Shopify Plus: When Is It Time To Upgrade?
by Sarah Leitz, on Sep 7, 2021 11:06:00 AM
Sarah has spent her entire career in strategic marketing. She’s worked with large Fortune 500 brands and small companies to build their marketing, customer success and inbound programs. She’s currently working as the Head of Marketing for Malomo, a branded order tracking solution for ecommerce merchants to improve customer retention and LTV.
But a prevailing question for Shopify merchants is whether the cost of Shopify Plus is worth the investment. With a base cost of $2,000/month, it's understandable that sellers want to be sure they will exceed or recoup the cost of Shopify Plus.
So what are the significant differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus, and is it worth making the upgrade?
Subscription Plans and Pricing
The most glaring difference between Shopify and Shopify Plus is, of course, the pricing.
Shopify Standard has three plans called Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Shopify Advanced. They clock in at the following prices:
- Basic Shopify at $29/month
- Shopify at $79/month
- Advanced Shopify at $299/month
Of course, as the pricing plan increases, so does the functionality. Advanced Shopify sets itself apart by offering professional reporting, including an advanced report builder, and automatic third-party shipping rate calculations.
Don't forget to include the $14 annual fee for the domain hosting and the transaction fees for Shopify Payments, which are as follows:
- $0.3 per transaction with Shopify Payments
- 2.4% to 2.9% through credit card with Shopify Payments
- 2% through credit card without Shopify Payments for Basic Shopify, 1% for Shopify, and 0.5% for Advanced Shopify.
The biggest advantage to Shopify Plus here is if you need or want to use an external payment gateway instead of Shopify Payments. If that's the case, the lower 0.5% transaction fee may well be worth the upgrade, depending on your average order value and transaction volume.
While standard Shopify plans have clearly defined, fixed pricing, Shopify Plus works differently. In some cases, merchants can negotiate directly with a Shopify salesperson. Be aware that the lowest base rate starts at $2,000 per month, which is significantly higher than all three Shopify standard plans.
If you're interested in better understanding Shopify Plus pricing and want an exact quote, fill out a contact request on the Shopify website.
In terms of transaction fees on the Shopify Plus plan, things are also a little different. Transaction fees depend on sales volume for Shopify Plus merchants. For example, the per-unit rate for transactions in the US is 2.15% + $0.30 on domestic Visa and MC. With international cards, there is an additional fee of 1%. So, if you're shipping a high volume of products internationally, the transaction costs are significantly higher.
Customers can also opt to use third-party payment options like PayPal, 2Checkout, and Skrill, but merchants will bear the cost. To make matters slightly more complicated, the costs associated with these third-party payment methods vary from country to country.
Shopify is touted for its excellent, round-the-clock customer support, available to both Shopify and Shopify Plus users with some differences.
Shopify gives sellers the ability to contact 24/7 support across various mediums: phone, email, or through live chat.
Shopify merchants can also contact support through social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This variety of channels allows Shopify support to meet sellers in their most natural workflows.
Shopify Plus offers the same support features as Shopify standard, adding in a little extra TLC.
When onboarding, each Shopify Plus merchant is assigned a Launch Manager. The Launch Manager member helps Shopify Plus sellers successfully launch their store in under 90 days.
Additionally, Plus users are assigned a Merchant Success Manager - a dedicated account manager devoted to helping Shopify Plus merchants succeed.
Merchant Success Managers coach, guide, and provide strategic help to their charges. They also ensure each merchant is up-to-date on Shopify features and best practices.
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Available Themes and Design Flexibility
To help design your store, both Shopify and Shopify Plus offer a range of themes. Out of the box, there are seventy-three themes, nine of which are free, and the rest cost between $140 and $180.
Shopify's themes are highly customizable, so merchants can easily create their ideal online store. Each theme is powered by Liquid Language, Shopify's custom theme coding language, allowing users to edit HTML and CSS to change individual design elements. If you're not familiar with Liquid Language, don't worry. Any experienced Shopify developer or agency will be able to help you modify your Shopify template.
Some Shopify themes offer native support for English, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian, Portuguese, French, or German for merchants who ship globally.
With Shopify Plus, theme customization is simplified through the dedicated Launch Manager, who will make template modifications and create custom code for the merchant's store.
The Shopify Script Editor also allows Plus users to customize their online store's checkout page. With Script Editor, users can create scripts for Line-Items, Shipping, and Payments to improve their customers' experience during checkout. Store owners can also use these scripts to set up discounts, promotions, and various shipping options for their products.
Key Ecommerce Feature Differentiators
Other than pricing, support, and design themes, what key ecommerce features does Shopify Plus provide that Shopify standard doesn't?
For merchants targeting a global audience, multi-currency functionality is essential for your online store. Fortunately, both Shopify standard and the Plus version offer ways to display multi-currency options.
