How Shopify is keeping your neighborhood bakery afloat

One of its biggest pulls? Email addresses.


July 23, 2020

Photo: Ercin Top / Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

This is only a slight exaggeration: Back in March, Shopify saved 15k gallons of Toronto beer from going down the drain. 

When lockdowns started, Canada’s Great Lakes Brewing Co. (not to be confused with Cleveland’s) turned to the ecommerce giant for help setting up an online ordering platform.

Shopify did it in 2 days. Now the brewery is selling more hops than before the pandemic.

You probably don’t realize just how big Shopify is

The company is responsible for ~6% of all online sales in the US, more than eBay and Etsy.

Marker said its fingerprints are everywhere, from the ordering systems of your local bakery to behemoths like Heinz.

When the pandemic hit, Shopify:

  • Signed up 62% more sellers between March 13 and April 24.
  • Extended its free trial from 2 weeks to 3 months. 
  • Added $200m to its loan program for struggling businesses.

Even Amazon sellers are jumping ship

Shopify takes a much smaller commission from its vendors than its Bezos-led rival: 2.9% of sales compared to Amazon’s 15% cut. (Though Shopify does charge sellers a monthly fee, starting at $29.)

Pricing wars aside, Shopify’s got an edge where it counts: Customers’ inboxes.

Shopify sellers can collect buyers’ emails — on the ‘zon, they can’t. That means Amazon vendors can’t explain, say, why supply chain issues might be making people’s Chia Pets late.

Amazon sellers’ ratings are at historic lows, in part because they can’t communicate. 

Marker speculated that the problems might be why Amazon’s share of the ecommerce market is down from 42% to 34% since the pandemic started.

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