Your Website Might be Canadian, Even if You Don’t Know It
If you run an online retail store, you probably 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. However, most Canadians, those not 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 e-commerce 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 e-commerce 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 newest 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 e-commerce 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 $235M dollars to its capitalization or about ten percent. If I do my math right, this is a company worth almost $2.5B.
That caught my attention. Until then, Shopify was just another e-commerce platform for 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 e-commerce 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 e-commerce 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 e-commerce platform. There is also the option of running WordPress with an e-commerce plugin, like WooCommerce.
If you are wondering what is the difference, there is a good detailed review of Shopify here and there is a slightly entertaining review of WordPress here.
WordPress requires being a little more hands-on than Shopify. The goal of an e-commerce 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.