What Shopify's Winter 2024 Feature Release Means for Small and Medium Merchants

What Shopify's Winter 2024 Feature Release Means for Small and Medium Merchants

Shopify announced yesterday its latest platform updates for the winter 2024 release, packed with over 100 new features and innovations. For small and medium Shopify merchants in the UK, this release brings some major upgrades that can help optimise product merchandising, increase average order value, and drive higher conversion.

Enhanced Product Merchandising Capabilities

One of the biggest topics in this release is enhanced product merchandising capabilities for merchants. Here are some of the key features that will help merchants better showcase and sell their products:

Combined Listings

The new Combined Listings app lets merchants create a single parent listing for products that come in multiple colours, styles or sizes. Each variant gets its own description, media gallery and URL while still being linked to the parent listing.

This simplifies product pages that can become cluttered when using platforms like WooCommerce or Magento. Customers no longer have to navigate through confusing nested product menus to find what they need. The unified listing presents variations clearly while still allowing customisation of each variant. Currently this feature is exclusive to Shopify Plus users.

Rich Attributes

Shopify has updated its taxonomy to map product categories to relevant attributes. For example, t-shirts would pre-populate attributes like colour, size, material. This makes it faster for merchants to create product variations accurately.

Other platforms often lack structured product data, forcing merchants to manually add variants. Shopify's rich attributes help merchants scale their product catalogs faster and with higher quality data.

Streamlined Variant Management

New APIs allow up to 2,000 variants per product, while the updated variants card in the Shopify admin lets you view and batch edit variant details like price and inventory. Together this makes managing high-variant catalogs much easier.

Making bulk changes across thousands of SKUs on other platforms can be tedious and error-prone. Shopify's robust variant management capabilities provide greater efficiency and minimise mistakes.

Additional Features

Shopify is also rolling out other product merchandising features like colour swatches and a unified media picker. These improve the merchant workflow and product presentation compared to solutions like Wix that offer limited merchandising flexibility. Enhancing the way Shopify handles products with variations is definitely an area that needs improving. Apps can aid merchants that have hundreds of variants attached to singular products. But, this sounds like Shopify are starting to deliver a solution that performs natively within the platform.

More Options for Bundles and Subscriptions

Two major new capabilities that can increase average order value include larger product bundles and built-in subscriptions.

Larger Product Bundles

Merchants can now bundle up to 30 products together, up from the previous limit of 10. This allows you to create more comprehensive bundles that add more value, without needing an app. Most Bundle apps tend to be expensive for a piece of functionality that most would say is merchant critical. The only other solution is to create bundled products, but this can be a nightmare for fulfilment due to each product not having its own line item.

Competitors like WooCommerce have bundle functionality through third-party apps, but have restrictions around smaller numbers of products and issues which we have experienced first hand when integrating with software like Sage. Shopify's enhanced bundling functionality enables merchants to create high-value bundles customers will love.

Integrated Subscriptions

The new free Subscriptions app makes it simple to offer products as subscriptions. This recurring revenue model helps with cash flow forecasting and customer retention. This app was released in beta mode during the last Editions drop, however it was removed from the app store in the lead up to Christmas. Now, it's available to all merchants.

Up to now, Shopify merchants have had to use third-party subscription apps that cost extra fees. Shopify's integrated, free subscriptions remove those additional costs and make it easy for any merchant to start offer subscriptions.

New Discounts and Promotions

Shopify is rolling out more discount options to help merchants convert sales, including:

🔥 Free automatic shipping promotions

🎁 Buy X get Y fixed amount discounts clearly showing customer savings

These new discounts provide more flexibility compared to the limited options on platforms like Squarespace and Wix. Strategic discounts and promotions are proven to increase conversion rates and average order value.

Improved Checkout and Performance

Shopify has taken their already ecommerce-leading checkout to the next level. Introducing new features and improving process to try and improve the checkout that already converts up to 36% better than BigCommerce, Magento and Salesforce.

Streamlined Checkout

The new one-page checkout reduces completion times by 4 seconds. Infrastructure improvements also accelerate checkout loading speeds by up to 95%.

This creates a smoother, faster buying experience than competitors like Magento, where multi-page checkouts can frustrate customers and increase abandonment. Recently it was discovered that just having the presence of Shop Pay on your store, can increase lower funnel conversion by 5%. This is likely due to the instant checkout and payment options.

Performance Monitoring

The new performance dashboard lets merchants track optimisation opportunities across key web vitals. This gives merchants much more visibility compared to only seeing the overall Shopify Speed Score. They can better understand specific performance issues instead of having to rely on third-party monitoring tools. Many other platforms lack this level of insight. These robust monitoring capabilities help merchants continually improve site speed.

One of the hidden gems within the latest Shopify Editions drop, is the news that Shopify has upgraded their infrastructure to now be up to 35% faster with more global points of presence. This incredible improvement without requiring merchants to upgrade their plans. To get this type of speed and service from a hosting company to host your WooCommerce, or Magento store - you'd have to pay thousands of pounds every year.

With these latest features, Shopify is making it even easier for small and medium merchants in the UK to create compelling product presentations, provide flexible purchase options, leverage strategic discounts, and optimise the buying experience. The result is more value for your customers, and more revenue for your business.

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