Aug 29, 2021 - Justin Emond

Buyer Beware: With Shogun, You Get What You Pay for

When Shogun announced it had raised $64.5 million dollars, our first reaction was, that’s a helluva lot of money to spend on something that doesn’t work for mid-size and larger businesses. It’s 2021, and we’re still seeing this market segment deploy a technology that, when used properly, dramatically increases the technical debt of a site, reduces conversion, and slows down digital marketing velocity. The real cost of that easy-to-use Shogun interface is far greater than the value brands obtain by using it.

Put simply, using Shogun for anything but a small neighborhood store is like using a manual screwdriver to build your 3,000 square ft dream house. Will it work? Sure. Is it a good idea? Nope.  

For those needing a quick catch-up, Shogun is a popular Shopify plugin that allows merchants to manage the visual experience of their site.

It’s sort of like Squarespace, but worse.

Let’s look at why.

#1: Shogun solves a problem that no longer exists

We’re coming off the high from Shopify Unite. Shopify announced the Online Store 2.0, its largest-ever upgrade to the platform. Most worryingly for Shogun, Shopify now provides solutions for the problems that Shogun was developed to solve. 

#2: Their support practice is in crisis

Throw a rock in any direction and you’re bound to find a frustrated Shogun customer waiting days for email support assistance. Not only is its email support severely delayed (we did the fieldwork: pinged, emailed, and only days later did we get a reply), but it’s subpar as well. 

#3: Shogun abandons the impaired user

Accessibility is a hot topic right now because there is a growing agreement that making websites usable for impaired users — like visitors who are blind — is not just good for business (if they can’t use your site, they can’t buy), but more importantly the right thing to do for the 61 million Americans living with impairments.

There has never been a more pertinent time to incorporate accessibility into site design. The conversation has always been there, but COVID put it front and center. Even though Shogun finally started to integrate accessibility features into their templates, it’s too little too late and an apparent oversight. 

Reputable digital agencies know how to incorporate accessibility into every project. 

#3: Using Shogun as the foundation for a theme makes about as much sense as using chocolate cake for the foundation of your house 

The fragility of Shogun’s integration in a theme is noticeable. Making an edit can break the whole theme, which for non-developers is entirely confusing and frustrating. The ability to incorporate javascript is there, but you’re writing your own code. There’s nothing in Shogun that will tell you if you’re writing bad code. Then you begin to try to hack a hack using a script. Could that be problematic? Definitely. 

Another significant challenge is the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) issues when you use it. As CLS is now a significant metric measured by core web vitals, developers are working overtime to optimize pages for maximum performance. While we know new techniques and methods are used to improve site CLS, Shogun just isn’t there yet.

#4: Speed matters

No agency has ever said to a client, “page speed is irrelevant.” Of course, it is! Currently, the attention span we’re working with is around eight seconds1, on a good day. If you have sluggish load times, that not only gets factored into the user experience, but it can also dictate users’ likeliness to up and jet. No purchase, no engagement, no second chances.

79% of customers are less likely to repurchase from an online store if they are “dissatisfied” with the site’s speed.


When it comes to a Shogun site, page speed is a notorious complaint. The page building scaffolding that Shogun wraps around a Shopify store adds a non-trivial amount of page rendering complexity and size that slows down the experience dramatically for end users. It also negatively impacts your SEO, as Google dings sites that load slowly.

#5. Losing that customer trust

If you’re a Shopify Plus customer—or may be in the future—you’re already in a bracket that lends itself to creating an innovative ecommerce experience that sells the way people buy today and in the future. You don’t want to compromise your customers’ trust and loyalty by simply drag-and-dropping a user experience.  

Shogun may be a tool that can optimize an ecommerce experience for your marketing team but degrade the experience for the only user segment that matters at the end of the day: your customers.

Without a doubt, there’s a new endgame in today’s digital economy. Consumers don’t just buy products and services anymore; they buy experiences. This demands a new approach to marketing, sales, and services; one that hinges on winning customer trust.

—The Future of Commerce

Summary: Even if Shogun may seem like an easier solution, just remember:
- Lack of email support
- Optimized for your marketer, not your customer
- Code fragility
- Slow page loads
- Accessibility is not a priority  
- Loss of customer trust

These negatives should make you rethink the reasons you would go with Shogun in the first place. If you would like to learn more about how to build Shopify Plus stores that are easy for marketing to manage and delightful for your customers to use, reach out to us

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