The Pros and Cons of Shopify Plus
In our last post we looked at the eCommerce giant Shopify and Shopify Plus, which takes the platform to the next level. It’s the latter we are looking at in more detail today, as we dive into the advantages and disadvantages of this advanced platform.
What is Shopify Plus?
While you may be aware of Shopify, Shopify Plus is a slightly newer platform. Launching in 2014, Shopify Plus is essentially a supercharged version of Shopify - aimed at medium-sized and fast-growing merchants, giving them the power to scale to enterprise level and beyond.
Shopify Plus provides businesses with a fully-hosted, SaaS eCommerce platform at a relatively low cost, when compared to traditional enterprise-grade eCommerce solutions. The platform is scalable and has the infrastructure to help any rapidly-growing brick and mortar and/or eCommerce retailer achieve sustainable growth.
Shopify Plus: Advantages
The biggest advantage of Shopify Plus is the fact that you don’t need to employ a large web development team, or take time and resources away from other departments to manage and update your website. With a relatively simple system such as Shopify Plus, one person can do the job of many. In fact, you can even outsource and hire a freelancer when needed. It’s that easy to use.
Another big plus of using a global platform such as Shopify Plus is that you will never have to deal with important (and often time-consuming) aspects of running the website, such as servers, bugs, feature implementations, bandwidth and file storage. This is all taken care of.
On first glance, the starting figure of $2,000 per month for a Shopify Plus plan sounds like a big chunk of money. However, this single figure will make sense for many enterprise-level companies. This way of pricing is cheaper than paying for hosting plus fees plus web developer retainers. Because pricing stays constant from the day you sign on, it is also more predictable and constant than hiring a developer for bug fixes, feature requests and to implement changes. Finally, if your store has big traffic fluctuations, this monthly fee is more predictable than budgeting for bandwidth, servers or cloud hosting fees.
At an enterprise level, web infrastructure takes on a whole new set of challenges. No matter how big or quick your company is growing, it is essential to ensure that hundreds/thousands of visitors running concurrent sessions are having a fast and secure shopping experience — not to mention the fact that your orders must be processed correctly and efficiently.
With the rise of cloud hosting, there are plenty of services, best practices and case studies on handling traffic at scale. But for stores or brands who do not have a core competency in server architecture or cloud hosting, it usually doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend time there.
The key issue of scaling traffic should be marketing and inventory – not whether or not your servers are holding up. Letting a vendor with proven infrastructure deal with these issues is a big advantage for many enterprise-level clients.
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Shopify Plus: Disadvantages
There is no denying that Shopify Plus is a fully-fledged eCommerce platform. However, if you are looking for a fully-fledged feature-rich content management system, then you may find yourself left wanting more.
Shopify Plus does indeed have built-in blogging tools as well as a page management system, while you can certainly build a publishing or information-rich website that can compete in a content marketing world. However, publishing is not Shopify Plus’ forte. It is built for eCommerce, and you can definitely tell the limitations if you are coming from a publishing platform like WordPress.
In fact, many of the most well-known Shopify stores exist on a subdomain or have their blog on a subdomain for that reason. With that said, unless your major source of revenue is from content marketing from a blog, then this may not be a big issue for you.
Platform lock-in is another inherent disadvantage when using a hosted platform like Shopify Plus compared to your own website.
For example, if Shopify runs into financial trouble (and considering they are doing very well on the NYSE, this isn’t likely!) you do bear the vendor risk. If you want to close your store and migrate to a new platform, you can only get the data that Shopify exports for you.
Either way, vendor risk and platform lock-in is a disadvantage that has to be weighed, especially since there is open-source software available that can do a similar job.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rush out and employ the services of an in-house developer — Shopify attempts to make it easy for anyone to jump in and make changes. Still, when it comes time to give the site a makeover or make layout changes, the cracks begin to show, as Shopify Plus is not drag and drop type of product.
Don’t let the above frighten you though! If you do not have an in-house developer, Shopify Plus does have an extensive network of vetted agencies that you can work with – we personally recommend BVAccel, as they have done some amazing work for our customers.
Want to know more about Shopify and Shopify Plus? We have put together a useful Shopify eBook that you can download now for free.
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