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The basics of how Shopify Plus hosting works and the performance metrics we observe as Shopify Plus experts.

Curious about how web hosting works when running a Shopify Plus store? Look no further, we are here to help guide you as long term Shopify Plus experts.

What is Shopify hosting?

Shopify Plus is a hosted solution, also known as software-as-a-service (SAAS).

Shopify host the vast majority of Shopify Plus stores, however, merchants do have the option to self-host with a headless solution if they wish. This can be costly to create and maintain so many opt for a regular Shopify Plus store hosted by the Shopify platform. In short with Shopify Plus you typically have your website hosted by Shopify. Applications or Apps use different hosts. And so a Shopify Plus store typically has it’s core codebase & product database hosted on the Shopify servers & app assets are typically hosted externally for example on Google Cloud or Digital Ocean etc. But there are instances where a Shopify Plus store is hosted (at least on a code level) on servers not from Shopify. For example you could have a custom storefront built using the storefront API and hosted on AWS if you wished. Your product catalogue and orders are managed in the Shopify backend but the front end is served from a server you own and control. These self-hosted instances are few are far between & a typical Shopify PLus store would not need to self-host. Indeed we often advise against it unless absolutely necessary due to the additional maintenance costs of self hosting & complexities around updating.

99% of Shopify Plus stores are hosted on Shopify & do not use the storefront API. But many stores use apps (either public apps or bespoke apps) which are hosted elsewhere.

Shopify and Shopify Plus use a CDN for the delivery of image assets and was the first hosted e-commerce website solution to do so. Shopify’s CDN is operated by the company Fastly and comes with unlimited bandwidth.

A CDN is a large network of servers placed across the world to ensure customers can load into a merchant’s website store quickly, no matter where the customer is located.

The checkout is level 1 PCI compliant & regardless of if you self-host or use the standard Shopify hosting – all orders go through the Shopify checkout process.

Here at Liquify, we find Shopify Plus servers on par with a dedicated server and CDN setup. We are experienced with monitoring sites using uptrends, and we see that the worldwide speed is fast where the codebase is fast.

Many lower-end Shopify sites may be slow, but it is important to note that this is not due to Shopify’s hosting but to do with the poorly optimised code and apps which use secondary servers.

You can easily have a custom Shopify PLus store loading worldwide in under 2 seconds & passing core web vitals.

Uptime on a Shopify pLus site we manage:

And here is an example of core web vitals when hosted on Shopify Plus (custom build with limited app usage):
core web vitals when hosted via shopify

What are the benefits of hosting with Shopify Plus?

Shopify handles seriously high-volume traffic

One of the key advantages of using Shopify as a host is its ability to handle insanely high volumes of traffic without compromising website performance. This is crucial for businesses that experience surges in traffic during sales events or peak seasons.

If you’re coming from a self hosted background you’ll know the pain of maintaining uptime in critical sales periods. We’ve also been there and done that. It’s no fun on Magento/Woo etc to have downtime.

From our experience here at Liquify, a Shopify Plus-hosted site can load in 2s worldwide with hundreds of checkouts per minute and 99.9% uptime. This can be near impossible if merchants use a self-hosted website – unless they opt to have an in-house team working 24/7.

As discussed before, Shopify Plus hosting utilizes a global Content Delivery Network (CDN) to distribute website content across multiple servers worldwide. This ensures that website visitors can access the site quickly, regardless of their geographical location. And the backend is typically blazing fast.

Hosting with Shopify Plus also includes an enterprise-level Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees high uptime and availability. The platform is designed to handle large traffic spikes and maintain a stable shopping experience. This reliability is essential for businesses that cannot afford downtime or performance issues that could impact their sales and reputation.

We typically observe a conversion rate uptick when moving a site to Shopify Plus. Purely due to downtime reduction.

Reliable for safety and security

In addition to performance and reliability, hosting with Shopify Plus prioritizes security. The platform employs robust security measures to protect sensitive customer data and prevent unauthorized access. This includes encrypted data transmission, secure payment processing, regular security updates, and compliance with industry standards and regulations. By leveraging Shopify’s expertise in security, merchants can have peace of mind knowing that their customers’ information is well-protected.

Shopify are also now clamping down on 3rd party apps which may in the past have been leaking data. With the 2022 Shopify api updates Shopify app developers must encrypt and store safely any customer data.

Offers advanced customisation

Shopify Plus hosting also offers advanced customization options and flexibility to meet the unique needs of enterprise-level businesses. Merchants can fully customize the look and feel of their online stores, including the design, layout, and functionality. The platform provides access to an extensive library of themes and the ability to create custom themes from scratch. Furthermore, Shopify supports integrations with various third-party applications and systems, allowing businesses to extend the functionality of their online stores and integrate with existing tools and processes.

But you will be limited to using liquid, javascript and css when using Shopify for rendering your storefront. If you wanted to use say php or ruby for more a complex, perhaps appless store front you would need to self host and use the storefront API. But it’s very rare when this is needed. A skilled Shopify Plus developer will be able to do pretty much anything

High-level support

Another notable aspect of hosting with Shopify Plus is its dedicated account management and support. Merchants on the Shopify Plus plan receive personalized assistance from a dedicated account manager who is knowledgeable about the platform and understands the specific needs of high-growth businesses. This level of support ensures that merchants can maximize the potential of the platform, address any technical challenges, and receive timely assistance whenever required.

Alternatively, Shopify is developer friendly and utilising an expert team like us here at Liquify ensures that your store is one step ahead of the competition.

Want to know more about Shopify Plus hosting?

Setting up and hosting with Shopify Plus is a no-brainer. Unlike self-hosted platforms which require more knowledge to start up, Shopify is user-friendly and can help merchants get started. We often say that self hosting is a false economy. It appears to be cheaper to self host but in practice you spend more than the difference on maintenance not to mention lost revenue downtime.

If you’d like to know more about Shopify Plus, get in touch with our team of Shopify Plus experts today who will be happy to help!

Joe Dempsey

Joe Dempsey

Joe Dempsey is a Shopify Expert. With over 8 years of experience in eCommerce & Shopify he leads one of the most experienced Shopify Expert teams in the world. Founder of Liquify, he tends to work with large brands and Shopify Plus merchants who want to scale aggressively. He is a well known Shopify SEO expert & one of the most experienced Shopify developers in the world.