Without a doubt, Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms. Entrepreneur magazine ranks it as one of the Top 6 Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses. And Inc. Magazine ranks Shopify in their list of Top Seven E-Commerce Platforms. What’s more, Market Watch calls Shopify “the leading multi-channel commerce platform”.
Headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Shopify is an e-commerce platform for both online stores and retail POS (point-of-sale) systems. Shopify describes itself as “One platform with all the ecommerce and point of sale features you need to start, run, and grow your business.”
According to Shopify, more than 800,000 businesses in 175 countries use its e-commerce platform. For the calendar year 2018, the platform’s total gross merchandise volume exceeded $41.1 billion. In a recent earnings forecast, Shopify expects 2019 revenue to be between $1.48 billion and $1.50 billion.
Out of the box, Shopify offers a low threshold for entry and is easy to set up and use. Shopify offers several basic plans and pricing models for a variety of business types and sizes. Their entry pricing model serves as an excellent example for current and future startups to emulate.
However, for more robust businesses and existing enterprises looking to migrate to a new e-commerce platform, there is Shopify Plus. Launched in 2014 the Plus option is geared towards enterprise level businesses. As a result, it is more robust. In this article, we’ll explore Shopify Plus, look at Shopify Plus pricing, and compare it to a few other e-commerce platforms.
Advantages of Shopify Plus
While Shopify is adequate for your average e-commerce outfit, larger enterprises have more extensive c-commerce needs. Consequently, these companies need better-than-average solutions. As a result, many flagship brands, including Kylie Jenner, Red Bull, and others, use Shopify Plus.
Even though all of Shopify’s options (including Shopify Plus) use the same dashboard, editor, and help center, Shopify Plus offers these enterprise-level companies much more functionality than any of Shopify’s other plans.
For example, Shopify Plus comes with unlimited staff accounts along with personalized help and support. On top of that, it can handle over 10,000 transactions per minute. This means that large-volume retailers don’t need to worry about whether their site will crash. Marketing educator, consultant, and SEO specialist Nate Shivar lists a several of Shopify Plus’ other main advantages.
- Scaling Reliability — Proven infrastructure which supports enterprise-level businesses or business’ scaling up to that enterprise level; also beneficial for retailers who need seasonal scaling to accommodate increased holiday traffic
- International Deployment — Built-in tools like geo-targeting, currency, and language options to easily and quickly expand internationally
- APIs, Integration & Extensions — Add-on friendly and easily extensible with its own App Store ecosystem
- Predictable Pricing — Starts at $2,000 per month, which includes a lot of beneficial services:
- Development and Maintenance — Includes hosting, servers, bug fixes, order management, bandwidth, feature implementation, and file storage are all part of the platform
- Technical Support and Account Management — Dedicated account manager for each client
- Marketing — Includes many standard marketing tools
All of these features make Shopify Plus an ideal option for launching an e-commerce site or adding e-commerce options to existing sites.
The Base Costs of a Shopify Plus License
As stated above, the Shopify Plus annual licensing fee starts at $2,000 per month. So you could plan on spending at least $24,000 per year on the license alone. In addition, you will spend an extra percentage depending on your revenue. Since Shopify Plus bases pricing on usage and sales volume, the license cost increases when you exceed $800k in a month.
On top of the basis licensing fee, Shopify Plus also has a fee structure based on revenues. This is the actual pricing of the platform. There is a ceiling to this pricing — the maximum license fee is $40,000 monthly. For example, according to Shopify Plus pricing, a $1,000,000 per month company pays $2,500 in monthly licensing fees. In order for that same merchant to pay the maximum $40,000 monthly license fee, they would need to reach $16 million in monthly sales.
