Shopify recently hosted Shopify Unite - their annual summit for developers, designers and merchants and they announced the release of Online Store 2.0. The new functionality has started rolling out, and you should see the changes soon (if not now) in your Customize screen (Online Store > Themes and click Customize).
Shopify are taking submissions from theme developers with updates to themes that make the most of these changes in functionality, so most of us will have to wait patiently until these theme submissions are made and approved - it's looking like mid August at this stage.
Updates to Themes (or Online Store Layout) A.K.A Online Store 2.0
Shopify are about to roll out some big changes when it comes to updating the look and feel of your online store - they've called it Online Store 2.0 (and explains why things have been slow and buggy for a while!).
Sections are now available everywhere (the functionality that you might recognise from the home page) and are made up of blocks. Not only can sections be added and moved around on all pages, but the blocks (parts of the section) can be added, deleted and moved also.
If you go to Online Store > Themes and click Customize beside your theme, the column on the left will look a bit different and there is a new column on the right of the screen.
You can choose any page from the dropdown at the top of the screen, the section options will appear on the left and the blocks (eg: Text, Title, Price, Buy buttons, Description etc) that can be added, removed and reordered will be shown on the right.
Depending on your theme you might not have many options for customisation yet, but Shopify are taking submissions for new themes from the 15th of July.
TL;DR: You will be able to customise every page using the same drag and drop functionality as you have with sections on your home page (eg: Image with Text, Rich text, Contact form, Newsletter signup), but with the added functionality of editing, adding, removing and updating blocks or fields within the section.
Improvements to Metafields
Currently, updates to metafields need to be made within the theme code - not a simple process unless you have a lot of knowledge and also a recipe for bugs and glitches (in my unpopular opinion).
Metafields will be added within the Settings section of your Shopify store and can be added and updated using plain language to better improve the functionality and user experience of your store.
TL;DR: You will be able to add different file types as metafields and have those easily available to be selected from the product screen, eg: a PDF download with warranty info or a size chart that needs to be added to more than one product page.
Theme App Extensions
Because with Online Store 2.0 a theme will be a set of separate pieces (sections made up of blocks) so app developers will use the same sections (made up of blocks) rather than having to update the theme code.
These blocks and sections will be available from the Customize screen (Online Store > Themes > Customize) in the same way that other standard sections and blocks are about to become available.
Eg: Adding a booking app will soon mean the sections of the app are available in the Customize screen and will be easy to adapt to fit your brand.
TL;DR: Adding apps is about to get easier.
Updates to Checkout
Currently Shopify's checkout page is locked down for all of us that are on the Basic or Shopify Plan (ie: everyone not paying USD299/month). Shopify have announced they have made updates that make the checkout load time twice as fast.
Shopify have also created a library of different options and functionality that can be added to various points during the checkout process, including product warnings, a free gift with purchase or donation to charity.
The best news is that these checkout extensions will show on the Shop Pay checkout page as well as the standard checkout page for those using other payment methods.
Shopify are also making it easier to payment gateways to integrate with the platform, offering them end to end control of the user experience for their payment gateway - which will hopefully result in some more competitive rates for merchants!
TL;DR: Us mere mortals on lower level plans will be able to customise the checkout process.
Other Technical Stuff
Shopify have made updates to APIs that will provide a better user experience for your customers including new cart functionality that shows the cost of products in the cart as well as any discounts and shipping costs.
There will also be the functionality to build in selling plans such as taking pre-orders and subscriptions without needing to use an app or third party payment gateway.
International pricing will be made simpler with websites showing the local currency based on where the customer is visiting your store from - no matter where in the world they are.
The other slick feature is offering pick up from whichever location is closest to your customer by showing them the stores, branches or stockists nearest to the and their pick up options,
TL;DR: Customers can easily see their cart total and you can offer a subscription service and pricing from within your site as well as pricing by country and collection by location.
If you haven't seen it already, you should soon be able to see the changes in the theme customisation screen (Online Store > Themes and click Customize) - the column on the left will look a bit different and there is a new column on the right of the screen.
Theme developers are expecting to have their theme updates approved and ready to roll out by mid August. Because the updates haven't been rolled out, I am interested to see if updating your theme will be necessary to see the new functionality - and with it re-customising your store.
We will have to wait and see! Join the Running In Heels Facebook Group to stay up to date and be the first to know when the online course launches that will step you through the updates so you can DIY.