Shopify Vs. Shopify Plus: Which Should I Use for eCommerce?

August 31, 2021
Shopify Vs. Shopify Plus: Which Should I Use for eCommerce?

The pandemic has made eCommerce a more vital part of the economy, faster than most anticipated. This article is going to give an overview on what you need to know about Shopify versus Shopify Plus.In the middle of March 2020 – everything that we knew about how daily life functioned changed. Many people thought that COVID-19 was going to be a brief stint. Two to three weeks of work from home then back to life as we knew it. But that didn’t happen. COVID-19 forced the world’s economy to change or accelerate faster into the inevitable digital commerce shape it’s taking today. The name of one company been on the lips of eCommerce veterans and rookies over the last year, and I’m not talking about Tesla, it’s Shopify.Shopify has been on a tear over the last year. The company’s stock price at the start of 2020 was approximately $400/share and it now trades at over $1500/share. A $375% increase is nothing to balk at, and they’re potential is almost limitless. Why has Shopify been able to grow so quickly? They have done a brilliant job at lowering the barrier or entry for entrepreneurs, and retail stores to participate in eCommerce.Shopify was founded in 2004 and by 2020 over 44 million people made a purchase from a Shopify merchant. Shopify has over 1 million merchants across 175 different countries. Shopify is doing an excellent job making this platform accessible, especially on mobile where over 79% of Shopify’s online traffic comes from.So how did Shopify become so popular? They’ve made starting an online store accessible to all. Especially people who have little to zero experience with coding. Baby Boomers and Gen-X, generations who aren’t known for their technical prowess can get an online store started in number of hours.Shopify’s core offering comes in 3 plans. The plans are dubbed “Basic Shopify”, “Shopify” and “Advanced Shopify”. They range in price from $29/month to $299/month.*Quick note, there is technically a 4th Shopify offering called, “Shopify Lite”. But it does not allow you to build a website, but rather add a buy button to an existing site that lacks eCommerce functionality. We will not be detailing out Shopify Lite in the article.Here’s a quick overview of the features (note an asterisk signals differences in number of licenses/functionalities based on plan)

  • An eCommerce website and blog functionality (we love blogs)
  • Unlimited product listings
  • *Staff accounts (folks who can log on but have limited access)
  • Sales channels (ability to sell listed products through other sales mediums online, like social media)
  • *Inventory locations (organize where your inventory is stored by retail shop, warehouse, pop-up…etc.)
  • Manual order creation
  • Discount codes
  • Free SSL certificate (stay safe out there)
  • Abandoned cart recovery (automation is awesome)
  • Gift cards
  • *Reporting

This eCommerce functionality is great. But where Shopify really stands out is they’ve made accepting payments and shipping very easy. We’ll save that writeup for another article.Now let’s have a look at Shopify Plus.Shopify Plus pricing starts at $2,000/month – a significant jump from Shopify Advanced at $299/month. This platform is not for every merchant. For Shopify Plus to make sense, we believe vendors need to be doing at least $1 million in annual sales. The pricing starts at $2k/month but scales at .25% of total sales (capped at $40k/month - whichever is greater)At a price increase of over 660%, what does Shopify Plus have to offer?Following are several noted differences:

  • Customization. this is huge for stores that don’t want to be limited to Shopify’s template based approach to eCommerce. Aside from the home page, in plans other than Plus customizations are very limited. Shopify Plus increases the ability to customize in two ways.
  • The editor. Shopify Plus gives merchants and developers access to Liquid. Shopify’s theme langue. This grants store owners access to code level changes which aren’t allowed in other Shopify plans.
  • Script editor. The checkout is where conversions live and die. With the Script Editor store owners can customize shipping options, customer fields, and payment options without the need for 3rd party apps.
  • Customer Service. All vendors on Shopify Plus have a dedicated account manager. We can all appreciate a great FAQ section. But sometimes there’s nothing like live, 24/7 dedicated support. They also have access to the Merchant Success Program. The Merchant Success Program is a support staff whose job is help vendors leverage all the Shopify Plus platform’s added benefits. They’re like a small consulting staff for your business.
  • New Apps. Shopify Plus members have access to an app store other vendors can’t draw from. Some of these apps include: Bulk Account Inviter, Launchpad, Transporter App, Shopify Flow and others.
  • Integrations. Large stores need to have all their systems talk to one another. Shopify Plus lets merchants integrate their Shopify Plus store with their existing platforms like:
  • CMS – customer relationship management (SalesForce, Hubspot, etc.)
  • 3PL – third-party logistics
  • WMS – warehouse management software
  • IMS/OMS – inventory and order management
  • ERP - enterprise resource planning
  • PIM – product information management
  • Wholesale Channel. Shopify Plus let’s vendors create another gated storefront for wholesale purchases.
  • More analytics. Shopify Plus boasts up to the minute store performance data. The reporting lets users sort customers by value, view top products, understand what landing pages are performing best…etc.

The differences in Shopify Plus for the right vendor can be significant. The greatest benefit at face value is the added customer service and level of customizations. Based on the merchant and their resources, these additions can be hugely impactful. But some vendors may not need the additional support and customizations.At its core Shopify and Shopify Basic aren’t too far off one another. That’s part of what makes Shopify such a successful company. The functionality and ease of use for the everyday entrepreneur is just as helpful to an eCommerce apparel business doing $25 million a year in sales. No one likes complicated, and Shopify is helping merchants at every level sell easier online. Contact us at 20North to help you set up your eCommerce site with Shopify.

By Connor Dunaway