INTRODUCTION TO SHOPIFY PLUS AND PRICING

October 12, 2021
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Emmanuel Umukoro


Customers aren't just buying products anymore; they're buying experiences. In the world of online shopping, these experiences are formed through ease of access and the capacity to deliver personalized solutions to customers' needs. While leveraging one of the biggest and fastest-growing eCommerce platforms, Shopify, ​promises this easy management of your e-commerce store and personalized experience for your customer, Shopify Plus gives you all that and more.   Shopify Plus is an enterprise version of Shopify, but with more functions, personalization, access, and features for your store, as well as more flexibility for your business to develop.


In this post, we look at the expenses of switching to Shopify Plus, including the base license fees as well as all of the various costs associated with using this platform like payment fees, maintenance work, BAU, module fees, and other costs. If you're not sure Shopify Plus is for you, you should read my earlier article on The Need For Shopify Plus Store. The information in this article is designed to help businesses considering a switch to Shopify Plus assess Shopify Plus in terms of cost and other budgetary terms.


More and more retailers are adopting Shopify Plus for their high-growth online store as the platform's popularity grows in the enterprise sector. Allbirds, BAKBlade, Bombas, Cubbies, Death Wish Coffee, among several other well-known e-commerce stores are rapidly switching to Shopify Plus.


Here’s every budgetary implication you need to consider when switching to Shopify Plus


BASE LICENSING COST

Examining the base expenses of a Shopify Plus license is the first step toward gaining a firm knowledge of the anticipated costs of re-platforming to Shopify Plus. Similar to most enterprise-level e-commerce platforms, precise pricing information is difficult to come by on Shopify's website, as Shopify prefers to establish a relationship with potential merchants before disclosing pricing. However, without speaking with the Shopify sales team, it is possible to compute the fees charged by Shopify for using the Shopify Plus platform.


Although Shopify Plus has a $2,000 minimum monthly license charge and a $40,000 maximum monthly license fee, the actual cost is dependent on sales volume and usage. This seems sensible, given that Shopify Plus is a fully hosted platform, and the more active your business is, the more resources and bandwidth it consumes. When you spend more than $2,000 each month, the rate is reasonable compared to other platforms, and it remains a cost-effective solution.


The monthly licensing charge for Shopify Plus is $2,000 unless a merchant has monthly sales of $800,000 or more. The cost would be $2,500 for a monthly turnover of $1,000,000. To qualify for the highest monthly license cost, a merchant must generate $16 million in monthly sales, and there are some high-performing stores on the platform attaining this. The Shopify Plus pricing structure places the platform at the low end of the enterprise-level platform, and the total cost of ownership is extremely inexpensive when you compare it to the competition.


What services does Shopify Plus include at this price?

Many small store owners are often hesitant about Shopify Plus because of the $2,000 monthly base pricing, especially when compared to the competition. On the other hand, when you add in Shopify Plus' version upgrades, hosting fees, maintenance charges, and other costs, all of which are included in the Shopify Plus license, the total costs would be either competitive or lower than the competition.


The account management, which is designed to give basic support, is one of Shopify Plus's greatest selling points. Shopify Plus assigns Account Managers to Merchants, as well as a launch manager to guide them through the launch process as part of the monthly charge.


  • Basic front-end development including 3 hours per month of adjustments, module installations, and so on.


  • Advice on Shopify Plus solutions in general (e.g. suggestions for third parties etc)


  • Advice on how to expand your store


  • Support and suggestions for Shopify admins


  • Onboarding process assistance using the help of the launch manager


Generally, hosting for a mid-level retailer might cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000. In addition to the account management offering, Shopify Plus costs also covers all hosting, so this can be a significant saving for you. Shopify Plus also handles scaling, which can save a lot of stress from your staff when things get busy.


Shopify Plus also has native multi-channel features, which can significantly cut third-party expenses. Shopify Plus also has its own POS system as well as integrated solutions for selling on eBay, and Amazon, Facebook, which can save time, especially in terms of maintenance, as compared to other enterprise platforms.


SHOPIFY PLUS DESIGN AND BUILD/AGENCY SETUP FEES

Budget must be set up for the store's design and development, as with any eCommerce project, to ensure a professional and well-planned launch. While there are Shopify Plus templates that you can buy, most enterprise merchants prefer to develop their own store or heavily customize a commercially available template to give it its own distinctive look and feel that reflects their branding.


It's worth looking around for a talented and dependable design agency with strong Shopify Plus skills – my standard recommendation for merchants is Ecomtarget. They have worked with a lot of big stores and have helped them develop conversion-focused e-commerce stores. They can provide you with bespoke development, and marketing aid, design, and development talents, as well as manage your project from start to finish for you.


