If you run an online retail store, you probably just assume that your website is run on a US-based platform. In many cases, you might be right.
But not if you run on Shopify.
As a Canadian, I am always proud of home-grown success stories. But even most Canadians, not being involved in online business, would probably ask, “Who?” Nevertheless, Shopify is the biggest name in Canadian retail.
And it’s the biggest name in online retail. The most recent data I could find showed this Canadian company running over 8.3 percent of the top one million ecommerce websites in the world.
That was 2014. It’s been sprinting uphill ever since.
In truth, it was probably bigger than that, even then. Shopify clients tend to be mom and pop shops, small businesses that won’t register among the world’s top million websites. If you regularly shop online at smaller retailers (Amazon, eBay and Craigslist don’t count), Shopify surely powered many of your purchases.
Since 2014, this Canadian company has been growing fast. Here is a chart of Google Trends from around the world. This shows how much people are searching for various ecommerce platforms. Keep your eyes on the blue line.
If Shopify is moving into first place in its niche, that implies that it is winning the most new business.
Shopify’s domination is almost total in its home market, as this second Google Trends chart for Canada shows.
This is a secret Canadian success story, and one of Canada’s largest exporters. If you run an online store and are one of the majority, your store is at least partly Canadian. As the world increasingly moves online, Shopify is uniquely poised to become one of Canada’s major “exports”.
You might be wondering whether hosting eight percent (or more, by now) of the world’s ecommerce sites makes a company big.
Yes. It makes a company big enough to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, something I learned when reading about the new shares that were created a few months ago. They added $235 million dollars to its capitalization, or about ten percent. If I do my math right, this is a company worth almost $2.5 billion.
That caught my attention. Until then, Shopify was just another ecommerce platform to me. But this is big business. No, this is huge business.
There are two lessons in this story for eager would-be online entrepreneurs:
- If you were thinking of setting up your own ecommerce platform, don’t. Unless you inherit a few billion dollars from a long-lost aunt, it’s a lost cause.
- Online, there are no countries. Welcome to Planet Earth.
It should be said that you don’t need an ecommerce platform to take your business online. I don’t use one for my ghostwriting business. That’s because I don’t sell products and I don’t take payments through my website. Mine is a content-focused business, rather than product-focused, so I run my website on WordPress.
You can run any business on WordPress, and you can run any business on an ecommerce platform. There is also the option of running WordPress with an ecommerce plugin, like WooCommerce.
WordPress requires being a little more hands-on than Shopify. The goal of an ecommerce platform that includes hosting, content management and shopping cart all in one platform is to make it simple. Most retailers don’t want to have to think about their website, except to add the latest special to the home page.
I know that the name brands of online retail are typically Amazon or Etsy and eBay. This little Canadian company might stealthily be sneaking up on them. Only time will tell.