Everything You Need to Know About Upgrading From Checkout.liquid to Checkout Extensibility on Shopify Plus

Following Shopify’s announcement that it will be deprecating checkout.liquid for certain pages in 2024, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about what exactly is happening. This article will cover why Shopify is making this change, what the implications are for you, how checkout customisations can be made using Checkout Extensibility instead, and how Swanky can help.

Historically, customising the Shopify checkout could only be achieved by editing code – the checkout.liquid theme file specifically. This tended to be a complex, time-consuming process that sometimes resulted in a sub-par customer experience.

In summer 2022, Shopify announced the release of Checkout Extensibility, a suite of powerful apps and tools for making code-free customisations to the Shopify Checkout. Further new checkout customisation functionality was announced in Shopify’s Winter Edition 2023, including a new drag-and-drop checkout editor for Plus merchants.

This was followed on 13th February by the announcement that, as of August 2024, Shopify will be deprecating the checkout.liquid layout for in-checkout pages. This will have implications for many Shopify Plus merchants – namely a requirement to upgrade to Checkout Extensibility.

In this article, we’ve rounded up:

  1. what exactly is happening to checkout.liquid and the key deadlines to be aware of;
  2. why Shopify is making this change;
  3. what the deprecation of checkout.liquid means for retailers;
  4. an introduction to Checkout Extensibility; and
  5. how Swanky can support with upgrading from checkout.liquid to Checkout Extensibility.

What is happening to checkout.liquid?

Shopify is deprecating the checkout.liquid theme file for the Information, Shipping and Payment pages on 13th August 2024.

Existing customisations and integrated checkout tracking on these pages will no longer function after this date. 

Merchants can continue customising their post-checkout pages, which includes the Thank You and Order Status pages, with checkout.liquid for now. 

Why is checkout.liquid being deprecated?

Customising the Shopify checkout via checkout.liquid is typically complex and time-intensive, requiring advanced coding knowledge. Checkout.liquid customisations are often impacted by upgrades and, in some cases, result in poor checkout performance and a substandard buyer experience. They can also be problematic for security reasons.

Perhaps the final nail in the coffin for checkout.liquid was back in August 2022, when a conflict with Google Tag Manager in the theme code caused a 12 hour Shopify checkout global outage.

Shopify has been seeking to ensure checkout stability and performance whilst enabling the meaningful addition of new capabilities and functionality. As such, it has invested in Checkout Extensibility, a suite of apps and tools that make it easier to customise the Shopify checkout and build bespoke checkout experiences.

Checkout Extensibility is secure, code-free, app-based, upgrade-safe and higher-converting. It also integrates with Shop Pay, which means, for the first time ever, express checkout can be customised.

Crucially, Checkout Extensibility replaces the need for checkout.liquid.

What are the implications for Shopify Plus merchants?

In what Shopify is calling a “new era” for its checkout, the rollout of Checkout Extensibility and deprecation of checkout.liquid promises to make checkout customisations much easier for merchants.

There are some significant implications to be aware of, however.

As we mentioned above, existing checkout.liquid customisations on in-checkout pages will no longer work after 13th August 2024.

This means that merchants with checkout.liquid customisations on these pages will need to upgrade to Checkout Extensibility before this date. Upgrading requires replicating any required checkout.liquid customisations in Checkout Extensibility using the features and components available (we discuss these below). This will likely require developer support, and potentially some custom app development.

Integrated checkout tracking will also no longer function after 13 August 2024. Google Tag Manager and other tracking scripts added directly to checkout.liquid will cease to send checkout customer events to relevant platforms.

Instead, tracking can be implemented by leveraging Shopify’s new Web Pixel Extension API, or by implementing server-side tracking using frameworks such as Littledata and Rudderstack.

Customising the checkout with Checkout Extensibility

Checkout Extensibility includes powerful platform features that let merchants make code-free checkout customisations:

  • Checkout editor. A drag and drop interface to quickly and easily edit the look of your checkout (by adding your logo, changing the background colour, updating the font etc.) and install checkout apps that add more functionality. This seamlessly integrates with Shop Pay.
  • Shopify pixels manager. This is a new section in the Shopify admin which allows merchants to add and manage pixels that track customer events.
  • Checkout apps collection. The Shopify App store has a collection of apps that merchants can install to add functionality to their checkout. 

Checkout Extensibility also includes a collection of UI components and APIs for building apps that customise checkout:

  • Checkout UI extensions. Shopify Partners (like Swanky) and app developers can create apps that extend the Shopify checkout to include functionality that isn’t provided natively. Merchants then install these apps in the Shopify admin and use the new checkout editor to place them in the checkout experience.
  • Checkout branding API. Create a consistent brand experience for users by customising your checkout’s look and feel.
  • Shopify Functions. For extending or replacing key parts of Shopify’s backend with custom business logic. These can be deployed via custom or public apps.
  • Post-purchase checkout extensions. For adding new UI and functionality to the post-purchase page.
  • Web pixel app extensions. For adding tracking pixels to monitor buyer behaviour.

Shopify Plus merchants have access to this full suite of Checkout Extensibility features and components to build the checkout experiences they want.

You can find out more about Checkout Extensibility and the upgrade process in Shopify’s Checkout Extensibility Upgrade Kit.

How Swanky can help you with upgrading from checkout.liquid to Checkout Extensibility

If you need support migrating from a custom checkout.liquid instance to Checkout Extensibility, please contact us to find out more about how our team of Shopify Plus Experts can help you.

As one of the most experienced Shopify Plus agencies in the ecosystem, with a first-class team of web and app developers, we are perfectly positioned to consult on your bespoke checkout requirements and implement these using Checkout Extensibility.

Please note, we will be contacting clients impacted by the deprecation of checkout.liquid to discuss appropriate next steps for upgrading to Checkout Extensibility.

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