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Shopify vs. Shopify Plus: What's the Difference?

If you are running an online store or want to start one, you're likely either already using or planning to use Shopify, one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world. With its easy setup, unlimited theme customization options, simple pricing, multiple marketing and sales features, it is considered one of the best solutions for e-commerce business owners around the world. Its popularity is confirmed by the fact that currently, there are 2,353,057 live stores on the Shopify platform (according to a Storeleads report). 

Shopify was initially created for small and medium-sized businesses to enable them to create fully functional online stores for DTC sales (Direct-to-Consumer). But what if your business's complexity goes beyond standard Shopify offerings? Does Shopify have a plan for global companies with skyrocketing sales? Yes, it does! It offers an enterprise ecommerce solution with access to advanced features and customization aimed at fast-growing global brands. It is called Shopify Plus. 

What is Shopify Plus?

Shopify Plus is an upgraded version of Shopify designed for large businesses dealing with high-volume sales and millions of monthly orders, bringing over $1 million in annual revenue. This plan is significantly more expensive than other Shopify plans. Still, the higher price unlocks more storefront features like international shipping, international payment processing in multiple currencies and languages, real-time analytics tracking, automation capabilities, dedicated support, and more integrations compared to Shopify's basic plans.

The prices of Shopify and Shopify Plus

Shopify's standard plans have simple and straightforward pricing tiers:

  • Basic Plan: $39 monthly + 2.9% and 30¢ per transaction.

  • Shopify Plan: $105 monthly + 2.7% and 30¢ per transaction.

  • Advanced Plan: $399 monthly + 2.5% and 30¢ per transaction. 

You can try any of them for free with a free three-day trial to help you determine which one best suits your needs and budget. A 25% discount on the above-mentioned prices is available for annual subscribers.  As mentioned above, Shopify's standard plans come with fees for online and in-store transactions for non-Shopify payments. 

Shopify Plus offers many more features than Shopify's standard plans, but it comes at a significantly higher cost. The price tag starts at $2,300 on a 3-year term or $2,500 for a 1-year term, monthly. While most sellers fall into this category, this pricing tear is more complex than the standard plans as the final fee you'll have to pay is based on sales volumes. Once you reach a specific limit in monthly sales, the charging system will change to the Shopify revenue and business model, where you pay Shopify 0.25% of sales (up to a maximum of $40,000). Additionally, for non-Shopify payments, you will be charged a fee of 0.15% to 0.30% per credit card transaction, which is still much less than regular Shopify plans. So, to determine how much it will cost for your business, you will need to consult with Shopify. 

The fee for Shopify Plus subscription might be significant for a small business but is relatively minor for a large enterprise-level company. Because of its cost, Shopify Plus is more than just the standard top-tier Shopify plan. Instead, the software that targets enterprise sellers with both the funds and the need for a higher level of support.

What are the main differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus?

The main difference between Shopify and Shopify Plus is that they are intended for a different customer base. Shopify is aimed at smaller businesses, while Shopify Plus targets larger enterprises. As mentioned on the Shopify websites, stores typically upgrade to Plus when their online sales reach about $80,000 monthly.

Both Shopify and Shopify Plus have the same core offering, which includes the basic ecommerce features and a dashboard, but Shopify Plus offers greater customization, flexibility, support options, integrations, automated workflows, and access to the store's underlying code. 

Shopify Plus Special Features:

  • A dedicated account manager

  • The Merchant Success Program

  • Shopify Plus Partners Program

  • Customized checkout

  • Unlimited staff accounts

  • More API integrations

  • Headless ecommerce 

  • Exclusive Shopify Plus apps

  • Multi-store & multi-currency management

  • B2B solution

  • Advanced analytics 

Dedicated Account Manager

Both Shopify and Shopify Plus offer customer support via phone, email, and live chat. However, Shopify Plus goes a step further by providing access to dedicated account managers. These managers offer one-on-one support, assisting with any inquiries or issues regarding your store and helping you launch and navigate everything needed to get up and running. They can provide guidance on various tasks, from configuring personalized shipping rates to integrating with third-party software solutions. Having a dedicated account manager is beneficial as over time, the account manager becomes familiar with your business, understands its unique needs, and eliminates the need to explain your situation to different support representatives each time you contact support.

The Merchant Success Program

You’ll get access to a team of merchant success managers as part of Shopify merchant success program. This team is trained to help merchants grow and scale their business. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Roadmap to success where you will get guidance and learn best practices from your dedicated success manager to create and execute a tailored growth plan.

  • Industry knowledge where you receive valuable information and best practices that Shopify has collected over many years by working directly with thousands of brands in various industries. Your success manager will help you apply these insights to your business.

  • Shopify Plus Community, where you will be able to join an exclusive Facebook group for Shopify Plus users, providing a network and support system for these relatively rare merchants. Your success manager can help you connect with peers and industry leaders.

  • Shopify Plus Academy, where you will be able to engage in interactive, on-demand courses that target your commerce expertise and support your growth with guidance from your success manager on which courses might be most beneficial.

Shopify Plus Partners Program

Basic Shopify plans require you to set up everything yourself with some help from Shopify's customer support team. Shopify Plus offers not only dedicated support but also the Shopify Plus Partner Program, which allows connecting with a network of experienced professionals who specialize in various aspects of running an ecommerce business. You can work with Shopify experts to build and launch your top-quality site, or you can find e-commerce experts to help you with issues like inventory management and marketing. Shopify Plus Partners Program also provides access to experts in key industries such as beauty, consumer electronics, fashion, and more who can offer specialized assistance in setting up a store in your particular industry.

Customized checkout

When your customers are ready to purchase, but something goes wrong at the checkout page, you will likely lose your sale. So, it is vital to make the experience at this stage of a customer journey seamless and tailored to each client. While checkout pages customization on core Shopify plans are limited, Shopify Plus allows businesses to create personalized experiences in the shopping cart and at checkout. It used to be done through the checkout.liquid file, but currently, the checkout page is customizable via Checkout Extensibility. With Checkout Extensibility, merchants cannot directly edit the checkout page's HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as they could with the checkout.liquid file. Instead, Checkout Extensibility provides a more structured and controlled approach to customizing the checkout process through predefined APIs and UI extensions. While merchants still have flexibility in customizing various aspects of the checkout experience, such as adding custom fields, modifying layout elements, and implementing specific functionalities, these modifications are made within the framework provided by Shopify's Checkout Extensibility features. This approach ensures that customizations adhere to Shopify's standards, security protocols, and platform updates, reducing the risk of compatibility issues, security vulnerabilities, and conflicts with core functionality.

Unlimited Staff Accounts

Basic Shopify plans have a cap on how many employees can have individual login credentials to access the store’s admin panel (from 5 to 15).  In contrast, Shopify Plus offers unlimited staff accounts, allowing an unrestricted number of employees to have individual access to the store's admin panel. This feature is helpful for enterprises, as a smaller business won’t typically require many staff accounts. While standard plans have standard permission settings, allowing some level of control over what staff members can do within the admin panel, Shopify Plus provides more detailed and granular permission settings. It means you can set specific permissions for different tasks, such as exporting reports or managing apps, and have more control over who is allowed to do what. In the admin panel, it is possible to control and monitor the actions of chosen team members, creating a safer and more organized way for team members to work together.

More API Integrations

API stands for application programming interface. It is software that allows different applications to communicate with each other and expand their functionality. Some Shopify APIs like Admin AP, Storefront API, and Ajax API are available in all Shopify plans. Still, Shopify Plus users have much more flexibility when it comes to API integrations. They can integrate their ecommerce store with their existing ERP or CRM systems more easily and access some exclusive Shopify Plus APIs. A few examples of Shopify Plus API solutions include:

  • Gift Card API: Allows merchants to create unique gift cards that can be redeemed in-store or online.

  • Multipass API: Enables unified customer logins across multiple platforms, such as forums, websites, and online stores, providing a seamless user experience.

  • User API: Provides access to information about staff permissions on Shopify, allowing merchants to manage user roles and permissions programmatically.

Headless Ecommerce 

Shopify Plus offers a Headless Ecommerce, an architecture where the front-end presentation layer (the "head") and the back-end commerce functionality are decoupled and they communicate via APIs. You can even use an entirely custom front-end solution while using Shopify’s unique ecommerce tools for back-end management. Headless commerce's key benefits are increased flexibility, scalability, and customization options. Additionally, headless architecture enables seamless integration with various front-end frameworks and technologies, allowing businesses to create unique and engaging customer experiences. Typically, it requires more technical know-how than regular ecommerce setup, but Shopify Plus offers a React-based headless stack to make it easier.

Exclusive Shopify Plus Apps

Shopify has an app store with over 8,000 apps, offering a wide range of tools and features to enhance your ecommerce store's functionality, from marketing and SEO to inventory management and customer service. However, Shopify Plus has some exclusive advanced apps that enhance the store’s operation. For instance, the Launchpad app offers advanced tools for creating and running events such as product releases and seasonal sales. You can schedule your event, automate discounts and temporary theme changes, customize what products/quantities of products are available, and add line item scripts such as “Buy One/Get One” to appear on relevant product pages during the event. Launchpad also gives you access to a real-time analytics dashboard that only displays data relevant to the event in question, allowing you to separate the event’s success from the overall analytics of your store. Or, ShopifyQL Notebooks, which is an app specifically designed to provide advanced analytics and reporting capabilities for Shopify Plus merchants. It enhances the ability to create custom queries and visualize data, complementing the comprehensive analytics dashboard already available in Shopify Plus. 

More Detailed Reporting and Analytics

Both Shopify and Shopify Plus provide analytics. However, with Shopify Plus, you can access a comprehensive analytics dashboard with a wide range of statistics, such as customer data, sales data, top-performing products, landing pages, referrers, and customer retention rates. Merchants can create professional custom reports and stay updated with real-time information about their store. It’s especially important for businesses with multiple stores in different markets because it quickly shows even small trends in data, allowing for a timely response. If you need even more detailed analytics, Shopify Plus allows you to access advanced data about your store and customers by partnering with top analytics companies. 

Multi-Store & Multi-Currency Management

Shopify Plus enables multiple-store management within a single subscription, i.e. it allows users to create up to 9 extension stores related to the same brand along the main store. These stores are usually used to offer unique storefronts based on customers' locations and preferred languages, providing a more personalized geographic experience with localized product offerings, multilingual stores, and local currencies. If you create additional stores instead of using the standard Shopify admin, you gain access to the organization admin. From this admin interface, you can manage all your store's product inventory, monitor and manage sales activities, handle customer information and interactions, and more. The organization admin provides an overview of key analytics data, such as total sales and orders, in one place.

Selling B2B with Wholesale Channel

Shopify provides a robust solution for businesses looking to expand into B2B (Business-to-Business) sales. While DTC means a store selling directly to individual customers, B2B means selling to other businesses, often in bulk.  Currently, Shopify is transitioning from the Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel to a new B2B solution integrated directly into the core Shopify admin. The Shopify B2B solution allows merchants to create a separate, password-protected storefront specifically designed for B2B customers. It means your wholesale customers can receive a personalized shopping experience different from your retail customers. You can set up customized price lists for different wholesale clients, offering specific discounts or tiered pricing based on order quantities or customer groups, and set order quantity thresholds, unique product visibility, or unique payment gateways for different clients.

When to Consider Upgrading to Shopify Plus

You should consider upgrading to Shopify Plus when your business has significant sales volume and high monthly profits. Ideally, your business should be earning about 1 million dollars annually. 

In addition to this revenue milestone, consider upgrading in the case of:

  • You have a large and expanding customer base.

  • You operate globally, with customers scattered around the globe.

  • You want to run multiple shops and/or operate different points of sale (POS).

  • You desire complete control over the entire sales process from start to finish.

  • You have numerous inventory locations to manage.

  • You have many employees and need unlimited user accounts.

  • You want to offer customer-based prices and shipping rates.

  • You frequently perform repetitive tasks and need eCommerce automation tools.

Bottom Line

Shopify is a user-friendly platform for e-commerce businesses of all sizes, from small startups to large brands with multiple locations. While many businesses will need to upgrade their Shopify plans as they grow, Shopify's standard plans are usually more than enough if you’re not operating at an enterprise level. However, if the enterprise is where you’re at, you already have a large e-commerce business and want a more flexible solution, then Shopify Plus is your best choice. Shopify Plus will also be useful if you have significant startup funds and confidence in your products. However, if you're not generating or not likely to generate millions in annual revenue, it's best to stick with Shopify's regular plans until your business grows further.

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Maryna Kharchenko

12/06/2024

Business
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