Sep 15, 2023

Understanding Shopify CMS: A comprehensive overview

shopify cms options
shopify cms options

Instant Team

Understanding Shopify CMS: A comprehensive overview

Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform that enables businesses to create their online stores with ease and finesse. Key to its functionality is the Content Management System (CMS), which serves as the backbone and allows users to manage, edit, and publish different types of content. 

The CMS simplifies the complex nature of website coding by providing a simple interface that anyone can use. Essentially, Shopify CMS is the engine that powers your online storefront, making it easier for you to control the aspects that matter most.

This blog will guide you through everything you need to know about Shopify CMS. 

What is Shopify CMS?

You might be wondering: 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 can manage a lot of basic content - similar to a CMS - which is ideal for many merchants. For example, you can add product descriptions and simple blogs.

Using a Shopify page builder like Instant can help you to add even more advanced and dynamic content (like embedding TikTok videos, adding triggers/animations, custom sections, etc.).

instant and shopify section editing

Operating a basic CMS shouldn't require a steep learning curve, and with Shopify, it doesn't. 

The CMS part of Shopify enables users to update their website content without heavy reliance on tech skills.

By offering a variety of templates, it allows users to customize their store's appearance, manage the layout, and continually update their website content – whether that be blogs, photos, or product descriptions.

Key features of Shopify CMS

User-friendly interface

One of the most striking features of Shopify's CMS is its user-oriented interface. Designed for simplicity, it allows even novice users to maintain complex eCommerce websites. The dashboard is streamlined, offering easy access to essential tools – from adding products and creating collections to setting up discount codes and monitoring analytics.

A vast selection of Themes and Apps

Shopify's CMS is renowned for its rich selection of themes and apps. With numerous free and paid themes, Shopify gives you the freedom to customize your online store according to your brand's aesthetic and functionality needs.

Furthermore, it offers an assortment of over 2,400 apps within its store, allowing you to add features like customer reviews, social media integration, important SEO tools, and more.

Who should use Shopify CMS?

Shopify's user-friendly CMS makes it a go-to for many businesses, from micro-sized to large enterprises. It's ideal for businesses looking to establish an online store quickly and efficiently without the daunting task of learning complex coding languages.

Also, thanks to its scalability, it serves as a solid platform for businesses projecting growth in the future.

While Shopify CMS brings plenty of benefits, it's important to note that it's not the perfect solution for every business. For instance, businesses with unique or complex needs may find Shopify to be restrictive, with limited customization options beyond what the themes and apps offer.

Other platforms offer more flexibility at the cost of user-friendliness. Therefore, the decision to use Shopify CMS should be carefully weighed against your business needs and capabilities.

Understanding the Shopify CMS is imperative to grasp its potential benefits and limitations in different business environments. Knowing what the platform offers and who it's best suited for can help in making an educated decision about moving your business onto this platform or perhaps considering other alternatives.

Exploring the strengths of Shopify CMS

User-friendly interface

Shopify CMS requires minimal technical knowledge, proving to be a favorite amongst non-tech-savvy users. Its intuitive layout and easy-to-navigate dashboard eliminate the need for coding skills. Here, Shopify CMS proves its strength in democratizing complex technical tasks, empowering users to focus on selling their products or services.

Robust eCommerce capabilities

Shopify's powerful e-commerce features enable the creation of detailed product catalogs, management of inventory, and integration of various payment gateways. These features work holistically, maximizing efficiency and driving business growth. It becomes evident that Shopify CMS balances its user-friendly approach without compromising on powerful e-commerce functionalities.

Extensive App marketplace

One key strength of Shopify CMS is unquestionably its expansive app marketplace. It houses thousands of apps, covering numerous business functionalities.

Whether it's marketing, customer support, or shipping and fulfillment – Shopify's App marketplace caters to it all. This flexibility opens up a world of possibilities for customization, ensuring each business on Shopify has its unique twist. It demonstrates how Shopify CMS reinforces a user-centric approach, allowing businesses to enhance functionality as required.

