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Developer(s) Shopify
Operating system Cross-platform
Type E-commerce
License Software as a service

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that enables individuals and businesses to create online stores.[1][2]


Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake after attempting to open an online store for snowboarding equipment, named Snowdevil.[3][4][5] After Lütke, a programmer by trade, could not find a product that matched their store's needs, he decided to build one of his own.[6][7] He states, "to make a long story short, after trying a series of existing online store software packages I got so disgusted with the quality of the whole lot, that I wanted to do something about it just to spite them."[7][8]

Lütke designed a custom store coded in what was then an obscure open source platform called Ruby on Rails.[9] After two months, he had a working online store and Snowdevil was launched.[10][11] By 2006, the founders decided to share their code to help others sell items online.[9] Lütke created a template for online stores, in which clients would provide the pictures and products. Shopify was launched in June 2006.[12] Lütke summarized this by saying "what used to take months in 2004, can now be done in about 20 minutes."[7]


Since its launch, Shopify has been well received by popular tech websites such as CNET, who say the platform is “clean, simple, and easy-to-use.”[13][14] The service was profiled in world publications including The Wall Street Journal,[citation needed] The New York Times,[15] The Vancouver Sun,[16] The Financial Post,[5] TechCrunch,[17] and Mashable.[10][18]

In 2007, it became a finalist for the CNET Webware 100 Awards.[19] In 2010, Shopify was named Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Company by the Ottawa Business Journal.[9]

Negative Reception[edit]

A website named has been created to show some complains of customers in order to counter the massive promotion marketing about Shopify.


After Shopify's launch, Lütke and Lake reached out to blogs and used word of mouth to generate buzz.[11] It also used a series of Build-A-Business competitions to generate awareness.

Shopify's human resource head count increased from 40 employees in 2010[8] to approximately 418 in 2014.[20][21] In 2010, it claimed to have been profitable since 2008 without any significant investments from outsiders (later that year it received its first venture capital funding).[22][23]

The platform claims to host approximately 100,000 online retailers,[24] including stores for Wikipedia, Elwood Clothing, Budweiser, Gatorade,[25] Foo Fighters, Encyclopedia Britannica, Tori Amos, General Electric, Tata Group, Tesla Motors, Amnesty International, CrossFit, LMFAO, Beastie Boys, Pixar, Lollapalooza, Evernote, GitHub, Penny Arcade, BeGood Clothing, and Evisu Jeans.[10][13][22]


On December 12, 2010 Shopify announced the acquisition of $7 million in Series A funding.[3][26][27][28][29] The company plans on using the proceeds to invest in product development, international expansion, technology, and infrastructure and developer tools.[28]

On October 17, 2011 Shopify announced the acquisition of $15 million in Series B funding.[30][31] The company plans on using the investment to hire more staff, consider acquisitions, and attract app developers to create plug-ins for the Shopify App Store.[32][33]

On December 12, 2013 Shopify announced the acquisition of $100 million in Series C funding.[34]


On January 9, 2010, Shopify acquired MNDCreative to expand the capabilities of Shopify on mobile devices.[35][36][37]

On February 1, 2012, Shopify acquired Select Start Studios Inc ("S3") bringing with it 20 mobile engineers and designers[38]

On August 1, 2013, Shopify acquired Jet Cooper, a 25 person design studio based in Toronto.[39]

Build-A-Business Competitions[edit]

Build-A-Business competitions offer prizes and mentorship to sellers on Shopify who sell the most in their category over a given time interval.

Build-A-Business Competition 1[edit]

In early 2010, the company launched the Build-A-Business competition with Timothy Ferriss, author of #1 New York Times best-seller The 4-Hour Workweek.[23][40] The competition offered a $100,000 grand prize to the new business launched on Shopify’s online platform that posted the highest grossing sales in a six-month period.[40] Lütke and Ferriss developed the idea for the competition after the two met at RailsConf 2009.[15] After meeting Lütke, Ferriss also became an Advisor to Shopify in 2009.[41][42][43]

The competition saw over 1,300 entrants, 66,503 total orders placed and over $3.5 million in revenue for the participating businesses.[44] The winner of the competition was DODOcase, a San Francisco based maker of handmade iPad carrying cases.[45]

Build-A-Business Competition 2[edit]

On April 26, 2011, the company launched its second Build-A-Business competition with Timothy Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, author of The Thank You Economy, and popular marketing expert Seth Godin.[46] The competition is offering a total of $500,000 in prizes and giveaways. A grand prize of $100,000 is being rewarded to the new business launched on Shopify's online platform that posted two months with the highest grossing sales in an eight-month period. The grand prize also includes a VIP trip for two to New York to have lunch with Seth Godin, and engage in a one-hour power session with Gary Vaynerchuk. The grand prize also includes a VIP trip to California to have dinner with Timothy Ferriss and spend an afternoon at Google's headquarters, Googleplex, to receive a personal Google AdWords consultation.[47]

