Flex's first big feature release is here: What's new and how to get it
by Michael P. Hill
About a month and a half after launching the game changing Flex Shopify theme, Out of the Sandbox is excited to announce the first feature release.
While keeping your Shopify theme up to date is always a good idea, these “feature releases” contain slick new features you can enable in your Shopify store, in addition to updates and improvements made to the theme code.
At Out of the Sandbox, feature releases are carefully planned out well in advance to ensure our design, development and quality assurance team has time to craft, code and check all of the code that goes into adding a new feature — which, depending on the feature, can be more complex than you might think.
Feature releases are heavily driven by customer requests for what features they want to see next and which ones will make the most impact in running their Shopify stores on a day to day basis.
In the case of Flex, many of the feature requests are based on bringing favorite features from our other best selling Shopify themes — especially Turbo — to it.
Here are the highlights of what’s included in Flex 1.1.0:
The cart page now allows a shipping calculator to appear — which lets your customers estimate shipping costs before beginning the checkout process.
In addition, the cart page has been updated to display any automatic discounts that have been applied to the order. Keep in mind that customers still enter any coupon codes during the checkout process.
Collection and search results pages now have more flexible pagination options, including infinite scrolling, with a choice between having a “load more” button or automatically loading more as shoppers near the bottom of the results. Traditional pagination numbering is still available as well.
You can now use several new sections on product templates, including page, dividers, blog posts, Instagram, image with text overlay, featured collection, video, and map. Each of these sections, in turn, comes with a variety of options.
Buttons can now have their own font settings, making it easier to give them a more distinct style.
Once you’ve updated your theme, putting these new features to use will give you these added advantages:
You now have even more ways to display content in the “slideshow” format. This section is a great way to draw attention to products, services, specials, and more using bold imagery and typography, so it’s always a “must have” for Shopify store owners.
Stores with larger inventories can benefit from built-in filtering features that are both practical and add a polished look to stores. If your store is smaller, however, be sure to consider if adding the multi-tag feature will truly be useful for your customers. For stores with smaller inventories, filtering can quickly result in little or even no products matching the criterion shoppers specify.
You can now easily organize your store and users’ experience using “sub collections.” Keep in mind that in Shopify there’s technically no such thing as a “sub collection,” but this theme feature makes it easier to help you create that type of organizational system.
Your conversion funnel can be more “slippery” with the ability to let customers preview shipping costs and prevent surprises later on. In addition, showing automatic discounts on the cart page is also a great way to reduce frustration and improve conversions since shoppers see that they are getting a good value earlier in the process.
For stores with large inventories, infinite scrolling is a great way to encourage users to continue to delve deeper into your offerings in a way that’s either done “magically” on its own or without requiring a page reload. However, keep in mind that this feature could look a bit out of place if you don’t have collection or search result pages that return many results.
The product page, which is so important in communicating what your product and company are all about, can now be made even more rich and immersive. You can use these new sections to engage users with a variety of additional content and information. However, keep in mind that more content inevitably increases page load time. That said, prioritizing content hierarchy is a good strategy to use here so that users get the most important information near the top of the page.
Call to actions can now be made even more distinct with the additional font options added in Flex 1.1.0. You’ll want to make sure that your font selections and settings coordinate well with the rest of your site design while also standing out clearly in order to optimize your conversion rate.
Keep in mind that this feature list is just the start. As always, you can see a full list of changes, fixes and new features in the Flex changelog, which is updated every time there’s a release.
By the way, our feature releases are not limited to just Flex and Turbo. The Out of the Sandbox team reviews thousands of customer requests for new features each year and works to prioritize the ones that can be effectively implemented according to our high standards while also making sure our theme users always have exciting and useful features to use.
Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn. While comments and feedback are always appreciated, Michael regrets that, due to the volume of inquires received, personal responses are not possible. For specific assistance or support with Out of the Sandbox themes, visit the help center.