Shopify vs. Shopify Plus: When to Upgrade

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4 min read
by: John Surdakowski05/21/2021

Quick Summary If you’ve ever used the free version of an online service, you know the feeling of wishing you were on the premium plan. Free YouTube interrupts your videos with ads. Free Amazon makes you pay for shipping. Free Spotify doesn’t even let you pick which songs you listen to.

Shopify can be similarly frustrating. Sure, the basic version is extremely useful — according to Shopify stats, it powers more than a million businesses around the world — but it has its limitations, especially for larger and fast-growing businesses.

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There will probably come a time when you’ll be tempted to upgrade to Shopify Plus. Before you make the leap, here’s what you’ll want to consider.

Is It Affordable?

There’s no doubt that Plus can benefit a fast-growing company. It offers unmatched support, automation, and store customization, as well as enticing product display features like augmented reality, video, and 3D animation.

But, as with anything else, these features come at a price. The minimum cost of Shopify Plus is $2,000 per month, which is almost seven times as much as the highest-tier basic plan. That’s a major investment for some eCommerce businesses, especially since you can’t know for sure when, or even if, it will pay off.

Before you commit to upgrading, ask yourself whether your company can afford it. Crunch the numbers and find out how long you can foot the bill before your Shopify revenue has to outweigh the cost.

Is Shopify Plus Worth the Price?

This is the million-dollar question. Shopify Plus has a lot going for it, but are its benefits worth paying at least $1,700 more per month when compared to basic Shopify? Here are the top features to consider.

Shopify Merchant Success

The more your business grows, the more important it becomes to resolve issues quickly and completely. There comes a time when you can’t afford to rely on basic-level support. That’s where Shopify Plus’s Merchant Success program comes in.

This unique program gives you 24/7 access to a Shopify merchant support team. With Merchant Success, you get:

  • Customized launch support, including the help of a solutions engineer who will make sure Shopify Plus integrates seamlessly with all of your existing systems

  • On-demand access to Plus-trained specialists, so you can skip lower-tier support and go straight to the advanced team

  • A weekly newsletter that tells you about new and improved features, so you can integrate them quickly and easily

‌Most importantly, you’ll also get personalized guidance to help your business grow and scale. Shopify has created a system called the Merchant Growth Model, a roadmap that helps eCommerce businesses to optimize performance across multiple business areas.

Shopify Plus lets you check in one-on-one with MGM experts and develop a customized strategy for success.

Customizable Checkout

Did you know that Shopify has coding available for checkout, but blocks it for basic users? With Plus, your developers have full access to that code and can curate a checkout experience that’s unique to your brand. They can add:

  • ‌Customized free shipping motivators

  • ‌Customer reviews

  • ‌Trust badges (free returns, secure checkout, etc.)

  • ‌Live support chat

  • ‌…and more!

‌Just by using checkout customization through Plus, eyewear retailer Peepers increased its conversions by 30% and boosted its average order value by 20%. 

See how we launch & scale brands on Shopify Plus with a data-backed approach

Shopify Flow

If you’re looking for eCommerce automation, Shopify Flow is one of the best tools you can access. It lets you automate numerous backend processes, taking repetitive manual tasks off of your team’s plate so they can focus on growth.

Flow can automate processes like:

  • ‌Inventory management

  • ‌Customer review response

  • ‌Risky order cancellation

‌Flow lets your team manage automations for all stores from one central location, so they don’t need to log in multiple times. They can use pre-built workflows, customize them, or create new workflows based on the shop’s needs.

Shopify Plus also lets you create automations between connected apps. For example, if one of your apps tells Flow about a one-star review, Flow can prompt an email sequence in another app to win that customer back.

Certified Shopify Plus Apps

One of Shopify Plus’s biggest selling points is its Certified App Program. Apps in this collection are specifically geared toward Plus subscribers' complex needs, such as:

  • ‌Automated fulfillment

  • ‌Inventory management

  • ‌Cross-store selling

  • ‌Loyalty program management

  • ‌Omnichannel customer service

‌If you’re not familiar with these apps, dig in and do some research. Check out the dozens of certified apps out there and think about which ones would have a substantial impact on your business.

Figure out how much of a benefit these apps would provide for your business. Would they save you significant manual processing time or replace a separate paid service?

Unlimited Bandwidth

Shopify Plus offers unlimited bandwidth. This translates to limitless transactions and product listings, no matter how much your business grows.

With Plus, your shop will be able to handle as much business as you can bring in. That means no more worrying about whether major growth or a big selling day like Black Friday will overload your system.

Is Now the Right Time?

Every business wants to save time and automate as much as possible, but the ultimate question is whether Shopify Plus is worth the hefty price tag.

Many companies decide to upgrade to Shopify Plus when they reach a certain revenue level — say, $1 or $2 million a year. That’s a good starting point, but thinking about income alone won’t give you the best cost-benefit analysis.

Instead, think about how much and how fast your brand is expanding. If you’re growing steadily but gradually, you may have no problem handling your sales volume manually. If you’re growing fast, though, automation can be a major help.

Finally, ask yourself if you’re looking to sell globally. Shopify Plus lets you sell in 175 countries and 20 languages.

The Final Word

So, should you upgrade to Shopify Plus? Before you commit one way or the other, look at the numbers. Consider the price versus your revenue, factoring in any recent growth.

Think about the functionality, too. Will the Shopify Plus features truly save you time? Are they worth the cost, and can they replace any of your current expenses?

If the math comes out in favor of Shopify Plus, congratulations! You’re ready to take the next step as an eCommerce business.‌‌

Founder/CEO John Surdakowski and Senior Strategist David Anzalone have a conversation about this exact topic on our podcast, Agency X. Listen to the episode here.

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