If you're reading this article, then you may be considering how best to improve the growth and management of a high volume e-commerce store.
You may currently be operating using another enterprise level platform such as Magento or WooCommerce, and looking for an enterprise e-commerce solution that can match your ambition as a brand, or perhaps you've developed a successful Shopify store and are looking to take the next step up the chain. Whatever the circumstance, Shopify Plus could be the answer to your problems.
What is Shopify Plus?
Shopify Plus is a fully hosted enterprise e-commerce solution for high-volume merchants, who want a platform that will work hard for them. This cost efficient enterprise option removes the faff of IT concerns and provides some truly brilliant features to help you expand your brand globally.
In this article we'll share some of the benefits of migrating from another platform or upgrading from a standard Shopify plan and illustrate why power brands such as Kylie Cosmetics, Tesla Motors, Gymshark and many others see an average growth of 126% year-over-year.
Key strengths & features of Shopify Plus:
Scalability & Security
Shopify Plus allows for any e-commerce store to perform under pressure. With dedicated hosting and unlimited bandwidth, transactions and products, the platform is well placed to deal with even the most demanding store and customer requirements. Plus it can handle 3 million hits per second, 6,000 checkouts per minute and guarantees zero outages on Black Friday & Cyber Monday or during flash sales. High-volume traffic, piece of cake.
Security is paramount for building a trustworthy relationship with your customers and PCI Compliance is a way of verifying security standards for those handling online payments. Staying PCI compliant can be strenuous when using a platform like Magento, because whilst they provide the ability to deploy PCI Compliant stores, it is you, the vendor that is responsible for guaranteeing your site is secure and safe for you and your customers.
This drain on your time and money could be better spent on growing your brand, which is why Shopify Plus hosts and protects your store with Level 1 PCI DSS compliant and handles ongoing risk management and compliance assessments, providing the most cost-effective platform for guaranteed top-level security.
In addition, Shopify also provide a free site-wide SSL certificate meaning your entire store (not just the checkout process) is fully encrypted to the same standard as your bank. With a simple activation, traffic will be redirected to encrypted HTTPS instead of HTTP.
Migration & Support
The typical timeframe for the migration and launch of a Shopify Plus store is 3-6 months. When comparing this to the industry standard of 8-12 months you might be thinking 'surely they're cutting corners?'. But a huge part of this fast and pain-free implementation is down to the expert support provided throughout the migration process, from your old solution to your new Shopify Plus store, by your Shopify Launch Manager.
Each Shopify Plus merchant benefits from a dedicated member of the Shopify team that works alongside your team or third-party agency to smooth the migration, re-platforming and launching of your store. They are in place to assist you with all technical support and questions, data migration, theme selection and development requests, domain and URL structuring, PIM, CRM, 3PL, and ERP integrations, quality assurance testing and platform training. This backing directly and personally from Shopify gives your brand confidence and drive going into the day you launch your new store.
That next level support doesn't just end as soon as you launch though, oh no. Each Plus merchant is assigned a success manager, who will operate as an extended member of your team and act as an advisor, advocate and Shopify insider. During the onboarding process you'll identify your business goals and discuss how they can help you grow with Shopify.
Your Merchant Success Manager will assist with tasks such as new sales channels activation, connecting you with an array of professional Shopify partners, advice on everything from international expansion to strategising for the future. Furthermore, because your store never sleeps, neither does your support - Shopify provide free 24/7 live chat support as well as direct email support for any issues or questions you have.
A recent addition to Shopify has been 'Sections' which allow you to refresh and adopt new layouts and elements in your storefront homepage, making your e-commerce store adaptable as you grow.
Lastly, one of the stand-out benefits of Shopify Plus is the opportunity to create a made-to-measure checkout process in terms of both appearance and functionality, resulting in reduced friction and conversion of more sales.
Not just any old e-commerce store
What makes Shopify great is the ever-growing feature list and ecosystem. Shopify Plus is no different. Let's run through some of the stand-out elements that will give your store the advantage over your competitors.
Shopify provides Plus merchants with the ability of internationalisation by allowing you to have unlimited storefronts to sell across the globe all from your admin panel. Create unique e-commerce experiences across 175 countries and on all continents with appropriate currencies, languages and trends. Making international expansion that bit simpler with Shopify.
In addition to being able to sell around the globe with ease, Shopify directly integrates with 16 (and counting) additional sales channels to create a truly multi-channel online store that is straight-forward to set up. Acquire new customers through mobile and social channels such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon and more.
Unlock the potential to grow faster and sell to high-volume clients with a seamless wholesale system that accompanies your online store. Shopify Plus provides you with a password-protected storefront for chosen customers. Create robust pricing tiers for customers, sync inventory and customer data with your existing store and replicate the look of your e-commerce store without touching a line of code.
Mobile App Builder
In April 2017, Shopify announced plans to release a mobile store builder to Shopify Plus merchants. This move allows you to build a native mobile app for your store without any technical experience through the use of beautiful themes that can be styled to your brand.