Don't know what multi-currency means? It's just a fancy way of saying that customers can see and purchase items in your Shopify store in their local currency. For example, even if your store is based in Australia, a customer in the United States would be able to shop and pay in USD.
Although both Shopify standard and Shopify Plus give merchants ways to offer multi-currency shopping to their customers, Shopify standard users must manually configure the currencies for each region. By contrast, Shopify Plus uses the Shopify Geolocation app to convert shopper pricing to the local currency automatically.
Currently, standard Shopify does not support any languages out-of-the-box other than English. However, there are ways for merchants to set their stores to other languages by:
- Using third-party integrations like Langify, a language translation application for Shopify.
- Installing a theme that offers multi-language support. If you're using a third-party theme, you can contact the theme providers and ask if they provide multi-language support.
- Shopify currently has three themes -- Express, Brooklyn, and Debut -- that come with a language selector.
Both Shopify and Shopify Plus users can enable the language selector with these themes. However, while Shopify standard users only have access to five languages, Plus merchants can pick from twenty different options.
Tax Calculation and Filing
Of course, there are some differences in how taxes are filed between Shopify and Shopify Plus.
Shopify's platform automatically calculates standard sales tax, including tax overrides for particular instances. However, store owners must routinely check the sales tax rates to ensure they are up-to-date and correct. With Shopify, you can even override these taxes in some situations.
Shopify's tax reports and calculations help you fill out your taxes – however, Shopify standard will not file your sales tax for you.
For tax calculation, preparation, and filing, the Shopify Plus plan uses Avalara AvaTax – a paid service - to automatically file your sales tax. Avalara AvaTax is compatible with Shopify POS on iOS and Android devices.
Avalara AvaTax collects and uses up-to-date tax codes from 12k+ jurisdictions and modifies the tax rules to be compatible with your business. It also produces accurate sales tax reports for ecommerce businesses.
Standard Shopify users will not have access to this automatic tax filing service.
Integrations and APIs
Shopify merchants can expand the functionality of their online store through APIs and integration with other apps. The Shopify APIs operate on stable, defined rates, meaning there are no variable cost surprises. However, there are some differences among API usage for Shopify vs. Shopify Plus.
The standard limit is 50 points/second for Admin API (GraphQL) and two requests/second for Admin API (REST).
The standard limit is 100 points/second for Admin API (GraphQL) and four requests/second for Admin API (REST).
Shopify Plus has all the API features that Shopify offers. On top of that, the Plus plan also lets merchants integrate their stores with custom apps or build their applications.
Shopify Plus comes with additional API resources, including:
- GiftCard, which is an alternative payment method.
- User, which gives store owners access to information about staff accounts.
- Multipass, which redirects website visitors to the Shopify store seamlessly, without requiring separate login credentials.
Shopify Plus Sales Features
Shopify Plus has two exclusive management tools:
Launchpad is an automation tool that handles scheduling, coordinating, and executing other event-related tasks. It helps merchants effectively manage flash sales, promotions, product drops, and restock inventories. The real-time analytics on the app dashboard allow you to monitor each event and its performance.
Shopify Flow automates essential business operations, including inventory tracking, order management, risk management, marketing, and customer service. It also allows Shopify Plus merchants to optimize their store's operational workflow.
Analytics and Reporting
Shopify has a dedicated analytics dashboard that updates merchants with live reports about business and customer data. For an additional fee, these reports can offer more detailed information.
All Shopify plans have an overview dashboard, access to financial reports, and products analytics. However, what makes Shopify Plus stand out is the ability to configure custom reports and up-to-date data insights by leading analytics and business intelligence platforms Glew and Looker.
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So is Shopify Plus Really Worth it?
In general, the Shopify standard plans offer convenient and adequate features for most merchants. It's entirely possible to have a completely functional, successful store with high sales conversions by sticking with Shopify standard plans.
However, Shopify Plus brings workflow-changing features that save significant person-hours for merchants who cultivate high monthly revenues, have complicated tax situations, or offer several SKUs globally. Merchants who exceed an annual revenue of $1 million are generally recommended to Shopify Plus; however, each store owner should crunch the numbers to ensure that the $2000/month fee is worth the cost.
If your business is rapidly scaling, you need to automate workflow segments, or you need access to more specialized features or advanced reporting, Shopify Plus will better suit your needs. Otherwise, new Shopify stores and store owners who operate at a smaller scale and don't need more robust features will likely be satisfied within the three-tiered Shopify standard plans.
Enhance Every Step of Your Customer Experience
Malomo and Clean.io together make the ultimate pre-sale and post-sale experience. Clean.io works with Shopify vendors to offer customers validated promotions while Malomo extends the best customer experience to order tracking, so each stage of your Shopify purchase experience customer experience runs beautifully.