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Shopify CMS: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Kaya Ismail • 08 August 2022

Brands looking for a one-stop-shop for their eCommerce needs would immediately place Shopify among the list of choices. Shopify is a popular option for building eCommerce stores and even offers a built-in CMS to help you manage content for your blog. But is Shopify’s CMS enough? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

is shopify a cms

What Is Shopify CMS?

First things first, let’s get a burning question out of the way. Is Shopify a CMS? The answer is both yes, and no. A content management system (CMS) is a software tool that enables users to create, edit, manage and publish content. 


Shopify is a CMS in the sense that it can manage a lot of the content that a growing eCommerce brand needs—but it wasn’t designed to handle all of the content requirements for a business today. For example, Shopify does a great job when adding product specifications and descriptions but it only allows you to create simple blogs. If you want to add a lot more dynamic content, manage multiple languages and more, you’ll need a more robust CMS option. 


Shopify is primarily an eCommerce platform, as evidenced by the over 3 billion dollars in merchant solutions revenue generated in 2021. It is also a capable eCommerce CMS, which makes it excellent for all eCommerce-related content management (product images, descriptions, and integrations with other eCommerce, marketing or sales tools). But, it is not ideal for content-heavy pages, blogs, documentation, and or rich content.


In today’s content and commerce-driven environment, these additional features are necessary for a CMS to have and be able to capitalize on. The bottom line, the Shopify CMS is great when you are getting started. It’s just not as flexible and content-focused as other content management systems on the market. 

Pros of Using Shopify as a CMS

You need to weigh the pros and cons when deciding how good a CMS is for your business. Shopify has several advantages that make it a useful option as a CMS:


Built-in Themes & No Design Constraints

Shopify users gain access to the Shopify theme store, which provides access to over 70 free and premium templates. Since a CMS is meant to help organizations deliver high-quality websites to customers, then the built-in templates provided by Shopify can give eCommerce stores a leg up over the competition. Merchants have total control over the HTML and CSS for all themes, meaning that they can adjust themes as they see fit.


Easily Add, Edit, and Remove Products

Content for an eCommerce store usually centers around the products that will be sold to customers. Shopify makes managing the content for those products simple, allowing merchants to easily add new products and make edits to product descriptions and images. Drag and drop tools make arranging images a piece of cake, plus merchants can manage other content such as blogs and pages from the same interface. 


Leverage Shopify Hosting

All Shopify stores come with access to secure hosting and unlimited bandwidth. For content-heavy sites, this feature is crucial as it means there is no need to search for a third party to help manage tons of content assets. 


Draw On Shopify’s Host of Features

Shopify CMS also offers a host of other valuable features for eCommerce marketing. It is built for SEO so your store can rank for important keywords and offers one-click submission to Google Product Search. Shopify’s eCommerce-focused features and the ability to integrate additional tools make it a compelling choice as an eCommerce CMS. 

Cons of Using Shopify as a CMS

We’ve highlighted many advantages that make using Shopify as a CMS worth considering. However, Shopify CMS doesn’t always match up for large organizations with many content assets and customers or even smaller enterprises with more complex requirements.


Theme and Templating Limitations

While Shopify offers a fine assortment of themes to get you started, they are limited by Shopify’s templating language, Liquid, and SSR. Liquid is unique to Shopify, and this means that while developers can easily edit the HTML and CSS for simple things, other customizations can prove difficult to accomplish.


In addition, Shopify leverages server-side rendering instead of static site generation. The result is a slower frontend experience that doesn’t allow frontend developers to leverage concepts like Jamstack.


Read More: Why Is My Shopify Store So Slow? (5 Potential Culprits)


Built for Commerce, Not Content

Shopify is built for eCommerce, managing inventory, processing orders and more. Shopify isn’t really meant for content, so what you can accomplish with Shopify compared to other purpose-built CMS platforms is restricted. This can be particularly evident when managing the frontend experience. For a simple blog attached to your eCommerce store, then Shopify does fine, but when you want to create a more engaging experience that draws visitors in and drives content marketing, then Shopify isn’t the answer. 


Not a Headless Content Platform

Customers today want to use any device they can get their hands on to view content and shop online. While Shopify Plus facilitates headless commerce, it doesn’t allow for headless content management. As a result, creating and delivering content to tablets, digital kiosks, and other channels won’t be possible with Shopify’s CMS. 


Not Built For Speed

Speed is an important factor in the modern shopping experience, yet Shopify isn’t optimized for speed, especially in mobile-first environments, and can be pretty slow to load. Once an eCommerce store has too many visuals (crucial for content), speed becomes an issue. With Core Web Vitals focusing on speed as part of the customer experience, this can be seen as a limitation of Shopify’s content management capabilities. 


Limited Enterprise Features

Another critical problem with using Shopify as a CMS is that it is limited when it comes to enterprise features. For example, it can be difficult for multiple users to manage content using Shopify as they need workflows to avoid getting in each other’s way and coordinate and schedule content. Unfortunately, Shopify lacks these critical features. 


Shopify Plugins Fall Short

Many eCommerce merchants attempt to compensate for Shopify’s lack of features by leveraging the assortment of plugins at their disposal. However, this can do more harm than good as too many plugins can further slow down your Shopify store. 

Build an API-first eCommerce Store Using Instant Commerce and Shopify

Using Shopify’s built-in CMS can be enough if you just want to attach a simple blog to your eCommerce store. However, the chances are that you’ll need much more to create the content experiences your customers demand and deserve.


Rather than be limited by the frontend capabilities provided by Shopify, you can build a headless Shopify webshop. This way you use Shopify solely as your commerce platform (backend) and find other tools that help you build a better and more dynamic frontend.


With Instant Commerce’s frontend as service capabilities, you can transform your eCommerce store into a unique shopping experience. Instant Commerce lets you adopt a headless archictecture without the tradional costs and effort involved. Instead you can build your headless commerce webshop in days (not months) and enjoy the benefits of enterprise-grade technology for less.


When building a headless commerce webshop, you need a CMS to manage your content since you will use Shopify only for backend (commerce) related tasks. In this case, you can connect a headless CMS like Storyblok to address your content needs. A tool purposefully built for managing and distributing content for the modern world. 


Your tech architecture will then look something like this. 

headless commerce architecture

If you’re looking for another CMS option other than Shopify, consider the options we’ve presented: What Is the Best CMS for Headless Commerce [2022].

Author / Writer
Kaya Ismail
Content Marketer

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