Shopify has long offered multiple plans that cater to small and medium-sized ecommerce businesses. The differences between Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans have always been pretty clear.
But what exactly does the Shopify Plus plan offer that the others don’t? What makes Plus better for fast-growing, high-volume stores? And when should merchants look at making the move to upgrade from Shopify to Shopify Plus?
That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss here. If you want to skip the reading and just talk to us about whether or not it's the right time to upgrade, we'd be glad to help.
If not, let's dive in:
What is the actual difference between Shopify and Shopify Plus?
If you are asking yourself this question, you’re probably already running a successful Shopify store. You don’t need an explanation of how Shopify works or what it does differently than other ecommerce platforms.
So we’ll skip that part and move straight on to what really makes Plus different than the normal Shopify plans you’re using right now.
Built for high volume
Shopify handles traffic volume extremely well. That could be the slow and steady volume of day-to-day operations, or the huge traffic spikes seen during flash sales or Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
While downtime is rare for any Shopify sites, they go further to ensure that Plus customers are always on and always fast.
For an example of what Shopify can handle throughout their entire network: During BFCM 2017, Shopify merchants made a lot of sales.
- Over $1 billion total sales
- $1.1 million in sales per minute
- Over 10,000 transactions per minute
For a single site example: During a two-location popup sale, Kylie Jenner’s Shopify Plus store had over 200,000 visits at the same time. Items on sale sold out in under 1 minute.
Neither of these high-traffic events caused so much as a flicker in service to Shopify stores. Those numbers aren’t untested theory or best guesses. That’s what Shopify has already shown they can handle. Some of the highest traffic, highest sales volume ecommerce stores have already tested Shopify Plus servers and content delivery networks. They passed with flying colors.
Selling and scaling globally is another focus for Shopify Plus. The goal is to make it easier for merchants to expand into multiple international markets and keep track of what is going on in their separate markets.
To make that easier, Shopify Plus handles international stores in a unique way. Each Plus account allows you (currently) 10 additional clone stores. These stores can live on their own domain or a subdomain of your main store. This allows you to run up to 11 distinct storefronts from 1 Shopify Plus account.
Each storefront has its own backend management system, allowing you to compartmentalize each store and manage inventory, sales and content separately. If you want to manage all stores inventory and orders from a single source, open-access Plus APIs will let you integrate any 3PL software you want to use.
B2B eCommerce is a growing market, and Shopify Plus is a good way to get in on the action.
Plus offers a wholesale sales channel, so that you can integrate your wholesale inventory with your B2C operations. Wholesale customers can access their store through a login.
If you want to keep B2B inventory separate and design a more unique, branded B2B experience, you can use one of your 10 additional storefronts to create a standalone wholesale site, like Death Wish Coffee.
Beyond just offering the ability to sell to B2B customers, you have a lot of flexibility in how you do it:
- Per-customer pricing
- Volume-based discounts
- Limited collections and products based on user-tagging
- Password protected storefronts
- Account creation controls
- Tiered prices and discounts
- Minimum and maximum order thresholds
- Per-customer payment gateway settings
Moving up to Shopify Plus opens up a new world of automation tools than can not only increase revenue, but cut hours of repetitive busy work out of your workflow. That means you and your team can focus on getting work done that leads to actual growth, instead of just trying to keep up.
Shopify Scripts allows you to add automated scripts to the Ruby code that Shopify is built on. This way, you can make changes to cart and checkout that regular Shopify stores don’t have access to. You can apply price and shipping discounts, change your offered shipping methods and payment gateways, and hide checkout elements like the discount code box.
Shopify Flow gives you the ability to automate large parts of your day-to-day business. Order processing, customer tagging and marketing, and inventory reorder are just a few things Flow can do. You can also delay payment and alert your customer service team to check out high-risk orders, preventing a lot of headaches.
Using Shopify Flow to tag high-value customers makes it easy track and reward VIP customers.
Shopify Launchpad automates events like product drops, flash sales, and holiday events. For example, you could automate every aspect of a BFCM launch.
- Change your theme (and content) to match the sale event
- Drop new products
- Start scripts to offer discounts
- Run Flows specific to BFCM
- Record and track sales data during the event
- Revert to your old theme after the event is over
- Run Flows to reorder low inventory after the event
And all of it would be done while you and your employees are at home with your families, not worrying over your site during the holiday.
Shopify support is all around pretty solid. It’s one of the things Shopify is known for. When you upgrade to Plus, your support system gets an upgrade, too.
In addition to the regular Shopify support team, Plus customers get their own Customer Success Manager. This is a person who knows your name. They are your personal gateway to Shopify help.
More than tech support, Customer Success Managers are experts in ecommerce and in the Shopify Plus platform. They help you not just run your business, but grow it. If you have questions about marketing, CRO or customer service, they are there for you.
When you need help that goes beyond your Customer Success Manager, they will help you find the right Shopify Plus experts to fill any needs you have. The Shopify Plus app, design, and development community is full of partners that can help you grow without having to become an expert at everything yourself.
One key problem some merchants point out with the Shopify platform is that it lacks a customizable checkout process. The checkout flow is secure, and has been optimized for all devices, but you don’t have much control over branding and functionality.
