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Decoding Shopify and the Future of Fashion – Headline 4 Ever

Harley Finkelstein looks at future-proof fashion and retail.

If that sounds like a big job, this is it. But he backs the ambition with the bubbly and technologically savvy platform Shopify.

With Finkelstein as president, Shopify has helped change the landscape in fashion and grown rapidly, providing e-commerce services to a number of companies, but especially with smaller independent companies. Last year, the platform drove sales with a gross value of $ 120 billion – an increase of almost 100 percent from a year earlier when the pandemic sent more customers to e-commerce.

In a conversation at the Fairchild Media Group Tech Forum with Headline 4 Ever editorial director James Fallon, Finkelstein laid out how Shopify still runs e-commerce for the little guy, but also looks at so much more.

“If you have $ 29 a month and can use email, you can easily set up a shop on Shopify in less than an hour,” Finklestein said. “What people are not necessarily aware of is that Shopify has grown far beyond just e-commerce. We now have an offline trading product that runs physical stores. ”

The company also helps brands sell anywhere on the web, including via Instagram and Google, and offers a range of services and expertise that can be optimized along the way.

Finkelstein described Shopify as “the world’s first retail operating system” and said it is a system that helps companies break down traditional online / offline barriers when focusing on consumers.

“When you use Shopify, you want to sell a product no matter what channel you use,” he said. “This vision is consistent with the future of retail, the future of commerce, which we believe will be retail everywhere.”

It is a very post-omnichannel approach to the industry.

“This idea of ​​’omnichannel’ as an expression would be very similar to saying ‘color TV’ in a couple of years, as it just becomes obvious that everyone sells anywhere they have customers. And we really want to be the entrepreneurial company, but will also offer a product that secures the future of brands’ business for what the retail trade will be later. ”

Shopify already helps a long list of big name brands selling through its platform – including Allbirds, Dior, Comme des Garçons, Kith and many more.

“You would have no idea that they are powered by Shopify,” he said. “We are a brand behind the brand.”

And a big one too.

“When you double-click on the backend, you begin to realize that Shopify is the brand that drives the stores of consumers’ favorite brands, and right now it would make us, if we were a retailer, the second largest retailer in America online,” Finkelstein said. “We are about 9 percent of all e-commerce.”

To get to this scale and keep moving forward, Shopify has tried to stay ahead of the curve. So far, it has been a success, with Finkelstein’s emphasis on the future being more emphasized.

“We have an integration with walmart.com because we see that some of our merchants might want to sell at Walmart,” he said, referring to the giant discount press to take up Amazon with its own online platform company. “It will be groundbreaking [at Shopify], because we do not know exactly what any merchant will require. The idea is always to be one step ahead where the trend is. ”

By bringing so many brands on board and assembling such a large e-commerce business, Shopify can bring economies of scale that smaller retailers could never realize.

“We try to level the playing field by exploiting these economies of scale, but instead keep them to ourselves and give them directly to the small businesses and brands,” Finkelstein said.

Approx. 7,000 people work in the company. Among them are 2,000 people who act – online, via phone calls and through chats – as business coaches. For example, they help retailers see that they are getting traffic on Pinterest and then increase advertising there via Shopify.

So at Shopify, Finkelstein thinks big and looks at how the industry in general is evolving, while its business coaches work one by one, helping small brands find and connect with customers in new ways.

Shopify’s point of sale technology.
Greeting picture

Business has been good this past year as the pandemic had so many locked up at home and clicked hours online, but Finkelstein said companies generally had two types of reactions to the tidal wave of disruption.

He said some merchants rushed ashore while the “resilient entrepreneurs … grabbed their surfboards and surfed the tidal wave because they saw that there was opportunity. They were completely thinking about their business model.”

The online rush, which is expected to stabilize as the pandemic eases in markets with access to vaccines, saw e-commerce go from about 15 percent of retail sales in the U.S. to 25 percent in a matter of months. Just where it tops off is still anyone’s guess, Finkelstein noted, that China is now about 50 percent e-commerce, excluding groceries.

But it is a perception that may place emphasis on the wrong place.

“I do not think percentages are actually the right way to think about it,” Finkelstein said, pointing to new companies like Allbirds that run their online and offline businesses as a single operation instead of worrying about that one takes from the other.

“Channel conflict does not exist for modern retailers, modern brands, but it applies to older brands,” he said, adding that change is needed. “Channels do not matter, what matters is deep empathy for what your customer wants, and I think companies and brands, those who deeply understand it, are the ones kicking ass right now.

“The pandemic has taught customers that we can buy whatever we want,” Finkelstein said. “I do not think we need to be linked to a particular channel. I think we need to be linked to how our consumer wants to buy. ”

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