Customize checkout with Liquid

Shopify vs Shopify Plus — What’s the Difference? Which Version is Right for You?

Shopify is great for ecommerce stores that are small to mid-level in size and sales. Shopify Plus is better for larger operations. See 8 differences here.

Choosing the right ecommerce platform to host your online store is no small decision, but sometimes it’s hard to know which option is right for your business. Shopfiy and Shopify Plus are two platforms that get a lot of buzz within the ecommerce community, and many store owners give them rave reviews.

What’s the difference between the two, and which plan is best for your ecommerce store? The main difference is that Shopify is for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), while Shopify Plus is for larger, or even enterprise-level businesses.

Below, we’ll discuss what each plan offers before diving into pricing structures and key differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus.

Shopify offers two types of plans for e-commerce businesses: regular Shopify plans and Shopify Plus plans. Regular Shopify plans are best for smaller e-commerce businesses that are focused on inventory management and competitive payment processing fees, while Shopify Plus plans — which are much more costly — are a better fit for larger companies that are looking for an option that integrates with shipping fulfillment and tracks analytics for omnichannel sales.

Deciding factors

Shopify

Shopify Plus

Software cost

$9 to $299 per month.

Starts at $2,000 per month with a variable fee depending on business needs.

Payment processing cost

2.9% plus 30 cents for online card sales on the Basic plan. Transaction fee of 0.5% to 2% if using a third-party processor.

Quote-based. Or, if you’re using a third-party processor, an additional 0.15% transaction fee.

Contract length

Monthly, annually or biennially.

Monthly, annually or biennially.

Live support

Yes. 24/7 support is available by phone, email and chat.

Yes. 24/7 support is available by phone, email and chat.

Ease of use

Easy. Users say it has an intuitive interface and is easy to use.

Takes some learning. Users say there are some restrictions in how it can be used and extra help is needed at times.

 

Shopify: Better for small e-commerce stores

When compared with Shopify Plus, Shopify’s other plans offer small businesses more relevant features with more affordable costs. Each plan has a monthly fee, but the features are scalable and allow small businesses to grow without jumping straight to the Shopify Plus plan.

Competitive inventory management features

Shopify offers inventory management with each of its plans, but what you can do and with how many locations depends on the plan you choose. Shopify Starter includes basic inventory management features, while the other three plans offer inventory management for multiple locations.

  • Shopify Starter. One location.

  • Basic. Up to four locations.

  • Shopify. Up to five locations.

  • Advanced. Up to eight locations.

With these plans you can assign your stock to individual stores, pop-up locations, warehouses and more. For businesses that don’t need additional locations but want advanced tools for inventory management, an add-on is available for the Basic, Shopify and Advanced Plans for Shopify POS Pro, which adds more staff permissions, better inventory management and faster workflows for $89 per month per location.

Shopify Plus lets businesses set up 20 locations, leaving more for multiple stores and warehouses for larger businesses.

1) Shopify Plus partners you with a merchant success manager

Shopify is known for its outstanding support, but businesses using the standard version of the platform don’t have access to dedicated account managers. One of the benefits of Shopify Plus is that users have access to the merchant success program, which provides a dedicated manager to each account. These merchant success managers are integral in creating a stellar experience for Shopify Plus customers, from launch to solution engineering to ensure your store runs smoothly.

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2) Shopify Plus gives you access to more customization with Liquid

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 that customers get that far. When a customer navigates away from the checkout screen, most of these prospective sales are gone for good — customers rarely return to abandoned carts.

With both Shopify and Shopify Plus, there is one major difference concerning checkout: The checkout page is customizable with Shopify Plus while it’s not with a standard Shopify plan. Standard Shopify plans allow you to create a checkout experience integrated with your online store’s theme, but there are no additional customization features.

Customize checkout with Liquid

Checkout.liquid is an asset offered only to Shopify Plus merchants. When using checkout.liquid, you aren’t 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 give your customers a fully customized checkout experience, a Shopify Plus plan 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.

3) Shopify Plus offers unlimited staff accounts

Depending on which pricing option you choose, you can add between one and 15 users to your standard Shopify dashboard (in addition to your owner profile). Lite accounts are allowed one user account.

Number of seats for each Shopify pricing tier

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.

4) Shopify Plus allows more API integrations

The App Store is one of Shopify’s most enticing features. There are well over 7,000 paid and free Shopify apps in the new app store. Shopify themselves are responsible for creating only 28 of them to date, but there are hundreds of other third-party apps from independent developers and Shopify partners.

While both standard Shopify plans and Shopify Plus plans give users access to the app store, Shopify Plus merchants have much more flexibility when it comes to API integrations. These users can integrate their ecommerce store with their existing ERP or CRM systems, which standard Shopify stores cannot.

5) Shopify and Shopify Plus have different transaction fees

Shopify payments are 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

For businesses using Shopify’s integrated payment system, Shopify Payments, there is no transaction fee as of May 2022. If your business uses an external payment gateway, transaction fees are as follows:

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

Shopify Plus Transaction Fees

Like standard Shopify plans, transaction fees are waived if your business uses Shopify Payments. However, for external payment gateways, transaction fees are as follows:

  • Domestic: 2.15% + 30 cents
  • International/Amex: 3.15% + 30 cents

6) Shopify and Shopify Plus have different promotional discounts

Shopify is designed to set ecommerce merchants up for success. 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 your ecommerce business can make it happen with Shopify and Shopify Plus.

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Standard Shopify Plans’ Promotional Discount Options

There are probably hundreds of apps in Shopify’s add-on marketplace that can 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 or 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.

Negative doubles down on discounts

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 perspective, 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.

7) Shopify Plus offers more detailed analytics & reporting

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.

Analytics and reporting for Shopify standard

The “Shopify” plan includes everything above. In addition, owners gain access to all six behavior reports, all five marketing reports, 10 out of 11 available sales reports, retail sales reports, profit reports, and five out of seven customer reports.

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

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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 11 available sales reports. So, what makes the 11th report so special?

The 11th 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.

Shopify Plus average order value over time dashboard

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.

8) Shopify Plus is better equipped for international sellers

Are you selling in more than one country? If not, do you want to? If you answered yes to either question, you 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, determine 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 10 versions of your online store, customized to specific target audiences.

The Clone Store option is especially helpful for wholesalers, regional, and international stores using Shopify Plus. 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.

Other e-commerce options to consider

Stripe

Stripe’s standard pay-as-you-go setup only charges transaction fees without a monthly fee. It includes checkout flows to guide customers through a customized checkout experience, online transactions in more than 135 currencies, real-time reporting, roles and permissions for multiple users and 24/7 customer support. Payment processing fees for Stripe’s free plan start at 2.9% plus 30 cents. Customizable paid plans are available to help businesses with higher transaction volumes.

Square

Square offers an alternative to Shopify’s paid plans with a pay-as-you-go setup that only charges you payment processing fees when you run a transaction. And without paid plans, all businesses get the same basic POS features, including reports, inventory management with alerts and sales tracking. Businesses can set up a website with Square for free that allows them to sell online, schedule delivery and shipping, sell on social media channels and more. Paid e-commerce plans have additional features that include — among others — product reviews, abandoned cart management, accepting PayPal and lower processing fees. Payment processing fees start at 2.6% plus 30 cents.

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