by Amba Wilkes

You may have heard that in July, Shopify released a new theme architecture called Online Store 2.0. This is a pretty big change and one we’ve been speaking to our clients about. As a Shopify agency, we’ve always made it our mission to get the most out of the platform. That’s why we’re highlighting some of the changes and the benefits Online Store 2.0 delivers.

A few months ago in July 2021, Shopify released a new theme architecture called Online Store 2.0. This update brings with it huge opportunities for developers who build Shopify themes or apps for Shopify merchants.

The introduction of Online Store 2.0 is a pretty big change for Shopify and one we’ve been speaking to our clients about. To shed some light on the impact of this update, we’re highlighting some of the changes versus the current Shopify theming and the benefits Online Store 2.0 delivers.

shopify themes explained.

First, what is a Shopify theme? A theme controls the organisation, features and style of your Shopify eCommerce store. Different themes have different styles and offer a different experience for your customers which are selected based on the best alignment with your brand and store objectives.

Themes that use the previous Shopify architecture are now known as ‘vintage’. Vintage themes have two types – sectioned and non-sectioned. Your theme version determines which type your theme is as well as how it can be tailored and integrated with apps.

Dependent upon your theme architecture version you may also have access to new Shopify features. It’s also worth noting that upgrading to Online Store 2.0 isn’t mandatory. You can continue using a vintage theme if it better meets your business needs.

online store 2.0: the benefits.

Upgrading to Online Store 2.0 themes can provide additional features including:

better app support.

Historically, before an app could be present on a theme, the theme would have to be altered directly through an API. Now you can install or change apps without touching any code.

This has also created the concept of app blocks which means a section can have a block that is delivered directly from an app, allowing you to seamlessly add functionality anywhere within your theme.

sections on every page.

A few years ago, Shopify introduced sections in the theme customiser to give more flexibility for content and dynamic sections. However, this customisation was only possible on the homepage.

With Online Store 2.0, you can now customise the content across the majority of your store’s pages. This includes adding, rearranging and removing sections to create unique page layouts.

collection filtering.

You can now allow your customers to filter collections by multiple choices including availability, price and more for an easier and faster route to the products they want.

dynamic sources.

Meta fields have been one of Shopify’s best kept secrets. However, the only way you could really do anything with meta fields was through an app.

This is where dynamic content and the ability to directly integrate with meta fields comes in. With Online Store 2.0, you can add dynamic information to any setting in your theme by connecting it to a dynamic source. A dynamic source could be a resource attribute or a meta field value. This essentially allows dynamic content to be used in more places across the site.

It’s worth noting that the update doesn’t support every type of meta field. There will be cases where we would combine this new native functionality with an app to get the best of both worlds for our clients.

added flexibility.

For clients who currently use page builders, it’s likely that a third-party tool will have been used. Offering the ability to have a component library where you can drag and drop different page elements, page builders put a lot of control into the hands of the site owner. But using a third-party tool has its pros and cons.

With 2.0, there is now a more native way to do this. That being said, it’s important for us to highlight that there are limits in Online Store 2.0. For example, you can only have 50 core templates per entity such as blog articles or products pages. When you add dynamic content into the mix, however, this creates a lot of variants for your eCommerce store.

a push towards speed.

With the release of Online Store 2.0 there has been a focus on speed. This has presented new opportunities including the chance to build some of the functionality into an existing theme and the ability to reengineer a theme to take advantage of those speed benefits.

For clients using page builders at the moment, the biggest limitation is usually speed as you are loading in resources from a third-party server. Other tasks currently limiting your site performance could be access to meta fields or certain filters for image processors.

If we can now deliver these elements through Online Store 2.0 natively, it will be much quicker and more efficient for everyone involved.

collection pages.

Online Store 2.0 brings the functionality to create specific templates for a collection rather than a template that’s applicable to all. This allows you to build out pages with the sections you want and assign templates to these for future use across your store. For example, you might want an email section sign up on your product page.

This same granularity can also be applied to your products giving you a lot of power to customise. Setting a template and assigning them to products, you have the ability to move buttons around, place elements in different areas or choose how you want information such as price above colour choice to be laid out.

empowering your internal team with component libraries.

Online Store 2.0 provides gives us greater ability to build our sites in a component-driven way. We can now create a library of components for use across a whole site.

Our approach is to determine the components we will need across the full site during the design stage and build this into the theme itself. This allows us to deliver the assets for those components accordingly and the components can then be used where they’re wanted to ensure pages can be built out quickly and consistently.

Components can also be locked down to maintain the integrity of what can or can’t be used to create a better shopping experience. From a brand management perspective, this is really effective, ensuring your internal team know what is and isn’t appropriate for each page. Not only this but your team are empowered with more flexibility allowing them to create customised, rich experiences in-house with minimal support.

statement and the shopify update.

As an experienced Shopify agency, we’ve always made it our mission to get the most out of the platform. Previously, this might have involved workarounds or third-party apps to deliver the experience merchants needed. But Online 2.0 gives us the ability to do things natively that we couldn’t before. Not only does this mean richer and more interactive pages but also a better site management experience and site speed gains too.

Online Store 2.0 is an overhaul of how themes are built on Shopify. With sections across every page, app blocks and robust developer tools, the possibilities for developers and site administrators alike are really quite extensive.

What are your thoughts on Online Store 2.0 so far? We’re looking forward to exploring the new functionalities even further! Get in touch with our team of eCommerce experts to chat more.

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