How to Scale Shopify in 4 Steps

A cartoon man stepping up a growth chart representing scaling his business on Shopify

The day has come. You’re finally getting your big break. Your website has gone viral! Your product is the must-have item every Tik Toker wants. But can your site handle the traffic? 

From a sudden traffic spike due to viral exposure or just general growth in your business, you need to understand how to scale Shopify

If you don’t prepare for growth, you could lose out on thousands of sales because your ecommerce technology wasn’t scalable. In this guide on how to scale Shopify, we’ll discuss why scalability is important and the four steps you need to take to make sure your Shopify site is ready to scale. 

What is Scalability on Shopify? 

Scalability is how easily your technology adapts to meet changes in demand or traffic. You’ve probably experienced the frustration of a scaling failure as a customer. For example, earlier this month, when Disney released tickets to a Halloween event at Disney California Adventure, their ticketing website couldn’t handle the traffic. As a result, frustrated customers waited up to six hours to buy tickets.

Disney has a loyal following, and their fans were willing to wait it out. But odds are your customers wouldn’t be as patient. As you grow your business, you need to be confident your technology will work with higher volumes of transactions. So you need to make sure it’s scalable. 

How to Scale Shopify in 4 Steps

The good news is that if you’re using Shopify, you probably don’t have to worry about a catastrophic technology failure as you scale. Shopify is a hosted service — meaning Shopify hosts and maintains the platform. Part of the monthly fee you pay Shopify is for them to maintain the technical infrastructure to run and host your store. But there are some steps you’ll need to take to make sure your site scales seamlessly. 

Step 1: Decide if Shopify is Right for your Business

We think Shopify is an excellent platform for starting your ecommerce business. It’s easy to use, and you can get up and running quickly. The tradeoff for that ease of use is you lose some control of your site. So when we talk about scaling your Shopify site, there’s not much heavy lifting on the technical side. Shopify controls the core code and servers. 

If you are serious about scaling your business, we recommend doing an analysis to determine if Shopify can meet your long-term needs. Suppose your growth plans include selling in international markets, launching subscriptions, or selling highly configurable products. In that case, you might be better off with a platform that offers you more customization like WooCommerce. For more information, check out our detailed comparison of WooCommerce vs. Shopify. Before you invest the time, money, and development resources in Shopify, ensure the platform’s capabilities match your business plan. 

Step 2: Upgrade your Shopify Plan (If Needed)

Once you’ve determined you want to proceed with scaling Shopify, check to see if you need to upgrade your Shopify plan. 

Common reasons you might need to upgrade from Basic Shopify to the Shopify or Advanced Shopify plans include:

  • Adding more inventory locations
  • Adding more staff accounts
  • Your sales volume increased, and you want to lower your transaction fees
  • You need international options

Beyond that, if you need more advanced features like advanced automation, API integrations, wholesale selling, or more control over the checkout experience, consider upgrading to Shopify Plus. The enterprise version of Shopify starts at $2,000 per month. The hefty price tag is one reason we recommend in Step 1 to analyze if Shopify will meet your long-term growth plans.

A cartoon woman looking at a large mobile phone app

Step 3: Streamline Apps 

While Shopify is responsible for ensuring uptime for the platform, Shopify isn’t liable for any customizations you make or apps you install. The more apps you add to your Shopify store, the greater the chances you’ll start to see conflicts between the apps. Poorly coded apps or disputes between apps can cause your site to crash, even while the Shopify platform remains stable. We recommend removing any unused apps to avoid conflicts. 

Step 4: Optimize for Speed 

Finally, you’ll want to make sure to optimize your site for speed and fast loading. 

Best optimization practices include:

For more tips on optimizing your Shopify site, check out our answers to “Why is my Shopify site so slow?”

Also, if you’d like a set of personalized recommendations for improving your site performance, consider investing in our site performance audit. The Mindsize team of experts will test and analyze your site to identify any technical issues slowing your site down. 

How to Scale Shopify with Mindsize

The Mindsize team specializes in making sure websites are ready to scale. We’ve helped some of the largest ecommerce sites handle millions of orders and more than $500 million in sales. If you’re stuck on Step 1 trying to decide if Shopify is the best platform, we work with clients on Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce. We can use our expertise to make recommendations for ensuring you’re on the right platform for growth. If you know you’re committed to Shopify but need help with the more technical aspects of Steps 3 and 4; our team is ready to analyze and fix any issues with your site. Contact us today to discuss how to scale Shopify.