Shopify vs Shopify Plus — What’s the Difference?

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Shopify vs Shopify Plus (the two logos, side by side)

In this detailed comparison of Shopify vs Shopify Plus, we outline the key differences in features and pricing between the two versions of this hugely popular ecommerce platform. Which one is right for your project?


Shopify is an ecommerce solution used by millions of businesses worldwide to build an online store.

Most of these are small to medium-sized businesses, who are happy to use one of the standard Shopify pricing plans (‘Basic’, ‘Shopify, ‘Advanced Shopify’ etc.).

Shopify
Shopify

With the ‘normal’ versions of Shopify, users get access to core selling features that generally work well for ‘solopreneurs’ or small businesses.

These include:

  • a standalone store
  • multilingual selling features
  • multi-currency selling features
  • dropshipping tools
  • point-of-sale functionality

and more.

(For a full overview of Shopify features, check out our main Shopify review).

However, some businesses (10,000+ brands, according to Shopify) choose to use a premium version of the platform, Shopify Plus.

Shopify Plus statistics
Shopify Plus statistics

The companies that use Shopify Plus tend to be large, well-known brands — businesses like Sony, Heinz, Polaroid, Huel and Gymshark.

Shopify Plus
Shopify Plus is a powerful platform that is aimed at large organizations or merchants running stores that have a a high sales volume

These sort of companies use Shopify Plus because it brings considerably more ecommerce functionality to the table than the regular version of the platform — and in a moment you’re going to learn all about that.

But first, an important question…


Shopify vs Shopify Plus — are they actually different platforms?

A key thing to understand when comparing Shopify vs Shopify Plus is that they are not different platforms.

They are built on the same technology, use the same Shopify themes, provide the exact same interface and have the same core functionality — the difference between the two solutions simply boils down to the ‘enterprise-grade’ features that are unlocked when you use the Shopify Plus plan, and pricing.

Let’s look at both of these in turn.


Key features that are unique to Shopify Plus

Exclusive access to Shopify’s Merchant Success programme

A fundamental difference between Shopify and Shopify Plus is the amount of ‘hand-holding’ and personal support that you get.

When you take out a Plus plan, a ‘Launch Team‘ is on hand to help you get your store online faster by assisting with migrations and custom integrations, and a ‘merchant success’ programme is provided to help you with your ongoing ecommerce strategy.

Shopify Plus gives you access to a 'merchant success' manager / programme
Shopify Plus gives you access to Shopify experts and a ‘merchant success manager’ – a dedicated launch manager who supports you with migration and strategy

Shopify claims that its launch team can get enterprise users up and running on Shopify Plus ‘in less than 90 days.’

Shopify ‘Organization Admin’

The Shopify Organization Admin tool, available exclusively on the Plus version of the platform, lets you operate multiple stores using one Shopify account.

With this feature you can access analytics, manage users, edit stores and build automations (more on these in a moment) for any of your stores, all via the same Shopify admin dashboard.

Advanced apps

Although the normal version of Shopify gives you access to a considerable number of apps and integrations — around 8,000 — Shopify Plus gives you a further range of apps to choose from.

The Shopify app store
The Shopify app store is packed full of Shopify integrations and third party apps

These let you gain advanced functionality for your Shopify Plus store for digital marketing campaigns, fulfilment, content management, shipping methods, customer rewards and task automation.

Examples include:

  • Shopify Flow — this is a code-free automation tool that facilitates the creation of ‘if this then that’ (IFTT) style rules. These make Shopify automatically take certain actions based on certain events (for example, if your inventory is running low, it can send an email message to a supplier etc. — see video below for a more detailed overview of the automation possibilities).
  • The Wholesale channel — this is designed for merchants with a high volume of B2B sales / large number of wholesale customers.
  • Launchpad — a tool for planning and automating flash sales, product launches, or sales campaigns.
  • Script Editor — this allows you to create personalized experiences at the shopping cart/checkout stage.
  • Transporter app — this helps you import data into your Shopify Plus store (and makes migrations from other platforms easier).
  • Bulk Account Inviter — this lets you invite your customers to activate their accounts for your online store (again, this is is useful if you have migrated your store across from another platform).

The ability to fully customize your checkout

Unlike the regular versions of Shopify, Shopify Plus gives you the ability to fully customize your checkout process.

It does this by giving full access to the code behind the Shopify checkout page templates (the ‘checkout.liquid’ file, pictured below).

