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This article was published 9/9/2017 (795 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Shopify has become the undisputed Canadian all-star of the digital economy world, creating an e-commerce platform that’s now used by more than 500,000 merchants in 175 countries conducting more than $40 billion in sales.
It’s of a size now that it can take a team of staff on the road to reach out and help current subscribers and would-be entrepreneurs who are getting ready to dip their toes in the world of online selling.
The Ottawa-based company’s Shop Class tour was in Winnipeg this week where it held an interactive workshop for about 100 current and future entrepreneurs with tips on everything Shopify-related from help with shipping to product photography to marketing tips.
Experts were on hand from Shopify partners such as Google and Canada Post and a professional photographer who showed how downloading a $2 app can help merchants take fantastic product photos with their mobile devices.
"The world is digital and we are digital company and sometimes there can be a little disconnect between the product and the people, said Shopify’s Sarah Best. "We put a lot of energy into our off-line marketing team, which is where we are all from, to ensure we are still meeting people and hearing their stories."
Subscribers to Shopify, who pay as little as $30 per month, are able to launch secure and reliable e-commerce without needing any experience in coding or, for that matter, even marketing.
Jesse Marr attended the workshop to increase his familiarity with the platform for his online home signage company called Lake Life Signs. A serial entrepreneur, Marr is already on his second e-commerce store powered by Shopify.
"Shopify is one of the most valuable tools," he said. "It’s pretty intuitive. It has the payment processor, your forward-facing themes or design and plug-in apps you can include to increase conversion rates and all sorts of different apps."
A team from Winnipeg app developer Bold Commerce — one of Shopify’s largest developers — was on hand to personally help users through some of the process of using its more than a dozen Shopify apps that Bold has developed. The Winnipeg company also provides professional services that will undertake the day-to-day management of a company’s e-commerce operations.
Victoria Stephens, a client-service expert at Bold, said the company loves working with Shopify.
"It is fantastic working with a Canadian company," she said. "That really resonates."
Shopify’s success comes at a time as e-commerce is becoming a fact of life with a future that seems limitless. Since 2012 the number of merchants on the Shopify platform has grown annually at an average rate of 74 per cent. Since going public in May, 2015 its stock price has risen by more then 400 per cent. It has more than 2,000 employees in offices in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and San Francisco and remote staffers all over including a few in Winnipeg.
Paul Collins who works with a non-profit organization in Winnipeg that wants to be able to raise money selling licenced products said a consultant pitched the organization an e-commerce plan that would cost $10,000.
"But I paid $30 to attend this workshop and got a great peek underneath the hood," he said. "We’re almost certainly going to use the Shopify platform."
He also said it was great to be able to use a Canadian company that is familiar with things such as the PST "and other quirks of the Canadian economy."
Taylor Aplas, another of Shopify’s Toronto-based team that has held workshops across the country in the U.S and the U.K., said the personal connection with customers is valuable for the company. She said it’s also an occasion to remind subscribers Shopify also provides support 24 hours per day, seven days week via toll-free phone calls, email or live chat.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.