Overview of Metafields in Shopify’s Online Store 2.0

By Ablestar, August 18, 2021

In the Summer of 2021 Shopify announced they were making significant changes to how themes and apps work. Referred to as “Online Store 2.0”, the changes focus on improving the speed, data models and developer experience of Shopify themes.

One of the major changes has to do with metafields. While Shopify has supported metafields for years, the new changes make them easier to use and more standard across themes and apps. In this article we’ll cover what metafields are, what the new ‘metafield definitions’ mean for store owners, and how you can quickly edit metafields with our Bulk Product Editor app

What are Metafields?

You can think of metafields as custom fields that you can add to products or variants in Shopify. Each product (or variant) in Shopify has a standard set of fields that you can edit. For example, a product has a title, description, vendor etc.. These standard fields cover a lot of uses but they fall short when you need a custom field. If you want to store a subtitle for product, a color for a variant, or a text with washing instructions there’s no standard field that you can use.

Shopify created metafields to address these needs. For any product or variant you can add a metafield to store your custom data. In other words, you can attach the ‘subtitle’ or ‘washing instructions’ data to your product, or a ‘color’ to your variant.

A few examples of things you can store as metafields are:

  • A product subtitle
  • The color of a variant
  • An ISBN/UPC/EAN number
  • A product’s rating

Shopify has supported metafields for as long as we can remember (at least since 2016) but until these changes they were difficult to use and hidden from most users.

What changes did Shopify announce?

There’s three major updates to the metafields in Online Store 2.0:

  • Shopify introduced the concept of “Metafield Definitions” in the Shopify admin
  • You can edit metafields in the Shopify admin, you no longer need another app to view them
  • Themes can link directly to metafields you choose

What are Metafield Definitions?

Metafield definitions allow you to pre-define which metafields you want to have on your store. This has three advantages:

  • Standardizing the names of the metafields you use on your store
  • Supporting additional types of data, now metafields can store values like colors and references to other products
  • Allowing metafields to be edited directly from the Shopify admin

Prior to this update, you could have arbitrary metafields on your store but there was no way to manage them or make sure collaborators used them correctly.

You can create metafield definitions by logging into your Shopify admin and going to Settings -> Metafields and you can learn more about them in Shopify’s documentation.

How can you edit metafields in the Bulk Product Editor?

We made some major updates to our Bulk Product Editor app to fully support metafields and metafield definitions. Now you can:

  • Search for products by metafield
  • Bulk edit metafields the same as any other product field (eg, price)
  • Modify existing metafields, for example, adding the vendor’s name to an existing metafield
  • Use a spreadsheet to update metafields
  • Undo edits that contain metafields

Conclusion

The new metafields make it a lot easier to store additional data related to your products in Shopify. This data can then be integrated into your themes, fulfillment or marketing processes to provide a more customizable shopping experience.