This is a big leap from Shopify who see mobile as of vital importance to the success of its merchants businesses (forecasts indicating that 45% of all e-commerce is to take place via mobile devices by 2020). It allows merchants to build Android and iOS apps fast and efficiently at no additional cost, removing the traditional roadblocks that come with wanting to publish your stores very own native mobile app to both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Being a Shopify Plus merchants gives you the ability to utilise the powerful discounting functionality of Shopify scripts to create conditional logic and behaviours based on your customers actions within your store. This high level of customisation allows you to build out options such as BOGO (Buy One Get One Free), product combination offers, percentage based discounts, free shipping/gifts and tiered pricing for particular VIP customers.
Merchants can use scripts for functionality such as automatically including a free gift with certain purchases or orders over a certain amount, automated discounts on product combinations. Shopify provide several template scripts to start with and you can utilise custom scripts for your specific needs with the help of a Shopify Expert.
No matter how big or small your e-commerce business is, automation is imperative to the day-to-day management of your store. However the challenges that enterprise-level retailers face can be overwhelming, which is why Shopify have created smart automation for their Plus merchants, with the Launchpad app and Shopify Flow.
Shopify Flow is an e-commerce automation tool which reduces manual and redundant tasks through more efficient use of data to drive desired outcomes. Through a 3-step process, you can instigate internal events in your store if a pre-determined set of conditions are met. For example, with just a few clicks you can assign a 'VIP' tag to the customer account of any customer who spends over £500 and simultaneously send a personal email to thank them for their order. This app opens up a wealth of automation opportunities across various aspects of your e-commerce store, allowing you to focus on more important things. Learn how Good American used Shopify Flow to turbocharge sales.
In addition to Flow, Shopify have developed Launchpad, an automation tool that provides you with the ability to schedule, coordinate, and execute events - including sales, product launches, or even product restocks. During an event, such as an end-of-season sale, the app lets you track analytics in real-time through the visual dashboard. Some of Launchpad's key capabilities include publishing select products to all sales channels on a chosen date and time, creating invite-only or limited-release product collections, altering product pricing at the beginning and end of an event and utilising Captcha during an event to prevent pesky bots from placing orders. These features allow you to create demand, scarcity and exclusivity for your brand and products.
With the combination of full-scale tools like Launchpad and Flow (which are both exclusive to Shopify Plus merchants), you can create a streamlined system that offers you merchant friendly flexibility and the ability to fully automate your e-commerce store so you can dedicate your focus to the further growth of your store.
One of Shopify's most admirable qualities as a platform is the community that has developed around it. Shopify have nurtured an eco-system which allows you to learn from other merchants and experts – whether that be through the Merchant Acceleration Program, dedicated Facebook and forum communities, a host of specialist Shopify Partners and Experts or through invitation-only events and regular local meet-ups.
We could keep going:
Shopify has far too many features and benefits to go in to detail about, but it's worth noting that merchants can enhance their store experience further with seamless third-party app integrations from the Shopify App Store to improve your marketing, customer service, inventory management, accounting and more.
Shopify also offers insightful analytics and custom reports functionality, choice of 100+ payment gateways (including mobile, social and Shopify Pay one-field checkout) and the ability to create a seamless omnichannel experience between your online and physical stores with the combination of Shopify POS and the recently released Shopcodes app.
Shopify Plus plans starts from $2,000 per month and increase depending on your needs as a merchant (for example, expected traffic levels and customisations). Your plan is a set cost from when you sign up and whilst this may seem like a lot of money to invest, in comparison with other enterprise platforms, where you have to factor in inconsistent costs such as traffic fluctuations, hosting, security, fees, maintenance and web developer costs, this is an extremely logical enterprise solution for your business.
Since it's launch in early 2014, Shopify Plus has grown into a valuable enterprise level e-commerce platform that hosts a growing family of over 2,500 merchants (learn more about their experiences here).
While Shopify Plus' market share is certainly smaller versus some of the more established enterprise solutions, it provides a more rounded and merchant-centric offering designed to save you time and money. Not to mention driving your growth through a fast and secure platform that reduces friction and frustration for merchants through future-proof functionality and scalability. Additionally there are benefits to the core solution such as integration with Shopify POS, a dedicated support team and engaging community that's built around it which provides a true omnichannel solution for the demands of growing businesses.
With the recent announcement that Magento 1.0 is coming to an end of life phase towards the end of 2018, Magento will no longer support customers on 1.0. This may not only leave stores open to malware attacks but also partner programs and plugins will be focusing mainly on 2.0 customers as 1.0 becomes obsolete.
If you are Magento user, you'll need to decide which routes you wish to take. Either upgrade to Magento 2 to ensure continued support and patch releases OR opt instead for Shopify Plus. If you find yourself in this situation then now might be the perfect opportunity to migrate. If you think the time is right for you to join Shopify Plus then get in touch for advice on the first steps and how to unlock your brand's potential through the platform.