Choosing the right ecommerce platform is more important now than it has ever been. As your lockdown-proof storefront, it keeps you in touch with customers and brings in revenue whatever’s going on in the world. With over 85,000 new online stores launched during lockdown and online sales 50% higher than last year, your ecommerce platform must not only navigate the current pandemic but be nimble in adapting to future challenges and drive long-term growth.

The Shopify platform has been shining brightly in the headlines recently due to its success in helping brands adapt to the new retail climate. So today, we’ll explore Shopify Plus and whether it’s the best platform for you and your brand. We’ll cover:

  1. Understanding your business needs,

  2. Shopify Plus and your requirements,

  3. Test driving the platform and potential agencies, and

  4. What to do next.

Is your eCommerce platform up to the job?

1. Understand your business needs.

Before diving into researching potential ecommerce platforms, you first need to recognise what your business needs from a new platform and what your overall objectives are.

Brainstorming the pros and cons of your current provider is a great place to start; that enables you to directly compare how a new platform like Shopify Plus can improve on these. Also, review your business's strategic plans to identify potential challenges down the line, such as international expansion.

Here are some common business needs to consider:

  • Efficiency. Is your ecommerce team currently spending inordinate amounts of time on repetitive tasks, draining resources from proactive new business opportunities? Could some (or all) of this work be automated on a new platform?

  • In-house control. Does your current platform allow you to react quickly to changing situations, or do you have to use developers for even the simplest tasks? Is your platform considered user-friendly by your in-house team?

  • Security and stability. With brands now even more dependent on their ecommerce stores, how much downtime do you experience on your current platform? How well does it handle your current order volumes? Is it failing you at critical moments?

  • Scalability. Is your brand turning over a million a year or aiming to reach that? If so, you definitely need an enterprise-level solution to successfully manage the current volume of business and support further growth.

  • New services. How much of your business is online, and do you foresee this changing and/or growing rapidly in the new Covid-world? For example, demand for subscription and click-and-collect services have soared as consumers and retailers alike look to Covid-proof their shopping habits and business operations, respectively.

  • Multi-channel management. A Harvard Business Review study showed that 73% of consumers use multiple channels during their shopping journey. So alongside your ecommerce site, what other channels do you currently sell through (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Instagram, Facebook) or wish to in future?

  • International expansion. Does your new platform need to enable easy international expansion in the short to medium term? It’s worth factoring this in now to make life easier (and more cost-effective) for your future self!

Looking to expand your brand internationally? Best to factor that in when deciding on a new platform.

2. Shopify Plus & your eCommerce platform requirements.

With a firm handle on your business needs, the next step is to look at Shopify Plus itself. You want to understand not only how well it matches your requirements but what opportunities and advantages it presents.

Shopify Plus offers:

  • An enterprise-level solution. Future-proofing your migration as much as possible makes good business sense. Shopify Plus has all the usual Shopify features but can handle large volumes for businesses needing to scale up quickly and seamlessly.

  • Multi-channel made easy. With Shopify Plus, your brand can sell wherever your customers are, whether that be through social media, physical stores or online communities. Shopify Plus offers over 20 channels in their dashboard - like Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and physical stores - so you’ll be spoilt for choice.

  • Great value. With retail sales taking a battering in the last six months, the comparatively lower cost of Shopify Plus delivers a real lifeline to retailers. The platform was specifically designed to minimise operational and overhead costs. Meanwhile, the extensive app store offering means you can just add the functionality you need rather than being lumped with higher costs for features you don't want.

  • Speed, flexibility & agility. With a huge ecosystem of tech partners and agencies, Shopify Plus is able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances like a pandemic. It’s constantly adding new functionality and rolling out changes with admirable efficiency.

  • User-friendly with easy automation. There’s no point in having a fancy new ecommerce system if it’s a). too hard to use, or b). too time-consuming to change anything. Fortunately, Shopify Plus scores highly on both ease of use and automation. Its back end is approachable and streamlined for the user, and it has the potential for greater efficiency through its huge app offering.

  • App approach. Shopify Plus has a rich app ecosystem, allowing you to quickly integrate new services and functionality as your brand changes. These three key apps (exclusive to Shopify Plus merchants) maximise efficiency and automation:

3. Test drive the eCommerce platform & Shopify Plus agency.

With the first two steps complete, it’s time to test drive the platform and potential agencies. We’d recommend:

  • A Shopify Plus platform demonstration. Look at case studies for businesses similar to yours and then take the platform for a trial run with a Shopify Plus agency. Be sure to have all your platform questions ready and take notes!

  • Researching the replatforming process. Quiz your potential Shopify Plus agency on their replatforming set-up, so you know what to expect from them. What are the steps in the process? How thorough is their project scoping? Who would be your contact, and what is the sign-off process? How long will the project take?

  • Checking customisation capabilities. Does your Shopify Plus agency have the experience to interpret your brief and then deliver at both a technical and creative level? In the post-Covid world, your brand needs to stand out online, so ensure your agency has a strong track record in providing bespoke solutions.

  • Trying-before-you buy: the agency. Before committing to a Shopify Plus agency, it’s worth testing how well you work together. For example, at blubolt, we offer a free design and UX audit for Shopify Plus retailers or those looking to migrate. It’s a great obligation-free way of sussing out the agency and services offered.

  • Reviewing ongoing support services. Whether we like it or not, eCommerce retailers have to keep up with the Jones’. That means choosing a Shopify Plus agency that can deliver a structured monthly support package to ensure your new website stays speedy and highly functional while looking great. Read about our bluprint For Success package for an example.

You can never ask too many questions! Quiz your agency before committing.

4. Making the next move.

In following the above three steps, you’ll certainly find clarity on your brand’s requirements, the capabilities of Shopify Plus, and what to look for in an agency partner.

There’s no doubt Shopify Plus is a platform geared toward high growth, so if you’d like to pair it with a certified agency with over 14 years of experience, look no further! We're an accredited Shopify Plus Partner agency that designs, builds and optimises bespoke eCommerce solutions to help your brand grow faster. Explore our expert Shopify services and browse our client work for even more Shopify inspiration. Alternatively, get in touch to discuss your requirements. We would love to help!