So what does $2,000 a month buy you on the Shopify Plus platform? This monthly license covers a number of services, including:
- Hosting Fees
- Maintenance Costs
- Version Upgrades
- Native Multi-channel Capabilities
- Shopify’s POS solution — along with integrated selling solutions for eBay, Facebook, and Amazon
- Account Management — including a dedicated Launch Manager and Account Manager who typically provides:
- General Shopify support and suggestions
- About 3 hours per month of basic front-end development work
- Guidance for growing your store
- Onboarding support
- General Shopify Plus solutions advice
Overall, the Shopify Plus pricing structure is competitive. Especially considering that this cost includes hosting. Specifically, this pricing positions the platform on the lower end for enterprise-level e-commerce solutions.
But what if you already have an e-commerce presence? Can you migrate to Shopify Plus? The short answer is ‘Yes’. If your business already has an online store, but have thought of switching to a new platform, then this Shopify Plus pricing guide is perfect for you. This guide won’t dive into the technicalities of migration, but it will mainly focus on options and pricing.
Moving an Existing E-commerce Site to Shopify Plus
An increasing number of retailers have chosen to move to Shopify Plus including MVMT, Gymshark, Hawkers, puravida, and Emma Bridgewater. Of course the Shopify Plus website touts all the platform’s features, benefits, and perks. However, Shopify does not explicitly list the cost of migrating your site from your current e-commerce platform to Shopify Plus.
In general, the lack or standard pricing for moving your site to Shopify Plus is mainly because each business is unique. Specifically, Shopify Plus asks you to contact them, so they can walk you through the process, plans, and pricing. This makes sense, especially considering that your specific Shopify Plus pricing depends on several factors including scale, revenue, traffic, and others.
Side Costs of Shopify Plus
Although Shopify doesn’t outline the side costs of migration, at the same time, there are some sample prices from third-parties that serve as solid guidelines. Based on a hypothetical mid-level Shopify Plus project, we’ve outlined some more specific pricing for a mid-level enterprise’s first year of using Shopify Plus. Overall, a mid-level user could expect to spend between $130,200 and $270,200 during their first year with Shopify Plus. Below is a cost breakdown:
- $60,000 to $200,000 — The average build cost for a Shopify Plus site; depends on the scope of the project and complexity of the site
- $24,000 annually — Annual Shopify Plus licensing cost, starting at $2000 per month; this increases based on your revenue level
- $36,000 annually — BAU development costs
- $7,200 annually- Third party services for shipping, personalization, search, etc.
- $3,000 annually (about $250 per month) — Average yearly app costs
Factoring in Costs for Shopify Apps
Shopify Plus has a great deal of functionality. At the same time, third-party apps boost and extend its capacity even further. These apps meet needs like enhanced SEO tools, enterprise-level functionality, and enhanced site personalization. As a result, when talking about Shopify Plus pricing, be aware that you’ll need to spend money on additional apps for improved functionality of your e-commerce site.
In general, the norm for Shopify Plus third-party apps to pay a monthly licensing fee. One of the great benefits of this pricing model is the low cost of entry. Yet at the same time, paying a monthly fee for numerous apps tends to add up. If you are accustomed to Magento, which generally offers one-off license fees for apps, this will require an adjustment to your budgeting.
So even though you’ll spend less money up front, your total monthly costs for Shopify Plus apps may be more than you’re accustomed to. What’s more, apps have different monthly costs — licensing fees for Shopify Plus apps range from $50 to $500 each. However, one major benefit of monthly app licenses is that if you don’t like an app or find you don’t need it, you simply stop using it and find another app.
Be aware that if your business requires a specialized, custom-made app, then you’ll pay a premium for it. For example, development firms tend to charge $90 to $175 per hour for built-from-scratch apps. So the actual cost of the app will depend on its complexity, function, and size.
Site Design and Build Costs
Regarding site design and build, Shopify Plus does offer templates you to purchase. Yet if you choose a template, you’ll inevitably want to personalize it to differentiate your site from all the other e-commerce sites out there. This means you’ll pay for personalization, either in the form of a tailor-made site or a heavily-modified template.
Whether you do this design and build work in-house or contract with a design firm or a freelancer, it is important to factor in this cost. Depending on your needs, the estimated cost for this service might range between $75,000 and $100,000 (or more). And of course, the actual cost hinges on the complexity of your site and your business’ specific needs. Larger merchants with more complex needs will spend considerably more during the design and build process.
