Platform Review: Is Shopify Plus Right for Enterprise Businesses?
One particularly pernicious rumor has attached itself to Shopify’s name for a long time. The myth that it’s a platform only for small and medium sized businesses. One-person operations, and Etsy stores with big ideas. I believed it myself once, but it’s not true. Shopify Plus is a hosted enterprise eCommerce platform aimed at businesses doing 1 million dollars or more per year. It hosts some of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands, like Tesla, Budweiser, and GE.
If you represent a midmarket to large eCommerce business, and are looking for a new home, you probably have a few options on your plate. Maybe you’ve heard the aforementioned myth, and you may be under the impression that Shopify isn’t in the running. I’d like to explain why that shouldn’t be the case, and what kind of online store might be a great fit for Shopify Plus.
Your Specialization Does not Lie In IT:
Every business has a comparative advantage. Something your team does best, whether that be marketing, product development, customer relations, etc. Every minute your team members are working on tasks which are not their specialty, you’re paying that opportunity cost, in addition to whatever other resources you’re using.
A SaaS, or hosted, platform like Shopify can help you save on that opportunity cost by making sure your team doesn’t spend too much time focusing on things that are not their strength. SaaS platforms take care of your hosting, security, PCI compliance and other elements of the day to day messiness of running a website. Shopify has a 99.99% uptime rate, and you’ll have a dedicated Shopify Plus account manager, should the system give you any trouble. This is the main advantage of a hosted system. They don’t give you as much freedom to customize as self-hosted solutions, but they allow your team to focus on their strengths rather than load-testing servers and fixing checkout bugs.
You Need a Robust API Integration
Regular Shopify accounts do have the ability for API integration, but on Shopify Plus you’ll have the power to make more API calls faster. Shopify Plus clients are given access to 5x greater throughput of APIs, as compared to customers on regular Shopify plans. Shopify Plus stores also get access to exclusive API calls including the Gift Card API, and Single Sign On & Multipass API for login and migration.
Shopify also has built in plugins for plenty of third party providers that would otherwise require a custom integration, like Netsuite and SAP. In fact, of all the hosted providers, Shopify may have the most thriving ecosystem of more than 1,300 third party plugins and apps to choose from.
You are Growing an International Brand
This is where Shopify Plus truly shines, in comparison to it’s hosted brethren. In addition to your original, Shopify Plus will give you 9 clone stores for alternate languages and currencies. This allows you to deploy sites for international markets quickly and easily. Shopify Plus is the only hosted platform to offer this.
If price is no object, Magento is still a more powerful option for an international brand. It allows you to customize one site to switch back and forth between language options dynamically. However, this customization is not cheap to develop. Shopify includes your clone stores with its monthly rate. Keep in mind though, this means you have to manage multiple stores. So if you update the main domain, don’t forget to change the clones too.
You Like Predictable Pricing:
Pricing for Shopify Plus starts at $2,000 per month. That’s not peanuts, but it is pretty much the going rate when compared with other enterprise level options. Take Magento for example, where you have to buy a yearly license. For Magento 2, that license starts at $22K, which works out to $1,833.33 per month. BigCommerce keeps their enterprise pricing a little more close to the vest, but they’re usually in the same neighborhood.
The Shopify Plus rate can go up depending on your volume, but once you sign on, pricing stays constant month in and month out. When you compare that to hosting fees, and keeping a web developer on the payroll, $2,000 per month starts to look pretty sweet.
You Want a Little More Freedom on the Checkout Page:
Anybody who’s worked with a SaaS eCommerce platform in the past will tell you that, when it comes to customization, the cart page and checkout pages are kept under the tightest lock and key. Hosted platforms, because they have more skin in the game than open source systems, have a vested interest in making sure you don’t do anything too crazy, or shady, to your checkout page.
Simply look at Shopify store on a standard account to get an idea. Merchants are limited to adding a logo, custom colors, some conversion tracking script, and that’s about it. But Shopify Plus merchants have a lot more freedom. Shopify Plus stores have a checkout which is fully customizable when it comes to aesthetics, and even elements of the checkout process itself. However, Shopify will always recommend that you use the checkout process that they’ve tested and optimized for conversion.
You Are Established Brand Looking to Test Something New:
Shopify Plus is a great fit for a ton of enterprise businesses, but not all. Stores with massive numbers of SKUs, or complex product bundles with a lot of product options, are probably better off somewhere else. However, that doesn’t mean that big brands with their main store on Demandware or Mangeto, don’t still have use for a hosted solution like Shopify Plus.
Often when a larger company wants to launch a proof of concept for a new brand or product, they need a site for it that can go up more quickly easily and cheaply. After all, this is just a test, no need to sink a bunch of resources into this project before you know it will work. That’s where SaaS comes in.
A hosted platform like Shopify Plus already has most for the development work taken care of for you. That means you don’t have to commit as many development resources to the new site. The site can also get up a lot quicker. A Shopify Plus site can be up in as little as a few weeks, where it make take a few months or more to develop out an on-premise site. Brands like Budweiser have used Shopify Plus in this way to test out the market for their branded Red Lights.
If you’ve recognized your own business in any of the sections above, Shopify may be a better fit for you than you might think. Hosted platforms are quicker, more agile and cheaper than open source solutions, while still packing a powerful functionality punch. Of course, I recommend you contact an eCommerce professional before you make any big decisions regarding the eCommerce arm of your business. If you were to call me with any of the above requirements, you can bet Shopify Plus would be part of our conversation.