What's new in Shopify Editions Winter '24

We break down a few of the new highlights we're excited about from Shopify's latest release

Screen image courtesy of Shopify

February 9, 2024

Shopify unveiled their Winter Editions ‘24 feature releases last week and of course we tuned in.

After working on a number of different platforms over our careers, at Saturday Republic we decided to work solely on Shopify in part because they are the most committed to releasing constant, iterative improvements to their platform. 

Working on Shopify (and any e-commerce platform) you inevitably run into a feature that you wish existed but doesn’t, or maybe the products admin works perfectly except for that one thing that drives you crazy when you’re updating a product. The benefit of being a Shopify Partner is that we know that if we do run into an issue like that, odds are they will release that new feature or improvement you’re hoping for in their next release. This consistency is what makes us confident in recommending Shopify to our clients as a platform that’s not just right for them now, but will grow with them in the future. 

With that, let us walk you through our top #9 features of their Winter Editions ‘24 release. Who knows, one of these might just be the new feature you’ve been waiting for!

Please note that our information below is based on Shopify's Winter Editions release information. Since we don't yet have access to most of these features, we have not been able to test-drive them in Shopify.

01/ Web Performance Dashboard: Driving site optimization

We love that Shopify is stepping up its built-in site optimization reporting. In the past, “Theme Speed” (based on Lighthouse) was limited in the detail it provided on what was driving the rating. Shopify’s new Web Performance Dashboard leverages Core Web Vitals to provide much deeper insight into site performance, introducing a visual calendar to track site changes and their impact on performance metrics. Whether it's a theme upgrade or a site modification, merchants can now monitor how each tweak influences loading speeds, user experience, and overall performance. With this visibility into cause and effect, businesses can make informed decisions to optimize their sites for peak performance and drive higher conversion rates.

Here’s a great blog post from Shopify explaining their new Dashboard.

Available in: All Shopify stores over 2024. We have not yet seen this release on any client site, but see an alert that it’s coming.

02/ Data & Privacy: Centralized controls for the win 

If you manage an e-commerce website, you know that data privacy is a hard topic to stay on top of, with laws and recommendations changing often. Shopify’s data & privacy settings were admittedly underwhelming in the past, managed through a mix of settings and the Shopify Data & Privacy app or a 3rd party app. Now, Privacy settings live on a centralized page, are configurable by region, and come with at least a little more direction than previously! You will still need to rely on your in-house team to define the requirements your business needs to meet with regards to data privacy. But the management by region means you can know precisely what your site is displaying to visitors from each country, and feel confident in meeting the data & privacy requirements of your website without needing a 3rd party app. We are excited to try this one out!

Available in: All Shopify stores now. This new settings section can be found under “Settings > Customer Privacy”

03/ Category-Specific Metafields: Tailoring product page information

Recognizing the importance of context in product presentation, Shopify Winter Edition 2024 introduces category-specific metafields, a tool that makes it easy for merchants to quickly set up product-specific selling content using fields based on Shopify's Category Taxonomy. By mapping each product to a designated category, merchants will see a set of category-specific attributes show up on that product, letting them build out product content without having to define their own custom metafields. How accurate and useful these fields will be we will have to wait and see!

Whether showcasing technical specifications for electronics, ingredient lists for food items, or sizing charts for apparel, it sounds like category-specific metafields will enable merchants to deliver targeted, relevant information that resonates with customers' specific needs and preferences. This level of granularity on product pages not only enhances the shopping experience but also positions merchants as authorities within their respective niches. This granularity was already possible but took more work; this release by Shopify should make the build-out of product pages much more efficient and streamlined.

Available in: Currently unknown. Shopify’s “Sign up” option is available for interested merchants.

04/ Shopify Combined Listings App: Streamlining product presentation

The new Combined Listings app solves a need that we’ve built custom solutions for clients in the past, and we love any native Shopify release that removes the need for custom development from our sites! This innovative tool enables merchants to create parent products with child products, each possessing its unique description, media carousel, and dedicated descriptive URL.

What sets this feature apart is its seamless integration, presenting all components as a cohesive listing on a single product page. This consolidated approach allows merchants to easily maintain variant-specific details on product pages for improved SEO and paid ad targeting efforts in a way that still streamlines the browsing experience for customers. 

Available in: Shopify Plus only

05/ Expanded Variant Limit: Opening the door to complex products

Shopify has released a developer feature that people have been asking for for years: they’ve increased the variant limit from the existing 100 variants to a staggering 2,000 variants. Currently, merchants are not allowed to create a product that creates more than 100 variants between all their product attribute combinations (size, color, and other product purchasing attributes). We know brands with diverse product lines who have shied away from Shopify because of this limitation. Now, this enhancement empowers businesses to showcase a broader range of product variations and not be limited to certain product attribute combinations on a product page. 

Unfortunately, this increase will not be automatically built into Shopify admins, but rather accessible via Shopify’s updated Product APIs. The feature is currently available in developer preview, and is set to roll out to select merchants gradually throughout 2024. Even so, with this release we see Shopify moving in the right direction and hope that over time this will become available on a larger scale. 

Available in: Developer Preview currently, rolling out to select merchants over 2024

06/ Metaobject updates: Easier data management

Shopify has updated how we interact with metaobjects—both entries and definitions. You can now add or edit metaobject definitions directly from the online store editor, and Shopify has also added new sort, filter, and search capabilities which will make navigating metaobjects and custom data way easier than it had been previously.  

Winter '24 Editions from Shopify was fairly light on design-related updates this year, which is to be expected after so many huge updates last summer. There were, however, a few big wins that we think are worth getting excited about!

07/ Rename files in the files admin: Finally!

This is huge. Until now, there was no way to rename a file once it had already been updated to Shopify. And if you've ever added a file to your store with the same file name as something that had been previously added, you'll be used to seeing ugly automatic naming conventions added to your file titles in the back-end, which isn't sexy to look at, nor is it ideal file naming for SEO purposes. Those days are a thing of the past now, as Shopify's latest update allows you to rename files, hurrah! This means you can keep your file list clean and your naming structure sound. Huge win all around.

Available: Now!

08/ AI product image editing: Get creative control inside Shopify

I'll admit that I'm a bit old-school and am not a fan of AI. I tend toward all things authentic, and feel sad about the loss of human touch and art direction in some of the computer-generated art these days. However, Shopify's new AI product image editing is a game-changer, and is definitely worth mentioning. Using the Shopify Magic Media Editor, you can now make tweaks to product photos like removing backgrounds and adding new ones altogether. This removes the pricey studio photography barrier to entry for many small shop owners, and will unlock new levels of design within their stores. Please note that while it was announced with this edition of Editions (see what I did there?) this function is still coming soon. What do you think—are you for or against AI?

Available: Coming soon

09/ Nested and reusable blocks: Expanding theme flexibility

Perhaps the most exciting—albeit still yet to be released—feature mentioned in Editions is the nesting blocks functionality. This will give designs the ability to nest entire blocks within other blocks, which will virtually double the amount of creative flexibility available in the theme customizer. Also coming soon will be the ability to re-use blocks, which will be an absolute game changer in terms of speed and consistency. 

Available in: Developer Preview currently

You can read the full Shopify Editions Winter ‘24 update here.

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