After years of speculation, predictions and promises, ecommerce is now officially a very big thing. In 2021, retail ecommerce sales reached $4.9 trillion worldwide and the figure is expected to reach nearly $7.5 trillion by 2025. At Kristin Mark Digital, we’ve witnessed this phenomenal development from a front row seat, watching businesses grow from ambitious startups to solid successes using the many ecommerce platforms available, in particular, Shopify.
One of the best known and best-performing platforms is Shopify which, by the end of 2021 had the largest US market share of any platform. 32% of ecommerce websites were using Shopify to run their ecommerce businesses. That represents more than 3.5 million active websites. Shopify’s stock increased by 300% in just 4 months in 2020 and it’s now worth more than eBay. Figures for that year show that more than 450 million consumers checked out with Shopify. Unsurprisingly it is the most frequently searched ecommerce solution in the world.
Our first-hand experience working with clients to enhance their visibility, boost their traffic and increase their sales conversions has convinced us that Shopify is the benchmark to beat. That’s why we have developed our RankHigherTheme® collection of website themes specifically designed to work in perfect sync with the Shopify platform and optimize its many features to meet the individual needs and objectives of our clients.
Now Shopify has decided to make its platform even better with the launch of Shopify OS 2.0. Competition amongst the platform providers has never been fiercer and after the enormous boost given to ecommerce as an unintended consequence of coronavirus lockdowns, this release from Shopify couldn’t be more timely. It offers several powerful new developer tools and theme editor resources. So what exactly are the benefits of Shopify OS 2.0?
If you’ve heard anything about OS 2.0 it’s probably this, which is being touted as the most significant feature. It extends the versatility and functionality of the platform considerably, enabling store owners to insert sections and blocks anywhere they like throughout their site. In the previous version, it was only possible to add these to the home page which severely limited the navigation options. Now it’s possible to list all the sections of any page, whatever its content. Not only will that make for smarter-looking designs, but it will significantly improve the user experience.
Building from Scratch
What virtually every new ecommerce merchant wants from their platform is the ability to build their site quickly and easily from concept to execution. This has always been an important focus of Shopify but OS 2.0 develops this capability much further, with all features and functionalities centralized. Extensions can be added and apps managed within themes. Kristin Mark Digital’s extensive range of RankHigherThemes® has been designed to be fully compatible with Shopify’s new configuration, with easy drag and drop sections.
These are pretty essential features for any ecommerce site, which allow you to add additional information about products without revealing the hidden data itself. They are useful for syncing products from the platform to accounting systems or for tracking the popularity of the item. Previously, you needed to use a meta field editor but in OS 2.0 you can do this without ever thinking about coding or APIs. When you add content to a product page or any other section of the site, you also create a space for features like lists of ingredients or size charts. Adding meta field definitions as default settings makes it much quicker and easier to change information and upload images. The new meta fields are much more flexible, making it easier to import commerce data. Standard meta fields have been designed to simplify the use of custom themes across market verticals and you can now add presentation hints in order to render store data.
App Extensions and App Blocks
Now that the majority of online searches and a very substantial proportion of ecommerce transactions are carried out on mobile devices, apps have become a major tool for online retailers. One of the main benefits of Shopify OS 2.0 is to make it much easier to install apps using app blocks. Without ever going near code, a merchant can integrate their apps into the theme directly from the theme editor. Removing apps is equally simple, with any ghost code automatically deleted. Using app blocks is a much safer, cleaner way of making changes because you don’t need to open the theme code and risk affecting other functionalities or settings.
This is another important upgrade to the theme editor. The Liquid input setting, which is similar to the HTML setting enables a merchant to add custom Liquid code from within the editor. As with many of the features of OS 2.0, the great benefit of this change is the elimination of any need to use coding. When you add code for apps using Liquid you’ll no longer need to change any of the theme code.
It is very well-known that the online attention span of consumers is severely limited and if a page is slow to load, a significant number of visitors will give up and go elsewhere. All of the templates in Shopify OS 2.0 have been developed with high-speed loading in mind, and the same goes for Kristin Mark Digital’s new RankHigherTheme® collection.
The user experience from end to end needs to be fast and as close to seamless as possible. If the process from browsing through selection to purchase is not efficient, a customer may lose confidence in the store’s professionalism or simply reconsider their decision and leave the site with an abandoned trolley. Another of the benefits of Shopify OS 2.0 is its significant checkout upgrade, which has enabled it to handle seven times the volume of transactions. You will also discover a new freedom to integrate new features into sections that were previously beyond the reach of the theme editor.
The meta fields element in the new operating system has vastly increased the type of media supported in Shopify, such as PDFs, photographs and graphic images. There is no longer any requirement to hard-code a file type to a theme. With file picker you can simply upload the media file directly to the product page.
New Developer Tools
Although many of the upgrades on Shopify OS 2.0 have been introduced to make the platform easier for merchants without coding skills to use, the new operating system also contains many tools that will be of particular help to developers. Despite the ease of 2.0, there will always be certain functions you’ll prefer to delegate to an external developer. The new Shopify Github integration allows developers to collaborate in safety as they edit themes, and enables them to implement workflows in which all amendments can be reviewed through GitHub before going live on the storefront.
This is a valuable resource that acts as a linter – a tool for analyzing code – which assesses the JSON template and Liquid within your theme to identify any errors and ensure that your site conforms to Shopify and Liquid best practices. The kind of problems it can unearth include liquid syntax errors, unused variables, missing templates, and performance issues.
In conclusion, we have to say that we are extremely impressed with the enhancements Shopify’s new release provides. They are precisely what ecommerce businesses have been asking for and they have been delivered extremely effectively, making Shopify an even more attractive and user-friendly platform than before which is why we have developed our next generation of OS 2.0 theme called RankHigherTheme®.
Particularly welcome is the decision not to force existing users onto 2.0. Stores built with Shopify 1.0 will be able to continue trading as normal with no change except to the theme editor interface. However, should an existing user wish to migrate to 2.0, this is easily done with the help of a Shopify developer. It’s even possible to upgrade specific parts of a site to be compatible with the extremely popular section everywhere feature. Kristin Mark Digital is an award-winning company that has worked with more than a thousand clients since 2010, helping them to increase traffic and generate organic sales, building brand awareness and tens of millions of dollars of sales growth.
Having worked with Shopify 1.0 since our foundation, we recognize that 2.0 makes Shopify the number one platform for any ecommerce business. Our RankHigherTheme® themes are designed for optimum SEO results and they provide a wide choice of smart, contemporary, user-friendly looks. Let us help you harness the extraordinary functionality of Shopify OS 2.0 to grow your business into a major brand and dominate the search engines.