Shopify's (SHOP 1.80%) mission is "making commerce better for everyone." In its short life as a public company, the retail operating system provider has gone a long way toward achieving its lofty goal. Since its initial public offering (IPO) in 2015, Shopify has helped countless entrepreneurs build, operate, and grow their online businesses.

Teamwork makes the dream work

To help it fulfill its mission and fuel its own growth, Shopify acted quickly to strike deals with the major social media platforms. A partnership with Pinterest made Shopify the first e-commerce platform to offer small- and midsized businesses the opportunity to sell items using the image-sharing site's then-new "Buyable Pins" feature. And an agreement with Twitter allowed Shopify's merchants to be among the first to sell their products directly on the messaging app.

A deal with Meta Platforms' Facebook was an even bigger game changer. Shopify's customers gained early access to the social media titan's innovative "Buy" buttons, which let users make purchases without leaving Facebook. The two companies would later work together to provide merchants the ability to create digital storefronts, known as Facebook Shops, on the massively popular social media network.

Yet it was a surprising announcement from e-commerce king Amazon that had the biggest impact on Shopify's growth. In late, 2015, Amazon chose Shopify as its preferred migration provider for Amazon Webstore merchants. Essentially, Amazon shut down its online store software tools and sent its merchant customers Shopify's way. That decision would prove to be a boon for the e-commerce upstart.

Early access to shopping features on the most popular social media platforms helped differentiate Shopify's platform from its rivals. And with competition from the mighty Amazon no longer an issue, Shopify was poised to become a prime beneficiary of the e-commerce megatrend it would help to enable.

An e-commerce powerhouse emerges

Shopify's software and back-office systems quickly became the top choice for aspiring entrepreneurs. And as more sales migrated to online channels, Shopify's revenue soared.

E-commerce sales grew from roughly 6% of total retail sales in 2015 to approximately 13% in 2021. The dollar amount of transactions processed on Shopify's platform -- a metric known as gross merchandise volume, or GMV -- skyrocketed from $7.7 billion to more than $175 billion during this period. Shopify's revenue, in turn, increased more than 22-fold over this time.

Today, Shopify stands as an even more powerful force in the online retail industry, with millions of merchants using its platform in 175 countries.

Recent struggles have dented but not destroyed Shopify's long-term outperformance

Despite this incredible long-term growth, Shopify's stock price is down sharply from its all-time highs in late 2021. E-commerce sales have slowed from their torrid pace earlier in the pandemic now that more people have returned to traditional retail stores. Shopify also made the mistake of overexpanding during the height of the e-commerce boom, and the company has been forced to make painful cost cuts. Year to date, Shopify's shares are down a brutal 69.6%.

And yet Shopify's stock price is still up more than 1,500% since its IPO. So if you had invested $1,000 in Shopify during its public debut on May 21, 2015, you would have purchased about 389 shares based on their split-adjusted closing price of $2.57. Those 389 shares would be worth $16,750 today, based on the stock's current (at the time of writing) price of $43.06.

Moreover, Shopify's record-breaking Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday sales suggest the company's growth could be reaccelerating. That could place the e-commerce leader's stock on a path back toward its highs in the years ahead.