Shopify store, allowing for extra flexibility with sections and blocks – all without having to edit the code of your site.

Easily manage store content

Metafields are receiving an overhaul later this year, when merchants will be able to define and edit them directly in the admin, and make them accessible to anyone within their team.

But what is a metafield? They are extra pieces of data which can be attached to products, customers and orders to store information that doesn’t necessarily have a home. For example, if you have specific care instructions for clothing or delivery time frames that may need to be displayed at different places within your Shopify store, you can configure them within the admin. They also allow for easy product configuration on the product page itself – if you sell merchandise from different merchants, you can set specific variations using your metafields.

Increased theme flexibility

More themes will be introduced into the theme store in the next six months, with speed and performance at the forefront of design. As part of this rollout, Shopify also announced the arrival of ‘Dawn’ – a theme they claim will act as a benchmark for all future developments when it’s released later this year.

With a load time 35% faster than the existing most popular theme, Dawn is a flexible design that puts the emphasis on great customer experience. With image-focused product pages, smart colour systems and product grids, it has been built with aesthetics in mind.

Optimise store pick-up options

An element of ecommerce that really came to the forefront over the last year was the ability for merchants to offer store pick-up with their online sales and Shopify have found a way to optimise the experience further. You will now be able to let customers pick up their order from a designated location – without this affecting your inventory for shipping online orders. With a separate inventory option available, items from one location i.e. a city centre store, can be classed as available for pick-up only and won’t count as being available for shipping.

Another new feature, which is currently only available in the US, is the development of ‘Handshake’ – Shopify’s wholesale marketplace. This is an exciting new development for wholesalers as it will allow you to publish your product catalogs from inside Shopify’s admin, ultimately getting your goods infront of a huge audience. There will be no fees and Shopify will even help you with the transition from your existing wholesale relationships, onto the new platform.

Give customers more payment options

It was announced the Shopify are launching their new ‘Payments Platform,’ which is a way for Developers to keep up with the fast growth of the online payment market. With multiple methods used around the world (did you know that in Brazil, 52% of shoppers use QR codes to complete online purchases?!) and new ones emerging all the time, the new platform will allow payment providers to develop new integrations into Shopify, ultimately opening up more options for merchants and customers alike.

Available only in the US market initially, Shopify are also rolling out their own version of ‘buy now, pay later’ functionality with the introduction of ‘Shop Pay Installments.’ Taking inspiration from the growing credit market, shoppers will have the ability to split larger purchases into different installments, with 0% interest and no hidden fees. Keep an eye out for when the international roll-out of this feature is announced!

Maximise the reach of your Shopify emails

If you’re already taking advantage of Shopify’s inbuild email marketing facilities, you’ll know that you can send up to 2,500 emails per month to your customers.

At Shopify Unite, it was announced that the platform will be expanding the capabilities of their email marketing offering, allowing you to choose from an expanded gallery of ready-made templates. With more detailed personalisation available, templates will be able to automatically pull in data based on your settings, including product images and descriptions – minimising your workload. You’ll also soon be able to personalise email marketing campaigns with custom fields too.

If you need help with your Shopify store, IGOO can help. As experts in ecommerce, we know how to maximise your online offering to increase traffic and ultimately, conversions.