I get asked for examples of stores that have achieved a specific area of complexity with Shopify and Shopify Plus all the time – so I decided to write a blog post on the examples I tend to give (that I can update over time as the platform and retailers develop). It’s worth pointing out that there are a number of areas where Shopify isn’t as strong as other platforms when it comes to heavy customisation – however, these days, a lot of retailers want to use workarounds due to them benefitting so much from other areas of the Shopify platform and wanting to move to a SaaS platform.

Here are some examples of complexity and customisation that have been achieved with Shopify.

Examples of large product catalog Shopify Plus stores – Fahion Nova, Decathlon, Bulb America and Brave New Look

Shopify Plus isn’t the most obvious fit for retailers with large product catalogs, however there are lots of stores on the platform with large catalogs. The ideal situation would be that you would use a PIM to support the management of the products and product information (alongside an ERP for base information), but obviously not all retailers can afford the luxury of a PIM platform. Sporting goods retailer, Decathlon have ~60,000 products in Shopify Plus and Fashion Nova have nearly 400,000 products on their Shopify Plus store. These are both very well known brands that operate at a high level with Shopify Plus.

BulbAmerica is also an example of a Shopify Plus store with over 800,000 products and Bravenewlook.com has over 1,000,000 products in their catalog.

Examples of complex catalog and product builder functionality with Shopify Plus – Direct Doors

This website, built by WeMakeWebsites, is a perfect example of a store that wouldn’t look like it was suited to Shopify – purely because of the size and complexity in the catalog and the complex purchasing journeys. The Direct Doors site features complex bundling with a lot of complex logic around when a user is able to add a combination of items to cart and the product detail pages are built in a product builder style format.

Multi-language, multi-currency and multi-store international Shopify Plus store – Gymshark, AllBirds and Alessi

Gymshark is well-known for being a high volume store that’s seen huge growth on the Shopify Plus platform – scaling up to over £100m online turnover. Gymshark has a number of local Shopify stores to support sales across different territories, which has been a big part of their growth in recent times. They also then have a number of North American and Scandanavian stores that don’t have localised content but do have localised shipping methods and payment methods etc.

Gymshark is a great example of local stores on Shopify Plus, however they do have a small and simple product catalog. From what I understand, Gymshark use their other systems and a syncing solution to support managing the different stores without too much manual work. The Gymshark website was originally developed by Shopify agency, Fostr. You can also read this piece I wrote on managing a multi-store Shopify Plus setup for more detail here.

Gymshark also use tags to create hierarchical URLs with gender acting as the parent. This is a bit of a workaround and has pros and cons, but it does help to satisfy a requirement for parent / child relationships at a high-level..

Alessi is a really good example of a proper multi-language Shopify store, with the CH store featuring multiple languages using Shopify’s relatively new locales feature. This website was built by WeMakeWebsites, who are really strong with international.

Heavily customised front-end / theme – Polaroid Originals

I’ve always really liked the Polaroid Originals site, as it’s just a very customised and creative front-end experience. I’ve heard people question how flexible Shopify themes are in the past and Polaroid is a good example of how creative you can be and how much room there is for customisation.

The product detail pages are really nicely designed and the interactions and effects are really nicely done. The whole site is really nicely designed and the front-end is seemless across mobile and desktop.

Other really good examples of custom front-end experiences include:

Headless Shopify Plus implementation – Parachute Home, Clare.com, Staples.ca

There are hundeds of headless Shopify stores these days, with lots of DTC brands choosing to go this way (seems to be a big trend with headless CMS solutions like Prismic and Contentful), bigger retailers doing this to allow for more front-end complexity and generally others wanting to create the most engaging possible front-end experience. I’d say there are definitely pros and cons, as I talked about here.

My favourite headless Shopify Plus stores are:

  • Parachute Home (DTC brand – very clean, structured templates and great content.
  • Staples Canada (large site with lots of complexity)
  • Clare.com (DTC company who have created a really nice, engaging brand experience)

Shopify PWA (headless) example – Strivectin

The Strivectin website is another headless implementation, but it features Gatsby.js to support the progressive web app (PWA) approach. The site is rapid and the front-end feels really nice. This is one of the strongest headless sites I’ve ever seen and it also features Prismic as a headless CMS. One thing that’s really strong about this site is how it’s quite rich in functionality and it features a number of third parties, which you’d expect to impact the performance, but they don’t at all.

Complex and mixed basket subscriptions with Shopify Plus – Hbird, Deathwish Coffee and Dr Axe

Subscriptions seem to be a really common requirement in builds these days and Shopify is no exception. There are a number of different approaches to subscriptions with Shopify and Shopify Plus in my experience, so this is designed to provide a brief overview on each.

Dr Axe – Recharge

Recharge is a Shopify-specific solution that essentially allows for full management of subscriptions – covering the front-end aspects, the subscription and mixed basket checkout, the account considerations etc. The main limitation here is that you’re essentially taking these orders out of Shopify – meaning that any promotions, loyalty considerations or store credit for example, need to be managed alongside Shopify (due to the external checkout). Although I really like Recharge, this does cause issues for more complex or higher volume retailers.

Hbird – subscription as payment option

Hbird offer subscription as a payment option when you’re within the Shopify checkout – this is a much cleaner user journey on paper, however you don’t have the ability to up-sell within the PDP, which would be the only downside. That said, this route does solve a lot of operational issues compared to using the apps and third parties.

Pura Vida Bracelets – Bold Commerce Subscriptions

The Bold Commerce Subscriptions app, like Recharge, is great for basic implementations, but it again uses a separate checkout which can have an overhead in other areas of store management. Pura Vida use Bold to support their “club” offering, which essentially gives users the ability to subscribe to monthly products.

The Bold app does have some cool features, such as allowing for pre-payment of subscriptions etc, but it’s a similar situation to Recharge.

Multi-brand Shopify Plus implementation – YM Inc

YM Inc Group have ~8 brands on their multi-brand Shopify Plus implementation, with the main one being Urban Planet. Shopify isn’t generally considered a good option for multi-brand retailers, however it can be done with workarounds around catalog / product management, usage of an ERP and, if relevant, international.

High volume Shopify Plus store – Kylie Cosmetics

The Kylie Cosmetics site is said to turnover up to $800m online, surviving huge peaks and uplifts from their influencer-led customer acquisition strategy. This is a really nice example of how scalable Shopify can be around volume for simple retailers – other examples include Bulletproof, Dr Axe and MVMT Watches.

Multi-location Shopify POS example – various

Shopify POS was widely considered to be a solution for smaller retailers and pop up stores, as a result of it only being able to support a single source of inventory. However, last year Shopify introduced multi locations, which has helped retailers with multiple physical stores benefit from an integration with their eCommerce platform.

Examples of retailers using Shopify’s Point of Sale across multiple stores include Hotel Chocolat (multiple locations in the US) and Hummingbird Bakery (multiple stores in London).

Shopify Plus store credit – Bulletproof

Bulletproof have used the gift card API to allow for fully integrated store credit across the store – this is used for issuing recurring store credit to users and for allowing for various other scenarios where a user may be issued store credit manually.

These are just a few examples of complex or uncommon features or requirements that have been achieved with the Shopify Plus platform – if you have any questions or any other examples, please feel free to add them in the comments below.