Shopify vs. Shopify Plus: Which Platform Is Better for You?
When you look at the numbers, you’ll soon realize Shopify is a heavyweight player in the eCommerce industry.
It has over 10,000 employees, the number of merchants is in its millions, and the total sales made on the platform is roughly $590 Billion.
Shopify comes in two main flavors, Shopify and Shopify Plus. But as your business grows, you’ll have to decide which one is a better fit for you.
In this article, we’ll look at the differences between these two so that you know which approach is better for your business.
What is Shopify? And About Shopify Plus?
Shopify has four plans in two main categories:
- Shopify = Basic, Shopify, Advanced (I like to call these plans the traditional Shopify).
- Shopify Plus.
There is also a fifth plan, Shopify Starter, but I will leave it out of this discussion. It’s for people who want to sell on social media or through messaging apps without maintaining an online store.
Technically speaking, Shopify and Shopify Plus share the same core technology and user interface. But there are two notable differences between each.
First, the target audience is different between these two. While the traditional Shopify is for small businesses, Shopify Plus is ideal for enterprise customers.
Second, while Shopify Plus shares all the Shopify features, the Plus version levels up the game: You get the Shopify features with a boost and those exclusive to the Shopify Plus platform.
Let’s start with the most significant difference between Shopify and Shopify Plus: The price.
When you sign up with traditional Shopify plans, this is what you end up paying:
- Basic: $29 USD/24€/mo (annual), $39/32€/mo (monthly).
- Shopify: $79 USD/69€/mo (annual), $105/92€/mo (monthly).
- Advanced: $299 USD/289€/mo (annual), $399/384€/mo (monthly).
On the other hand, Shopify Plus is an entirely different case; the pricing starts at $2,000 on an annual pricing plan.
The final Plus pricing also depends on your sales volume. After you reach $800,000 USD in any given month, you are charged 0.25% for each sales transaction.
As you can see, the total monthly price comes from many factors. Yet, you still get at least a ballpark figure for your monthly costs, no matter which Shopify you use.
With Shopify, you get access to over 100 themes – and that’s just the ones you can find on their theme store! In addition, you can also find templates on other marketplaces on the Internet.
All the Shopify themes are compatible with the Plus plan. But the biggest difference between theming in these two is the customization options.
In traditional Shopify, you can modify your current theme with the platform’s editor. But if you want to take the customization options further, you can use Liquid, which is only available for Shopify Plus.
Liquid is a template language created for the Plus platform, and it’s geared toward web developers. It’s a powerful tool if you have the necessary skillset in your pocket and want to tweak your themes more than the editor can offer.
Shopify Plus can take advantage of the same apps as Shopify, but as a Plus subscriber, you can enjoy the following exclusive apps:
- Wholesale channel: This channel is a separate, password-protected “door” to your online store. Once you have created it, you can offer your buyers the same products as your online store but at different prices.
- Launchpad: Schedule, coordinate, and execute events, including product drops or discounts. You can then view the event progress through a real-time analytic dashboard.
- Script Editor: With Script Editor, you can customize your customer’s shopping cart and the checkout experience. For instance, you can create discounts based on your customer’s cart items. Scripts are written in the Ruby language, using the Shopify Scripts API.
- Bulk Account Inviter: You may have imported accounts from another platform or Shopify store. But before those accounts are active, you’ll need to ask your customers to activate them. And that’s where this app comes into play.
- Transporter app: This app is part of the toolset that helps you migrate data from other eCommerce platforms to Shopify Plus. It allows you to import customer, product, and order data into the Shopify Store.
In addition to these exclusive apps, you can create custom apps if none of the ready-made apps fit your needs. This app type is available to all Shopify plans.
Integration with APIs
Ready-made apps can take your Shopify storefront only so far. So, if you want more integrations, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and take advantage of Shopify’s APIs (Application Programming Interface).
With the standard Shopify plans, you already get access to many APIs, from helping you manage merchant payments to sending messages to the Shopify Inbox app.
With Shopify Plus, you get even more API options, including:
- GiftCard: Programmatically manage the gift card process by creating, retrieving, and updating gift cards.
- Multipass: This API helps you to streamline your customer’s log-in experience in the case of multiple websites. With Multipass, your customer only needs to log in once to get the best shopping experience.