The Shopify 'checkout.liquid' file
The Shopify ‘checkout.liquid’ file lets you personalize the checkout experience (Liquid is Shopify’s theme language).

You also get access to additional coding functionality — Shopify Scripts — and the Shopify script editor, which lets you add the following features to a Shopify checkout:

  • Automated discounts and promotions
  • Precalculated shipping costs
  • Free shipping thresholds

All this means that Shopify Plus merchants end up with significantly more control over the user experience and branding of their checkout process, and more shipping options too.

Better multi-currency features

Shopify Plus is better than the standard version of Shopify for selling in multiple currencies. If you’re using the Shopify Plus plan, then your ecommerce store automatically sets your customers’ country and currency based on their IP address.

What this means is that your customers will immediately see product prices in their own local currency, rather than having to select a currency manually themselves. This ultimately makes your store easier to use, reduces customer concerns about buying from a ‘foreign’ ecommerce website and can lead to more sales.

Shopify video review — 7 key pros, 7 key cons

Full Shopify review

(Additionally, if using Shopify Payments as a payment processor, you can set custom product prices for individual territories using Shopify Plus. While this feature is technically available on one other Shopify Plan, ‘Advanced,’ all the more affordable Shopify plans don’t provide merchants with this option).

Additional API calls

With the Shopify Plus plan, you can use the Shopify API — ‘Application Programming Interface’ — in more ways.

An API is a piece of software that basically allows two applications to talk to each other.

On Shopify Plus plans you can ‘call’ it more often (i.e., let an application use the API more regularly) and use it to build more sophisticated integrations with other tools (or develop your own custom apps for Shopify).

The table below gives you an idea of the differences between the standard limits and those available from Shopify Plus.

API call limits in Shopify vs Shopify Plus
API call limits in Shopify vs Shopify Plus

Unlimited users (and more staff permissions)

Whereas the regular Shopify plans cap the number of users that can access your Shopify store’s back end (with the number of ‘seats’ depending on plan), Shopify Plus gives you unlimited staff accounts. This makes the platform more useful to larger organizations, and more scalable too.

Shopify Plus lets an unlimited number of staff members access your account.
Shopify Plus lets an unlimited number of staff members access your account; gives them more professional reports; and provides you with more control over your team members’ access rights to customer data.

Additionally, on Shopify Plus, you get permission settings that give you more control over the actions your staff can take in your Shopify store’s back end.

For example, using Plus, you can grant specific report export permissions and app access rights that are not available on standard Shopify plans.

Extra stores

Whereas a regular Shopify account can only be used to build just one store, a Shopify Plus subscription gives you the option to create up to ten, thanks to its ‘expansion stores’ allowance.

These extra stores can be used to create more selling opportunities, for internationalization purposes or to cater for stores with different physical locations.

You can add additional expansion stores beyond the standard Shopify Plus limit of 10 (but you should note that this involves a not-insignificant additional cost of $250 per month per store).

Sandbox stores

Shopify Plus lets you create test sites called ‘sandbox stores’ — these can be used to learn how to build on Shopify Plus or to create demos for prospective clients.

Sandbox stores let you make an unlimited number of ‘dummy’ purchases through a bogus gateway payment provider, and process an unlimited number of test orders.

They also provide a good way to try out apps, because you can add any Shopify app for free to a sandbox store (you’ll need a credit card to do so, but it won’t be charged).

More point-of-sale (‘POS’) features

Point of sale (POS) features let you sell not just online (via card readers and other selling hardware) but in physical locations too, whilst keeping all track of all your inventory.

Shopify Point of Sale
Shopify Point of Sale

Although quite a lot of POS features are included with the standard Shopify plans, accessing the premium ones involves paying a fairly substantial additional fee (of $89 per month, per location).

You don’t have to worry about this fee on a Shopify Plus plan, meaning that you get a host of extra POS features bundled with your subscription.

These give you the ability to:

  • work with an unlimited number of sales staff
  • facilitate ‘buy online, pick up in store’
  • facilitate exchanges
  • provide custom printed receipts
  • define staff roles and permissions
  • create purchase orders
  • attribute sales to particular staff members (for commission or performance-analysis purposes)

and do much else besides.

(You can learn more about Shopify POS here.)

More inventory locations

With Shopify Plus, you can store and manage your inventory in more locations than the regular Shopify plans.

The ‘Basic,’ ‘Shopify’ and ‘Advanced Shopify’ plans limit your inventory locations to 4, 5 and 8 respectively — the equivalent Shopify Plus limit is 20.

