Facebook has been featuring many ads for “Shopify” over the past few months, and if you’re like me, you don’t have any idea what it is.  Some new startup program, I assumed, but it turns out that the Canadian company Shopify is celebrating its tenth birthday this year. In the online world that’s a ripe old age.

Shopify is a platform that hosts online shopping “stores” for over 100,000 businesses, many of which are not predominantly retailers — Budweiser, Encyclopedia Britannica, and the Beastie Boys. (Probably the first time these three have been in a sentence together.) A few are bricks and clicks stores, with both a physical presence and an online business. You can see examples of Shopify sites here.

In addition to creating sites for existing entities, Shopify sponsors a “Build a Business” competition. The most recent one attracted over 100,000 entries, each building an ecommerce store using Shopify’s platform.  These stores compete to sell the most goods during the competition period.

Another unique idea that Shopify is spearheading is Popify, a pop-up shop for online businesses so that during this special event customers can see the merchandise in person. Take a look at this article talks about a Popify event in Toronto, which is where the company is based. (And where I will be speaking at this January’s Toronto Gift Fair — hope to see some of my Canadian readers there!)

How does Shopify work? The company provides a platform for an e-commerce store, and this site can either stand alone or be linked to an existing web site.  They are paid through a month service charge as well as by providing credit card processing on sales places through the secure shopping cart.

The vast majority of the companies that Shopify works with are online only rather than ‘bricks and clicks’. But if you are serious about expanding into e-commerce, check out this platform. Their web site offers a lot of training material and support to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder