Shopify Plus vs Shopify: Which is best for your Shopify store?

More than a decade ago, I was looking for snowboards and landed on this website called SnowDevil. It was way ahead of its time. I did not buy anything from it and even forgot about the store. Years later, someone directed me to Shopify, and I realized the same team launched it. I was sold on the idea.
After having consulted hundreds of eCommerce businesses for Shopify development, I can say with some authority that the technology platform has virtually changed how merchants try their hands at eCommerce. And Shopify Plus is the premium offering in the basket.

Over the years, I have worked on both Shopify Plus vs Shopify. Here is a comprehensive post to help you understand which one will work for you the best. Without wasting much time, let’s dive in together!

Shopify Plus vs Shopify' Pricing: The 'Million-Dollar Question’

Let’s quickly revise what we know about Shopify’s pricing plans. You can choose from Basic Shopify (USD 29/month), Shopify (USD 79/month), and Advanced Shopify (USD 299/month). Even if you are making a splash with your Shopify store, it would not be easy to spend more than USD 3,600 annually for the core offerings.

Now, let’s jump to Shopify Plus. You can either pay USD 2,000 per month or 0.25% of the monthly sales, whichever is higher. This means that even at the lowest, your expense on Shopify will jump to approximately USD 24,000 annually – a 6x increase.

Shopify Plus vs Shopify: Pros and Cons

Let’s understand the pros and cons of both the offerings before delving into the technicalities.

Shopify:

Pros Cons
Cost-effective. At the maximum, you will be paying USD 3,600 for the core offerings. Limited staff accounts, even in the Advanced plan.
Since the highest cost is easily calculated, you can predict your expenses with a greater degree of confidence. Support is available, but it takes time.
Shopify team provides support over chat, mails, and calls almost 24 x 7. Changing the theme is a costly affair. You have to realign all the content.
Historically, Shopify stores have had an uptime of approximately 99.99%. You don't need coding expertise to set up the store, but if you want to customize or change the custom Shopify theme entirely, you might need experience with HTML5, CSS3, and even JavaScript.
It is not easy to integrate third-party apps.

Shopify Plus:

Pros Cons
You get a dedicated Launch Engineer. You will be paying at least $24,000 a year.
You get unlimited staff accounts. If your sales are not consistently projected, it might be challenging to forecast the percentage-based payable fee.
You get access to the Wholesale channel – ideal for B2B businesses. The core offerings of the eCommerce store are still the same.
You get access to several exclusive apps like Shopify Flow, Launchpad, Script Editor, Transporter, and Bulk Account Inviter. You might need some coding experience with Liquid to edit the store themes.
Value-added resources like the Facebook Community, the Merchant Success Program, and the Shopify Plus Academy.
99.98% uptime guarantee.
Support for seamless API integration.

5 Things Shopify Plus Has that Shopify Doesn’t:

1. Unlimited Staff Accounts.

Almost every major business I helped get started with Shopify faced the issue of having limited staff accounts. For businesses with global operations or are growing at a fast pace, having 15 staff accounts is just not enough.

Shopify Plus solves that problem with its unlimited Staff Accounts. You can also edit access available to each account and monitor its activity.

2. Exclusive Apps like Flow, Launchpad, Script Editor, Transporter App, and Bulk Inviter.

Ecommerce businesses can now use these apps that can grow their efficiency exponentially without the help of any custom software development partner:

  • Shopify Flow: It uses a setup of triggers, conditions, and actions to assist you in automating your store’s e-commerce processes.
  • Launchpad: A pre-configured setup for automating flash sales and product launches.
  • Script Editor: It helps you create custom checkout experiences based on cart value.
  • Transporter App: This is a tool for bulk exporting customer, order, and product data.
  • Bulk Inviter: If you have recently migrated to a new store and have imported customer data, you can send them invites for activating their accounts on the new store.

Each one of these apps has practically replaced key highly-priced offerings of third-party Shopify developers.

3. Access to the Wholesale Channel, Dedicated Launch Engineer, and Merchant Success Program.

It was not easy to run a wholesale B2B business with Shopify until now because such businesses’ transaction flow and dynamics are different from their B2C counterparts. I believe Shopify has done a great job in locating this need and fulfilling it with the support for the wholesale channel available only with Shopify Plus.
The Launch Engineer can help mitigate the friction of launching a large-scale Shopify store which often comes with several server configurations, security updates, and integrations. The Merchant Success Program takes it a step ahead and offers the needed support throughout the merchant lifecycle on the Shopify Plus platform.

4. Uptime Guarantee.

Most sellers on Shopify have observed 99.99% uptime historically, which translates to approximately one hour of downtime in a year. While the performance is great by all standards, it is not guaranteed. With Shopify Plus, the platform is promising 99.98% of uptime.
I know what you are thinking – why will you pay more for lesser uptime? The answer is in the assurance. Shopify Plus ‘promises’ 99.98% uptime. This means your worst-possible scenario will now stand within the 0.01% margin of your best-possible scenario. And, if you have hundreds of sales within that hour of difference, it might be worth considering Shopify Plus.

You Finally Have Greater Control on the Store Themes with Shopify Liquid.

I hear you. Shopify theme customization has been the Achilles’ heel for most merchants for a very long time. An entire industry for customized Shopify themes has mushroomed because of the pain-point.
Shopify has somewhat solved the problem with Liquid – its language for templates. You can check out the documentation for the language here, a basic introduction here, and a cheat sheet for the developers here. So, instead of dealing with several languages, you can invest your time understanding the underpinnings of one.

When Should You Go with Shopify Plus?

The simple answer to that question is – when you can afford it. If your sales allow you to spend USD 2,000 or 0.25% of the sales every month for Shopify Plus, you should consider trying it. But, the applicable answer requires a little more work.

You can take one of these approaches to evaluate whether Shopify Plus is good for you:

  • Revenue Benchmark: Over 500,000 merchants use Shopify, and about 5,300 have upgraded to Shopify Plus. That is 1% of the total user base, meaning only about 1 in 100 Shopify merchants upgrade to Shopify Plus. In 2019, the average Shopify merchant was making about $61,000 in annual revenues. Assuming the top 1% of the merchants were making 100 times this, their annual revenue comes to approximately $6 million. This quite accurately converts to the estimate that Shopify Plus is suitable for enterprise eCommerce businesses with revenues of over $500,000 per month.
  • Breakeven Benchmark: Assuming the same $61,000 average revenues, Shopify merchants have historically spent not more than 6% ($3600 annually) of their revenues for the platform’s core offerings. The net margin on USA-based online retail businesses is approximately 4.95% in 2021. This means that for the average Shopify merchant to break even (keeping all other costs constant), she had to make sales of at least $72,000 in revenue per year. That has changed with Shopify Plus.If you want to break even with Shopify Plus at the same average profit margin, you must be making at least $485,000 in revenues every year.
  • High-Growth or Venture Capital-Backed Operations: There might be specific verticals where the growth is tremendous and can pay for the long-run incremental cost. Or, your venture might be backed by a private investor who can absorb the cost of growth. If you are in any of the two situations, it might be advisable to go for the Shopify Plus plan.

In Conclusion: Shopify Plus vs Shopify

Shopify Plus is more expensive than Shopify – no doubt about that part. However, if you are in a fast-growing industry or have genuine problems solved by Shopify Plus’s offerings, I would recommend the plan.

If you are starting in eCommerce, the Shopify Plus plan is not for you. You should begin with Shopify Advanced or Basic, and once you hit the $6 million – $10 million ARR mark, you can look into Shopify Plus. I would also recommend you add the costs of hiring consultants for integrations and custom themes, attending industry networking events every year, and losing business when the store is running with issues while you wait for the support. And then compare it with the $2,000 per month mark. In most cases, I am sure you will find Shopify Plus as a good solution from an expense-saving standpoint.

John Ahya

John Ahya

John is the President and Co-Founder of WebDesk Solution, LLC. Living the digital agency life for over 10 years, he explores an extensive eCommerce world. He has immense experience in all major e-commerce platforms. Being a nature lover, he likes to breathe the fresh air on the hill stations during vacations.

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