What Is Shopify Plus And Does Your Business Need It?

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March 3, 2020
What Is Shopify Plus And Does Your Business Need It?

Interview multiple candidates

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Search for the right experience

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Ask for past work examples & results

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Vet candidates & ask for past references before hiring

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Once you hire them, give them access for all tools & resources for success

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As Shopify Plus Partners, here at Kubix we tend to be a little biased towards the Shopify platform. Shopify’s mission statement is: You’ve got the will. We’ve got the way. And they certainly do. With over 4.4 million live Shopify stores across the globe, Shopify is designed to provide entrepreneurs with all the tools they need to sell their products successfully. From point-of-sale systems right through to the online store - every feature that the Shopify team introduces is implemented with the merchant in mind.

This user-friendly structure is clearly paying off, as Shopify is now consistently listed as the best all-round e-commerce website platform available today.

But what about Shopify Plus? What is Shopify Plus?

Shopify introduced Shopify Plus back in 2014, and since then a whole host of well-known brands have joined the Plus parade - from the likes of Kylie Cosmetics, to Gymshark and Nike. Whilst the actual user interface of Shopify and Shopify Plus work in exactly the same way, Plus comes with a whole host of impressive new features to cater for high-volume orders and effortless scalability of the world’s biggest brands.

Shopify Plus is for the online heavyweights. For the world’s biggest brands on the brink of hypergrowth; the high-volume merchants looking for global expansion. Plus is endlessly customisable and can cope with over 11,000 orders per store every minute, making it the easiest way to turbo-charge your online store at breakneck speed.  With a 99.98% average uptime, the days of website crashes and unreliable e-commerce platforms are over.

For any small-to-medium sized businesses looking for a seamless online store experience for their customers, the standard Shopify package may still be the best choice. But now that Shopify Plus is available for large businesses, more and more business owners are having to make the important choice: Should I upgrade to Shopify Plus?

Before you make your decision, it’s a good idea to understand the key differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus. We’ve broken it down into four key components: Pricing, Features, Who Already Uses Shopify Plus and Is Your Business Ready?

If you’re running a high-volume store and need greater control over the automation and running of your business, then Shopify Plus could be the choice for you. But firstly, let’s run through the Plus package and see how it compares to the standard Shopify plan.

Shopify Plus Pricing

The first thing that every Shopify business owner wants to know is this:

How much am I going to have to pay?

And the answer is tricky. The usual Shopify packages start at $29 a month for a Basic package, go up to $79 for the Standard package, and $299 for Advanced. All of these you can sign up for after a 14-day free trial of their platform, with clear differences between features and accessibility to Shopify support networks and number of staff accounts.

The pricing structure of Shopify Plus, however, is a little more hazy. Shopify tends to request that you come to them directly or use one of their Shopify Experts (did we mention that we’re Shopify Experts?) to negotiate on your behalf.

Despite this, the ballpark is pretty standard. For any business making between £0 and $800,000 (approximately £600,000) a month, the upgrade to Shopify Plus would have you looking at $2000 a month for a 12-month contract.

Making more than $800,000? Shopify has their own pricing structure that is capped at $40,000 a month for the world’s biggest brands.

Think $2000 seems a lot compared to $299? It is. But before you lock up your purse and toss away the key, it’s worth breaking down the pricing structure for the upgrade. The costs of Shopify Plus may be more than expected, but for some businesses making the leap, the amount of money that Plus can actually save you on reduced payment processing fees might balance out the amount you spend upgrading. Not to mention the time it saves you with all the additional features.

But what do we mean by reduced payment processing fees?

For every sale made on a Shopify store, Shopify takes a small percentage to process the payment. In the table below you can see that this percentage reduces each time you upgrade, from 2.9% down to 2.6%, down to 2.4%.

