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The Essential Difference Between Shopify And Shopify Plus For Your Affiliate Marketing Program


Shopify is, arguably, one of the best software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms available for ecommerce. It is a robust all-in-one solution with a wealthy reputation for offering the best ecommerce features, superbly-designed themes, and unmatched customer support.

According to Statista, 20 percent of all ecommerce websites in 2020 used Shopify. More than 1.75 million merchants rely on Shopify to sell their products, with Shopify processing over $79.5 billion in total order value in the first six months of 2021 alone, according to data from Backlinko.

Shopify’s three small-business plans are ideal for startups to mid-size ecommerce businesses running affiliate marketing programs, with Shopify even offering a scaled-down and more affordable Shopify Lite plan. For large and high-volume ecommerce businesses, Shopify provides an enterprise version of its ecommerce platform, Shopify Plus.

Below we’ll talk about the key benefits and differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus plans so that you can better understand which option is best for your brand’s affiliate marketing program.

Shopify Plans Explained

Shopify is among the most desirable ecommerce platforms for businesses looking to get their online stores up and running quickly. But first, a common question enterprises are looking to get started needs to be asked and adequately addressed. Which Shopify pricing plan is best for me and my business?

Plan #1: Shopify Lite

At a mere $9 per month, Shopify Lite offers one of the most affordable ways for businesses to sell their products online with affiliate marketing programs. But, note that this affordability comes at a cost. Shopify Lite is a scaled-down version of its Shopify plan, providing a low-cost entry to start selling online.

It is perhaps best suited for businesses who have already created their site on another platform and want to add simple ecommerce functionality since Shopify Lite doesn’t provide you with a standalone, fully-functional online store. Instead, Shopify Lite allows you to sell unlimited products by embedding your products on an existing website with a Buy Button. This feature is similar to PayPal but more sophisticated. With it, you add a code snippet to your website, and your products automatically appear, ready to be purchased.

With Shopify Lite, you can also sell your products on Facebook and even use Shopify as a Point of Sale (POS) system for selling products in physical locations like retail outlets. In addition, there are no transaction fees with Shopify Lite if you use Shopify Payments as your payment gateway, which is Shopify’s payment processing option.

Credit card fees are dependent on the payment gateway provider you choose. For example, with Shopify Payments, the credit card fees in the U.S. are 2.9% + 30c for purchases made online and 2.7% + 0c for purchases made on a mobile device using Shopify’s Point of Sale card reader. On the other hand, if you opt for a third-party payment gateway, there’s a 2.0% transaction fee on each sale made, plus the credit card fees your payment gateway provider charges. Keep in mind that Shopify’s credit card fees vary by country.

Shopify Lite also includes Shopify Shipping, which is a service Shopify offers where Shopify partners with a variety of local postal companies to provide real-time shipping rates. It also allows you to use up to three inventory locations, such as retail stores or warehouses, to track inventory and fulfill orders. Shopify Lite also offers basic reporting functionality to track sales and manage inventory.

A relatively new inclusion to Shopify Lite is Abandoned Cart Recovery, which allows you to identify shoppers who get to the checkout phase but abandon their cart and leave your store.

Lastly, 24/7 support is included in the Shopify Lite plan but is limited to email and live chat only, without the option to speak to a Shopify representative over the phone.

Plan #2: Basic Shopify

At $29 per month, Basic Shopify is the most affordable Shopify plan that offers everything in Shopify Lite plus a standalone, fully-functioning online store. Basic Shopify includes a blogging functionality for your online store, which is crucial for generating traffic for your affiliate marketing efforts. The basic tier also comes with various templates for your online store, 13 free, while 71 must be purchased.

With Basic Shopify, you get 24/7 support and the phone support that Shopify Lite offers. However, transaction and credit card fees are the same with Basic Shopify as with Shopify Lite.

Shopify Shipping is also offered with the Basic Shopify plan, with up to 74% discounted shipping rates with Shopify’s shipping partners. You also have the option to use up to four inventory locations.

Plan #3: Shopify

At $79, the Shopify plan offers everything in Shopify Lite and Basic Shopify but with more added benefits. One significant benefit is access to more professional and robust reporting, such as detailed sales, customer, and profit reports. Another selling point is a lower transaction and credit card fees, 2.6% + 30c for online transactions and 2.5% + 0c for point-of-sale transactions (U.S. rates). You also get a lower transaction fee of 1% if you opt for a third-party payment gateway.

You also get the ability to sell in multiple languages, using multi-currency selling international domains for your online store. You get the benefits of USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing, which are discounted rates on priority mail for packages weighing less than 20 pounds. The Shopify plan also allows you to use up to 5 inventory locations.

Plan #4: Advanced Shopify

At $299, Advanced Shopify offers three key features — advanced report building, real-time shipping quotes from third parties, and the option to use individual product prices for different countries. You also benefit from lower credit card rates of 2.4% + 30c for online transactions, 2.4% + 0c for point-of-sale, and a lower transaction fee of 0.5% if you opt for a third-party payment gateway.

Plan #5: Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus is an enterprise-level solution best suited for businesses with an extremely high sales volume at a $2,000 standard monthly cost or a variable fee that consists of a negotiable percentage of monthly sales. It offers all of the Advanced Shopify plan features plus advanced features involving security, automation, multi-currency selling, APIs, and fulfillment. Although the list of added features is quite extensive and specific, we’ll cover the main ones here.

Shopify Plus enables ecommerce automation via a visual workflow tool that utilizes ‘if this then that’ (IFTT) style rules called Shopify Flow. In addition, Shopify Plus features fully automatic multi-currency selling that uses the I.P. address to automatically detect what country a user is browsing from to present your product prices in the appropriate currency. You also benefit from dedicated ‘white-glove’ account management and support and get to use up to 20 inventory locations.

The One Key Difference Between Shopify Plus and the Four Other Shopify Plans

The list of differences in features between Shopify’s four available plans and Shopify Plus is rather extensive. Still, it mainly boils down to one key difference: the enterprise-grade features unlocked with Shopify Plus.

Most businesses running affiliate marketing programs can benefit from any of the four Shopify plans available, as the features they share are beneficial for running successful affiliate marketing programs. Large businesses with high sales volumes and need fully automated enterprise-grade ecommerce tools should opt for the Shopify Plus plan.

Regardless of the Shopify plan you choose, to fully maximize your affiliate marketing program, you should seek out robust platforms specialized in affiliate marketing to complement your Shopify strategy.

Special thanks to our friends at Refersion for their insights on this topic.
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