For anyone who has operated from a Shopify CMS for the last couple of years (like me) or more, the time may come when you realise you’re fed up with common Shopify SEO issues and you’re asking ‘Is Shopify Plus worth it?‘ Well stick around and I will give you my honest feedback.
Table of Contents
What is Shopify Plus?
Shopify Plus is the advanced or more accurately, the ‘Enterprise’ package for the Shopify e-commerce system. Thousands of online retailers use Shopify to sell anything from hats, dog beds, vapes and dumbbells. The ecosystem of sellers is huge and for many, it’s their first foray into selling online. As they grow into their businesses they will see there are some real limitations as to what you can do with Shopify ordinarily, without breaking the site, slowing it to a halt with apps or just producing a Wix level of terrible SEO. Some of those problems are:
- No multiple discounts
- Only 1 automatic multi-buy deal at once
- No editable breadcrumb structure native to the backend
- No upgradeable server
- Flat hierarchy and an absence of sub collections
These can all be pretty to burdensome to not be able to implement, whereas WordPress lets you do it out of the box. So you get to the point you feel like you need more from Shopify, and you look at Shopify Plus. For a cost of $2000 a month you still won’t get most of those things, but you have a bit more capacity to make changes.
Yes, you might have guessed it, I feel ripped off by Shopify Plus and I will expand on why in this review, but first I will explain my own background and why unlike many of the ‘Is Shopify worth it?’ reviews, I speak with no financial motive, no affiliate link, just plain hope that I can advise others to avoid the mistakes I made.
What is my experience with Shopify and Shopify Plus?
I’m David, I own and operate an online retailer that turns over in the region of $100,000+ per month on Shopify and have now entered my second month, (so that’s $4000) with Shopify Plus. So far, we still haven’t been able to execute the full range of multiple discount opportunities we hoped to be able to do with PLUS and this morning got the following reply from Shopify on how to resolve our current issues:
We are currently having issues where we would like to run 5 for X price deals but also have the ability to offer some freebies on certain orders, all while still being able to accurately track inventory and operate like, well, a proper retailer.
The advice above, suggests we remove the script. So, remove part of our offering, to allow others to work. That kind of defeats the point, they may as well have said, your shoppers will be able to buy, if you remove all the scripts for discounts. Then what exactly is the point of editable scripts?
This level of support from their support team is about as much as you can expect from the $2000 a month service. Don’t expect them to do these scripts for you, you will likely get sent links to a few blog articles as we got below:
The problems we found, pretty much the moment we signed off on the agreement, is the ecosystem of Shopify Plus developers is incredibly limited. I ordinarily use a cracking platform for finding devs called ‘Storetasker’ but even there, no one seems overly willing to offer their services on Plus script matters. And therein lies the problem.
Any of these needs we seek would be available on the base level of Woocommerce on WordPress, and the quantity of WordPress experts is enormous. But here, with the most ‘senior’ Shopify package, we are so soon in to our experience, thinking, we are about to be $24000 down over the next year with very limited benefits.
Shopify vs Shopify Plus
Edit: David here, if you are looking for advice on how to improve your car crash of a Shopify site, check out my 5 star service on Fiverr:
Shopify Plus Pricing
Every seller is likely to have slightly modified pricing offers, although I can’t say that with certainty. What I can say, is that if you trade in the region of $1 million per annum online, expect a Shopify Plus pricing of around $2000 per month or $24,000 per year.
It must be said though, that using this level of service, does entitle you to slightly lowered payment or processing fees using Shopify’s payment processor, one that my own business cannot take advantage of as we are excluded being a vape retailer. Why? Perhaps it’s because we have the temerity to challenge the big caps of this world who rely on people still buying cigarettes. Or it may be some issue of ethics.
Meanwhile, were I to sell data mining software to help political parties target you acutely to influence your vote, that would be fine.
Shopify Plus Benefits Q&A
I imagine if you are here, you are wondering if the following represent Shopify Plus benefits.
Can you get a faster server on Shopify Plus?
Can you create sub collections on Shopify Plus?
If you are thinking, something similar to WordPress, with an easy parent category solution – then, no. For a while, and perhaps when Shopify was first being developed, flat hierarchies were considered great for SEO, but they don’t work so well for extensive and expansive e-commerce businesses. If you sell a couple of products, then fine, it’s ideal. If you sell thousands of SKUs all sat within a variety of departments and sub-departments, then look elsewhere.
As I said, this isn’t a financially incentivised blog post, I have no affiliate links to give of where to go. Do your own research, but don’t use Shopify Plus if this is your driver.
Do Shopify Plus customers have first access to the Shop App when it comes to the UK?
No, there is no special favouritism to get beta access on this. We asked and were told no. It may have changed, but at this stage, if you are debating Shopify vs Shopify Plus for these reasons, the access is equal.
So what are the suggested benefits of Shopify Plus?
I want this to be seen as balanced at least in giving the level of service some space to highlight it’s promoted features. It doesn’t change how ridiculously overvalued I see this paywall of disappointment to be, but you may disagree with me on these features and form your own opinion on ‘Is Shopify Plus worth it’.