Shopify Plus transaction fees, in comparison, are negotiable. The general estimate is 1.6%, but it’s important to do your research. If you’re already a Kubix client, then we can negotiate even better rates as soon as we know what you want from your Plus Package. (Simply scroll down to The Kubix Promise for more!)

The real savings, however, can be made if you use an external payment provider such as WorldPay or SagePay. By upgrading to Shopify Plus, your external payment transaction fee goes down from 0.5% to 0.15%. Immediately this reduction could make a big change for your business.

Let’s start with an example. Say that your online store is doing very nicely and making £800,000 a month. With Shopify taking 0.5% on the Advanced plan, you’d be looking at a monthly fee of £4,000 from your external payment gateway transactions.

By upgrading to Plus at a new rate of 0.15%, this fee reduces down to £1,200. Not only does this save you £2,800, it more than covers the costs of your Plus package and you get all the additional features to boot.

Shopify Plus Features

Shopify Plus comes with a whole host of impressive new features. Before we discuss the new ‘pluses’ for going Plus, it is still worth mentioning one little thing:

Shopify and Shopify Plus work in exactly the same way.

The actual user interface - from the dashboard to the order lists and product catalogues - doesn’t change, regardless of which plan you sign up for. If you upgrade, the day-to-day workings of your online store don’t change. Instead, Plus allows for a variety of new features that the standard Shopify package doesn’t provide.

The first benefit?

Traffic control.

Shopify Plus is capable of coping with LOTS of traffic. Like 11,000 online transactions a minute kind of traffic.

Nobody likes a traffic jam - whether you’re sat in a queue of cars on your daily commute, or waiting for the chance to buy a ticket to a concert. Likewise, any online shopping experience is quickly ruined when your purchase doesn’t go through or a website goes down. Speed and efficiency is the aim of the game for any online retailer, and a slow, clunky website is a surefire way to lose customer trust and future business. A website crash in 2015 for Gymshark cost them an estimated £100,000 in sales. How? Read more about their incredible journey from Magento to Shopify Plus below.

Similarly, if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 a day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost that business $2.5 million in lost sales every year. Why? Because online shoppers will not wait around for a website to load. A one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

Luckily Shopify Plus breaks new ground when it comes to traffic and transaction speeds.

This isn’t to say that the regular Shopify plan can’t handle traffic. It can, and it does. But for businesses looking to really cash in on flash sales and limited time offers, Shopify Plus is perfectly equipped to handle the pressure.

The second, third and fourth benefits of Shopify Plus come in the form of apps. Let’s discover how they work.

Flow - A Shopify Plus built-in sales feature.

Nothing makes a customer more likely to buy online than feeling like their customer journey throughout the store has been tailored to their needs. Introducing Flow - an exclusive feature of Shopify Plus that allows you to make changes to your store depending on the individual customer’s buying habits. Whether risk management or customer loyalty, promotions or app integrations Flow lets you automate a variety of functions and tasks based on your customers’ journey throughout your site.

Let’s say you're running a subscription product-based store. You can use Flow to automatically email any customer that has been subscribed for a certain amount of time to check in and see if they're enjoying the product, and even upgrade. With Flow’s easy-to-use templates, you can automate all kinds of tasks - from getting notified when products are low in stock, to texting discount codes to customers, or even creating a support ticket whenever you receive a negative review.

Flow also gathers data from the customer as they shop and makes small changes to encourage them to continue shopping. If you’re a clothes brand, for example, and one of your customers regularly buys from your Sale section, Flow would take this data and show Sale items first when they next come to browse.

The potential for Flow is huge, depending on what your business needs most. What is does is save you time, as simple workflows help you automate the most complex processes without needing dozens of lines of code.

Shopify Scripts - Criteria-based customer perks.

Ever wanted to offer a free gift to certain customers but struggled to define the right criteria?

