Shopify is back with another release of over 100 product releases and announcements in their Winter 2024 Edition. Updates range from improved merchandising to streamlined business ops, and enhanced marketing and development.
Aptly entitled Foundations, this release is a good representation of Shopify's continued commitment to developing a scalable platform built for businesses at all growth stages, from first-time entrepreneurs to the largest brands in the world.
Rather than attempt to turn 100+ updates into a short list of 10, I'll do my best to summarize each section within the Shopify 2024 Winter Edition—hopefully giving you a digestible overview that makes it easy to jump into areas of interest.
- The first pool of updates focuses on making it easier for merchants to create a seamless shopping and discovery experience for customers.
- With the new Combined Listings app, merchants can better showcase product variants without complex dev work. Each product variant can have its own description, photo gallery, and URL within a single product listing.
- In addition, Shopify will now support up to 2,000 variants per product (finally!). They've also improved variant management, making it easy to create/organize products, upload variant swatches, and showcase front-end filters.
- Shopify Plus merchants will also gain access to a new AI-powered storefront search app built to understand customer intent and show relevant results.
- Other updates include new discount types, higher limits on bundles, an improved performance dashboard, schedulable gift cards, new checkout APIs, and full access to Shopify subscriptions.
View all 'Conversion' updates.
- Shopify's focus on B2B and POS is alive and well, with updates across both channels and more.
- On the POS side, updates include new hardware, expanded availability of POS Go, and enhanced management features for retail operations. A favorite of mine is the new POS full-featured display, allowing merchants to create a more branded POS experience.
- For B2B merchants, enhanced permissions, a new theme optimized for wholesale, and headless commerce capabilities underscore Shopify's effort to streamline operations and create a B2B customer experience with the same intentionality as DTC.
- I look forward to seeing these worlds emerge more and more in the coming years. I recently shared some thoughts on the possibilities here.
View all 'Channels' updates.
- At a high level, the marketing updates focus on leveraging Shopify data for improved retargeting capabilities and new tools for measuring ad performance.
- I'm often surprised how many brands are unaware of the power of Shopify Audiences, helping brands target relevant customers. With new advancements in its retargeting and performance capabilities, I hope to see it become more embedded in brand marketing efforts.
- Shop Cash (available in the Shop app) is now Shop Campaigns, and Shopify is investing in it as a tool for brands to attract buyers. For now, brands can leverage campaigns via the Shop app, but Meta and Google are next.
- The Shop app experience is also improved, from shoppable videos to lead capture. Check out my post for more details on the power of the Shop app.
- For brands leveraging Shopify Collabs, a creator platform, there are several improvements in how brands identify and work with creators.
- Other updates include more integrated reviews across Shopify platforms (app/collective), improved customer cohort reporting (thank you!), and customer data syncs from third-party marketing channels like Klaviyo.
View all 'Marketing' updates.
- Operations updates cover a wide range, all focused on creating efficiencies for merchants.
- One feature I'm sure we'll be hearing more about in the coming months is photo editing capabilities housed under Shopify's AI suite, Shopify Magic. When it's live, merchants will have the power to clean up product photography and even manipulate backgrounds within the Shopify backend.
- Beyond photo editing, Shopify Magic can also help write everything from entire pages of copy to SEO-optimized product descriptions.
- Sidekick promises to be a meaningful advisor for everything from business advice to e-commerce insights, but it still hasn't arrived. You can sign up for early access on the Winter Edition landing page.
- Shopify Capital introduces new financing options like Capital Loans, Cash Advances, and Lines of Credit, along with Shopify Balance's annual yields on idle cash—all designed to support the financial needs of Shopify merchants.
- Other updates include improved bulk data management to populate new stores and expand faster, turnkey tax filing tools, and an iOS widget for the Shopify app that showcases commerce insights. I use the app occasionally to access client storefronts and can imagine this will be a welcome upgrade for e-commerce managers.
View all 'Operations' updates.
- For developers, there are a bunch of updates across storefronts, extensibility, apps, and the developer experience—all aimed at improving store customization and development efficiency.
- Enhancements include reusing theme blocks without redundant work, nesting blocks for deeper design customization, and a set of new block presets to start building with a stronger foundation.
- Hydrogen updates focus on improved performance insights and testing practices along with a streamlined deployment process.
- New checkout and customer account extensibility features provide expanded styling options, validation functions, and the ability to build more personalized shopping experiences, now with the support for building extensions directly into customer accounts. This last feature could prove to be pretty powerful, turning a customer's account into an experience in and of itself. I recommend watching this video if you're curious to learn more.
- Other updates include more complex discounting options via Shopify Functions and a new store credit API enabling merchants to issue, track, and report accurately on store credit.
- Lots more in this section! If you're a Shopify dev, you'll enjoy digging in.
View all 'Developer' updates.
As an agency working in e-commerce and on the Shopify ecosystem for almost 15 years, we're constantly evolving to help clients keep up with customer needs and succeed. This release is, yet again, a lot to digest, but it feels good to see Shopify keeping up the pace of innovation. As always, I'm eager to see what the future brings.
This post originally appeared in #64 of The E-Commerce Corner. Subscribe here.