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Top 3 highlights from Shopify Unite 2021 (and what they mean for you).

July 23rd 2021

By Bekah


We’ve been building a few Shopify stores recently, so it was with great anticipation that we tuned into Unite 2021, Shopify’s annual partner and merchant conference, to hear what new features they’ve been cooking up for us. We had a feeling it’d be something good, because it’s been a huge year (and a half) for E-commerce with 84% of us shopping online during the pandemic. We expected Shopify’s announcements to be a reflection of the changing nature of E-commerce, but we weren’t expecting (what has since been referred to by Shopify as) ‘the biggest set of infrastructure investments in Shopify history’.

Shopify have clearly been working on a ton of cool new things this last year, too many to mention right now, but here are the 3 big announcements that we are most excited about at KOTA.


1. Online Store 2.0

In the past year, we’ve seen traffic double across online stores, as shoppers turned more and more to online shopping during the pandemic. In today’s world, how a merchant’s store shows up online has never been more important.

That’s why we’re excited to announce our biggest investment in the online store platform yet. We call it Online Store 2.0.

– Shopify, Unite 2021

One of Shopify’s current biggest selling points is its visual editor, which allows store owners to edit content and see the result in real-time. As a developer, it’s one of my favourite things about the platform. We get to offer our clients a beautiful content creation experience and build little ways of fine-tuning the store’s appearance, giving both designer and client greater control over the final look and feel.


While every page of Shopify store allows some degree of customisation, the homepage is where the Visual Editor really shines. The storeowner can drag and drop pre-built blocks in any order, change their content, add new ones and remove others. Until now, this functionality has been limited to just the homepage, but with the rollout of Online Store 2.0 comes a newly improved drag/drop block functionality – on any page of your store 🙌.

This means greater flexibility for our clients and a faster development time for us. We can design and build a set of blocks, from a regular text block to a carousel of images, and then just drag them into place on each page. What’s more, our clients can create new pages from scratch, building up the layout from existing blocks and editing the content without the need for more code. Win-win.


Online Store 2.0 also gives developers something we’ve been wanting for ages: the power to create new fields in the back-end of a store. Now we can add all sorts of custom fields tailored specifically to our clients’ products, whether that’s washing instructions, ingredients, colour swatches or something entirely unique.

Shopify has made Online Store 2.0 available now for all newly created stores and is already being rolled out to existing stores. We’ve also been promised even more ways of managing content within Shopify later this year, so watch this space!

We feel this is a huge step forward for Shopify, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this new functionality will open up new possibilities for our clients and their stores.


2. Faster rendering engine

The second most exciting announcement for us was that their new storefront rendering engine has been rolled out to all Shopify stores everywhere.

Last year, Shopify announced they were rewriting some of the code that makes Shopify stores run, in an unprecedented effort to improve site speed for all of its stores. We know that store speed is absolutely critical to driving sales and conversions, so this new rendering engine had us pretty excited.

The need for speed is understood universally—a one-second delay in page load time can cause a 7% loss in conversions.

Fortunes are made and lost based on how brands thread the needle between site speed and functionality.

—Shopify, Performance vs. Functionality: Making the Right Site Speed Tradeoffs

This new rendering engine is proving to be 5x faster than the old one, and we’re interested to see the impact it has clients’ sales and revenue.


3. Customisable checkout

Currently, unless your revenue warrants upgrading to the Shopify Plus plan (which starts at $2,000/month) the Checkout area of your store is an area that cannot be customised. Aside from being able to add your logo, a header or background image and changing the button colour, the Checkout is untouchable as far as theme developers are concerned. In some ways, this is a smart decision by Shopify. By providing the same checkout process regardless of the brand, Shopify has created an easy, familiar checkout experience for customers everywhere. They can even use the same login for all Shopify stores.

But if your Checkout requires any custom functionality, you’re reliant on third-party apps which usually come with a monthly subscription fee and a decrease in site speed. They’re also hard to customise and often leave a mess in the code even after they’re uninstalled. (Although this is also changing, thanks to some other new features!)

So we were pretty thrilled to hear that the Shopify Checkout will now be customisable for all stores, regardless of which plan they’re on. While keeping all the benefits of the current Shopify Checkout experience, we can now add new personalised and/or interactive content and, interestingly, also enhance the post-purchase experience. This provides a new opportunity for our clients to upsell or otherwise engage their customers while they already have their attention.

Post-purchase […] falls between checkout and the thank-you page, a place where the buyer is highly captive and engaged, and the perfect page to offer product upsells, requests for donations or surveys, discount offers for future orders, and more.

– Shopify, Checkout app extensions

We can already see so many ways that our clients could tailor the checkout experience for their customers, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the new tech when it comes out later this year.


If you’re interested to see what else Shopify has in store for its partners and merchants, you can see the full list of announcements on the Shopify blog or watch the entire thing at unite.shopify.com.

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We are a Creative Digital Agency based in Clerkenwell London, specialising in Creative Web Design, Web Development, Branding and Digital Marketing.