Shopify vs Shopify Plus: Which Version is Right for You?

Last updated on 
May 18, 2022
Shopify vs Shopify Plus: Which Version is Right for You?
Getting ready to grow your store? We’ve laid out the key variants of Shopify vs Shopify Plus to help you know if you should upgrade to the Plus tier.

Choosing the right e-commerce platform to host your online store is a serious decision.  Over 800,000 online stores based in 175 countries are active on Shopify, so you know it’s a trusted option. Nevertheless, you may have a hard time deciding which version to host your store on. We’ve laid out the key variants of Shopify vs Shopify Plus to take the guesswork off of your plate.

“Shopify is by far the most desirable ecommerce platform for quickly getting a store up and running online, but a common question seems to constantly come up when companies begin building their stores. Which Shopify pricing plan is best for me?”

- Joe Warnimont

If you’re just starting out as an online store owner, a standard Shopify plan can be suitable for your operations. It provides everything you need to succeed in e-commerce. But, existing store owners looking for the best alternative for high volume sales might be better off going with Shopify Plus. To be sure, find out what plan is best suited to your needs by learning about the key differences below.

1. Shopify vs Shopify Plus Pricing

Two of the first factors any wise entrepreneur considers when making professional decisions are the costs and the potential return on investment (ROI). If you visit Shopify’s website, you’ll soon realize that you can try the software for free. But, how much will it actually cost when you’re ready to commit? Learn about your pricing options to see which version of the platform might be right for you.

Standard Shopify Pricing Options

With each standard Shopify plan, you’ll pay a different amount. You have three versions to choose from:

  1. Shopify Lite: $9 per month
  2. Basic Shopify: $29 per month
  3. Shopify: $79 per month
  4. Advanced Shopify: $299 per month

These straightforward plans are designed to grow with you as you launch and scale your online store, offering various features needed at progressing stages of the online sales journey.

The Shopify Plus Pricing Tier Explained

Shopify Plus pricing plans are an enterprise-level commitment and start at $2K per month or 0.25% of your store’s monthly revenue after $800K. These prices cap at $40K per month.

Here’s a breakdown of what you might expect to pay for Shopify Plus, based on your sales volume:

So, if you generate $16 million or more in monthly revenue as a Shopify Plus merchant, you should not pay more than $40K monthly ($480K annually). You will encounter other costs in addition to these, including transaction fees, online store development, site launch, third-party services, and add-ons. A sales representative can give you a custom quote based on your company’s particular needs.

2. Payment Processing and Transaction Fees

Shopify payments are pretty straightforward. Transaction fees are laid out as percentages of the total order volume. Shopify’s free POS credit card reader allows you to conveniently integrate your online and offline sales, no matter which plan you are on. But, what are the differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus’ payment processing and transaction fees?

Standard Shopify Transaction Fees

Shopify’s standard transaction fees are reasonable and range from 2.4 - 2.9% +30¢ per transaction. The rates vary based on your plan. Using Shopify’s integrated payment system, Shopify Payments, here’s what you can expect to pay:

  • Shopify Lite & Basic Shopify: 2.9% +30¢ online and 2.7% for in-person transactions.
  • Shopify: 2.6% +30¢ online and 2.5% for in-person transactions.
  • Advanced Shopify: 2.4% +30¢ online and 2.4% for online transactions.  

For all payment processors other than Shopify Payments, additional fees will apply as follows:

  • Shopify Lite & Basic Shopify: 2% for all transactions.
  • Shopify: 1% for all transactions.
  • Advanced Shopify: 0.5% for all transactions.

To avoid additional fees, it’s recommended that you use the integrated payment system.

Shopify Plus Transaction Fees

As you may have guessed, Shopify Plus’ transaction fees are less expensive than those you would pay with a standard Shopify plan. Whether you use Shopify Payments or not, you can expect to pay 1.6% +35¢.

Then, if you choose to use a third-party payment provider, you will pay an additional 0.15% transaction fee.

Disclosure: All Shopify and Shopify Plus pricing and transaction fees listed herein are up-to-date for US accounts as of May 2019.

3. Number of User Accounts Available for Team Members

While pricing for Shopify and Shopify Plus varies greatly, only knowing what each version costs may not be enough to start you on the right path. So, next, you’ll want to learn how many team members you can add to your dashboard with each version.

Depending on which pricing option you choose, you’ll be able to add between one and fifteen users to your standard Shopify dashboard (in addition to your owner profile). Lite accounts are allowed one user account. Shopify is an excellent choice for individuals and small teams.

On the other hand, Shopify Plus offers unlimited staff accounts. So, larger companies will have no problems allowing the entire team access to their online store dashboard.

Permissions for Shopify & Shopify Plus User Accounts

Both Shopify and Shopify Plus empower you to create and manage permissions based on the assigned user’s responsibilities. Only the owner account can add new users, but users with full permissions can make updates to what limited users can access. So, your sensitive data and order management is secure amidst new team members and entry-level workers who only need to see particular parts of your dashboard.

