Shopify Inc. is a Canadian multinational e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. It is also the name of its proprietary e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Shopify offers online retailers a suite of services "including payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement tools to simplify the process of running an online store for small merchants."
The company reported that it had more than 800,000 businesses in approximately 175 countries using its platform as of December 31, 2018, with total gross merchandise volume exceeding $41.1 billion for calendar 2018.
Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake after attempting to open Snowdevil, an online store for snowboarding equipment. Dissatisfied with the existing e-commerce products on the market, Lütke, a computer programmer by trade, instead built his own. Lütke used the open source web application framework Ruby on Rails to build Snowdevil's online store, and launched it after two months of development.
In June 2009, Shopify launched an application programming interface (API) platform and App Store. The API allows developers to create applications for Shopify online stores and then sell them on the Shopify App Store.
In April 2010, Shopify launched a free mobile app on the Apple App Store. The app lets Shopify store owners view and manage their stores from iOS mobile devices. In 2010, Shopify started its Build-A-Business competition, in which participants create a business using its commerce platform. The winners of the competition receive cash prizes and mentorship from entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, Eric Ries and others. Shopify was named Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Company by the Ottawa Business Journal in 2010. The company received $7 million from an initial series A round of venture capital financing in December 2010. Its Series B round raised $15 million in October 2011.
In August 2013, Shopify announced the launch of Shopify Payments, which allowed merchants to accept credit cards without requiring a third party payment gateway. The company also announced the launch of an iPad-centric point of sale system. It uses an iPad to accept payments from debit and credit cards. The company received $100 million in Series C funding in December 2013.
On April 14, 2015, Shopify filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols "SHOP" and "SH" respectively. Shopify went public on May 21, 2015, and in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, started trading at $28, more than 60% higher than its USD$17 offering price, with its IPO raising more than $131 million.
In September 2015, Amazon.com announced it would be closing its Amazon Webstore service for merchants, and had selected Shopify as the preferred migration provider; Shopify's shares jumped more than 20% upon the news.
On October 3, 2016, Shopify acquired Boltmade. In November 2016, Shopify partnered with Paystack which allowed Nigerian online retailers to accept payments from customers around the world. On November 22, 2016, Shopify launched Frenzy, a mobile app that improves flash sales. On December 5, 2016, Shopify acquired Toronto-based mobile product development studio Tiny Hearts. The Tiny Hearts building has been turned into a Shopify research and development office.
In April 2017, Shopify introduced a Bluetooth enabled debit and credit card reader for brick and mortar retail purchases. The company has since released additional technology for brick and mortar retailers, including a point-of-sale system with a Dock and Retail Stand similar to that offered by Square, and a tappable chip card reader.
In September 2018, Shopify announces plans to locate thousands of employees in Toronto's King West neighborhood in 2022 as part of the "The Well" complex, jointly owned by Allied Properties REIT and RioCan REIT.
In January 2019, Shopify announced the launch of Shopify Studios, a full-service television and film content and production house.
On March 22, 2019, Shopify and email marketing platform Mailchimp ended an integration agreement over disputes involving customer privacy and data collection.
In May 2019, Shopify acquired Handshake, a business-to-business e-commerce platform for wholesale goods.
The Handshake team was integrated into Shopify Plus, and Handshake founder and CEO Glen Coates was made Director of Product for Shopify Plus.
In June 2019, Shopify announced that it will launch its own Fulfillment Network.
The service promises to handle shipping logistics for merchants and will compete with an established leader, Amazon FBA.
Shopify Fulfillment Network will at first be available to qualifying U.S. merchants in select states.
On August 14, 2019, Shopify launched Shopify Chat, a new native chat function that allows merchants to have real-time conversations with customers visiting Shopify stores online.
According to a media release, Shopify is venturing out of cyberspace with a permanent location in LA where business owners can come to both get advice from staff, and also to connect with other members of the entrepreneurial community.
In their new locale, aspiring entrepreneurs can take educational classes and get involved with a workshop to further their careers.
In addition, events will be held monthly to showcase new products, provide networking opportunities, and host panels to discuss the ups and downs of independent business ownership.
In 2017, the #DeleteShopify hashtag campaign called for a boycott of Shopify for allowing Breitbart News to host a shop on its platform. Shopify's CEO, Tobias Lütke, responded to the criticism, saying "refusing to do business with the site would constitute a violation of free speech".
In October 2017, activist short-seller Andrew Left released a detailed report which described the e-commerce platform as a "get-rich-quick" scheme that is against Federal Trade Commission regulations. The day the report was released, the stock plunged more than 11%. The main question he posed was "Outside the roughly 50,000 verifiable merchants working with Shopify, who are the other 450,000 the company says it has?" Third-party marketing tactics are expected to be improved going forward.
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