There are a lot of ecommerce platforms available for businesses and individuals, each with their own pros and cons to the unique requirements of each business or individual. One platform that has appealed to small and medium sized business owners for more than a decade, is Shopify. Part of the appeal lies in the fact that Shopify is a managed solution, and maintaining a store is fairly easy, even for anyone intimidated by technology.
We recently published our own take on the best ecommerce platforms available, but when it came to Shopify, we focused on Shopify Plus. The difference between Shopify and Shopify Plus is significant enough to warrant a separate mini-site, and exclusion from the standard pricing plans.
Choosing the best Shopify plan for your ecommerce store isn’t that complicated, but how do you decide whether Shopify or Shopify Plus is actually better for you?
What is Shopify Plus?
If you imagined the Shopify platform as a plane, the standard plans would fall into Economy Class, through to Business Class. And Shopify Plus would be First Class: the same platform, but with additional high-end features, and a higher level of service, but at a premium price.
Shopify Plus is not an entirely different product to Shopify; it is essentially the same product, but tailored to be an enterprise-grade solution for high-volume merchants, and large businesses.
How Does Shopify Differ From Shopify Plus?
With Shopify Plus, the Shopify team aren’t reimagining the infamous “some animals are more equal than others” line from Animal Farm. Instead, they are acknowledging that business requirements in an ecommerce platform differ according to the size of the business, and the volume of transactions processed.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the features that are exclusive to Shopify Plus, or that differ from what is offered on other Shopify plans:
- Migrating from one ecommerce platform to another is no small task, and it is a decision that is seldom made in haste. With Shopify Plus, every migration is assigned a dedicated Launch Engineer to help coordinate every aspect of the migration.
- Shopify Plus clients are assigned a dedicated Merchant Success Manager to not only offer valuable advice and insight, but to also help you strategize for future growth and success.
- Powerful ecommerce automation tools like Flow, Launchpad, and Scripts are exclusively available to Shopify Plus clients. These tools make it easy to automate a variety of common ecommerce tasks, from promotions and discounts, through to tagging high-value customers, and unpublishing out-of-stock items.
- Merchants that sell both B2C and B2B can easily create a dedicated wholesale channel, with restricted access. Through this channel you are able to offer different pricing and discount structures to your regular sales channel, right down to individual custom pricing.
- While Shopify clients can automate some of the processes involved in sales tax filing through a paid add-on, Shopify Plus clients get free access to the far more powerful Avalara AvaTax solution.
- Many ecommerce merchants start off selling to a limited – often local – market, but as the business grows, so too does the opportunity to expand into multiple international markets. While all Shopify clients are able to offer store checkout in 50+ languages, being able to easily offer local currency payment options, and shipping options is limited to Shopify Plus clients. Regular Shopify clients are able to create multi-region shops, but this involves setting up – and managing – multiple separate stores.
- Shopify Plus clients have a greater ability to personalise checkout pages than regular Shopify clients. Shopify clients are able to customise some elements of their checkout, but this is limited primarily to certain images, colour, and fonts. Shopify Plus clients can, through the use of the Liquid templating language, create a checkout page wholly unique to their brand. This makes it possible to use common conversion optimisation techniques to reduce fear, build trust, and reinforce benefits, and it is even possible to incorporate Shopify Scripts in the checkout process in Shopify Plus.
When is Shopify Plus a Better Choice Than Shopify?
Shopify Plus is not the exclusive reserve of large businesses; it is also a great solution for any business processing a high-volume of online transactions.
Bombas, a sock company launched in 2013, is not a large company in the traditional sense. They don’t have a large physical footprint, and they employ fewer than 100 people. However, between 2013 and 2016 they went from processing 500 transactions a day, to more than 4,000 transactions a day, with annual revenue shooting from $300,000 to more than $4m. Shopify Plus was a better choice than Shopify for Bombas not only because of the high-volume of transactions they needed to process, but also because they needed to migrate an existing – and rapidly growing – business from one ecommerce platform to another.
If you’re an existing Shopify client, Shopify Plus becomes the better choice naturally, as your business grows. But as a non-Shopify client, Shopify Plus is a better choice than Shopify when any of the following apply:
- You need expert guidance in migrating from another platform.
- You are a large business, with a large product catalogue, or a medium-sized business processing a high-volume of transactions.
- You want to be able to offer customers the ability to pay in their local currency, and/or the ability to select different shipping options based on their location.
- You have a need for a wholesale channel through which you you are able to offer wholesale-specific products and collections, or set custom prices only your most valuable customers will see.
If none of the above apply to you, one of the standard Shopify plans would be a better choice, especially since the Shopify platform is designed to scale according to your individual needs.
Like Chubbies, a brand ‘born’ on Shopify, not all businesses start out needing an enterprise-grade ecommerce platform. But as your business grows, so too do the demands on your platform of choice. Using a platform that is able to accommodate you from when you are a home-based startup, through to when you are a large, multichannel operation, processing thousands of transactions daily, means you are able to focus on the demands of your business, rather than the infrastructure required to keep your ecommerce store online.
One of the biggest differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus – and one not mentioned earlier in this article – is cost. While Shopify costs up to USD 299, the cost of Shopify Plus starts at around USD 2,000 per month, but is calculated according to the needs of each business, taking into account expected transaction volume, site traffic, and other variables. This is why Shopify Plus is regularly promoted as an ideal solution for large businesses, or businesses processing a high-volume of transactions. But as we have previously written, smaller businesses should still consider Shopify’s standard plans, which would make transitioning to Shopify Plus at a later stage easier.