Shopify vs Shopify Plus: A 2024 Comparison

17 min

There are many differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus. It's important to be informed before you make the decision to upgrade or downgrade. Let's look at what each plan offers.

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In the bustling world of online business, picking the perfect platform on which to build your eCommerce store can feel like finding your way through a maze. While there are a lot of platforms to choose from, today we'll put our focus on Shopify. Shopify is an eCommerce platform offering a suite of features that are tailored to meet the diverse needs of you, the business owner. Shopify Plus is the premium counterpart to the traditional Shopify plan.

Quite simply, this platform is known for its ease of use and ability to handle all things commerce. These are main reasons why it is so many online businesses platform of choice. Shopify Payments, as Shopify's native payment processor, stands out by offering automatic currency adjustment based on customer location and eliminating transaction fees for most Shopify Plus users, further enhancing the platform's appeal. There is so much to consider when comparing the two, so let’s take a deep dive into all the stores and platform’s features to really figure out what Shopify solutions will work best for you.

An Introduction to Shopify

Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce platform that enables businesses to create and manage their online retail stores with ease. It was founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake, initially as a platform to sell snowboarding equipment online (which is why the test data you get when setting up a new store is filled with snowboarding products), evolving into a beautiful eCommerce solution that works for almost all businesses.

Over time, Shopify has evolved into a comprehensive solution for businesses of all sizes, offering a range of tools and features to facilitate everything from product listings and payment processing, to order management and marketing campaigns. Today, Shopify powers over 1.7 million businesses worldwide, spanning a diverse array of industries, from fashion and beauty to electronics and home goods. Its intuitive interface, customisable themes, and robust ecosystem of apps and integrations make it a popular choice for entrepreneurs and established brands alike, seeking to establish a strong online presence and drive sales.

There are several compelling reasons why someone with an eCommerce business would want to use Shopify - which we detail further down. But as a brief snapshot, Shopify offers a user-friendly interface and intuitive tools that make it easy to set up and manage an online store, even for those with limited technical expertise. 

Shopify Plus at a Glance 

Shopify Plus, the premium version of the core Shopify platform, emerged as a solution tailored for high-growth businesses and enterprise-level merchants seeking more features, dedicated support, better theme customisation and the ability to have wholesale customers. It was introduced in 2014, born out of Shopify’s recognition of the unique needs and challenges faced by larger businesses operating at a larger scale. The idea was conceived by Tobias Lütke, Shopify’s co-founder and CEO, along with the company’s leadership team, in response to the growing demand for a platform that could accommodate the complex requirements of high-volume sales and rapid expansion.

What Does Shopify Plus Include?

For starters, Shopify Plus offers enhanced theme customisation capabilities, allowing users to tailor their store’s design and functionality to match their brand identity and customer preferences. It also unlocks cheaper transaction fees through Shopify Payments.

Additionally, Shopify Plus provides access to advanced automation workflows, enabling businesses to streamline their operations, optimise efficiency, and improve the customer experience. Enhanced security features and dedicated infrastructure ensure optimal performance and reliability, even during peak demand periods, as well as merchant success managers to help you succeed. It also includes full access to Shopify Academy to help plus merchants succeed.

Why Do Businesses Like Shopify Plus?

The answer lies in its ability to address the specific needs and challenges faced by not only high-growth enterprises but also brick and mortar stores. Its comprehensive range of services and dedication to improving the customer experience set it apart from regular Shopify. Shopify Plus offers scalability, flexibility, and reliability, allowing businesses to grow and expand without worrying about technical limitations. It also provides dedicated professional services, and solutions to support high-growth and complex businesses reach the next level like the merchant success program, designed to provide personalised support and strategic coaching to help merchants grow a profitable store.

Understanding and leveraging customer data is also crucial for creating personalised shopping experiences that meet the expectations of today's consumers. Shopify Plus offers advanced features for tracking orders, customer data, inventory, and analysing how customers interact with your business. This enables businesses to tailor their offerings and marketing strategies effectively. Additionally, Shopify Plus supports the creation of customer-specific catalogs, allowing businesses to customize catalogs for specific companies and individual customers. This includes customisation for multiple decision makers and locations, with tailored currencies and payment terms, further enhancing the personalized shopping experience.

Shopify vs Shopify Plus Pricing

When it comes to choosing between Shopify and Shopify Plus, understanding the cost implications is crucial for making an informed decision that aligns with your budget and business needs. Let's break down the cost structures of both platforms to help you determine which option is the right fit for your eCommerce venture.