When migrating your site to Shopify Plus, make sure you work with a firm or freelancer who specializes in this platform. Overall, the firm you choose should be both creative and practical. This means they should deliver a unique, attractive, user-friendly site which also delivers exceptional functionality on every level.
Because of this, finding the right agency to build your site is key to success. Consider working with a Shopify Plus Technology partner to ensure you get the build possible.
Payment Processing Costs Via Shopify Payments
On top of the licensing fees, every merchant pays payment processing costs to a payment processor. This is true whether you use Shopify Payments or third-party processor. At the same time, you might find lower charges by using a third-party payment processor. In addition, be aware that Shopify does charge a 0.15% fee if you use a third-party payment provider.
Shopify Plus Pricing Compared to Other Platforms
How does Shopify Plus pricing stack up to other e-commerce platforms? Below we examine a few of the most popular platforms and compare them to Shopify Plus:
Shopify Plus vs Shopify
When talking about Shopify Plus, it’s helpful to introduce regular Shopify. With this plan, you get a 14-day free trial period without any up-front setup fees. Simply you can jump in and set up your store while you decide which pricing plan best fits your needs. There are three monthly pricing options:
- Basic Shopify (for starting your new business) - $29 per month
- Shopify (for growing your business) - $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify (for scaling your business) - $299 per month
Each of these plans comes with different options and levels of service for your business. All three come with an online store, sales channels, 24/7 customer support, unlimited products, the Shopify POS app, and other features. Yet, as you can imagine, the more you pay, the more options you get for your business.
For example, the Basic plan includes 2 Staff Accounts while the Shopify and Advanced Shopify include 5 and 15 Staff Accounts respectively. In addition, Advanced Shopify has exclusive features like an Advanced Report Builder and Third-party Calculated Shipping Rates. However, Shopify Plus definitely has even more to offer.
Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 Commerce
First released in 2008 by Varien, Inc, Magento is an open-source platform. Written in PHP, Varien originally developed this e-commerce software with the help of volunteers. Varien released the first general-availability version of Magento on March 31, 2008. After changing hands a couple of times, Adobe later acquired the platform. On November 17, 2015, Magento 2.0 was released.
Overall, Shopify Plus is less expensive than Magento 2 Commerce. According to Ecommerce Guide:
The ‘Total Cost of Ownership’ of a website built on Shopify Plus tends to be cheaper than a site built on Magento 2 Commerce.
The site also suggests that this lower cost makes Shopify Plus a better option for businesses that are currently at lower revenue levels. The article also details a few other costs comparisons between Shopify Plus and Magento:
- Design/ Build Costs — Magento Commerce builds tend to cost more than Shopify Plus projects. One reason for Shopify Plus’ lower build cost is that the builds involve less integration work and less backend development. In the end, less time working on the build means you spend less money up front. Specifically, Ecommerce Guide estimates spending about $100,000 for a Shopify Plus build and between $150,000 to $500,000 for a Magento 2 Commerce build.
- License Fees — Although both Shopify Plus and Magento 2 Commerce come with a license fee, Shopify Plus charges on a monthly fee while Magento charges an upfront, annual license fee. As is the case with Shopify Plus, Magento also bases the fee on your business’ revenue level. However, Magento bills you up front annually as ‘Gross Merchandise Value’. So for Magento Commerce licensing fees, expect to pay about $2,000 per month if you’re at the lowest monthly level fee.
- Hosting — As stated above, the $2,000 per month Shopify Plus license fee includes hosting. Shopify Plus hosting includes security patches, SSL certificates, PCI compliance, and other things. In comparison, Magento offers two options. Magento 2 Commerce Cloud has a similar hosting package but at a slightly higher monthly fee. Magento’s base cost is around $3,333 which includes the license and hosting.
- Site Maintenance — For monthly maintenance, fixes, and updates, Shopify Plus is typically cheaper than Magento.
At the end of the day, Shopify Plus is generally less expensive than Magento 2 Commerce. At the same time it depends on your business’ specific needs.
