27th September 2021

Shopify has grown to become one of the leading online marketplaces for businesses of all sizes. In 2014 Shopify launched Shopify Plus. A platform for enterprise-sized firms dealing with large amounts of customers. Due to the impact of Covid-19, digital marketplaces have grown at a rapid rate. Shopify & Shopify Plus have been two of the prominent market leaders during this growth spurt. Here we will pit the two against one another and identify the most significant differences between the platforms in a Shopify vs Shopify Plus roundup. 

1. Theme Customisation

Some of the key Shopify Plus benefits centre around the added levels of customisation. To begin, we will gloss over the customisation available with the standard Shopify platform.

Shopify

A standard Shopify account gives you access to a variety of pre-set themes. It’s worth keeping in mind these are very basic themes and mainly consist of simple blocks, text, and media. The account still relies on the store owner’s (or their designer’s) creative input to make the store look appealing. There is an option available to purchase more advanced and clean-looking themes for a set price. Some of the heavy lifting is removed in terms of design and web development for SMEs as they have web features such as menus, icons, and search tools built-in.

Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus gives near-complete freedom in terms of store customisation. Users are given access to the theme coding language: “Liquid”. This means the only limitation Shopify Plus users have towards customisation is their abilities with Liquid coding. However, Shopify notes that Liquid is designed to be intuitive and can be mastered by anyone if the time and effort are put in. While having a coding background is handy, it is not essential.

Recommendations

  • Choose a theme that is scalable and has scope for growth
  • If you have the knowledge or are willing to learn, expensive premium themes aren’t always the best option

2. Exclusive Shopify Plus Apps

Both Shopify and Shopify Plus give users access to various apps that can be used to develop your store further – be that automating tasks such as sending push notifications to customers or running AB tests with pricing.

Shopify

If implemented correctly, many free standard Shopify apps can help boost growth, sales, and customer satisfaction for even the smallest businesses. Apps can be sourced that help manage all business processes from accounting, logistics, promotion, and more.

Recommended free Shopify apps

  • Oberlo – Perfect for small-medium-sized businesses. Oberlo helps to source suppliers for individual products in your store. It even has the capabilities to connect you directly with drop-shipping suppliers.
  • Shopify Email – The perfect app for developing an email list for your Shopify store. Promote your business, manage campaigns, and easily communicate with your customers through Shopify Email.
  • Fancy FAQ – Creating attractive FAQ sections is made easy with Fancy FAQ.
  • Plug-in SEO – optimising your store’s SEO will help increase organic traffic. Plug-in SEO gives tips and advice on how to best go about this. It makes SEO simple for complete beginners and seasoned digital marketing veterans.
Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus has an array of exclusive apps for its user. These apps are designed to deal with larger chunks of data and a higher number of customers. Many apps for Shopify Plus start as a free download; however, costs begin to occur once businesses need to scale the system up. For example, a free email marketing app may only allow for 1000 users on a mailing list but can be upgraded for a price to allow for more.  

Recommended Shopify Plus apps

  • Klaviyo – Email & SMS marketing is made simple with Klaviyo. It is one of the most popular Shopify Plus apps among large-scale businesses. Klaviyo lets you segment your registered Shopify customers and send personalised SMS & email messages, the perfect app for managing advertising campaigns.
  • Privy – Privy automates targeted ads across your store depending on the customer. It also produces pop-ups to encourage better conversion rates. This can be used to increase sales and begin to bulk out your email list.
  • Smile: Rewards & Loyalty – Loyalty schemes are an excellent way to retain customers and push future purchases. Implementing systems to manage this is usually very complex and requires a lot of development time. Smile, on the other hand, handles all this for your ecommerce business. You can easily create a points, gifts, and rewards system while matching this with running campaigns.

3. Analytical data

Shopify

Both systems offer detailed analytics to help a business delve into product performance, returning customer rates, and landing page data. Business aspects (e.g., CRM, marketing, finances) that need developing can be easily identified through the Shopify dashboard. Graphs and charts can be easily created to make the information easy to digest at a glance.