Shopify offers a range of subscription plans tailored to businesses of varying sizes and budgets. The plans include (when paying per year):

  1. Basic Shopify: Get access to essential tools for starting your online sales journey, with options to upgrade to the Plus plan for advanced features. Priced at $42 per month, this plan is ideal for small businesses and startups looking to establish an online presence. It includes essential features such as unlimited products, 24/7 support, and multi-channel sales capabilities.
  2. Shopify: Priced at $114 per month, this plan is suitable for growing businesses with higher sales volumes. For more advanced needs, businesses can consider upgrading to Shopify Plus with the assistance of a Shopify Plus development agency. In addition to the features included in the Basic Shopify plan, it offers additional reporting tools, gift cards, and abandoned cart recovery.
  3. Advanced Shopify: Priced at $431 per month, this plan is designed for businesses with advanced needs and higher sales volumes. It includes all the features of the Shopify plan, along with advanced reporting, third-party calculated shipping rates, and up to 15 staff accounts.

While Shopify's subscription plans provide comprehensive features and support for businesses at every stage, they may not be sufficient for high-growth enterprises with complex requirements.

When considering the pricing of Shopify Plus, it's important to note that it follows a different model compared to Shopify's standard subscription plans. Shopify Plus offers a customised pricing structure tailored to each merchant's specific needs and requirements. While exact pricing can vary based on factors such as sales volume, customisations, and additional services, Shopify Plus starts from $2,300 per month.

Merchants on Shopify Plus also see reduced transaction fees which can help to offset the on-going cost of the platform.

Feature Comparison: Shopify vs Shopify Plus

Let's walk through the feature comparison to get an idea of what's included in both versions of this platform.

Customisation and Flexibility of Your Shopify Account

When crafting an online store that leaves a lasting impression, customisation and flexibility are paramount. Shopify stands out for its array of customisable themes and design options, empowering businesses to fashion visually captivating and highly functional storefronts with ease. Offering a rich selection of over 100 professionally designed themes, Shopify ensures that businesses can discover a template that resonates with their brand aesthetic and style preferences. Moreover, Shopify's intuitive drag-and-drop editor simplifies the process of tailoring the layout, colours, fonts, and other visual elements of the store, granting businesses a remarkable degree of flexibility in their creative pursuits.

Data from a survey conducted by Shopify shows the significance of investing in store customisation. Businesses that devote resources to customising their online storefronts see notable increases in customer engagement and conversion rates. Merchants utilising custom themes on Shopify Plus report a staggering 126% surge in sales compared to their counterparts employing standard themes on Shopify. This data really shows the transformative impact that customisation can have on driving business success.

However, the customisation journey doesn't end there. Shopify Plus elevates the game with its advanced customisation capabilities and access to exclusive features. Merchants operating on Shopify Plus enjoy unparalleled freedom to delve into the intricacies of code, enabling them to execute deep-level customisations to their store's design and functionality, shopping cart and store management. This heightened level of flexibility empowers merchants to unleash their creativity, push the boundaries of what's possible, and craft truly unique and immersive shopping experiences for their customers. 

Scalability and Performance of Your Online Store

Shopify’s reputation precedes it, known for its versatility in accommodating businesses of varying sizes. The Shopify dashboard and infrastructure is robust, capable of managing moderate levels of traffic and sales volume efficiently. Utilising shared hosting and resources, Shopify ensures a stable performance for businesses, even during peak periods. However, as businesses expand and encounter surges in traffic and sales, they may find themselves constrained by scalability and performance limitations, prompting the need for a more resilient solution.

Consider a boutique skincare brand experiencing exponential growth in online sales. Initially, Shopify provides a dependable platform for launching their eCommerce store and managing their initial sales volume. Yet, as their customer base explodes and promotional efforts drive increased traffic, they may notice slowdowns or downtime during peak periods, resulting in a compromised shopping experience for their clientele.

This is precisely where Shopify Plus steps in. With Shopify Plus, businesses gain access to dedicated infrastructure and resources designed to manage high-volume sales and handle traffic spikes seamlessly. Offering advanced caching mechanisms and scalable architecture, Shopify Plus ensures optimal performance and reliability, even under the most demanding conditions. Additionally, Shopify Plus supports the creation of multiple stores, allowing up to ten stores on one account. This feature is particularly beneficial for businesses looking to manage different product lines or physical locations efficiently, further aiding in handling high-volume sales and traffic with ease.