The competition saw over 3,000 entrants, who sold over $12.2 million in revenue.[48] The winners of the competition were Coffee Joulies, makers of coffee temperature regulating devices, FlockStocks, Simply Hops, My Footy Boots, Tattly, Neu Year, and Opena Case.[49]

Build-A-Business Competition 3[edit]

On July 10, 2012, the company launched its third Build-A-Business competition with Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, Eric Ries, Founder and author of Lean Startup, Daymond John, Founder of FUBU and star of Shark Tank (TV series), and Tina Roth Eisenberg.[50] Entrants build an ecommerce store using Shopify's platform and compete to sell the most goods during the competition period. At the end, the four stores that have sold the most receive a $50,000 seed investment for a 5 percent equity stake from their chosen mentor.[51]

The competition saw over 10,000 entrants, who sold over $55 million in products.[52] The winners of the competition were Fresh-Tops, GameKlip, GoldieBlox, SkinnyMe Tea, and Canadian Icons. Winners also received $20,000 toward digital advertising and an expenses paid trip to New York City to meet with the competition mentors.[53] Shopify advisor Timothy Ferriss published in-depth case studies profiling each of the winners on his popular blog.[54]


Shopify has four levels of monthly payment plans:

  1. Starter
  2. Basic
  3. Professional
  4. Unlimited.

Plans range from $29 to $179 per month.[55]

Specific features differ based on which plan is picked, and Shopify Payments rates vary between 2.9% + 30 cents to 2.25% + 30 cents. In November 2013, Shopify began accepting bitcoin as an additional form of payment.

The company also offers a free 14 day trial.


The Shopify platform includes a content management system that allows users to manage inventory, edit HTML and CSS code, create coupon and discount codes, and accept online payments online with Bitcoin, Paypal and major credit cards.[56][57][58][59]

Shopify App Store[edit]

On June 2, 2009 Shopify launched their API platform and App Store. The API allows developers to create custom applications for Shopify online stores and then sell them on the Shopify App Store.[60][61] 'Apps' are offered to users of Shopify either for free, for a one-time fee, on a subscription basis, or on a per-use basis. These applications purportedly offer increased functionality to users of the platform and range from 'upsell' apps to mailing list apps.[62]

There are currently over 600 different free and paid apps that add further functions to store owners. The tools are not just sales & marketing tools, they also include additional tools that help store owners manage administrative tasks such as inventory management, fulfillment, shipping, customer service, bookkeeping, etc.[63][64] Companies like ChannelAdvisor,[65] MailChimp, FreshBooks, Constant Contact, Zendesk, Optimizely, QuickBooks and LiveChat have developed apps that integrate with the Shopify platform.

On October 17, 2011 Shopify announced they will be giving away $1 million to developers and designers who build plug-ins for the Shopify platform. The money comes from The Shopify Fund and the company is giving out $5,000 to $10,000 as an advance for developers.[66]

Shopify Theme Store[edit]

The Shopify Theme Store was unveiled on April 20, 2010. The store allows developers sell theme templates designed for stores using the Shopify platform.[13][67] Shopify released a free mobile app on the Apple App Store on May 13, 2010. The app allows Shopify store owners view and manage their stores from iOS mobile devices.[68]

Shopify Payments[edit]

In August 2013, Shopify announced the launch of Shopify Payments. Shopify Payments allows merchants to accept VISA, MasterCard and AMEX credit cards without requiring a third party payment gateway. Other features includes instant approval, chargeback recovery, and a feature that allows merchants to tie sales to orders.[69]

Shopify POS[edit]

In August 2013, Shopify also announced the launch of iPad-Centric POS System to Integrate Online and In-Store Sales. It works in conjunction with Shopify’s POS card reader and an official iPad app to accept payments from Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, as well as the ability to update inventory in real time. The POS system is also compatible with optional sales accessories such as receipt printers, barcode scanners, cash drawers, and a specialized stand for the iPad.


Shopify implemented a Guru program that connects e-commerce specialists with new Shopify customers in order to consult them on how to run a successful online store and improve their business.[70]


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  2. ^ Heinemeier Hansson, David. Shopify is Open for Business Riding Rails. June 05, 2006.
  3. ^ a b Gastall, Tom. Shopify Scores $7m in Series A Funding Startup Gazette. December 17, 2010.
  4. ^ jadedPixel CrunchBase profile CrunchBase.
  5. ^ a b Hartley, Matt. Snowboard to computer code business Financial Post. Oct 25, 2010.
  6. ^ Whittaker, Stephanie.The Web as a safety net The Montreal Gazette. May 4, 2009.
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  8. ^ a b Donnelly, Jim. Shopify picks up $7M in venture funding Ottawa Business Journal. December 13, 2010.
  9. ^ a b c Donnelly, Jim. Fastest Growing Companies Ottawa Business Journal. May 3rd, 2010.
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  11. ^ a b Shick, Shane. Small businesses need on-line savvy for success The Globe and Mail. May 18, 2006.
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  65. ^ "channeladvisor-expands-webstores-solution-with-shopify". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
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External links[edit]