Reliable customer support

Lastly, no CMS can claim success without robust customer support. Shopify CMS understands and emphasizes this fact. It maintains constant accessibility to its customer support team, ensuring businesses run smoothly.

Shopify's customer support extends beyond just resolving software issues. They also offer guidance and resources to optimize the use of Shopify's platform. This accessibility and extended support streamline the business process, making it less daunting, especially for new businesses. The sturdiness of its customer service underpins the success of Shopify CMS as a reliable platform.

The limitations of Shopify CMS

Shopify's main focus is on eCommerce, which is demonstrated by its impressive revenue of over 3 billion dollars from merchant solutions in 2021. While this means it is ideal for many eCommerce tasks, there are some areas where it falls short as a CMS.

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of using Shopify CMS, let’s consider the limitations. 

Limited customization options

While Shopify CMS can easily power a basic e-commerce site, it starts to crack when advanced customization is required. The platform uses its proprietary coding language, Liquid, making it less flexible than other CMSs that work with popular languages, such as PHP or JavaScript. 

However, using the Instant Page Builder, you can create custom, unique Shopify sections that are compatible with any Shopify 2.0 theme, and can be edited within the Shopify editor directly. This allows you to create custom experiences, without coding expertise. This allows merchants to build upon the foundation of a Shopify CMS to create truly stand-out Shopify stores.

High costs for advanced features

Like other CMS platforms, Shopify offers a range of packages to suit different needs and budgets. However, granular add-ons, sophisticated functionalities, or additional bandwidth will incur extra costs. Featuring real-time carrier shipping, for example, is only available on advanced pricing plans or as part of Shopify Plus – a financial leap, not all businesses are willing or able to make.

While Shopify provides a host of powerful tools, you may quickly find your monthly costs rising significantly as you scale your business. This discrepancy can lead to a scenario where smaller businesses struggle to access the powerful features they need to grow, without breaking the bank.

Shopify CMS vs Other Popular CMS Platforms

While Shopify shines in some aspects, it's not for everyone.

After all, Shopify is built for eCommerce, with functions such as inventory management and order processing. However, it's not ideally suited for content management. Therefore, the capabilities of Shopify in comparison to specialized CMS platforms are somewhat limited.

Let’s compare it with WordPress, Magento, and WooCommerce to understand why.

Shopify CMS vs WordPress

There's no denying the mass appeal of WordPress, holding the largest CMS market share. Why is this? It's incredibly versatile, providing lion-hearted flexibility in website creation. 

WordPress can accommodate your needs, thanks to its massive library of plugins and themes, whether you're setting up a simple blog or an intricate eCommerce store. What Shopify offers in usability, WordPress matches in customization potential.

Additionally, WordPress displays its might in SEO optimization, greater than Shopify's capability. Thanks to plugins like Yoast SEO, boosting your site ranking becomes seamless.

However, it's important to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Managing a WordPress site requires a hefty time investment, especially when compared to Shopify. 

Shopify CMS vs Magento

Magento carves its niche among entity brands, allowing for colossal eCommerce websites with thousands of products. While Shopify shines in simplicity, Magento basks in complexity, providing almost limitless possibilities for customization and expansion.

A striking difference lies in the hosting setup. Shopify is a hosted solution, while Magento requires you to manage your own hosting. This harkens back to the flexibility-responsibility trade-off; while Magento offers more control, it also demands more effort and expertise on the user's end.

Magento also necessitates a more robust technical foundation for effective management, whereas Shopify is more accommodating to less tech-savvy users.

Shopify CMS vs WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a powerful derivative of WordPress, designed specifically for eCommerce. It boasts similar flexibility to WordPress, with the added benefit of being tailored to online stores.

Product management in WooCommerce typically feels more holistic than Shopify, providing more detail and customization options. However, bear in mind that it has a somewhat steeper learning curve compared to Shopify's user-friendly interface.

WooCommerce further pulls ahead in the realm of SEO capabilities, mimicking WordPress's strong performance. However, both platforms offer an impressive range of marketing tools to streamline your eCommerce operation.