That changes when you upgrade to Shopify Plus. You have full control over checkout appearance through editable CSS files, and more control over functionality through Shopify Scripts and access to your Checkout.Liquid files.
The Chive store used Shopify Plus to create a gorgeous customized cart and checkout
The real difference between Shopify and Shopify Plus is that Plus is meant for growing stores and serious ecommerce brands, not side hustles or weekend warriors. There is nothing wrong with either of those, but Plus is the ecom platform for businesses that have grown past that stage and have larger needs.
But who needs Shopify Plus and it's advanced functionality? If you want to find out if Shopify Plus is right for you, we can help you make the right decision.
Who should be on Shopify Plus?
Shopify Plus sounds great, and it is. But it is still not the right choice for everyone.
Lower-level Shopify plans are what you need if you are:
- Just starting out
- Low volume
- In a super-small niche market that won’t scale
- Not in need of the advanced functionality
In other words, if your store is a side hustle, or is growing slowly. If you can’t (or won’t) use the advanced functionality. If you don’t need alway-on help and support. If you aren’t making your living through ecommerce. You probably don’t need Plus.
Plus is meant for serious ecommerce businesses. If your business pays for your house or is THE THING that you do to generate income, Plus is where you should be.
Plus is the right choice if you:
- Generate $75,000 or more in revenue per month
- Experience rapid growth and expect to continue upward as you go
- Have a proven brand with brick-and-mortar and want to move into ecommerce
- Need the enhanced functionality and automation to spur further growth
- Want to sell internationally or B2B on Shopify
When is the right time to upgrade?
You may fall into the group of merchants who belong in Shopify Plus, but you aren’t sure if the time is right. Beyond the ability to pay for Plus, there are no hard-and-fast rules. Shopify will not turn you away from upgrading to Plus.
So when should you upgrade? What kind of sign should you look for?
You’re hitting high sales and revenue targets
This is certainly not a blanket figure for all stores, but when you are doing at least $75,000 in monthly revenue on a regular basis, Shopify Plus is probably already worth it for you.
One thing to consider is the cost of your current transaction fees versus the additional monthly cost of Plus. When you are using Plus, Shopify waives all transactions fees. They also offer lower fees when you use Shopify Payments to process credit cards.
If you are doing a high volume of sales, transaction fees can eat into your profits. By eliminating those fees entirely, you may recoup most or all of the cost of upgrading to Plus.
Setting down and running your numbers may reveal that you are losing money by NOT moving to Plus. Spend some time with your accountant or book a free consultation with us to discuss how much you could save in processing fees by switching to Plus.
You need the feature sets to make your business stronger
Scripts, Flow, and Launchpad alone are very powerful features. Used together, they can improve employee productivity, boost sales, and improve many other KPIs in your business.
This alone could boost you to breaking even or profiting from the upgrade to Shopify, before anything else comes into play. If you are growing into a larger team with employees, or if you want to keep overhead as small as possible with automation that reduces your need for employees, these tools are your best bet.
The same goes with other key feature sets. Wholesale channels, cloneable stores, high-volume traffic management. The features of Shopify Plus aren’t just “nice to have”. They help facilitate further growth. When used to their fullest, they pay back their cost many times over.
If you need to expand your available tools to continue expanding your store, Plus may be the way to go.
You want to sell in new markets
If you want to tap into the massive opportunities of the B2B market or selling globally, Shopify Plus is your best move. Your clonable storefronts give you up to 11 total storefronts to work with.
With those additional storefronts, you can go after different customer segments in your existing domestic market, take you store global, or establish a wholesale- specific site. These additional stores don’t cost anything, either. 11 stores, running on either a subdomain or their own domain name are included in the cost of your Shopify Plus Plan.
Entering these new markets intelligently and intentionally could give you a huge boost in revenue. The kind of boost in revenue that more than pays for your upgrade to Shopify Plus, which means everything after is pure positive ROI.
You’re going through rapid growth
If you have a proven product and are starting to really take off, it might be time to look into Plus. Even if you aren’t at the revenue threshold for Plus yet, you could be rapidly approaching it.
Having the features and functionality that Plus offers will let you leverage your existing resources and grow larger without running out of steam. You can only work so hard and so long before you become an obstacle to your own business growth.
If you can use automation to take care of repetitive tasks, you and your employees can focus on getting the important work done. Shopify Flow can tag orders and customers while you create your next marketing campaign. Launchpad can automate a lot of things for you, but only you can network and build new connections.
You don’t want to be the bottleneck that slows down your growth.
Support is another way to make more growth possible. Once your business is rocketing upward, you can’t be everywhere yourself. Having experts on call to help you make decisions means you’ll be less likely to make a costly misstep that will stall your growth.
Is it time for you to upgrade?
How many of these sound like you?
- You are starting to feel like you have outgrown Shopify.
- You have multiple employees working for you.
- You intend to build something that lives and grows in the coming years.
- You need higher-level functionality to continue growing your business
- You want to move into new sales channels or global markets
- You are currently selling $75,000 per month, or are growing rapidly towards that number.
If you’re checking several of these boxes, there is no better time than now to start planning your upgrade.
If you want to make sure the time is right, or if you want a helping hand to make sure you get the best possible results, talk to us. At Underwaterpistol, we want the very best for Shopify merchants and will always shoot you straight.