What is Shopify Oxygen

Headless development and headless commerce are more popular than ever and many e-commerce sites like Shopify are at the forefront of ever-evolving changes. One such new development is Shopify Oxygen - but first, let’s take a quick look at Shopify Hydrogen so that the bigger picture can be understood.

What is Shopify Hydrogen?

Shopify Hydrogen is a React-based framework designed to enable developers to create customised Shopify storefronts. This framework equips you with everything necessary to deliver highly personalised and unique shopping experiences more efficiently than ever before.

Shopify's Hydrogen framework allows for the creation of custom, lightning-fast storefronts. It provides the building blocks for a fully customised shopping experience, from product pages to checkout flows. However, managing the server infrastructure behind them can be a hassle. This is where Shopify Oxygen comes in and makes the process more streamlined.

What is Shopify Oxygen?

Shopify Oxygen is a theme framework built specifically for Shopify. It's designed to offer more flexibility and customisation options compared to Shopify's standard themes. Oxygen allows developers to create custom storefronts with a focus on performance and user experience.

Think of Shopify Oxygen as the engine room for your Hydrogen storefront. It provides a secure and scalable hosting environment specifically built for these next-generation shopping experiences. With Oxygen, you can ditch the complexities of server management and focus on creating an exceptional customer journey. Shopify Oxygen ensures your Hydrogen storefront runs smoothly and delivers a blazing-fast experience for your customers.

What are the Benefits of Shopify Oxygen & Hydrogen?

Global Reach

Shopify Hydrogen leverages Shopify's global network of servers, ensuring your storefront loads quickly no matter where your customers are located.

Smart Caching

Hydrogen includes built-in caching controls to enhance speed and performance, managing complex data and minimising API calls. This improves loading times for your website content resulting in improved user experience.

Effortless Deployment

With the ability to deploy and manage your Hydrogen storefront directly on Shopify's platform, this allows for a seamless workflow and better developer experience. Also having in house deployment as opposed to third party providers means that you are not bound by others when quick changes need to occur.

Reusable Components

With the Hydrogen framework, you can easily reuse components that you create which results in less time spent developing the components and more time focused on ensuring a better user experience across your store. By having reusable components, it also allows you to roll out new features and ideas much more quickly.


In addition to reusable components, scalability is also a key feature of Shopify Hydrogen. As the frontend and backend are decoupled (separated from each other), it allows for much smoother scaling of platforms as your business grows and expands to meet demand.

Testing Made Easy

Shopify Oxygen provides multiple deployment environments, allowing you to thoroughly test and preview changes before making them live on your storefront. That way you have confidence in the features and updates that you are shipping out.

Seamless Integration

Shopify Oxygen integrates smoothly with popular CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment) tools like Github, streamlining the deployment process.

What are the limitations of Shopify Oxygen & Hydrogen?

Content Management System

Unlike traditional themes, Hydrogen does not include a built-in content management system (CMS). This means managing tasks such as writing blog posts or updating item descriptions may require a third party CMS solution.

Dependency on Shopify

Shopify Oxygen is designed specifically for Hydrogen storefronts, locking you into Shopify's ecosystem. While this offers tight integration, it limits flexibility compared to platforms supporting various headless commerce frameworks.

One Hydrogen build per Shopify store

Currently, it's only possible to host one Hydrogen build per store. This limitation restricts the creation of multiple storefronts using a single product database.

Complex for beginners

While powerful, headless commerce is inherently more complex than using standard Shopify themes. Smaller businesses or those new to e-commerce may find this complexity overwhelming especially if you are lacking in programming skills or have limited developer support.

Developer Reliance

If it is complex for you, you will want a development team to help you. Creating and maintaining a Hydrogen store will require skilled developers who are familiar with React and headless setups. For businesses without in-house expertise, this reliance on specialised developers can be costly.

Is Shopify Oxygen Free?

Yes! Shopify Oxygen is a complimentary service included with your Shopify plan. This makes it an attractive option for merchants looking to build a custom Hydrogen storefront without additional hosting costs.

Shopify Oxygen takes the complexity out of managing your Hydrogen storefront. With its global reach, seamless deployment, and integration with popular developer tools, Oxygen empowers you to focus on creating a unique and engaging shopping experience for your customers. It is certainly worth looking into if you want to leverage the power of Hydrogen and headless for your e-commerce store.