It's Time to Upgrade
Imagine you're driving one of those big cars from the 50s, it's a classic automobile but you're lacking GPS, Bluetooth, or even a cupholder for your latte. Now think of a brand new Tesla with all the bells and whistles of a modern car. They'll both drive you across town, but one will do it with more efficiency, style and cost savings. That's kind of how the world of ecommerce development works. Eventually, the time will come when you need to update that old car to get the latest gadgets.
Ecommerce tech is always evolving, always improving. The old way becomes obsolete. For Shopify, they're shedding their old checkout customizations in favor of some cool new gadgets called Checkout Extensions and Checkout Extensibility. The new checkout features make it easier for Shopify Plus merchants to customize their checkout using an app-based approach. This means the customizations will be upgrade-safe, higher-converting, and integrated with Shopify's Shop Pay. These new Checkout Extensions are available to all Shopify Plus merchants however the transition will require replacing the old methods, including the checkout.liquid file, which is being deprecated in early 2024. The upgrade clock is ticking so let's review what store merchants need to do for this upgrade.
What is checkout.liquid?
If you're a Shopify Plus merchant, you're probably already familiar with the checkout.liquid file, especially if you've done any checkout customizations. The checkout.liquid file is (and soon to be, was) a special part of Shopify's system that's used to control the look and feel of the checkout process. This file was only accessible to Shopify Plus stores merchants and allowed for code customizations to exist within the checkout pages.
Editing this file required a significant amount of development time and a strong understanding of ecommerce coding. Modifications would notoriously adversely affect Shopify's system updates, which lead to checkout problems. This was a poor experience for store owners. Until recently, editing this file was the only way for Shopify Plus merchants to customize their checkout pages.
Shopify has put the world on notice that the new Checkout Extension features will replace the old checkout.liquid paradigm of checkout customization. Checkout extensibility replaces checkout.liquid moving forward and Plus merchants need to plan for the upcoming deprecation.
The checkout.liquid file (and access to it) will be deprecated on August 13, 2024. Any merchants or apps that rely on this customization, will need to upgrade to the new Checkout Extensibility before this deadline. If your store is relying on this type of customization, you should contact your development partner or wake up your team to the impending date. Some store customization may require lengthy development to convert into a checkout app or function.
What this means is that Shopify merchants who have made checkout.liquid modifications must switch to Checkout Extensibility before the deadline. This transition is crucial to ensure that the store continues to operate smoothly and securely. However, moving to Checkout Extensibility may require the assistance of a developer due to the technical expertise it entails. Depending on the needs of each merchant, there might be a need for some custom app development as part of the transition. This could involve creating unique features or functionalities that are crucial for the business but not available in the standard Shopify offerings.
What is Shopify Checkout Extensibility?
So, what is Checkout Extensibility? It's not one thing, but a series of checkout improvements that Shopify is bringing to the platform. With these new features, you can build apps to customize the checkout pages of Shopify. Some of the new features include Checkout UI extensions, Shopify Functions, Checkout Branding API, and Pixels. All of these new customization options are upgrade-safe, which means the customizations continue to function even when Shopify releases new features. This was not always the case with the checkout.liquid implementation, so they new Extensibility is a welcome upgrade. Let's review these new changes in more depth.