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Learn the Pros and Cons of Shopify with our in-depth analysis of the platforms capabilities. We break down the benefits and drawbacks of the SAAS platform to help you choose the right technologies for your business.

Shopify provides a complete eCommerce solution that allows you to create an online store and start selling your products quickly.

With a simple-to-use control panel, easily organized products and order management capabilities, Shopify is straightforward and easy to use.

From a top-level perspective, Shopify design and development is beneficial to marketers and developers alike. However, by being a complete eCommerce solution, Shopify does come with some limitations. This blog will cover the platform’s pros and cons to help you gauge how it could work for your business.

Pros and Cons of Shopify

Benefits of Shopify

Built in tools

Common eCommerce needs include ways to organize and filter products (handled through what Shopify calls Collections), inventory management, customer and order tracking, and reporting such as sales, customer information and marketing insights. The user interface for managing these tools is clear, concise and easily accessible from the control panel.

From a developer’s perspective, Themes are built using Shopify’s templating language called Liquid. If you've worked with Ruby or Handlebars.js, this markup should feel similar. Shopify’s servers also can handle SCSS preprocessing, which can help save a lot of time on development. Shopify’s theming structure is also modular which keeps files organized.

Customizations

Depending on your installed Theme, you might have different sections available to add or edit content as necessary. These Themes could include custom templates for different collections, products and pages. 

Extensibility

Shopify has an active development community and marketplace to help meet your needs. Free and premium Themes are available and can be extended by using the built-in Theme editor, found under Online Store -> Themes -> Actions -> Edit Code. I would, however, strongly suggest that this stage requires developer knowledge and you should consult an outside party for assistance if this does not fall within your skillset.

Integrations

3rd party integrations with Shopify, referred to as Apps, can add further customizations to meet the needs of your store. Free and Premium Apps are available from the Shopify App Store. Shopify also has a robust API, providing plenty of options for building your own custom storefronts or integrating into other platforms.

Drawbacks of Shopify

Manually intensive

While Themes and 3rd party Apps can provide additional functionality, there’s always the possibility that a particular App could not work with your Theme or require modifications to the Theme to make it work. Many of the more useful App integrations require a monthly fee, which can start to get pricey after adding a few of these to your store. It could become even more expensive if your store requires bringing in a developer to make any necessary modifications to integrate a new App or building other custom functionality. 

Development process

Starting from scratch or even building upon an existing Theme is labor intensive. From a front-end perspective, while Shopify can do some SCSS preprocessing, it only supports up to version 3.2. This is significantly out of date with the latest version of Sass-lang (3.5.6 as of this writing). If you’re relying on Shopify to do the preprocessing of your Theme’s styles, useful variable managements such as Maps, additional built-in directives such as `@at-root`, and other improvements for functions and variables will not work.

Development is limited to either using the built-in editor while logged into the store or utilizing Shopify's Slate toolkit for local development / version control. This tool can dynamically sync your local files to your Shopify store and active Theme. 

App integrations can disrupt your Theme

Another factor to consider is that not every App integration is built the same way. Some will create additional files and inject those snippets into your Theme’s files. However, if you wish to remove that App, it might not remove these created files, leaving your Theme edited and could cause potential issues down the road. This can become very problematic if a developer is utilizing the Slate toolkit to connect / modify the current Theme in your store and is unaware of the new App and its files. This will cause debugging and troubleshooting Themes to become more difficult.

Conclusion

Overall, Shopify is still a great platform to use for eCommerce, but the decision of what you choose ultimately comes down to your individual business needs. When it comes to SAAS platforms, we still believe that Shopify can have its limitations for growing businesses. Platforms like BigCommerce are often better suited for mid-market retailers, so you should consider your current needs and projected growth when choosing a platform.

Although there are a few development factors to keep in consideration, the right team with the right knowledge can create a highly useful store to increase customers and sales. Need help deciding where to go from here? Request a free website assessment below to have an in-depth session with our eCommerce experts.