Breaking Into Enterprise Customers at Shopify

Breaking Into Enterprise Customers at Shopify

It’s well known that moving your user base upmarket is challenging – but it can be done. Shopify Plus was launched in 2014 to offer large & hypergrowth businesses a customizable enterprise platform without the cost of existing options. Having created and dominated the online storefront market for SMBs, this was a key part of Shopify’s strategy to build a business to last 100 years.

At first, like many organizations trying to target higher value customers with more complex requirements, it was difficult to develop a product and approach that met their needs but there was clearly a market that was worth pursuing. It took a radical rethink of product, marketing and internal processes to make progress before ultimately, becoming a core piece of Shopify’s business.

What did Shopify do to make it work?

There were three areas that were key to making the jump for Shopify.


Most SaaS companies have three levels of pricing displayed on their pricing page – Free/Cheap – Low Tier Paid – High Tier Paid. As organizations grow the next step is to introduce ‘Enterprise Pricing’ or, ‘Contact Us’ for prospects that feel their particular requirements are more complex. I can’t help thinking this is a way of experimenting in the greatest tradition of the Lean Startup. Who are these customers that want more? What do they want? If they want to talk to us, we need to have sales people, that costs more. Will they be prepared to pay more? Can we test the market without committing to build a significant new product?

Enterprise pricing does not always mean a radically different product at first but a differentiated product with different levels of service, customization, integration and capability had to be built to meet the demands of the new customer base. This opened the way to building a network of enterprise partners who could focus on meeting the demands of enterprises who would also become channel partners for Shopify to reach customers they would not otherwise be engaged with.


Shopify effectively owned the SMB ecommerce store space. Of course, Amazon was a major channel but for customized stores in the SMB space, Shopify ruled the roost. That wasn’t the case for larger enterprises who were more used to building large, complex solutions to sell online. Their challenges, their needs and their questions were different and what worked for Shopify for SMBs would not work for enterprise customers and they undertook a major rethink of the new market and how the product was positioned to an entirely different audience.

Sales Processes

Enterprise sales require enterprise sales people, or so the thinking goes. However, as the company considered how they approached the new segment, they came to realize that while they had built up a skilled and expensive sales team, decisions from enterprise customers were far quicker than they had come to expect and tended to be more binary than in more traditional enterprise sales processes. The sales team in many situations were effectively expensive order takers. With a rethought positioning, the sales teams was refocused on higher value sales and account management rather than winning initial business that would have been won anyway.

Hana Abaza at Business of Software Conference USA 2022, 26-29 September, Boston MA

We’re delighted that Hana Abaza, former Head of Marketing at Shopify Plus will be joining us at this year’s BoS Conference USA to talk about some of the challenges and the changes that went into making Shopify Plus such a core part of the Shopify growth story. Hana will discuss how repositioning and retooling marketing at Shopify Plus resulted in remarkable growth for the business, something that created major prioritization challenges. She will share how Covid drove a tectonic shift that forced the company to abandon roadmaps, reassess, refactor and change every part of the business.

You will learn how positioning and prioritization are essential elements in building successful breakout products and why marketing, absolutely, at all times, has to align with company goals.

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