Shopify Online Store 2.0 Dawn theme

A guide to Shopify Online Store 2.0

Shopify is one of the biggest ecommerce platforms in the world. Designed for businesses focused on growth and user-friendly shopping experiences, Shopify enables merchants to easily set up and maintain an online store while also offering a wide variety of unrivalled tools and features to support and encourage business progression.

In June 2021, Shopify announced a new update to improve efficiency and accommodate the growth of the site: Online Store 2.0. Not only does this new release of exclusive features expand the possibilities for developers, but it puts merchants in more control of their stores, products, collections and pages.

If you’re an ecommerce merchant already hosted on Shopify then you may have heard about the new Online Store 2.0 update. But what does this mean for you?

We’ve put together a complete guide to understanding and getting to grips with Shopify Online Store 2.0 so you can incorporate it into your existing sales and learn more about what it can do for you. Click on one of the links below to jump to that section:

What is Shopify Online Store 2.0?

Online Store 2.0 is a new upgrade to Shopify’s existing stores. It isn’t obligatory and you can continue using the existing theme if this works better for you, but this upgrade allows you to edit every page structure rather than just the homepage.

Rather than being an additional feature, Online Store 2.0 is an update on the way the Shopify platform works. It available now for active Shopify stores on a paid subscription plan and is ready to go for themes that are compatible with its new features. It offers improved developer tools, page editing abilities and a new reference theme.

New features and store content

The new Online Store 2.0 brings a fresh editing experience designed with merchants in mind. Now, you’re able to build storefronts from scratch, add and edit theme extensions, and manage your apps within the themes. This new upgrade will centralise the features and functions available with Shopify.

New themes and editor tools

Previously, merchants’ choices were limited when it came to the number of blocks available inside each online store. Now, you will have the option to add new sections to each page.

Template files are designed to dictate which sections appear as the default to views and in which they appear. Using a JSON template file, you can activate the templates to each of your Shopify store pages, listing all the sections of a page, custom pages, blog posts, collection pages and more.

Dawn is the name of the new default theme, fit with flexible and easy to use options that are compatible with JSON templates and app blocks.

New developer tools

For developers, the new Online Store 2.0 welcomes a wide range of opportunities to build new apps and themes. By integrating the functions to test, develop and deploy new themes, the new upgrade provides unparalleled assistance to developers.

Now with the Shopify GitHub integration, developers can use the Shopify CLI tool to test themes in sandbox and streamline development.

What does Shopify Online Store 2.0 mean for merchants?

Store Editor makes it easier to create new page templates without writing code

In response to feedback about the demand for good code-writing skills, Shopify’s latest upgrade makes it easier for merchants to create new page templates in Store Editor. Now, the functions will prove more accessible and the options more flexible when it comes to editing your storefront.

New content management system

Bulk Mutation API is a new solution to the previous GraphML simulation, allowing you to run bulk mutation operations. In simpler terms, this makes importing data easier.

Enhanced ability to modify checkouts

Where earlier checkout editing abilities were reserved for Shopify Plus merchants, the new update now allows the standard Shopify merchant to access checkout apps. While full customisation is still only available with Plus merchant status, the update affords standard merchants greater control over their online stores.

What does Shopify Online Store 2.0 mean for developers?


The Online Store 2.0 default theme, Dawn, loads 35% faster than the Debut theme and will be the new reference theme. It is focused on speed, flexibility and minimising complexity.

Upgrading to Online Store 2.0 isn’t mandatory and you can keep using your vintage theme if you choose to. Unlike previous theme updates, Online Store 2.0 cannot be automatically applied. However, developers can upgrade themes to be compatible with Online Store 2.0. Consult this page to learn more about adding a new version of your current theme to the update.

GitHub integration

The new integration with GitHub means that theme development will become easier to manage, maintain and track. It connects your GitHub account to your Shopify store so that changes are always in line with the current requirements of selected themes.

Native support for version control will enable developers to safely collaborate when editing themes and implement workflows for reviewing and merging changes to themes on GitHub before populating to a live theme on a merchant’s store.

Shopify CLI

Previously, developers used the Shopify CLI tool to generate apps and app extensions through Node.js and Ruby on Rails. With the Online Store 2.0 update, this tool is now extended to theme development. The new Shopify CLI enables you to develop, preview and test theme changes inside development themes, start a new theme project using Dawn as a template, populate test data for themes and much more.

New Liquid input setting

The Online Store 2.0 update grants developers the ability to add Liquid code directly from the theme editor. This is similar to the HTML setting type but gives merchants more access to different Liquid objects and reduces merchants’ requirement to manually change a theme’s code. In turn, this gives merchants more freedom to make their own decisions about their stores so that developers have more time to pursue new integrations and other creative projects.

Why should you upgrade your store to Shopify Online Store 2.0?

We’ve covered just a few of the many benefits to Shopify’s Online Store 2.0 upgrade. The aim of this upgrade to the platform is to improve ease of use for merchants, boost performance and grant developers more creativity and control. According to Shopify, this is their biggest ever upgrade and its intention is to empower merchants and developers alike.

Online Store 2.0 is not a new feature in and of itself, nor is it a new subscription or payment plan. Instead, it’s a suite of enhancements designed to make Shopify stores more flexible and efficient, and easier to manage and adapt. As the Dawn default theme is much faster than its predecessor, this can ultimately benefit your sales as customers are more likely to leave your store as page load time increases.

If you would like more information about Shopify Online Store 2.0 or you would like to discuss upgrade your Shopify store to this new update, get in touch with the Milk Bottle Labs team today.