4. Website Design and Customization Features

Now that you understand the plan pricing, transaction fees, and user account differences for the platforms, it’s time to look at web design. Whether you choose Shopify or Shopify Plus, you will have access to 60+ e-Commerce themes. The majority of themes to pick from are paid ($140-$180), but there are 10+ free options.

All themes are customizable using Liquid, Shopify’s unique coding language, in the Editor section of your dashboard. You can either hire a developer or learn from Liquid tutorials to write your own code. As with most content management systems and eCommerce platforms, all paid themes are fully-customizable for both Shopify and Shopify Plus.

The Difference Between Checkout Experiences for Shopify and Shopify Plus Web Stores

A critical aspect of your online store design is the customer checkout experience. You get paid only after you collect credit card information, so you need to make sure people want to give it to you. Most people who abandon their carts never return to make a purchase from you. Here’s what you need to know about the platform variants.

With both Shopify and Shopify Plus, there is one major difference concerning checkout: The checkout page is customizable with Shopify Plus while it is NOT with a standard Shopify plan. Standard Shopify plans allow you to create a checkout experience integrated with your online store’s theme.

Checkout.liquid is an asset offered only to Shopify Plus users. When using checkout.liquid, you are not confined by the design parameters set in your theme file (theme.liquid); this means that your checkout page is completely self-contained and does not display any code from your site’s theme file during the checkout process.

So, if you want to deliver a fully-customized checkout experience to your customers, Shopify Plus provides more opportunity to do so. Alternatively, you can use Shopify apps to add more customization to the checkout page of a standard Shopify store.

5. Customer Discount Options for Each Version of Shopify

Shopify is designed to set merchants up for success in e-commerce. During the checkout process, your page needs to be optimized for high conversion rates. Luckily, promotional discounts can help you achieve just that. Want to run flash sales and seasonal price reductions? Here’s how you can make it happen with Shopify vs Shopify Plus.

Standard Shopify Plans’ Promotional Discount Options

There are probably hundreds of apps in Shopify’s add-on marketplace that will help you create discounts to entice your shoppers. Standard plans include the ability to easily create discounts from inside your dashboard. In addition, you can enable shoppers to redeem in-store discounts if you use Shopify’s integrated POS system.

What type of discounts can you create with a standard Shopify plan?

  • Fixed-Value: Enable customers to redeem coupons with purchases such as $5 off an order of $25 or more.
  • Percentage: Provide shoppers with discount codes that give them a percentage off of their purchase.
  • Shipping: Offer free or reduced shipping on certain orders.
  • Buy X Get Y: Give a bonus/ gift with specific purchases (available for online sales only).

After you run a promotional discount campaign, you can track its progress using the “Sales by Discount” report. Regular reports provide you with insights about which campaigns are working and which ones aren’t. Use real data to power your marketing campaigns.

Negative takes advantage of the discount options available with Shopify by doubling-down. First, they offer free shipping on orders over $100. Then, they host a monthly giveaway worth a $100 gift card. Both promotion types are executable via the discount portal.

Shopify Plus’ Advanced Promotional Discount Options

Take your promotions a step further with Shopify Plus. You can increase your cart value with Launchpad, exclusive to the Plus platform. The system automates most aspects of promotional campaigns, discounts, flash sales, and product releases.

Planning and executing an online sale usually involves tedious manual processes. When running a campaign this way, it’s difficult to make real-time optimizations to your campaigns. The add-on makes it much easier, reducing the amount of time spent launching a campaign and the risk for human error.

Here’s what you can expect Launchpad to automate for you:

  • Schedule new products and campaigns to launch across multiple sales channels.
  • Generate predetermined discounts for specific products or entire collections.
  • Create campaign themes.
  • Update campaign themes.
  • Return pricing to normal on campaign end dates.

Simba runs percentage discount campaigns for their online store. From a customer view, their campaign execution is comparable to that of Negative above. But, as a Shopify Plus user, you can wager that they use Launchpad to automate the process rather than manually perform the tedious work.

6. Analytics and Reporting Potential

Everyone using Shopify (from Lite through Plus members) has access to the overview dashboard and the key financial reports. So, even a Shopify Lite account is enough to get started. But, what are the main analytics capability differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus?

Standard Shopify Analytics and Reporting

With standard Shopify plans, the analytics and reporting capabilities vary, based on the pricing tier you’re on. For example, with a Lite plan, you can only access the Overview Dashboard and key financial reports, which include taxes and payments.

The next tier, Basic Shopify, also comes equipped with live view, acquisition reports, five out of six available behavior reports, and one out of five available marketing reports.

The “Shopify” plan includes everything above. In addition, owners gain access to all six behavior reports, all five marketing reports, ten out of eleven available sales reports, retail sales reports, profit reports, and five out of seven customer reports.

