Learn the essential steps and challenges of brand expansion with Shopify Plus in this episode of the Ecommerce Coffee Break Podcast featuring David Simões, Founder & Solutions Architect at soundsgood.agency.
On the Show Today, You’ll Learn:
- What are the pros & cons of using Shopify Plus for a Shopify merchant
- What are the best practices for using Shopify Plus
- What are the steps involved in migrating a Shopify store to Shopify Plus
- How can Shopify Plus help grow businesses
- How can businesses expand into the European e-commerce market
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guest:David Simões
Founder of Sounds Good Agency - the first (and still only) Shopify Experts in Czechia and Slovakia. We help businesses grow with Shopify focusing mostly in the Central Europe market. Specialists in Shopify Plus, ecommerce expansion and complex systems integrations.
Listen & Subscribe on your Favorite Podcast App:
Please support the show if you liked today's episode:
- If you love the podcast, please get someone else to listen, too!
- If you enjoyed this episode of the Ecommerce Coffee Break podcast, please head over to Apple Podcasts, leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe.
- Share the podcast with your family, friends, and co-workers.
- Tag the podcast on Instagram @clauslauter and let me know what you like about it.
- If you like the content and would like to support the podcast, you can buy me a coffee here.
- Become a guest on the show or sponsor an episode.
Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the e-Commerce Coffee Break podcast. Today we want to talk about Shopify Plus and how to expand into Shopify Plus. And also we want to touch a little bit on the European market. , mostly we are talking about US American markets, but obviously Shopify is growing rapidly in Europe, and our guest today has a big ba, a good background on what's happening there.
So let's welcome David Simões. He is the founder and , solutions architect of Sounds Good Agency. They are the first and so only Shopify expert in Shakia and Slovakia. They're also a Shopify Plus agency and they focus on the central European market. Interesting enough, David also studied to be a professional dancer and, of Brazil, you tsu.
So I'm not touching on that one, but I found this very interesting. So let's welcome David to the show. Hey David, how are you today? I'm
David Simões: doing very well. Thank you for having me,
Claus Lauter: David. Shopify Plus, is something that a lot of merchants are aware of but they think it's out of reach or not necessary or they stumble over it and use it while not really needing it.
So we want to touch a little bit more on this, given the idea, , what's the decision making process of a Shopify merchants when they look into the option of Shopify Plus?
David Simões: usually there are two main factors based on which you decide if you go to Plus or not. , there's always the financial aspect, so once you get big enough, it starts making financial sense to go to three, five plus, just because of the transaction fees and everything, it just not worthy anymore.
Or the difference is like a hundred bucks or whatever to jump from the advance plan to Shopify Plus. So it's a no-brainer because Shopify. , higher level of support, you know, tools and functionalities you can use. So if the difference is like a hundred bucks, even 200 bucks, I would go to the Shopify Plus, , just because that value you'll recover many times over.
Once you get access to the world platform and ecosystem and community that is built around Shopify Plus, that's one asset that is very easy to analyze. We are, what we usually do is that when we get a client that is migrating Shopify or is on Shopify and thinking about, plus that we have our own internal calculator, I put there all the information that I need about how many stores they have or plan to have, how many markets they plan to sell to, their revenue, average, other value, et cetera.
If they're using payment what kinda engage they're using. Cause certified payments versus third party, something different. And also something that is very specific in the European market. If they have different manual payments or not, and what percentage of payments are being processed, not through a car, payment gateway, no bank transfers, cash and delivery, et cetera.
Cause all of these factors may influence the final result of the finances. And based on that, we can say plus for sure, or you don't need it yet. On another hand, we have had clients that are like, Really big in terms of re they are big retailers, but they're very small online presence. But they are able to Fortune five plus.
So they can leverage functionalities like Customiz, the checkout, being able to display different functionality in the checkout and different information as they need they to, so the customers are not like, sh shocked that something's not working as they expect in their local market. and that's the second factor.
No, not about money, but about functionality. Is there 1, 2, 3 big thing that you would need to have 25 plus would make a difference in your business? If yes, even if you're not still on the, on the revenue level or to make sense? You actually can recover that money quite easily. If I want to. If you want an example with a client, they were called bloom hair.
Now they are boom robin. They are like, they have seven expansion stores. They started in Slovakia and they are like more or less everywhere in Europe. They sell supplements for hair health and stuff like that. When we started cooperating there were around the 700 k euros per year, mark, and we were thinking once we get to 1 million, this is like rule of thumb, we can start thinking about GP five plus.
But then we realize that in this central European market, it's not completely atypical to charge for the cash and delivery services. Service and Shopify doesn't provide that out of the, out of gate, but we could do it if we had Shopify Plus. So we calculated how many clients they could potentially charge through charge to shoot through cash and delivery.
