Shopify vs. Shopify Plus - when should you make the leap?

By Laura Kluz | Mar 11, 2019

It’s one of the fastest growing ecommerce platforms on the market today, and it’s not hard to see why.

Shopify has made a name for itself as as a trusted, secure and reliable ecommerce platform; one that allows merchants to focus on their business rather than fiddling around with tricky technology and risky security concerns.

In part, this has to do with it’s hosted nature - all of the upkeep, troubleshooting and security are managed by Shopify.

As Shopify merchants grow, their needs become more complex. They want a powerful platform that can support them on their journey; one with more functionality and customization opportunities than what regular Shopify offers. 

Enter Shopify Plus, Shopify's enterprise solution for rapidly growing businesses. It’s got some pretty sweet capabilities that Shopify doesn’t offer on its lower tier plans. Many merchants may question when it’s time to make the jump from regular Shopify plans to Shopify Plus.

We’re here to answer that very question. :)

When should you make the leap to Plus?

We’ve found that Plus starts to make sense for merchants when they reach around $1-2 million in annual revenue. It's not the revenue that triggers the need, but we've found that it's around this mark when the extra support and unique features of Plus start to make it worth the investment for their business.

So let’s look at a few of the key features of Shopify Plus to see how it compares to regular Shopify and help you determine whether the additional cost is worth it to you.

Superior Support | Checkout Customization | Functionality for Growth

Superior Support

If there was one aspect of Plus that hooks merchants, this might just be it.

When you’re generating more than $1 million in revenue, site issues, important questions and other concerns need to be quickly resolved, or there can be a real impact to your bottom line. Shopify understands this, and aims to help sort the issue and get you back in action - fast. With Shopify’s Merchant Success Program, merchants can find the right support at the right time.

This program takes five forms:

  •  A dedicated, 24/7 access line with Plus-trained specialists. This helps you skip past the lower tier support and get straight to the advanced support team. You’ve essentially got the “red phone” into Shopify for your store, which is a nice insurance policy in a scenario where times equals money.

  • An encyclopedia of online training videos, also known as The Shopify Plus Academy. Here, you can find business tools, live workshops and training videos covering a surprisingly wide range of topics (from design to SEO).

  • To help merchants grow and scale, Shopify has created the Merchant Growth Model. They’ve identified six key business areas across five levels of business maturity, and they’ll guide you through them all. 

  • Plus merchants are always in the know when it comes to platform updates and enhancement features. You’ll receive consistent updates, thanks to their weekly newsletter.

  • Lastly, Shopify offers a great Facebook community where merchants can connect with 3,000+ partners and entrepreneurs - all of whom have experience navigating a business on Shopify. 

Bonus: If you are migrating from another platform (such as Magento) or if you’ve got a new build, Plus also provides you with a Launch Engineer. This engineer adds technical expertise to guide you through the process (your Launch Engineer works with you between the time you sign up for Plus and the time you launch on Plus).

Checkout Customization

As a hosted platform, developers don’t have full access to Shopify’s underlying code, so there are limitations to what can be done. One of which is customizing the checkout.

With Plus however, stores have access to customize this page, making room for a branded checkout experience, conversion optimization tweaks and solving other unique technical concerns which can add to growth.

Functionality for Growth

As a platform, Shopify is continuously releasing tools to enhance merchant experience. There are a few features within Plus that offer some pretty unique abilities that aren’t available to regular plans. 

Scripts: This app has the power to change up your store’s metrics with its custom pricing models. Scripts gives merchants the ability to bundle products, offer promotions (such as a free item with purchase), as well as give price breaks on multiple purchases or to specific customers or groups. Using Scripts, you can also change shipping methods and offer shipping discounts as well.


script

Script

Script

Script

/

Launchpad: For merchants who run flash sales or product launch events, this is the app you’ll want. Launchpad offers a suite of automation capabilities to schedule events (Note: an event consists of one or more actions: publishing product(s), applying discounts to particular products or collections, publishing an unpublished theme or enabling a script). It’s also got an analytics dashboard so you can run reports and track its success.

Launchpad

Launchpad

Launchpad

/

The true power of these two tools comes in the form of automation.

Both Scripts and Launchpad can work together nicely to create and schedule flash sales in advance, putting your holiday sales on autopilot. 

Flow: This is ecommerce automation at its finest, and in our opinion, one of the best features of Plus. Shopify Flow provides merchants with the ability to automate backend processes with its unique workflows. It’s a pretty cool tool, and has the power to free up a ton of you (and your staff’s!) time. Think of it like a souped-up, friendly Zapier, inside your Shopify admin. 

Shopify Flo

Flow

Shopify Flow

Shopify Flow

/

Shopify is working hard to upgrade and improve Flow. They recently launched Shopify Connectors, which allows apps to talk to each other. For example, you can have Loyalty Lion (one of our favorite loyalty apps) trigger an event when you might be at risk of losing a customer. It can then tell Klaviyo to send a win-back sequence to that customer.

All without either app knowing about the other - it’s just connected with Flow.

Here are some other pretty good features of Plus:

  • Multi-Currency: The most recent addition to the Plus platform, this functionality allows stores to sell in multiple currencies when using Shopify Payments (which can be a problem for some shops, if Shopify Payments isn’t available in their country). This is a big step up, though. Previously, the store’s default currency always displayed at checkout - a pretty big barrier for global growth.

    While Plus is making it easier to expand across borders, your store’s default language will still always be displayed at checkout - even if a developer is able to change the language on the storefront. This is a pretty big pain point. Though, it was announced at Unite that multi-language is on its way! (Shopify dashboards are now available in German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese.)

    Merchants deal with this issue by cloning their stores into multiple languages. With Plus, merchants can have up to nine cloned stores without paying for another plan. We see this a lot for languages, but also for wholesale sites as well. 

  • API Access: With Plus, you’ll receive increased API access. This can come in handy for high volume merchants connecting to outside parties like an ERP system. Shopify can also increase your API limit during a migration (if needed), to speed up the process.

  • Bandwidth: Plus offers unlimited bandwidth, so you can rest assured knowing your store can handle a high influx of traffic. With Plus, you’ve also got 200TB worth of storage, which is quite impressive.

So now that we have explored the main features of Plus, let’s look at the true cost of the platform.

Regular Shopify plans start at $29 and go up to $299 per month. Plus plans start at $2,000 per month. Once a store starts to make $800,000 or more per month, the pricing changes to a revenue-based model - 0.25% of their monthly revenue. (This post explores a more detailed breakdown of the cost of Shopify Plus.) 

We have found Shopify to be a great platform that offers merchants the ability to concentrate on other aspects of their business. It’s reliability is enticing for all merchants, but the comprehensive features of Plus provide larger-scale merchants with the tools to focus on growth.

Laura Kluz

Laura Kluz

Laura Kluz is a digital marketer at Fuel Made who specializes in the world of ecommerce. She's a Canadian who loves making maple syrup, trail running in the mountains and baking cookies at least once a week.