Shopify Plus

While the data available through the Shopify dashboard can be very useful for large businesses, it does not provide the same level of analytics as Shopify Plus. Shopify Plus allows for individual reports to be created relating to data across all major business processes. This type of data is needed for larger-scale businesses as underperforming departments can be hidden when only viewing generic overviews like the Shopify dashboard. 

Shopify Plus allows a business to easily connect its store to major analytical companies and platforms such as Google Analytics. Shopify Plus easily integrates with Google Analytics features such as tracking tags and links. This can allow businesses to track specific product pages within their Shopify store in even more depth. This can help them understand which products receive traffic but perhaps aren’t converting to sales.

Recommendations

  • If using Shopify Plus, set your analytics up with Google Analytics
    • Much more in-depth data can be gained based on your customers, how they behave and, what pages are underperforming
  • For standard Shopify users, the app KISSmetrics is highly recommended. While it does cost around £30/pm, the in-depth customer profiles it creates can be invaluable to better understanding your target consumers.
  • If you are a small business, it can be handy to implement feedback forms across the store to gauge a better understanding of how customers view your business
    • This type of customer data won’t be available to you through the Shopify dashboard.

4. Customer Support

Customer support is the biggest differentiator between Shopify and Shopify Plus.

Shopify

Standard Shopify users should note that the level of support given is still excellent. They receive 24/7 support through live chat, email, and call centres. For most SME’s this is more than enough support to deal with their day-to-day issues. Store owners can download various apps for free that can audit your Shopify store and highlight multiple health checks. While these checks are not massively in-depth, they can be convenient for small business owners with little time or resources dedicated to their store development. It stops store owners from missing any glaringly obvious issues with their Shopify store. A recommendation would be to use an app like ShopCheck to audit your store and potentially avoid going through Shopify customer support.

Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus has a more thorough customer support process that gives more significant levels of assistance. A Shopify Plus store is assumed to be a large business that deals with huge volumes of customers daily. If anything goes wrong with the store, it can have massive consequences for potential sales and customer complainants. Therefore, Shopify Plus customers need more urgent customer support.

Shopify Plus customers are assigned their own support team and have a dedicated launch manager upon implementation. After implementation, a dedicated merchant success manager is assigned. This means the support team a customer deals with from Shopify Plus has extensive and pre-existing knowledge of the company, their website, and previous issues.

5.Shopify vs Shopify Plus pricing

Shopify

Depending on the package you purchase, a standard Shopify store can cost anywhere from £22-£220. There are three available packages, basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify.

Shopify pricing plan

In terms of functionality, there isn’t much difference between the three. The only significant functional difference is the level of reporting. Basic Shopify has no reporting function; Shopify has the standard reporting, whereas advanced Shopify has a specialised reporting tool to delve deeper into the figures. The main differences are the number of users allowed on the system and the number of inventory locations.

Shopify plan benefits

As seen above, the different versions scale up regarding how many employees will be using the system and how much stock a Shopify business will be dealing with. They naturally follow suit as a company grows.

Recommendations

  • Basic Shopify: Start-up business with no customer base
  • Shopify: Small business that has begun to see growth, or a small/medium business looking to use Shopify as an extended sales channel
  • Advanced Shopify: Medium-sized companies dealing with a wide range of products and suppliers
Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus, however, costs a significant amount more and doesn’t have a set price. Pricing is dependent on how many users and stock locations are needed. This price, therefore, goes up as the business grows. The pricing begins at $2000 per month or 0.25% of your sales volume per month (whichever is higher). While the price increase may put off growing businesses, providing Shopify Plus is purchased at an ideal time for business growth, the monthly costs are always manageable as it is a % based figure.

Shopify vs Shopify Plus final thoughts

Shopify as a platform has earned its right to be one of the top online marketplaces. Its functionality and ability to cater to businesses of all sizes has solidified its place in an ever-growing ecommerce world. As expected, Shopify Plus upscales a lot of the functionality from standard Shopify to manage the capacity of customers and data that a large business needs. While the features offered with a standard Shopify package only scratch the surface compared to Shopify Plus, it provides more than enough functionality and customisable aspects for SMEs to grow their business.