And based on that, that calculation we realized. You're going to pay by itself many times over very quickly by a Purify Plus. So all these analysis, which is quite nuanced, you have to do in order to be able to really recommend or not to some person or to some merchant.
Claus Lauter: Before we touch on the European market, I wanna dive a little bit more into the features of Shopify Plus.
You mentioned already a few, give our listeners an idea of what different features they can expect when they move over to Shopify Plus.
David Simões: If I could split into three main categories. One is like the community aspect and support. The other is speeds and scalability for integrations. And the third is the extra perks.
So on the first category I would say there is the community, the Facebook 25 plus community, multiple webinars dedicated only for the ship, five plus user. That actually helped them grow a lot. Actually one of our current co-owners of our agency, it was originally the e-commerce manager of one of our Fortune five plus clients.
Eventually joined our group, Robin, and he said like, He became a real Shopify expert through the sheer knowledge that he acquired in those webinars in the Shopify Plus close and exclusive community, so that's super helpful. Of course, the dedicated support and account manager. The second aspect in terms of scalability and level of integrations.
I have to mention the speed, the, the, the, the better API rate limits that we have on Shopify Plus. So if you are thinking about a very typical example, if you are selling, high volume, maybe even low margin products where the price can vary, vary like every 15 minutes, and you have to update them constantly based on semi creation of product, of pricing.
You need a very scalable and very solid API solution with proper rate limits that you can, like, leverage the best you can, and you wouldn't be able to do it in a lower plan. I think recently they've turned on the advanced plan to have a better API rate limit as well. But this is like very special thing about Shopify Plus and of course the 1520, I dunno how much it's right now, 20,000 checkouts per minute.
You can have, you know the knowledge that even in the highest peak of your sales, your checkout is going to break to break. That's like the scalability factor is. Immense for this corporate client and for these high level clients. And then the third aspect, the extra perks. You asking about the newest features, they always go Shopify Plus.
And if you're on Shopify Plus, you're at that level you need, and you want to innovate as much as possible as early as you can, so you can distinguish yourself from your competitors. That's one of the. Biggest reasons why somebody moves from Magento, WordPress custom solution to Shopify Plus because they know that they can speed up their development, their innovation much faster using an in-house team, agencies, freelancers, consultants, et cetera.
So you have The newest features and then you have exclusive APIs, which can allow you to do very cool stuff. One example, for example, is the multi-pass api, which allows you to basically have a login system, in your store that is shared with some other system. So if you want an example, which I don't know if you want, but I can give you one, is that we have a client corporate, I dunno, 200 plus physical locations across Central Europe and they want to have a version of their store.
That is like specifically for their sellers so they can log in. Mm-hmm. Their special functionality is like scanning product and so on. Sending email offers to their, to their customers. And the question is like, how should we verify, I dunno, three to 300 location. Okay. 200 locations times five. So we have like 10,000 employees that can change very frequently because this is retail.
How can we guarantee that the log games will be solid enough? So you basically use what they already have. They have their. SAP login for each employee and we basically, through the multipass, were able to make authentication on SAP and based on that log automatically to Shopify as well. So functionality and only be possible on plus.
So summarizing community education, support, scalability, and system integrations. And the third pers new functionalities and innovation. Okay.
Claus Lauter: That was a very good example. I never thought about that. That might be an issue and that can be solved to Shopify Plus, so thanks for, for that. Example. Sure. Now, when it comes to moving over, most likely the question will come up to merchant, can I keep my theme?
Can I keep my apps? I mean, they love their themes, they love their apps. What's the process? Are you as an agency helping with the process of moving over to Shopify, but what's, what's really involved on getting a side from the one side over to Shopify plus?
David Simões: It's a very, I would say, seamless process compared to what people have in mind.
They think it would move to a completely different platform, et cetera. That's not the case. You are still on Shopify. You still don't have to change the URL of your store. It's the same administration, no problem at all. You'll keep all the functionality, settings, apps, things. You just get more ways of playing with that for example, a higher limit of how many teams you can have in your store, which is very useful once you're running a big operation.
And the process itself is seamless in the sense that it's can take, I don't know, three to five days if you need to negotiate more, discuss more aspects, can take a bit longer, but moment you decide you want to do it. Shopify Plus in zero contract, which is standard. There are not many changes that can be done there.
You sign it in 24 hours. Usually they turn on the, the switch. So you have your Shopify administration mutating to Shopify plus administration. You get access to an administration board, which means, which means that if you are, if I dunno, 10, 20, whatever expansion stores. Cause you can have multiple of those.
You can have this, you have this admin where you see all the information of all of your stores, how you are performing, different markets, et cetera. And it's very seamless. You don't lose anything. You have access to a bunch of your function of like the expansion store that I mentioned and development stores.
