Unpacking Shopify’s latest upgrade features and how to roll it out.
“Looks like you need to upgrade your online checkout.”
Just what you want to hear as a Shopify merchant who relies on an efficient checkout funnel for your business to thrive.
From time to time, Shopify launches checkout updates to its stores, most recently on January 20th. And while it is not an issue for most non-Plus merchants, it can be nerve-wracking if you have customized checkout functionality and don’t want to see your effort and money go down the drain. While there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution and every custom checkout is a little bit different, we have a couple of tips worth keeping in mind when dealing with this upgrade to your store.
First of All, What Am I Actually Getting?
It’s one thing to publish a change because your service says you have to, but what are all the new checkout features and more importantly, what do they mean for you?
Discount Liquid Variables
There has always been some way to access discount liquid variables, but the new checkout adds new variables designed to represent discounts in a way that makes more sense to customers. A few in particular:
- checkout.cart_level_discount_applications — returns a list of any currently applied discounts
- line_item.final_line_price — returns combined price of all items in one cart line (discounted price x quantity)
- line_item.total_discount — returns the total amount of all discounts applied to a line item
These can all be used to clarify how customers’ cart totals are being calculated without doing the math yourself. Implementing these variables is typically completed by a Shopify developer — so we recommend reaching out before trying these at home.
Arrive App On Desktop
There will now be a dedicated phone number field as part of checkout that connects the user to the Arrive app. This a free app from Shopify that will send SMS order updates to a customer’s phone. This feature is especially important because previously a merchant would generally need to pay for an SMS notification app to do the same thing. If you’re currently using an SMS notification app, you can consider switching to Arrive. If you’ve been considering adding SMS order updates, this is a good opportunity to roll the feature out to your customers for free.
Preparations for Order Editing
It’s not ready yet! This checkout upgrade will not make Order Editing available for Shopify Plus merchants, but it does include a number of updates intended to make more sense once this high-demand feature launches:
These changes will be present once an order has been edited and requires additional payment
- The Complete Purchase button will now be Pay Now
- The Total field will now be Amount To Pay
- The breadcrumb information will now show a collapsible banner detailing the latest updates to the order.
The above list captures only a few of the changes, so we’ll be keeping an eye out as we get closer to Order Editing launching to see how it’s going to look on existing checkouts. We suggest you do the same!
Accessibility is more important than ever before for two reasons: it makes your store usable for everyone, and prevents legal troubles for excluding people who have some form of disability. The biggest update with this checkout is the addition of more aria code in the form of setting role attributes for the header, content and footer as well as Thank You and Order Status pages. There have also been some additional semantic HTML updates designed to make the page itself more navigable by screen-readers and other accessibility tools. This update should cause minimal visible change on your checkout.
Placeholder Strings Removed
Previously, email and phone placeholder values had to be updated in the specific language options for your theme. Now they will reside in a new area accessible from the Online store page: Online Store > Themes > Actions > Edit Languages > Checkout and System. If you don’t use these fields, congratulations, there is nothing you need to worry about. If you do use these fields, it’s worth investigating before the checkout launch date.
3D Secure Authentication
This new authentication type is used by services such as Verified by Visa, Mastercard Identity Check and Amex SafeKey. If a bank or payment provider requires this new type of authentication, customers will be redirected to their bank or payment provider’s portal for additional authentication. Again, this update should have minimal visible effect on checkout, but it will change the checkout experience for any of your customers who use a payment method that requires this additional authentication.
Additional Google Analytics
There are now some additional error reporting methods, specifically for when a particular Express Checkout method is unavailable or if a Shipping option is no longer valid due to a cart update.
Got It. Anything Else I Need to Know?
Preview, Preview, Preview
Like any development project, it’s never a good idea to just put a new feature live and simply hope it will work. The Checkout preview is integral because it allows you to catch any errors and issues before you make your changes live.
While previewing your checkout, it’s most beneficial to create test orders, make sure all of your customizations still work and just generally double check that it behaves exactly like it did before. If something is different, or if the upgrade has broken a feature, it’s probably time to get your Shopify Expert involved.
Don’t Publish at a Busy Time
When you do decide to go live with your new changes, it’s best to do so at a time when your site traffic is not at its highest. Don’t wait too long, though. On February 20th, Shopify will automatically force the update unless you’ve already gone live with your checkout changes.
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! You’re almost done and can go back to something you likely find far more interesting. Like running your store!
If there is one major takeaway from these updates, it is that Shopify is trying very hard to streamline aspects of the store that users have found issues with, but it’s not all going to come at once. These updates range from “this is going to show up and you have to do nothing” to “you’re going to have to change how your store is run if you use this feature now” and everything in between.
If the changes above seem daunting or you’d like to talk to us at Noticed about how these changes can work in your store, please reach out! Chat with us on our website or shoot us a message at email@example.com.