Data from a Shopify study further proves the efficacy of the Plus platform. Businesses migrating to Shopify Plus witness an average increase in conversion rates of 126%, coupled with a remarkable 63% surge in revenue. Additionally, Shopify Plus stores demonstrate an average growth rate of 126% year over year.

Dedicated Account And Support Team For Your Business

Running a successful eCommerce venture hinges on having dedicated support and expert account management at your disposal, especially for a small business with limited staff.

Shopify equips online businesses with round-the-clock customer support accessible through various channels, including live chat, email, and phone but Shopify Plus allows for an elevated level of support and account management which is tailored for high-growth businesses and enterprise-level merchants.

Merchants on Shopify Plus gain access to dedicated account managers who serve as their primary point of contact, offering personalised guidance, strategic counsel, and technical assistance to unleash the platform’s full potential. Furthermore, Shopify Plus provides priority support, ensuring swift resolution of urgent issues and seamless navigation of technical challenges.

Shopify POS Pro

Shopify Plus users also get Shopify POS Pro, which enhances customer profiles and performance reports when using their point of sales system. It adds retail analytics and clientelling (also known as customer preferences) to help businesses personalise experiences inside retail stores.

By being on Shopify Plus, and Shopify POS Pro, you'll also get "omnichannel" selling and inventory management, allowing you to sell products on many channels seamlessly. It's definitely a good perk to have if you're on Shopify Plus and use their POS system.

Unlimited Staff Accounts & Better Permissions

Shopify Plus also includes unlimited staff accounts without the additional cost per user. This is particularly helpful for business with multiple locations.

As a refresher, the lower plans of Shopify do include restrictions on the amount of additional staff accounts you can have on your shopify store (it's important to know that these restrictions are per store, so if you manage multiple stores, you get these numbers for every store):

Basic includes 0 additional staff accounts.

Standard includes 5 additional staff accounts.

Advanced includes 10 additional staff accounts.

Alongside unlimited staff accounts, Shopify Plus plans also get access to better staff permissions, allowing you to control permissions in different ways.

Better Shopify Payments

One of the standout features of Shopify Plus is not necessarily the most obvious, but it absolutely is the enhanced payment processing capabilities offered through Shopify Payments while on the plus plan.

Shopify Plus merchants get to benefit from significantly reduced transaction fees compared to standard Shopify plans. These savings can add up, especially for high-volume businesses, which help to increase profitability.

Advanced Features and Integrations

Shopify has a vast ecosystem of apps and integrations accessible through its Shopify App Store, providing merchants with a tonne of options to enhance their store’s capabilities. These apps cover a wide range of functionalities, from marketing automation and inventory management to customer service and analytics. According to data from Shopify, businesses leveraging these advanced features witness notable improvements in performance metrics. For instance, businesses utilising marketing automation apps report a 22% increase in customer retention rates, while those integrating analytics tools see a 17% boost in conversion rates.

Shopify Plus offers access to even more advanced features and integrations tailored for high-growth businesses and enterprise-level merchants. Exclusive features such as Shopify Flow, a workflow automation tool, allow merchants to automate repetitive tasks and optimise their operations. Additionally, Shopify Plus integrates with online marketplaces, allowing merchants to sell on various social media channels and manage sales campaigns effectively from the Shopify dashboard. This expands off-site selling options and provides a personalized shopping experience through customer journey mapping. Data from Shopify indicates that businesses utilising Shopify Flow witness a 18% increase in average order value. 

Customising Checkout

Shopify Plus merchants get access to checkout extensions (unveiled at their winter 23 conference), businesses can now tailor their checkout experience with ease and share this among multiple stores, leveraging powerful apps and branding tools without the need to delve into complex code editing.

Data from Shopify reveals the pressing need for more checkout customisation. Although the checkout process within Shopify is advertised at one of the highest converting checkouts in of all commerce platforms, it's no surprise that shoppers still prefer a personalised experience that represents the brand. These businesses witness a significant boost in conversions, with a reported increase of up to 10%.

The Old Ways of Customising Checkout: checkout.liquid

It's worth noting that for a long time now, Shopify has long been a frontrunner in providing customisable solutions for online businesses of all shapes and sizes. However, until recently, customising the checkout process on Shopify was not as straightforward as many merchants desired and thus there has been a lot of talk about shifting the way the checkout works within the platform.

