Platforms don’t solve problems, they sell dreams

My wife runs a small e-commerce business. Selling halal gift boxes for those who follow the faith of Islam. It’s a growing niche and an untapped market for the price point she tries to match.

She uses the Shopify platform to run her small business.

And I have spent a number of hours on Shopify, Shopify forums, and even r/Shopify (Reddit Shopify thread).

Shopify doesn’t sell products. It sells dreams.

Shopify blogs and writes about how people have made ££££s of pounds using Shopify. And often runs build a business competition. Although, what people forget is, Shopify only gets paid when you use their platform, month after month, after month.

Don’t get me wrong, Shopify is a good platform. But it’s lure for many many people is that they read and hear stories of other people making hundreds of thousands of pounds. And they believe that it was because of Shopify. It is not the case. Nothing beats a hardworking person, with a good product or design, and an excellent community or distribution channel. That’s the differentiator, not Shopify.

It is a very important distinction. One which is true of all platforms.

Platforms don’t solve problems. They don’t generate additional revenue streams for business. And betting on one platform over another is as good as a gamble.

All platforms sell dreams.

They sell the dreams of solving problems. The dream of additional revenue. And the dream of a more agile business.

You need to be careful that platforms don’t become the centre of discussions. It’s the makers, the builders,  the innovators, who are going to use the platform, get access to it.

If you are undergoing Digital Transformation, you can use Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, or any other platform. There is very little difference that can’t be overcome by innovators focussing on doing something.

If you are blogging, you can choose WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, Ghost or any other platform. Your success doesn’t depend on the platform. It depends on what you do with it.

If you are into e-commerce, you may use Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, or any other platform. It depends whether you want ease of set-up or if you sell digital products, etc that could make you choose one of the platforms. But you won’t necessarily sell more because you are on Shopify, compared to WooCommerce.

I will say it again, platforms sell dreams.

They do not solve your business problems by default. And if you are arguing against one platform or the other, you are doing that against or with a certain constraint in mind, like cost or complexity or some other variable.

So next time you are arguing for or against a platform. Stop and remember, platforms sell dreams. Dreams that your problems will be solved by the platform. They aren’t. Problems are solved by people, working together, and making the best use of platforms.

Don’t buy dreams.

Here’s a post from my wife on Instagram.


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