Shopify Plus benefits as promoted by the business themselves, includes the option of adding and editing scripts (the kind I am venting about above) with more flexibility than your ordinary Shopify seller. This includes:
- Shipping scripts to remove certain options from some zip or postal codes
- Multiple or concurrent discounts
- Multiple sites from the same backend – think wholesale
- Better access to customer services
- A regular email with new blogs (ridiculous)
- Access to some informational courses online to sell more
I was warned by one Redditor a while back that a switch over from Advanced Shopify to Plus probably wasn’t worth it – but that was related to another gripe I had. The discount scenario and the importance of ‘value perception’ to consumers, such as multi-buy deals we offer, became an inevitable line we had to cross.
What I would say is the ability to amend shipping options by customer region is a useful feature, but nothing that you can’t do very simply and without the risk of losing your shirt, on WordPress. That being said, WordPress can sometimes feel like you are running a business held together with Blue Tack, you can probably add some serious levels of robustness for half the cost of Shopify.
Headless commerce in brief means the head (front-end) of your site is detachable from the back end, or engine. This means you can plonk lots of ‘Heads’ onto the same inventory and customer management system. Think Worzel Gummidge but at the same time, like Medusa. Medusa Gummidge.
Therefore the ability to link retail to wholesale with a matched inventory is a useful feature. But unless you need to create multiple sites using the same back-end it’s probably not a needle mover on your primary business, which is after all what you are looking to grow, right?
You definitely get more attentive replies as a Plus customer, but what good is an attentive reply if it doesn’t bring a positive resolution?
Jury’s out on the value of this right now.
What other options did we consider before moving up to Shopify Plus?
There are a host of Shopify alternatives, and most suck giant Godzilla balls. They are reinventing nothing and do nothing that Shopify for the most part can’t do, that is of course except for three I am more familiar with:
Woocommerce on WordPress
There are many more and I can’t pretend to be an expert on these all, but Woocommerce offers pretty much anything available on Plus at a fraction of the cost.
So why didn’t we use them?
Well actually we had gone as far as migrating customers, products, pricing etc over but then we realised we hadn’t thought about the little matter of known functionality and blogs and well, everything else.
Not that we couldn’t do it, or it wasn’t possible, it’s just a huge task and we don’t have the human resources to tackle it as quick as we would like.
Which made me realise that shopify is potentially the cleverest share investment ever (I’m not a financial advisor blah blah blah). Think of all of those companies that signed up to Shopify over lockdown, a small percentage will blossom and from that many will face the same crossroads we did and feel slightly trapped into signing up for Shopify Plus, whether it is worth it or not.
For us, unless something changes, or it becomes easier to find someone with the capacity to help in all aspects of Shopify Plus, we will aim come the 1 year anniversary we will celebrate a migration to a more agile and more financially friendly platform.
The worst part of Shopify Plus
Besides the cost, which would be palatable if it was easy to leverage it’s value over and above your current sales, actually it’s the exclusivity that creates problems. Because so few DEVs have experience of using it, so few advertise for it or are willing to work on it.
This means like us, you will sift through the Shopify Plus partners list and find yourself in the same boat as someone trying to sell door to door double glazing. It’s hard to find anyone available.
I mentioned before, I generally use Storetasker and as I am not an affiliate, there is no link to give here. But even across their system, I’ve got adverts unanswered still. That being said, they are generally great and their support team is solid. I can’t fault them for not having a niche operator.
Can you trial Shopify Plus?
The true sign of a service that may not be great is one with zero trial period, no premium 30 day rolling service, just one that immediately handcuffs you. If your service was indispensible from the off, a trial period would be a great way to get people onto the service. But as you guessed it, Shopify Plus doesn’t have that. It’s a red flag I should have spotted, but you are left blind. It either was nothing to worry about, or it is.
Right now, the verdict is that I should have sensed danger. The sharks are in the water and they smell blood.
Is Shopify Plus Worth The Cost?
It’s March 2021, and I am summarising my thoughts to the question, ‘Is Shopify Plus worth it’ (Yes I’m SEO optimising this out of anger). I am cheesed off and I would NOT recommend it to a fast growing operator that doesn’t have a PLUS dev on hand. If you have one and you desperately need the discount and shipping tools, then go for it, but if that’s all you need, invest the money elsewhere.
Had I paid someone to do that for us, I would have about $15000 left over to spend a nose blocking week in Las Vegas and create anxious memories for life or pay for my son’s wedding one day.
There is talk of a beta test on product upsell features, the type you get on WordPress for free – and our range of multibuy offers still isn’t running effectively. Maybe Shopify Plus customer support will advise us to stop selling products next to make sure there are no errors in the code.
Either way, I feel short-changed and if the facts change, then so will this article. But right now – don’t make my mistakes. Shopify Plus is a deceptive name – It’s Shopify Plus More Money.
Want to grow sales?
If you want to find out how my experience can improve your customer’s – hit the button.