Shopify Scripts is a tidy little app within the Plus conglomerate, used for creating cart-level operations based on a defined set of conditions. From store-wide discounts, to free gifts, a percentage off next purchase and tiered discounts dependent on spending levels, Scripts allows developers to customise various ‘perks’ for the customer to improve their store experience. Unlike regular Shopify merchants who will be well-acquainted with the simple yet somewhat limited Discounts tab, Scripts is far more flexible about how many discounts or perks you can provide your customers and whereabouts on the user journey they get shown.

With Shopify’s current Discounts feature, customers have to first add an item to their cart and then proceed to checkout before seeing the discount applied. Stores are also not able to use both discount codes and automatic discounts simultaneously. Shopify Scripts, in comparison, are much more versatile. Whether you’re giving away a special product whenever your customers spend a certain amount, or want to offer a discount for customers who have made a certain number of orders in the past, Scripts allows you to create and fire up scripts that do this automatically whenever your customers meet the criteria. Ideal for stores wanting an easier journey for their customers and increased brand loyalty.

Launchpad - Automated theme changes.

If you’ve ever had to change the theme of your Shopify store to prepare for a big retail event such as Black Friday or a January sale, then you’ll know the frustration of having to manually change this theme yourself.

Our designers regularly find themselves tearing their creative metaphorical hair out when they come to change a theme. We’re faced with the regular debate: do we stay up until midnight to change a client’s theme, or do we do the sensible thing and wait until we’re in the office from 8-9am?

Shopify Plus eliminates this stress by allowing stores to automate their themes. They call this revolutionary app in the Plus bundle ‘Launchpad’.

Launchpad lets store owners schedule these sales and content changes automatically. Not only does this allow your store to schedule product visibility or flash sales, it means that store owners and agencies alike no longer have to wait until 11:59pm to change a theme over for a particular day. Particularly important for big sales and calendar events (think Black Friday / Cyber Monday), your store can have multiple themes ready to go as and when you want them.

No more midnight stresses or delayed sales!

And finally? Apps aside, Plus has a whole range of additional features.

Customisable checkout pages.

One of the biggest bugbears that current Shopify store owners face is the lack of flexibility on the checkout page. Developers can tweak and play around with Product Hub pages, Contact pages and more - yet they can’t touch the checkout. By upgrading to Shopify Plus, your store will have the ability to customise the checkout page with additional trust icons and regional checkboxes for the countries that require them - meaning that your checkout page will better reflect your brand and get customers through to that final conversion stage.

Go global.

They say that all the world’s a stage, but is your business ready for the show? True growth starts when your brand goes global. And Shopify Plus is more than ready for this.

The Shopify team recognised the demand for business scalability. With their Plus package you will have the opportunity to set up 10 different clone stores (so far) for different countries across the world - to start selling exactly whenever or wherever you choose.

Each of these 10 subdomains can be set up with a dedicated storefront for your international customers.

The benefits of selling internationally across different subdomains are huge. Not only can you have a different back-end for each store, allowing for more sophisticated SEO practices, you can tailor currencies for each subdomain and use your customisable checkout feature to ensure that your store complies with each individual country’s e-commerce regulations.

The upshot? Whether you’re selling flip-flops in France or yoga mats in Yemen, the world gets instantly smaller with the latest Plus package.

Unlimited staff accounts. ‍‍‍

The bigger your business, the more people involved in running the day-to-day operations. Whilst the current Shopify plans caps the number of store users to 5 people for the standard package, and 15 for Advanced, Plus is unlimited. Meaning that no matter how big your team or how far away, everyone in your business can access your store at all times.

And the bonus features don’t stop there…

We’ve just listed a few of the best parts of the Plus package, but the picture is a little bigger than that. Shopify Plus provides a seamless experience for store owners and customers alike. Other amazing benefits of upgrading to Plus include:

  • Extended Validation SSL Certificate
  • Dedicated Wholesale Sales Channel
  • Shopify Merchant Success Manager (MSM)
  • Increased API Call Limit

Who’s Already Using It?‍

It won’t come as a surprise to hear that all of the big names in the Shopify world are already embracing the changes that come as part of the Shopify Plus upgrade. Victoria Beckham, Gymshark, Skinny Dip and Kylie Cosmetics are just some of the big-name brands that have taken the plunge. Discover some of their success stories below.

