How Shopify Overtook Volusion

Shopify CPO, Harley Finkelstein

Shopify CPO, Harley Finkelstein

If you’ve been thinking of selling online and looking for a way to set up your e-commerce store, odds are you’ve come across Shopify. Shopify is the platform used by 65,000 e-commerce stores in 100 countries.

But did you know that it is a Canadian company, that started almost by accident in 2006?

I think it is impossible to listen to Harley and not be inspired, not come away believing that you too can build a successful business online!

And now’s the time to do it, insists Harley. The retail revolution is well underway; in 5 years, he believes, it will be a done deal. Pure physical store retailers will be history. And small, passionate retailers will rule.

Location, Location, Location No More

The old adage in retail is that it is all about “location, location, location”. Not any more, according to Harley. The new mantra is “choice, choice, choice.” Let consumers buy when and where they want, and get the products to them however they want.

Like Optimum Energy Products, whose CEO I interviewed in Episode 10, Shopify doesn’t need any outside sales staff: people come to them. Why?

Because They’ve Made It Easy To Set Up An Online Store

They have always been focused on making the user experience “as easy as e-mail”. Every feature they add, every design decision they make, goes through a usability filter. It must help make setting up and running an online store simple.

That obsessive focus on ease of use is what has let them go from nothing to tackling and overtaking the industry biggie, Volusion.

Key Online Marketing Lessons

    1. Think Big. Shopify’s senior executives actually fly to San Francisco regularly to be inspired by Silicon Valley startups.
    2. Consider Canada’s Geography An Opportunity, Not a Hurdle. Yep, shipping costs a bit in a big country with a thin population. But there are also a lot of markets that are under-served by traditional retailers, and those folks are willing to pay for more products choices than they have now.
    3. Cut Out The Middlemen. As BuildDirect discovered (Frank Online Marketing Show Episode 1), the Internet often makes it possible to skip layers of middlemen, and that makes for greater profits.
    4. Provide Compelling Content. Like Canadian Icons (Episode 30) tell stories about your products; entertain and educate your prospective customers.
    5. Keep Testing & Iterating. You have to experiment to succeed online. Not everything will work, but that’s OK. You’ll improve with every test.

Have you used Shopify? Volution? Big Commerce? Something else?

What was your experience with it?

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