Although each Shopify Plus project is unique, with varying merchant requirements and catalog sizes,  enterprise-level project launches on Shopify Plus however are often faster than on other eCommerce platforms, and this should be factored into overall agency expenses. Roughly, project costs for the average $10m turnover online business (~1k SKUs, single currency, single storefront, 1-2 integrations, etc.) could run from $130,000 to $250,000, with larger merchants with more complex needs potentially paying considerably more than that.  Generally,  Shopify Plus builds are more in line with $75,000 – $100,000 for these kinds of projects.


SHOPIFY PLUS STORE AVERAGE ANNUAL COST

Generally, mid-level Shopify Plus project should have around 1,000 products (including variants and parent products), a single currency / single warehouse, 1-2 relatively simple integrations (such as a mainstream order management platform or ERP), a handful of third-party apps, and a custom theme/front-end.



Important Note:

  • If your monthly turnover exceeds $800,000, licensing expenses will rise, but it remains competitive at that level when compared to the competition.


  • The build cost is determined by the system integrations you employ, the scale of the project, and other factors


  • Cost of Shopify Plus for the first year: $133,200 – $273,200


  • Cost of Ownership for a Three-Year Shopify Plus Plan: $273,600 – $413,600


This does not include the payment gateway fees, which are lower if you utilize Shopify Payments.


COST OF SHOPIFY PLUS APPS

Shopify Plus, like most other eCommerce platforms, provides a strong foundation of features, but it frequently requires extra apps or third-party services to enable more sophisticated enterprise-level performance.


Unlike apps for other platforms which require a one-time license charge, Shopify Plus's apps are licensed on a monthly basis. While this offers the benefit of a cheap entrance cost for each app required, those costs can quickly mount up to a significant monthly burden. As a result, all programs specified in the first build must undergo a thorough evaluation and cost justification. There are free and extremely low-priced apps in the app store, but you're looking to utilize apps for extra functionalities, enterprise-focused apps will cost between $50 to $500 each month.


A functional assessment should be carried out right at the outset of a re-platforming project to evaluate which components of essential functionality are offered by core Shopify Plus and which would require the use of applications, third-party services, or custom development. The closest fit and best value for money should then be determined by evaluating the various solutions offered.


One of the advantages of Shopify's approach of monthly license charge for applications and third-party services is that the initial launch expenses are substantially cheaper than they would be if the apps or services were purchased under a regular/ license. The monthly license can also be terminated if the solution does not operate as expected or if the Merchant no longer needs its functionality.


THIRD-PARTY SERVICE

Third-party services that offer far more complete functionality, such as enhanced SEO capabilities, more comprehensive visual merchandising, personalization, or better on-site search, are available in addition to apps that bring very minor functional additions.


Chargezen, Klaviyo, Referal Candy, and Easyship are just a few examples of powerful third-party services for Shopify Plus stores at a premium monthly cost.


The following are typical monthly fees for enterprise third-party services:



SHOPIFY PAYMENT PROCESSING COST

Merchants will have to pay payment processing costs to a payment gateway, whether they use Shopify Payments or another third-party processor, aside from transaction-based licensing fees charged by Shopify Plus.


Using Shopify Payments as an example, payment processing expenses will be 1.6 percent + $0.35 (1.6 percent + 20p in the UK) for every transaction. Using a third-party payment processor may mean lower charges than Shopify Payments can offer, so it is worth shopping around (although they do also charge a 0.15 percent fee for using third-party payment providers).


When calculating potential costs, keep in mind that if a merchant uses Shopify Payments, the standard Plus license is invoiced at a cheaper rate. These are only relevant once the business has gone well over the minimum payment level, but they should not be overlooked.


CUSTOM-BUILT FEATURES

If a merchant discovers that their business requires special functionality that isn't available through the core Shopify Plus platform, an app, or a third-party service, the only option is to have a custom solution developed, preferably with the help of a Shopify Plus partner.


As with all e-commerce platforms, any bespoke functionality is likely to be the most expensive solution but could be the only solution in some cases.


Merchants need to be certain that the custom functionality is truly needed by considering alternative apps and third-party solutions, and see whether a change in operational methods or other aspects of the shop could eliminate the need for unique code. If a custom solution is required, the cost is determined by the code's level of complexity as well as the size and breadth of the functional requirement. Typical development prices range from $90-$175 per hour, and merchants should be aware that custom solutions always imply that any future maintenance or extension of the custom code will be just as costly.


FINAL THOUGHTS

SEO services, sponsored media, and continuing eCommerce consulting are examples of other potential expenditures not specific to Shopify Plus implementation.


For those merchants who are currently handling sales volumes of less than $50,000 per month, the figures should explain why Shopify Plus is generally not as well suited at this stage unless the company is forecasting considerable growth.   With this analysis, Larger merchants should be able to see a clear picture of the anticipated expenses, both for the core Shopify platform and for all of the supporting parts needed to create a business on the Shopify Plus Platform.


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