Looking at the bigger picture, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on your needs, the scales may tip in favor of Shopify or these other platforms.

Customizing your Shopify CMS

Choosing the right theme

It's vital to choose the right theme in Shopify CMS, be it for aesthetics or functionality. Selecting a theme that resonates with your brand's character is crucial. It builds recognition and differentiates you from the competition. 

Functionality is not to be overlooked either. The theme's layout and its usability contribute to the consumers' buying experience. Opting for a theme that effortlessly integrates add-ons and enables smooth navigation can increase conversions and boost your sales noticeably.

Leveraging Shopify Apps

Shopify CMS offers a vast collection of apps, both free and paid, to augment your online store's functionality. These apps can assist with inventory management, email marketing, customer support, and much more. However, choosing the ones that make sense for your business is the real game-changer.

For instance, an e-commerce store with global customers may require multi-currency support. An app like Currency Converter Box would be beneficial. Similarly, by incorporating customer reviews, an app like Yotpo can be employed. These specific solutions can magnify your online store's effectiveness.

SEO best practices for Shopify

Another key piece of Shopify CMS customization involves SEO practices. These can help to drive more organic traffic, taking advantage of Shopify's built-in features and plugins. Using keyword-rich titles and meta descriptions can give your products a significant push in search engine rankings. 

In addition to these basics, incorporating product reviews in your SEO strategy is an excellent way to boost your store's visibility on search engines. As your store's SEO performance improves, it results in more organic traffic and, consequently, more potential sales conversions.

The steps discussed above can play a crucial role in enhancing your Shopify CMS, and tailoring it to meet your specific business needs. Effective customization can skyrocket customer engagement and bring in higher conversions, providing a personalized experience for your site visitors.

Is Shopify CMS the right choice for your eCommerce Business?

Factors to consider when choosing a CMS

Choosing a Content Management System (CMS) is like setting the foundation stone for your e-commerce business. The CMS should serve as a reliable platform to build, manage, and scale your online presence. Three main elements play critical roles: Functionality, scalability, and security.

The functionality of a CMS is reflected in its ease of use, product management features, integrated marketing tools, SEO compatibility, and mobile responsiveness. Scalability refers to the system's capacity to cater to growing business needs – from increased traffic to expanded product lines. 

Assessing your business needs and goals

Understanding your business needs and goals is like picking the right tools for the job. Do you require a simple gallery to showcase products or an interactive platform for customer engagement? What are your future expansion plans? Aligning these with your CMS selection can be the difference maker.

For instance, if you aim to cater to a global audience, multi-language and multi-currency support becomes essential. Conversely, a local business might prioritize regional payment gateways instead. A clear vision of your business roadmap ensures that your chosen CMS doesn't fall short in the long run.

Weighing the pros and cons of Shopify CMS

Shopify stands out as one of the most popular e-commerce platforms, but it's not the golden ticket for every business.

On the plus side, Shopify offers a range of stunning templates, easy-to-use interfaces, and excellent customer support. It's a robust solution for those seeking a one-stop-shop for hosting, design, and e-commerce functionalities. However, you pay for this convenience with monthly subscription fees, transaction charges, and extra costs for certain apps.

One commonly perceived drawback is its limited customization capabilities, especially compared to open-source rivals. While it's true that Shopify offers less freedom in this area, the flipside is that you won't need extensive technical knowledge to manage your store. Plus, you can use a Shopify page builder to create unique, custom sections for your store, which can overcome this "disadvantage".


While Shopify CMS remains an efficient platform for some, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. However, coupling Shopify CMS with other tools in your tech stack can be a great work-around to experience all the benefits of using Shopify CMS, while also overcoming the customization limitations with the strength of Instant Page Builder.

The value here lies in knowledge: in the end, you need to decide what will be the best fit for you. It's about aligning your needs with the features of your CMS platform, and recognizing if Shopify falls short or is the perfect fit! 

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Start building now

Explore Instant today to start building high-converting landing pages and sections, no-code required.




© Instant

Start building now

Explore Instant today to start building high-converting landing pages and sections, no-code required.




© Instant