Shopify Plus vs WooCommerce
For small to large-sized online merchants that use WordPress, WooCommerce is a popular open-source e-commerce plugin. Designed specifically for WordPress, it launched September 27, 2011. The fact that the plugin is free (the base product) easy install makes it an attractive to businesses of a certain size.
In a comparison article, Simon Gondeck puts Shopify Plus up against Woo Commerce. He bases his comparison on several factors. Gondeck uses the example of a lower mid-market ecommerce business making between $1 million and $10 million in annual sales.
For a Shopify Plus site, he estimates the build cost (design and development) to be around $30,000. The monthly license fee is $2,000 per month, but Gondeck adds an estimated $2,000 per month for ‘developer maintenance costs’. At the end of the first year, he estimates the cost for a Shopify Plus site to be about $78,000. However, once the site is fully developed, the second year cost would drop to an estimated $48,000 per year.
For WooCommerce, Gondeck estimates the build cost to be about the same as Shopify Plus (around $30,000). However, he believes WooCommerce has lower month to month maintenance fees and costs. Although the developer maintenance costs are similar (about $2,000 per month), the monthly license fee (which includes the domain and hosting costs) is only about $200 per month. With all the costs totaled up, WooCommerce comes in at around $55,200 for the first year with an ongoing annual cost of about $26,400 per year.
Yet in the end, Shopify Plus pricing comes out slightly higher than WooCommerce in a head-to-head comparison. Gondeck recommends Shopify Plus for its simplicity and ease of use out of the box. He specifically recommends this e-commerce platform “for larger businesses with no current ecommerce presence.”
Shopify Plus vs BigCommerce Enterprise
Founded in 2009, BigCommerce develops e-commerce software for businesses. According to the company, the BigCommerce platform has processed $16 billion in total sales.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce has also launched an enterprise-level platform, BigCommerce Enterprise. Launched in May 2015, the platform was designed to accommodate high-volume retailers. And like Shopify Plus, BigCommerce also hosts some big name brands such as Skullcandy and Ford. So how does Shopify Plus pricing compare to BigCommerce Enterprise?
As we’ve already said a couple of times, Shopify Plus pricing starts at $2,000 per month with increases based on your sales volume. Also, Shopify Plus has no hosting fees, support fees, or monthly maintenance costs. In contrast, BigCommerce Enterprise’ pricing various greatly. Like Shopify Plus, BigCommerce doesn’t explicitly list prices for the Enterprise platform. However, according to WebMakeWebsites, you can get a basic plan for around $400 per month.
However, Nate Shivar puts the BigCommerce Enterprise’s monthly price at around $1,000. Yet, depending on your business’ capacity and needs, the high end of the monthly fee can add up to $15,000 per month. In the end, Paul Rogers states:
The pricing of Shopify Plus and BigCommerce generally comes out very similar — the licensing is comparable (with BigCommerce Enterprise being based on order volume and Shopify Plus being a GMV model with a minimum fee) and build costs are generally in the $75k – $200k bracket for both, in my experience. Shopify Plus does have some additional charges if you choose to use an external payment provider, but this is relatively low (0.25%).
Like Shopify Plus pricing, your actual BigCommerce pricing monthly depends on your sales, traffic, and other factors.
In Conclusion: Advantages of Shopify Plus
Without a doubt, Shopify is one of the top e-commerce platforms available today. And with Shopify Plus, enterprise-level businesses benefit from exceptional functionality to meet all their e-commerce needs. Compared to popular platforms like Magento, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce, Shopify Plus is a great platform for new e-commerce sites or for companies looking to migrate to a more robust platform. So whether you’re already at the enterprise level or you have plans to scale up to the next level like Campus Protein, Shopify Plus is certainly one of your best e-commerce options.
Gorgias is a customer support helpdesk providing flawless customer service for Shopify stores. Currently, we partner with over 1,000 merchants. Get started for free or schedule a demo today! Or Contact Us Today to learn more about what we can do for your Shopify site.