You know, at this level it's super important to have a sandbox where you can play around change things, install new apps, et cetera. And these like out of the box with Shopify and you have the account Shopify Plus and get your account manager. That can help you get used with the system and make sure that like you have all the functionalities you need.
So the transition, if somebody is afraid of the transition, that's like the, the easiest thing to bust because there is no. No breaking. There is no downtime. There is no worries at all. It's just a matter of like signing the papers, turning off the switch, turning on the switch and going forward.
Okay. No, that's okay. But I may say one thing that I always recommend when somebody's thinking about Chip coin five plus, especially if they're on that like beginning stages of the million per year. It's not going to be a cheap investment, so before you just sign the papers, make sure you study the functionality.
Shopify Plus gives you study your current situation. It may be some audit with some external consultant or with a Shopify experts agency. Realize what is the roadmap of implementation of new functionalities because you don't want to sign the papers. Then keep using should five without using Shopify Plus for another three, four months and paying two K per month for nothing.
You know? So you should really try to figure out the roadmap so you know, okay, first month we want to lose this second month, we want to release that, and you're going to leverage these features in this specific way. So you make the most out of the
Claus Lauter: bucket investors. Okay, so there's definitely some homework involved before you get started.
Now you and your team of Sounds Good's agency are in the heart of Europe. You're in a Czech Republic, and there's a lot of experience when it comes to European market. Now, for our European listeners, they might be aware of that, but also our listeners who are not based in Europe, they might be interested in expanding into Europe.
You touched a little bit on the different payment ways or the different ways of payment that are used in Europe. Tell me a little bit more what makes the European market special or different to, for instance, the US market?
David Simões: a US merchant is spoiled by the luck where they are, you know, they launch a store, which doesn't have to be super fancy.
And automatically they have 300 million people that can buy from there. Same language, same currency, same culture, et cetera Here, which is something that I use say quite often if you're in Czech Republic, for example, you launch your store, you have maybe a population of 10 million people that could buy from you.
Automatically one month later you're thinking, okay, can I expand to Slovak? Can I go to Hungary? Can I go to Poland? Can I go to Germany? Because you want to expand your pool faster, even though you don't have like you are not maximizing your, your, your mark pediatrician yet, because, The pool is much smaller.
So you deal with these issues in a much earlier stage. The US market, basically like gym charts of the world and and all the following, like huge companies around Shopify and Shopify Plus, they start thinking about expansion when Shopify is basically, once the US is already gain territory. Here, it's not the case because the territory is quite small.
So that's a huge difference because. In the, in Europe, each country where you can have 5, 10, 30, 40 million people, they have their individual of course loss on one hand, culture language, sometimes currency. Czech Republic, for example, they didn't in uk they, before the Brexit, they also didn't have the, the, the Europe.
And they have also the, their cus their their typical way of to make a purchase. And this is very something that if you are not a customer in that market very easily, you may dismiss it. If you want an example. This is something I heard already, I dunno, five, 10 years ago when people were starting to expand in Europe, even within European countries because it's not that like we are in Europe and we know all the things, you know, each country is very specific.
So I'm selling, for example, contact lenses. And I don't get why, in Italy I have such a low combustion rate. And it ends up being, because there, there is a special program that if you put, I dunno, your social security number or something like that, you can get a percentage like a cashback from the government because it's something like national health insurance or something like that, you know, and this is something so specific.
That if nobody would like ask somebody in that market, they would never know, you know, if they wouldn't do the proper research, they wouldn't compare their with their competitors. They would never discover this slight difference, you know? Or if you go to France, it's super important, for example, to have a phone number in the beginning of the website cuz people are used to call to ask for questions, et cetera.
And you want to highlight that to get a higher click through rate and so on. So it's very specific from country to country, from market to market. But the important thing is definitely. The language, the currency, the shipping, and the payment methods. These three things can make or break your conversion.
So when somebody asks, even from the US side, I want to expand, I want to go to different markets, the question is like, how invested you are in that plan. Because depending on your goals, also the strategy should be slightly different because on Shopify, thank God it's getting better and better, this neutralization aspect.
And you can actually go into different directions, some more complex, some simpler, and each one of them have their pros and cons.
Claus Lauter: No, as I said multilanguage. Multicurrency is a part of Shopify. You have worked or you're working with big brands, moving them over to Shopify Plus. Tell me a little bit, where do you guys help with, what's the process if somebody approaches you?
David Simões: we have a very specific process, which we call the SGA experience, SGA Short for software agency very much inspired by the e system that many of your US listeners probably know in Europe is not so also known this entrepreneurial operative system. But the idea is we have a five step process. You know, first we have our coffee date where basically get to know each other, see if we are a match.