Gymshark: From Performance Issues to Plus Benefits.

Leading fitness apparel brand Gymshark were struggling with their original Magento website before moving across to Shopify Plus. After a lengthy eight months of building the Gymshark site in Magento, they already regretted picking such an expensive and slow platform. The year was 2015, and things went from bad to worse when Black Friday rolled around - the biggest online event of the year. The new Gymshark site went down, completely unable to cope with the spike in traffic and sales. And not just for a few minutes, either. Gymshark customers were unable to make purchases for eight whole hours, costing the business an estimated £100,000 in sales and frustrating both customers and the Gymshark team alike. The brand knew after such a catastrophic collapse that they needed a different platform that could keep up with their rapid growth. They switched to Shopify that year, and have been very transparent about their struggle to build the perfect working website.

Now nearly five years on, Gymshark is considered one of the fastest growing fitness brands in the world. The team attribute their rapid success to the streamlined features of Shopify Plus - which they appreciate even more, having felt and seen the stark differences between Plus and Magento. Gymshark use Shopify Scripts in particular within their Plus package, which allows their in-house developers to write custom code to customise checkout and surprise their customers with complimentary gifts and offers. This customer loyalty has been the key to their success in recent years.

Read the full Gymshark case study on Shopify Plus.

Is Your Business Ready For It?

If you’re still wondering if Shopify Plus is right for your business, then it’s good to weigh up Shopify’s hallmarks for those looking to upgrade.

If your business:

  • Is pulling in £750,000 a year or more of annual revenue
  • Needs a reliable online platform that can cope with traffic surges without crashing
  • Wants to step up in terms of bespoke development and global expansion
  • Wants to automate steps such as theme changes and tailored user experiences

...then Shopify Plus is certainly the right option for you.

But don’t hold back. If you feel as though you’re unsure if you’d qualify for the Plus programme or you’re just looking for the best ways to get there, then start the conversation.

Our Kubix team has years of experience with Shopify, and we know exactly what it takes to make that important step up to Plus. With an average launch time of 90 days, our team can help you make the change with minimal fuss.

When all is said and done, we should make it clear that Shopify Plus is NOT a money-saving exercise. Your monetary gains will be marginal.

What Shopify Plus does is save you time.

Time spent manually changing themes. Time spent creating ‘workarounds’ with discount codes.  Time spent patching together integrations, when you could be focusing on the more crucial aspects of your business - namely making it stronger and ready for the future.

As the age-old saying goes: time is money.

If you’re looking to the future with a business on the brink of growth, then Shopify Plus could be just the step you need.

The Kubix Promise

Here at Kubix, we’re Shopify Experts. Which means that not only do we know Shopify inside and out, we deal with the Shopify team on a daily basis to ensure that our clients get the best value and support for their money.

Our promise to you is that we won’t upgrade your business until we feel that you’re truly ready. If you think it’s time, we will conduct an independent assessment of your business. This step is crucial. It determines which features of Plus would be most useful to you, whether your profit margins match Shopify’s Plus programme, and whether we can make even bigger savings using our Shopify Expert status. Our team have secured better rates for our Shopify Plus customers than businesses who go to Shopify direct.

And of course, if you’re already a dedicated Kubix customer, you’re already in prime position for stepping into the world of Shopify Plus. And what’s more, our team is here to guide you as you make those all-important changes.

Smart thinking for smart businesses.

All it takes is a conversation. Give our Kubix team a call on 0330 808 8444, email hello@kubixmedia.co.uk, or head to our contact page to start yours.

Like our content? You’ll love our work even more.

Get in touch with our team to discuss your Shopify requirements today.