- User: With the User API, you can retrieve staff information, like their permissions.
With traditional Shopify plans, you get 24/7 access to various support channels, including email, phone, and chat. In addition, you can also reach their knowledge base for articles and tutorials.
Shopify Plus adds more support features to the game. In addition to accessing a knowledge base and 24/7 channels, the merchant success program, Shopify Plus Academy, and third party partners are also available to you.
With the Merchant Success Program, you get tailored information regarding your eCommerce journey, helping you grow and scale your business.
The program gives you access to these resources:
- The Shopify Plus consultant: Helps you to map out your business requirements and how they align with Shopify.
- The solutions engineer: Helps integrate your business systems with the platform.
- The launch team: Advises when you are going to launch your online store.
Finally, Plus subscribers can enjoy the Shopify Plus Academy. It is yet another resource for scaling your business with the help of courses and lessons.
Top-5 Shopify Plus Features
In this section, you can find some of the features that are either unique to Shopify Plus or different than what the traditional Shopify plans offer.
1. Credit Card and Payment Processor Fees
With the traditional Shopify plans, you can accept online credit cards with a fee of 30¢ USD + a plan-based percentage (2.4% – 2.9%). The equivalent pricing in Euros is 0.25 € + a plan-based percentage (1.4% – 1.6%)
Shopify Payments is available in traditional Shopify and Shopify Plus. If you use this system, you don’t have to worry about transaction fees.
If you can’t use Shopify Payments, the third-party fees are between 0.5% and 2% on traditional Shopify plans per transaction. With Shopify Plus, the third-party transaction fee is 0.15%.
2. Staff accounts
When your online store grows, you need more helping hands to manage the day-to-day operations. And that’s when the staff account feature comes into play.
The idea behind these accounts is to give staff members access to Shopify admin so they can do daily operations themselves. As a store owner, you can naturally decide what your staff can do on the admin side.
With the traditional plans, the number of staff accounts is between two to 15. However, with Shopify Plus, you can enjoy unlimited staff accounts.
3. Point of Sale (POS)
You run a Shopify store, but now you want to expand your operations to an offline world. At this moment, POS comes into the picture.
POS is a system that helps you combine your eCommerce store with a physical selling location. With the help of POS, you can accept in-person payments in a physical store.
If you are using POS with traditional Shopify plans, the cost is $89 USD per month per location.
In Shopify Plus, you have 20 locations included in the plan (or ,1000 locations if you use Shopify Payments).
Shopify also provides physical hardware to complement the POS experience.
4. Headless Commerce
One of the features that exist only in Shopify Plus is headless commerce.
In a typical environment, an eCommerce website includes two sides: the back end, where you maintain the store data, and the front end, in which your customers interact when they visit your store.
In headless commerce, you can still manage the backend as before, but how you implement the customer-facing side is up-to-you.
The heart of this architecture lies in the APIs, which communicate between your client (mobile phone, tablet …) and your back end. In Shopify’s case, this API is called StoreFront API.
The power of headless commerce comes with customization, as you don’t have to tie yourself into a particular theme and its restrictions.
If you decide to move to headless architecture, take some time to learn its pros and cons and if it’s a good fit for your business.
5. Expansion Stores
One of the powerful Shopify Plus features is the Expansion Stores.
With this feature, you can create international versions of your primary store.
Shopify Plus supports up to nine expansion stores. To create them, you need Store management access to your store.
Expansion Stores is an exclusive feature with Shopify Plus. With traditional Shopify, creating multiple stores on one account is not possible.
Shopify vs. Shopify Plus: Which One Should You Pick as Your eCommerce Platform?
Traditional Shopify is a robust eCommerce platform with 24/7 customer care, a comprehensive app store, and plenty of theming opportunities. With the encompassing feature set, it’s enough for the majority of eCommerce customers and small businesses.
However, when your business grows enough, and if you still want to stay on the Shopify platform, then the Shopify Plus plan is your answer. It’s ideal for high-volume businesses that want more control and customization options over their online store.
For instance, it could be the wholesale option that you’d like to implement, or perhaps you are tempted by the possibilities of headless commerce.
So, if these features (or the ones I mentioned in this post) sparked your interest, then Shopify Plus is the answer.