The best Shopify features announced in 2019 and what’s coming up in 2020

Shopify released a couple of new features in the annual Shopify Unite conference in June 2019. The main focus of the event was addressing challenges that come along with the global expansion of commerce. 

This article explores the most interesting new features and how you can use them to grow your business. From multiple currencies support to new designs, here are the Shopify updates you need to be aware of in 2020.

Online Store Features

The online store features enable you to improve user experience, attract customers and present products in the best possible way. Merchants can leverage the new features to access more powerful tools, delight their customers and express their brand. 

New online store design

The new design features simplify the way merchants create and customize their stores without writing any code. 

New features include:

  • Master pages—merchants can now create content on multiple pages and make changes on these pages by simply editing the master page.
  • Portable Content—merchants can now switch between themes without manually transferring the content. As a result, you do not have to duplicate themes to make changes to your store.
  • Drafts—merchants can now use drafts to make design and content changes before publishing.
  • Sections—sections allow you to move or add content with just a few clicks. Until now merchants could only use sections on the homepage. Now you can edit any page on your online store.
  • Starting points—theme starting points allow you to set up your store faster by populating it with pre-configured content sections. 

Video and 3D animations

Visual and interactive buying experiences significantly improve engagement and conversion rates. That is why Shopify has invested in delivering native product video and 3D animation of assets. This update provides storage and delivery capabilities through the Storefront API and Shopify Admin API. 

It also includes:

  • Storage—video and 3D assets share the same workflow as images. You can host media on Shopify and manage it from a single location.
  • Delivery—You can use the new Shopify Video Player and Viewer for Shopify AR to display your 3D models and video.
  • Editor applications—new features in the area of partner contribution enable merchants to create and edit media in the Shopify admin with a new app extension.

Multilingual sales support

Shopify online stores now support reliable multilingual shopping experiences. The partner community can access the multilingual feature through new APIs.

  • Shop Locale API—manages the alternate languages or language regions of your shop. 
  • Translations API—allows you to provide the same shopping experience for international buyers in different languages by translating content.
  • GraphQL Admin API—enables users to read translated content through the GraphQL Admin API.

In addition to the partner community, Shopify admin now also supports multiple languages:

  • Merchants can manage the publishing languages in admin settings.
  • The improved Liquid API automatically shows available translations. For instance, if a buyer is looking at a German page, the API will deliver a German translation.
  • The Online store now supports multiple languages in the URL. For example shop.com/fr.

Multiple currencies support

Since October 2018, the option to sell in multiple currencies was only available for Shopify Plus users. This is no longer the case! Shopify is beginning to release this option for all users. The multiple currencies feature automatically adjusts the price based on the current exchange rates. This feature supports ten key currencies: EUR, USD, GBP, AUD, CAD, JPY, HKD, DKK, SGD, and NZD.

New Shopify POS Features

Shopify Point-of-sale (POS) is a mobile application used for transactions in a physical store or pop-up setting. For example, you can find products, swipe credit cards, process orders, produce receipts and take payments from your mobile device or tablet. Shopify invested in some new improvements in the POS System to support the growing need for direct-to-consumer brands.

POS cart app extensions enable retailers to see promotion and loyalty details directly in the cart. As a result, the checkout process becomes easier for customers and staff. The new checkout process includes:

  • Visibility — you can automatically see all the relevant information. As a result, the store staff does not have to navigate to the POS app section.
  • Speed — you can easily find what you want in the cart during checkout. As a result, the number of clicks dropped from four to one. In addition, the time it takes to apply a discount dropped from 15 seconds to 5.
  • Appreciation — loyal customers feel appreciated when they get promotion offers.

Shopify is planning to further improve the POS systems in 2020 with features like a unified backoffice to sync inventory, customers, and orders across locations.

Back Office Features

An efficiently run back office is crucial for ensuring a great buying experience. In 2019 Shopify released some new powerful tools that help merchants to manage their business.   

Fulfillment API

Shopify developers can now use the Fulfillment API to give merchants more visibility and control over order fulfillment. This new API became officially available in October 2019. 

The API provides the following features:

  • Order fulfillment in multiple locations
  • Improved visibility into the fulfillment process 
  • Improved communication between the merchant and the app 
  • The ability to decline fulfillment requests

Delivery profile API

The new Delivery Profiles API enables developers to optimize the checkout experience by setting shipping rules for each product and location. This API uses GraphQL to get complete writing access to shipping settings. You can set shipping rules based on product attributes. For example, specifying if items are fragile or bulky. In addition, you can specify the location of the supplier. Lastly, the API enables you to reduce the dependency on manual merchant intervention.

Order editing APIs

Order editing is one of the most in-demand features for both merchants and partners. The Order Editing API enables developers to create more flexibility in the post-purchase process. This includes removing, adding and switching items before or after the shipment of an order. 

Media APIs

In the past, only Developers could only upload images. New changes in the GraphQL Admin API allows partners to create, update, delete and retrieve videos and 3D assets. Media APIs leverage GraphQL to associate video and 3D models with a relevant product.

Private Metafields API

Previously, you could read or modify any metafield from other apps installed on a shop. Private metafields prevents you from accessing other apps’ metafield data. As a result, Shopify users can enjoy an extra layer of privacy and peace of mind when storing metafields on Shopify.

Developer Products

New products for developers provide access to more Shopify features than ever before. 

GraphQL Libraries

GraphQL is an open-source data query language for APIs. GraphQL reduces the number of server queries. In addition, GraphQL helps developers to improve the quality of software with a well-defined schema. For this reason, Shopify made their popular open source libraries compatible with GraphQL.

Shopify App Bridge

Shopify App Bridge enables developers to integrate Shopify with web and mobile apps. In addition, App Bridge enables more efficient building and debugging with modern tools. One of the new features of the Shopify App Bridge is feature detection. Feature detection allows apps to leverage hardware capabilities such as access to cameras and barcode scanning.

Shopify App CLI

The Shopify App CLI automatically generates the required code in a Command Line Interface (CLI) tool. With a CLI, developers can easily build their app without switching tools. In addition, developers can generate sample data such as orders, products, or customers. The App CLI works with any programming language and multiple operating systems, including Windows and Linux.

API versioning

Shopify released the API versioning feature in April 2019 to ensure that changes to the platform are clearly communicated, predictable, and easy to adopt. Shopify developer must understand how the API versioning works and how your business can benefit from this feature:

  • Release schedule — Shopify releases versions of different APIs on a clear schedule. The first release is in January first, then in April, July, and October.
  • Naming — API version names represent the version’s release dates. For example, 2019-04 for the April 2019 release, 2019-10 for the October 2019 release, and so on.
  • Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) structure — API versions details are specified in the URI and returned in the custom response header. For example /admin/api/2019-10/my_products.json
  • Stable versions — stable API versions are locked for a minimum of one year. For example, the 2019-10 version will not be changed until 2020-10 is released on October 1, 2020, unless there is a critical security issue. Shopify will no longer support the 2019-10 version after the new release of 2019-10.

What to Watch for in 2020

The Shopify platform continues to evolve as fast as the eCommerce industry.  Some of the new features expected to come out in 2020 include a checkout app extension that will improve the purchase flow for subscriptions. In addition, Shopify will upgrade the Plus edition with features that ease managing multiple stores, and enable users to automate features. 

In 2020, be sure to keep an eye on new feature updates that can contribute to your business growth. The sooner you’re aware of feature improvements, the sooner you can begin improving your shops.

This is a guest contribution from Gilad David Maayan. Gilad is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.
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