If you’re considering Shopify or Shopify Plus as your next ecommerce platform. Heed this advice that I’ve alluded to in other posts and said countless times in emails and conversations: Don’t Start On Shopify Plus.
I’ve now helped multiple Shopify merchants who were on Shopify Plus and started to question whether they were really using the features enough to justify the $2,000+/mo price tag. Initially, they were sold a pitch that their business was either large enough or would be large enough that they would need Shopify Plus.
But Shopify and their Shopify Plus sales team tries to obfuscate the fact that Shopify Plus is simply another tier of their regular Shopify plans. They intentionally hide this fact in a number of ways, like by never doing a side by side comparison and having a totally separate website for Shopify Plus. The Shopify Plus website even includes many features on its home page like 99.98% uptime and Level 1 PCI DSS compliant that already part of their lowest Shopify basic plans. You have to search through the Shopify help site to find out what Shopify Plus features actually includes that is unique to it. They also don’t publish the price anywhere but the Shopify Plus plans start at $2,000/mo and require at least a 1-year contract.
Shopify Plus isn’t a total racket. It does have some unique features that might make a legitimately large business consider it might be worth the $2,000+/mo price tag.
What Is Shopify Plus Good For?
One of the biggest features that, specifically I hear a lot of Magento merchants want Shopify Plus for is the ability to “customize the checkout”. Normally the Shopify checkout is pretty much a black box that you really have no ability to customize. With Shopify Plus you get access to the checkout template so you are able to customize the look/feel to it and include some additional scripts, but it’s still fairly limited because Shopify wants to keep control of the checkout functionality for security reasons. When you’re on Plus, your success manager will even recommend that you don’t customize the checkout because then you don’t get access to the latest checkout features included with the standard checkout. There are a few tricks to being able to customize the checkout without Shopify Plus as well. So on its surface, this feature might seem valuable to some merchants, but alone it rarely is.
Shopify Plus includes 3 new API’s. The most commonly used one is a Gift Card API to be able to add/remove/update gift cards. This is mandatory if you have some sort of in-store POS that you’re trying to integrate your gift cards with.
The general Shopify support and live chat are great for general questions and that’s most of what merchants need. However, Shopify Plus does have an additional tier of support for Plus merchants that gets you easier access to more knowledgeable engineers if you have a more complicated issue. They’ll rarely ever do any modifications for you, but they can often help to point you or the developer working with you, in the right direction.
Specialized Apps and Channels
- Wholesale channel – This is Shopify’s first-party method to help you be able to sell and offer a wholesale store. There are numerous non-Plus apps and ways that you can do this as well.
- Shopify Flow – This is an app for helping you automate some tasks based on various triggers in Shopify. It’s basically Zapier for Shopify. Speaking of Zapier, you can do a lot of these automations like slack and asana integrations in Zapier.
- Launchpad – This app lets you schedule things like promotions being enabled/disabled, prices updated, or themes swapped out. There are also a few non-Plus apps that provide similar features.
- Script Editor – This app allows you to script much more complicated promotions and modifications to the payment/shipping methods in checkout than a regular promotion would allow you to. This app is one of the few Plus apps that doesn’t have a non-Plus equivalent because Shopify allows such limited access to the checkout for developers.
- Transporter app – This is Shopify’s app to help you with import/migrating data from another platform. This app is pretty useful during the migration process, but once you’re already migrated to Shopify, you really don’t need it again. There are a lot of other automated migration options and non-Plus apps out there too.
- Bulk Account Inviter – This an app that allows you to invite customers to create an account in your new Shopify store. I can imagine this would be used when you migrate from another platform to Shopify and don’t migrate the customers and orders. There are also a few non-Plus apps that do this too.
But Why Is Everyone Else Doing It?
So if that’s all there is to Shopify Plus why do so many merchants get on Shopify Plus when they probably don’t need to? The dirty secret among Shopify partners is they get a pretty substantial monthly revenue share (10-30%) for any Shopify Plus plan they refer to Shopify. So they’re in effect acting as a sales arm of Shopify and have a conflict of interest in advising you what plan is right for you. They get a revenue share of the regular plans too, but 30% of $80/mo is chump change. 30% of $2,000/mo is $7,200 per year.
So at this point, you’re thinking that my store probably doesn’t need those features right now, but maybe I’ll want those in the near future when my store grows. The great thing is you can always upgrade to Shopify Plus in the future very easily (since its just a tier of their plans no migration is necessary), but downgrading isn’t so easy because the minimum Shopify Plus contract is 1-year so you’re gonna be stuck in it until your term is up.
If any of this piques your interest and you have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Also published on Medium.