Shopify Unite is the core Shopify conference for partners in the annual calendar. Now in its fourth year, this year’s event attracted significant numbers from around the globe. As a Shopify merchant, the long list of announcements is a great indicator as to the growing position of Shopify as the leading eCommerce platform. With that being said, it’s also important to think about how these announcements will affect your specific business. 

In this blog, we dive into the details of the 'Core' announcements from Shopify Unite 2019, and examine how these may affect your Shopify store. 

Sections on every page 

Background For those merchants using Shopify for a number of years, many will remember a time when editing the homepage was less simple than the ‘drag and drop’ style functionality of today’s sections. When sections were introduced, this transformed the way merchants could simply edit the look and feel of their homepage and offered much greater scope for optimisation without the need of a developer.

What’s changing? Shopify have now announced that sections-based editing will now be available across the whole of a Shopify store. This will mean that along with the homepage, merchants will be able to change the look and feel of all pages, and have more ability to update and amend a Shopify store, without the need of coding skills or a Shopify Expert.

How will this help, and what are the limitations? As previously mentioned, this option will provide a much simpler way of making amends to the overall design of a Shopify merchants store. This also opens up more opportunities for merchants to create a/b testing and CRO programs without the need of a developer.

Whilst store wide editable sections will be a great addition to Shopify, the timeline for the release of this functionality may still be some time away. Given the amount of themes available, all created by many theme developers, it’s likely to take significant effort and time to ensure that all themes can provide this level of functionality. Some Shopify Expert Agencies like Blend have already been working on this with specific themes to give this level of store wide access.  

What should you do next? If you’re currently wanting to explore the use of this new feature without having to wait for the official launch, talk to your chosen developer or Shopify agency about the potential of developing this for you. Whilst it’s likely that there will be a cost involved, this may help reduce your need for a developer if you plan to make significant changes to your store using sections over the next 3 months. From the discussions had by Blend and partners, we understand that site wide sections will be available at the very end of 2019. 

Master pages

Background The current Shopify setup requires Shopify merchants to make individual content changes to each page of their Shopify store. Whilst global theme settings such as headers and footers are useful, there is no simple ability to reflect multiple changes of the same type of across multiple pages of a Shopify store.

What’s changing? Master pages will enable Shopify merchants to first define a specific page type, for example ‘Information pages’. This ‘Master page’ will then essentially serve as an overall control centre for all page types created under this defined master page. Specific details of what will be editable and controllable from the master is yet to be defined.

How will this help, and what are the limitations? In the past, it's often been frustrating for Shopify merchants when making an overall design change to say a collection page, especially if multiple collection pages are being used on a Shopify store. Having to replicate changes across a page type like this can take many hours to complete, especially if the amendments are significant. What’s more, this will also ensure that consistency can be kept across the store when making amendments to specific page types.

Whilst the specific details are not available of this feature, it's likely that merchants will want to have subtle changes on collections pages. For example, if you’re running a clothing and apparel store, it's likely that the format of shoes and t-shirt collection page will need to be different, due to the nature of the product type. 

What should you do next? As with the changes to sections, some Shopify Expert Agencies may already have the ability to provide you with such level of control with specific themes. Reaching out to them or the theme developer is a good starting point if this is a feature that would benefit you immediately. To get more updates on this feature, Shopify recommend subscribing to their web design and development blog, linked at the bottom of this article.

Starting Points

Background When first working with a theme, often pre-configured content sections are not available. Specifically when attempting to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) site, this can mean that creating an appealing and differentiated Shopify store is tricky.

What’s changing? Starting points will now mean that theme developers will be able to offer a set of pre-defined and configured content blocks. Essentially, this will enable merchants to select a content block, configured by the theme developer, and simply enter images and content to achieve the desired design. 

How will this help, and what are the limitations? When Shopify merchants are looking to achieve a more ‘design focused’ look on a Shopify store without the need of a developer, this option will certainly be helpful in giving a head start. What’s more, even if the pre-set configurations do not meet a merchants exact needs, this would reduce the cost and effort for a developer. 

Whilst this will undoubtedly help create more differentiation on Shopify stores without the need of a developer, over time, it's likely that sections will become more ‘recognisable’ and reduce in its value as a tool. Overall, this should give better options for customising Shopify store and reduce the spend with a Shopify developer.

What should you do next? To keep up to date with the progress on this announcement, Shopify recommend subscribing to their web design and development blog, linked at the bottom of this article.

In addition to the Core changes discussed above, Shopify also announced a number of other changes due to take place over the course of the next 12 months, and full details can be found here. Here at Blend, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the updates and reporting back when we see these are live. 

If you would like to find out more about how Blend can help you optimise your Shopify store, why not get in contact to find out more.

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