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Ever wonder how some e-commerce sites operate so seamlessly? Well, it may be thanks to Shopify (NYSE: SHOP), which helps businesses, big and small, create and customize their websites, sell products, manage orders, and do a whole lot more. Shopify actually holds the biggest share of the U.S. e-commerce software market, a leadership status it’s not likely to give up any time soon.

Investors have recognized Shopify’s strengths, leading the e-commerce stock to an increase of roughly 80% this year. Now, as great as Shopify’s business may sound, you may be feeling a bit wary about investing in the company right now after such a run-up. Is it too late to buy this market giant? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Shopify started with snowboards

First, a bit of a summary of Shopify’s past and present. It all started out more than a decade ago with snowboards. The company’s founders wanted to sell them online but couldn’t find an e-commerce platform they felt suited their business. So, they created their own — and shared it with the world. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Since that time, Shopify has grown to serve millions of merchants worldwide, and the platform represents 10% of total U.S. e-commerce. Shopify merchants include well-known brands such as Crate & Barrel — but the company offers lower-priced services too, meaning even small companies can use Shopify’s platform.

All of this has helped the company grow revenue over time, as well as free cash flow and return on invested capital — these last two measures slipped in recent times as Shopify invested in its own logistics network. But the good news here is Shopify quickly recognized this weight on its earnings and decided to sell the business. It made that move earlier this year, and we can see a recovery in the key financial measures recently.

SHOP Revenue (Annual) data by YCharts

In more good news, Shopify, maintaining a small stake in the logistics business, will continue to use it as a preferred service provider. So, it will benefit from the service it built without suffering the financial pressures of ownership.

Shopify also recently announced a deal that allows merchants using Amazon‘s fulfillment network to offer customers the “Buy with Prime” experience via the Shopify platform. This fast and easy delivery option could increase merchants’ sales, adding to Shopify’s revenue too.

Third quarter of positive cash flow

And speaking of revenue, the company reported a good deal of positive numbers in its most recent earnings report, offering us reason to be optimistic about the future. The second quarter represented Shopify’s third consecutive quarter of positive cash flow. Gross merchandise volume, or the volume of items sold on Shopify platforms, increased 17%.

The company’s two revenue streams, merchant solutions and subscription solutions, also rose in the double digits in the quarter, as did overall revenue. And Shopify has high hopes for the third quarter, forecasting free cash flow profitability to be higher than it was in the entire first half.

Earlier, I mentioned Shopify is likely to hold onto its leadership position, and here’s why: Once a merchant has invested in an e-commerce platform, it’s unlikely that the business will easily decide to abandon it and start over from scratch with a new provider. This means Shopify probably will maintain a great number of its customers — and that offers the company and investors visibility on growth prospects ahead.

Now, let’s discuss the share price. After the stock’s top performance so far this year, you might doubt its ability to keep on going. But the points I’ve made above make me confident this stock can indeed keep going — even if it doesn’t immediately skyrocket from here. Over time, Shopify’s leadership position and vast array of services should favor growth — and its progress in generating cash flow and a return on its investments in the business are another reason to be excited about this player.

That’s why, even though some may say Shopify has had a good run, there could be a lot more ahead. So, it’s not too late to add this dynamic player to your portfolio and hold on for the long term.

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John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Adria Cimino has positions in The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends and Shopify. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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