Access to exclusive resources and sales tools

If you’re on a Shopify Plus plan, you gain access to exclusive resources and tools that are not available to regular Shopify users.

These include access to:

  • the Shopify Plus Academy — a library of self-guided training resources covering key topics related to growing a business
  • the Shopify Plus Community on Facebook — a place for merchants on Shopify Plus to network, collaborate and share online business strategies
  • technology, agency, and solution partners via the Shopify Plus Partner Program
  • BETA programs that let Shopify store owners preview new features and influence the platform’s direction.
The Shopify Plus Academy resource
The Shopify Plus Academy resource

Bot protection

On Shopify Plus plans, you can activate bot protection to prevent product inventories from being sold to auto-checkout bots. Doing so prevents bots from purchasing your products, crashing your site, and preventing customers from making purchases.

Advanced user management (SAML and SCIM)

Shopify Plus gives you a lot more control over security and user management than the regular Shopify plans.

Specifically, it lets you make use of

  • SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) — this lets users access multiple web applications using one set of login credentials.
  • SCIM (System for Cross-domain Identity Management) — this lets organizations manage user access rights to multiple applications more easily.

Shopify vs Shopify Plus pricing

Now, so far in this Shopify vs Shopify Plus comparison, we’ve looked at the key feature differences in features between the two platforms.

But what about the differences in pricing?

Well, understanding the pricing for the standard Shopify plans is pretty easy — there are 4 plans available, which range from $9 to $299 USD per month:

  • Shopify Lite — $9 per month
  • Basic Shopify — $29 per month
  • Shopify — $79 per month
  • Advanced Shopify — $299 per month

(For a breakdown of precisely what features you get in each plan, check out our Shopify pricing and fees guide).

With Shopify Plus, two pricing options are available:

  • Standard pricing: $2,000 USD per month (for ‘normal’ setups and integrations)
  • Variable fee: a negotiable percentage of monthly sales (this percentage will depend on your requirements and the complexity of your ecommerce setup).

To avail of either pricing option, you’ll need to contact the Shopify Plus team to discuss your requirements and get a quotation for your project.

(Additionally, you should note that if you don’t use Shopify’s built-in payment gateway, Shopify Payments, you will be charged 0.15% per credit card transaction. Whilst lower than the transaction fee applied on regular Shopify plans — 2% — it’s still something to be aware of).

As you can see, Shopify Plus is not cheap — so you’ll have to be very sure that you really need its feature set before choosing it as your ecommerce solution.

This brings us neatly onto the big question…


Should I use Shopify or Shopify Plus?

Because the regular version of Shopify offers users a very powerful set of ecommerce features, many merchants find themselves wondering if they actually need to use the ‘Plus’ version of the platform to sell online.

Now, every ecommerce project is different, so frankly there isn’t an easy answer to this question. However, I’d generally view Shopify Plus as being worthy of serious consideration if you:

  • have a large number of physical stores that you need POS features for (in which case Shopify Plus can actually end up being the cheapest option)
  • have advanced API requirements and a need to develop custom tools / apps for your Shopify store
  • have a large customer base that is spread around the world (the automatic currency conversion is a key benefit here)
  • have a need to work with a large number of inventory locations
  • want absolute control over the checkout process
  • need to manage a lot of Shopify stores in one place
  • have a very large team that needs access to a lot of Shopify stores.

Otherwise, the regular version of Shopify is generally the better option.

Now…over to you!

Got any questions about Shopify vs Shopify Plus? Just leave them in the comments below — we read them all and will do our very best to help.

Shopify vs Shopify Plus FAQ

What’s are the main differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus?

While the regular version of Shopify gives you access to a suite of core ecommerce tools that are suitable for small or medium-sized businesses, Shopify Plus gives you a range of enterprise grade features, including increased access to the Shopify API, unlimited user accounts, better multi-currency selling features, the full suite of Shopify POS tools and a fully-customizable checkout process.

How much does Shopify Plus cost?

Shopify Plus costs $2,000 per month for a ‘standard’ setup, or alternatively you can negotiate a variable fee with Shopify based on your requirements and the complexity of your ecommerce project.

How many stores can I build with Shopify Plus?

By default, you can build up to 10 stores with Shopify Plus. If you need additional stores, a fee of $250 per store applies.

How do I purchase a Shopify Plus plan?

To start using Shopify Plus, you will need to contact the Shopify Plus team, outline your requirements and negotiate a price.

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