Advanced Shopify users are again able to access all of the same reports as their predecessors. But, they gain access to all seven available customer reports and custom reports as well.

At this rate, what could Shopify Plus possibly have to offer?

Shopify Plus Analytics and Reporting

As you can see from the above analytics and reports availability chart above, Shopify Plus users have access to all eleven available sales reports. So, what makes the eleventh report so special?

The eleventh report available in the Shopify analytics and reporting dashboard displays the average order value over time; this report shows you how your average order value has changed across the lifetime of your online sales with Shopify.

The average order value over time report excludes returns. And, you can group your orders by time. The data is calculated by dividing the total sales by the number of orders received. Gift card purchases are added after the customer makes a purchase.

This report can provide store owners with invaluable insights to help make informed business decisions.

7. Available Add-Ons and Apps

The App Store is one of Shopify’s most enticing features. According to Martin Sanders, as of September 2018, there were 2,203 available paid and free Shopify apps in the new app store. Shopify themselves are responsible for creating only 22 of them to date. Since then, the total number of apps has undoubtedly increased.

The Shopify Plus platform supports only 65 technology partners. These partners are a combination of vetted, world-class industry and platform experts. You will only find industry leaders in the integrations dashboard.

Being a part of the Plus team and utilizing the available apps will enable you to use third-party integrations and technologies that are guaranteed to help you accelerate your growth.  

8. International Seller Benefits for Shopify vs Shopify Plus

Are you selling in more than one country? If not, do you want to? If you answered yes to either question, you will need to understand the differences between what Shopify and Shopify Plus offer international sellers.

As you can probably guess, Shopify Plus provides more global sales tools. To understand the features you can leverage, first, take a look at what you get with a standard Shopify plan. Then, find out if you need the additional features available with Shopify Plus.

Standard Shopify Benefits for International Sellers

Shopify’s standard plans are pretty good for international sellers, as long as they are willing to create an online store for each country or region in which they sell. When setting up a new online store, you can choose from several cross-border tools in the add-on marketplace to change your language and currency options. While the possibilities for international sales with Shopify are limited, many sellers make it work.

Shopify Plus Benefits for International Sellers

So, if you’re looking to sell across various global markets, Shopify Plus is going to be the way to go. There is a feature called “Clone Store” or “Multi-Store” that allows you to create up to ten versions of your online store, customized to specific target audiences.

The Clone Store option is especially helpful for wholesalers, regional, and international stores. Furthermore, it efficiently supports multiple languages and currencies, so you can easily translate your pages when launching to a market in a new area of the world.

9. Levels of Merchant Support

Shopify is known for outstanding, partially-automated merchant support, available 24/7. This system is available to everyone with an online store. But, what you won’t get with a standard Shopify account is one of Shopify Plus’ dedicated account managers.

With Shopify Plus, you are assigned two managers at different stages:

  1. Dedicated Launch Manager
  2. Dedicated Merchant Success Manager

You will have access to the launch manager when transitioning to the Shopify Plus platform and launching your new store. Then, you will stay in touch with your merchant success manager over the lifetime of your relationship with Shopify.

But, what will these people actually help you with?

What are the Responsibilities of a Shopify Plus Launch Manager?

Many who are ready for a Shopify Plus plan have existing websites that they have put a lot of work into. They aren’t ready to let it all go. That’s where your dedicated launch manager, or launch engineer, comes into the picture. The dedicated support is one of Shopify Plus’ major selling points for enterprise-level sellers.

When you make the switch from your existing platform to Shopify Plus, you’ll receive a dedicated consultant to help. Streamline your transition with the help of a trained expert. Your launch manager will be responsible for directing all aspects of the launch; this includes writing new lines of code to ensure that your new store maintains your existing brand image.

What are the Responsibilities of a Shopify Plus Merchant Success Manager?

Later, you will be assigned a merchant success manager, who will help you with ongoing, expert, strategic e-commerce consultation. Their job is to help you and your high-volume online business create the flexibility, reliability, and scalability that you need to be successful.

Merchant success managers are expected to establish a strong relationship with you while helping you discover the right long-term solutions to your greatest roadblocks. They will provide you with the following:

  • Best e-Commerce Practices Direction
  • Industry Trends Knowledge
  • API Support
  • ERP Integration Help
  • Social Commerce Strategy Consultation
  • Analytics and SEO Insights

Some of the advice you receive from your dedicated consultant will help you make better design and UX decisions while some will improve your internal operations. Either way, with Plus, you’ll be assisted by an expert who will help you continually set and achieve new goals.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Shopify Plus is precisely what its name suggests: like the Shopify standard platform with something additional at every turn. Aside from the benefits listed above, Shopify Plus tends to have an air of exclusivity. Many of the leading Shopify add-ons offer private perks for Shopify Plus members.

So, are you ready to join the Plus club or not quite yet? This information should leave you able to answer the question with confidence. If not, reach out and tell us what we missed.

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