Historically, in order for a Shopify store to customise their checkout, they would need to request access to their checkout.liquid theme file and edit the code from there. This process required the merchant to work closely with a developer with the coding expertise to build bespoke customisations, or involve utilising third-party custom apps. Developers would also need to perform upgrades periodically, so that new checkout features could be accessed without breaking any of the customisations in place.

While this method worked, businesses often lacked the real flexibility they desired to tailor the experience for their customers, and developers have often found this back-end process quite tedious and time consuming.

Introducing Checkout Extensibility

Due to the growing demand, Shopify introduced checkout extensibility in 2022. This now allows merchants to treat their checkout like any other page on their Shopify store. It allows you and other developers the ability to add and place apps onto your checkout.

Shopify as part of their winter 23 conference, released 14 new UI extensions, allowing even more customisation and unlocking more features for app developers. These extensions empower merchants with a diverse array of customisation options, from integrating dynamic content to offering targeted promotions and personalized upsells, all while in the checkout!

Choosing the Right Path for Your Business Needs

Selecting the ideal commerce platform is a critical decision that can shape the trajectory of your business. To make an informed choice between Shopify and Shopify Plus, it’s important to consider your unique needs and evaluate what each platform has to offer in alignment with your business goals.

Take The First Step

Start by taking stock of your business requirements, considering factors such as your sales volume, growth projections, budget, and desired level of customisation and support. Are you a small to medium-sized business experiencing steady growth, or are you a high-volume enterprise with complex operational needs? Understanding your specific needs will provide clarity when comparing the features and benefits of Shopify and Shopify Plus.

Take The Next Steps

Once you have a clear understanding of your business needs, it can be beneficial to consult with a development team or eCommerce experts. These professionals can offer valuable insights into your requirements and provide guidance on whether Shopify or Shopify Plus is the right fit for your business. By discussing your goals, challenges, and growth plans with a knowledgeable team, you can gain a deeper understanding of the features and capabilities you require to succeed in the eCommerce landscape.

When evaluating Shopify and Shopify Plus, consider factors such as scalability, customisation, support, and budget. Shopify Plus supports additional scalability and advanced features ideal for high-volume sales and complex operations. Shopify is designed to let you manage customisation effortlessly, offering advanced customisation options, including access to scripts and APIs, for businesses with unique requirement.

Also be sure to evaluate your need for dedicated support and account management, as Shopify Plus may offer personalised guidance and priority support to suit your business needs. Consider your budget constraints and weigh the cost-benefit ratio of Shopify versus Shopify Plus. While Shopify Plus comes with a higher price tag, it offers additional features and support.

By carefully weighing these factors and seeking expert advice, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your business needs and sets you up for long-term success in the competitive eCommerce landscape. Remember, the right eCommerce platform is not just a tool; it’s a strategic investment that can propel your business forward and unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation.

Final Thoughts

Throughout this blog post, we've meticulously examined the key differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus, diving deep into their features, benefits, and suitability for businesses at various stages of growth. From customisable themes and integrations to dedicated support and account management, both platforms offer robust tools and resources to propel merchant success in the fiercely competitive eCommerce landscape.

For small to medium-sized businesses, Shopify presents a user-friendly platform that streamlines the process of launching and managing online stores. Those seeking to elevate their store's appearance and functionality can enlist the expertise of a Shopify expert for a professional redesign. With its affordable pricing plans, extensive ecosystem of apps, and comprehensive support resources, Shopify lays a solid foundation for businesses to establish their online presence and drive growth.

On the flip side, Shopify Plus caters specifically to high-volume merchants and enterprise-level businesses, offering advanced features, customisation options, and dedicated support. Transitioning from Shopify to Shopify Plus involves upgrading plans to access a different pricing model, along with additional resources tailored to meet the unique needs of larger businesses. While the Shopify Plus plan entails a higher price tag than standard shopify plans, it unlocks exclusive benefits such as dedicated account management, priority support, and advanced customisation capabilities, empowering merchants to unleash the full potential of the platform and achieve sustained growth and success.

Whether you're planning to use Shopify or Shopify Plus, the key to success lies in understanding your business needs, leveraging the platform's capabilities to their fullest extent, and partnering with experts who can guide you on your eCommerce journey. 

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