It has been hard to be a Shopify (SHOP 0.65%) shareholder over the past year, to say the least. The stock has plummeted over 78% from its all-time highs, largely because the company is seeing growth slow. 

So is right now a bargain buying opportunity, or is this stock a value trap? Motley Fool contributors Jamie Louko and Parkev Tatevosian explain both sides of the argument below. Read on to find out whether investors should add a few shares of Shopify to their portfolios right now.

Person using a calculator next to multiple shipping boxes.

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Bull case: Shopify is still a dominant platform

Jamie Louko: There's no doubting that Shopify has stumbled over the past few quarters, as this company isn't growing that fast right now. That said, Shopify's platform is still one of the best in the industry for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to build, scale, and grow their commerce operations.

Some estimates say that Shopify has helped build 27% of all online stores, which surpasses some of its e-commerce platform rivals like WooCommerce. Additionally, 20% of the top 10,000 online stores have been built with Shopify's help, compared to only 9% with WooCommerce.

A part of the reason Shopify is the top dog is that it continuously innovates and makes its platform better. Shopify constantly builds new features for everything an SMB might need, from customer engagement tools to inventory management features -- it even offers short-term loans to its merchants. 

A recent example of this trend of innovation is the Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN), which allows merchants to offload shipping logistics to Shopify. The company is looking to help its merchants compete with the fast delivery times of large online retailers, and it is doing so by enabling two-day delivery for the vast majority of its orders. Building the SFN is not cheap, and it will take continued investment for multiple years, but it only enhances the value of Shopify's platform, extending its lead over rivals like WooCommerce or BigCommerce (BIGC 1.27%).

Despite all of these reasons to be optimistic, shares of Shopify have a historically low valuation of just 9.3 times sales at the moment. The last time the company traded this low was in 2016.

Shopify is seeing growth decelerate because the e-commerce industry overall is slowing down. However, this should be a short-term issue. E-commerce adoption should pick up again soon, and Shopify's growth rates will likely follow suit. With its superior product and continuing innovation, Shopify could even see a faster rebound than the e-commerce space at large. Therefore, investors might want to take advantage of these lower prices and buy a piece of Shopify now.

Bear case: It still isn't cheap

Parkev Tatevosian: Shopify is an excellent business with nearly a decade of spectacular growth. That said, the company faces powerful headwinds in the near term that may take longer than expected to abate. Moreover, while cheap compared to its historical average, Shopify's stock is expensive on absolute terms. 

Shopify thrived at the pandemic's onset, when billions of folks were looking to avoid shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. People went online instead, and businesses followed, quickly creating websites and apps to sell to a growing cohort of digital shoppers. Shopify's core business is helping merchants establish and optimize their online sales channels. As a result, the company's revenue nearly tripled from $1.6 billion in 2019 to $4.6 billion in 2021. The boom is reversing, however, as consumers are showing e-commerce fatigue.

SHOP PS Ratio Chart

SHOP PS Ratio data by YCharts.

That's evident in Shopify's sales figures in its second quarter of 2022, which increased just 16% from the previous year. To put that slowdown into context, Shopify's lowest annual growth rate during the last nine years was 47% in 2019. Don't get me wrong -- revenue growth of 16% is not harmful in and of itself. But that's not what you want from a business valued at a price-to-sales ratio of 10 and forward price-to-earnings multiple of 220. Unfortunately for Shopify, the headwind from the economic reopening is likely to last for several more quarters.

Of course, in the longer run, online spending as a percentage of overall retail spending will likely grow. Still, the uncertainty of this headwind from the reopening could be reason enough to forego Shopify stock. 

Shopify is by no means a "safe stock," so it might not be right for investors looking for relatively low volatility. The path to success over the long term will be tricky for the company, and (as investors are seeing now) it can fall victim to the whims of the economy. 

That said, Shopify's product is the best in its class, which could attract merchants as the e-commerce space becomes more prevalent over the next decade. Therefore, for diversified investors able to stomach the volatile swings that will inevitably come, Shopify has the potential to generate impressive returns.