The graph above charts monthly sales to monthly costs for all four account levels at Shopify. What it gives us is a pretty straight-forward answer to which account is best for anybody who is planning on using the service.

  • If your sales are below $3,000 per month, stick with the Basic plan.
  • If your sales are between $3,000 and $24,000 per month, then the Professional plan is for you.
  • If your sales are above $24,000 per month then the Unlimited plan is the best value.

There are other reasons to switch to higher level accounts, like to get more storage and SKUs, but if price is the driving factor then this simple analysis covers everything.

Why were we looking at Shopify, and why didn’t we use it?

We often have a requirement to build some kind of shop or ecommerce integration in to a site. Clearly different projects handle this differently- for a site like 12WBT, the ecomm bit isn’t really a separate shop area – it needs to be very tightly integrated into the membership process. So we built that. Other projects like beautyheaven have a separate shop area, which means building something isn’t necessarily the best approach.

A quick summary of the options:

  • Build something that suits requirements. Advantage is that it can fit exactly. Disadvantage is that you might have just reinvented the wheel – ecomm has been around for a while now…
  • Build upon an existing open source shop – taking a project like Spree and integrating this. Advantage is that you get lots of functionality out of the box, and an ability to tweak as required. No one is clipping the ticket. Disadvantage is that the more you tweak, the longer it takes in dev time (apologies for stating the bleeding obvious).
  • SAAS – skin or theme a SAAS system like Shopfiy- advantages being the shop can be up in minutes, and no hosting to worry about. The API allows for some integration into your app. Disadvantage is that any limitations to the API limit what you can do, and you’re paying per transaction- which might not suit some projects.
  • Install something commercial – Advantages are that you might find a tool with the exact shop functionality you want- in which case happy days. Disadvantages are that it might not fit your actual requirements

Two examples of where a SAAS approach like Shopify didn’t work for us

  • Coupons- we needed to dynamically generate a coupon code in the main app, and then send that to someone so they could use that in store
  • Points/Reward System- we needed to award points to members based on activity in the app. They could then redeem these points by buying stuff in the store.

That said- if what you’re after is a site with the main function of selling stuff, youd be crazy not to consider a SAAS approach. And among the SAAS options, Shopify is certainly a very good option – well built, reliable and a well thought out & developer friendly theming system.