What are your problems? What are my, my solutions? After that coffee date, before we actually go into anything serious, we try to give them the gift. You know, after the first date, you maybe deliver some flowers, and that gift usually is like some free value. In this free value approach, we tried to solve already some of these problems that they were mentioning, or give some pointers or showing examples of how we solved this in the past.
And together with this gift, we have a proposal, which is basically you want to go out on a weekend with us, you know? And that proposal is for a feasibility study, you know, a deep analysis of the problems that they were saying that they have, and to figure out the final blueprint, the blueprint, the final solution that then we can implement.
And for some reason during our three days off an hour, like we can get away, as we call it, if we don't like each other, you can grab the information, the know-how and you can implement with somebody else. But we want to give you as much of our expertise as possible. But usually what happens that we are very successful on our weekends get getaways.
We are able to make the clients fall in love with us. And at that moment we start to go for like something more serious and more serious. And the first step would be the project where we execute. What we've done during the physical study. And then in the end we have putting a ring on it, which is basically, let's speak about retainer, let's speak about long-term cooperations.
Because what we do that is crucial for the really serious merchants is that we don't want a project. We don't want the one-time client, we want a partnership, a cooperation that could be like, I dunno, five, 10 years long, you know. We want to be here with you throughout the, the process, and we want to grow and scale with you so we can like keep helping you, like it's really a relationship.
That's why we have this metaphor in our SG experience from the coffee date to the, to the wedding ceremony. It's really about do we trust each other? Am I giving you enough to satisfy your needs? And the same thing from the merchant side to us, and can we grow together to higher and higher
Claus Lauter: level of success?
I like the idea of having sort of a dating process assigned to it makes it easier to understand on how to work with an agency or how to get the first contact with an agency specifically as you start with a, a coffee date. And we are at, at the end of the day, we are on an e-commerce coffee break podcast.
So who's, who's your perfect customer? Who's the best for you to work with or to go on a date?
David Simões: We have a limitation in terms of Not revenue, but how much, how much they are willing to invest in their, in their business. You know, if somebody is not willing to put, I think right now in dollars is 150 K on the first project.
If they have like lower than that type of budget. It's a different currency. We translate, converted quickly. No, that's a problem of like expansion, right? You're playing with multiple currencies at once, right? I think it's around seven K. If you're thinking about less than seven K for project, we usually say it's not a fit, and we give two different partners to take care of the, are willing to, to put that amount or more than that to grow their business.
Usually we have a way of cooperating. But the best client for us, where we are really attracted to going to the coffee date, is when they want to grow, when they want to expand, when they want to solve big problem and simplify that. You know, because if they want to expand, they want to grow. We have this, this part of our d a of our core values.
You know, always looking forward for new ways to grow ourselves. It's also always support our employees, you know, so they become a better version of themselves. You know, we always are looking forward to this open feedback so we can make. Ourselves better together as a team, and we want expect the same from our.
The complexity. We love to destroy complexity. We love, we go to the client, they say, our business is so specific, it's different from anything you've ever seen, and we need the really custom solution because of this. And you just start asking why? Why is this really so they're important? Yes or no? And most of the times you realize that a lot, like I would say, 60% of the processes that they've set up.
Nobody that is on the, on that company at that time knows why they were set up like that five, 10 years ago. So we can go there, break it, turn it around, simplify it, streamline it so they actually can do what Shopify has been like promising for years. You don't need an army of developers to run a very successful business.
You actually can, with a very small team, streamline your processes and run it and run it and focus on what is the most important in your business, in your marketing, in the quality of your products. In the quality of the logistics. So the customer is happy in the end. No, and we remove really the burden of the co, the complexities that come with the customer, integration of different solutions and the, the, the, the implementation of the processes that are needed for the operation to
Claus Lauter: run smoothly.
Yeah, I think an agency should be much more than just building a theme, what a lot of people think about agency. It's really a business consulting and coaching process to make your business better. David, where can people find more about you?
David Simões: Sure they can check our website Sounds good. Agency, I think you'll put also other links in the, in the description and very easily there.
They can book a call with us, send us an email. We have a very simple email to memorize firstname.lastname@example.org. So anything you need, you can reach out to this email or to my own email. Just switch Shopify by David. And I'm everywhere online. LinkedIn, I've been very active there lately, so looking forward for the dms
Claus Lauter: too.
Okay, I will put the links in the show notes as always and then you will be just one click away. David, thanks so much for your time today. I think it was a really good overview of first of all, why you and when you should move over to Shopify Plus, and specifically for merchants that are not in the eu understanding on the specific problems or issues that you have as a merchant in Europe that you don't have in the us.
Thanks so much for your time.
David Simões: Thank you.
Get notifications when new episodes are released. Unsubscribe anytime.
In your inbox for free. Every Thursday. Consumed in 3 minutes or less. Join 3,500+ Ecommerce Merchants, Founders, and Marketers.