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

Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario that develops computer software that powers both online stores and retail point-of-sale systems.[1][2]

Shopify was founded in 2004, and was initially based on earlier software written by its founders for their own online snowboard store.[3][4] Merchants using Shopify pay a monthly fee for use of the software and hosting, with additional features available from third-party vendors via an app store. The company claims that 100,000 merchants use the platform, with total gross merchandise volume exceeding $5 billion.[5]



Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake after attempting to open Snowdevil, an online store for snowboarding equipment.[3][6] Unsatisfied with the existing e-commerce products on the market, Lütke, a programmer by trade, decided to build his own.[7][8][9]

Lütke used the then-fledgling open source web application framework Ruby on Rails to build Snowdevil's online store, and launched it after two months' of development.[10][11][12] The Snowdevil founders launched their service as Shopify in June 2006.[10][13]


After Shopify's launch, Lütke and Lake advertised their product through word of mouth and reaching out to blogs.[12] By 2007, it became a finalist for the CNET Webware 100 Awards.[14] By 2008, Shopify was generating profit without having taken significant outside funding, and the founders had closed Snowdevil to focus on their software product.[15][16]

To generate further awareness, Shopify started the Built-A-Business competition, which invited entrepreneurs to create a business to sell products on the Shopify platform. The first competition was held in 2010, and generated over $3.5 million in sales from 1,300 entrants.[17] The first and subsequent competitions attracted significant media attention,[18][19] with the winners receiving cash prizes and mentorship from renowned entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, Daymond John, Timothy Ferriss and Eric Ries.[19]

In 2010, Shopify was named Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Company by the Ottawa Business Journal.[10] Shopify grew from 40 employees in 2010[9] to approximately 400 in early 2014.[20][21]

By 2014, the platform claimed to host approximately 100,000 online retailers,[5] including stores for Wikipedia, Budweiser, Gatorade,[22] 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.[11][15][23]

Funding and Acquisitions[edit]

Shopify received $7 million in Series A funding in December 2010,[3][24][25][26] $15 million in Series B funding in October 2011,[27][28] and $100 million in Series C funding in December 2013.[29]

On January 9, 2010, Shopify acquired MNDCreative to expand the capabilities of Shopify on mobile devices.[30][31][32]

On February 1, 2012, Shopify acquired Select Start Studios Inc ("S3") bringing with it 20 mobile engineers and designers[33]

On August 1, 2013, Shopify acquired Jet Cooper, a 25 person design studio based in Toronto.[34]


Shopify is a fully managed commerce platform with the capability to sell both online and in retail point-of-sale. Shopify's core features include the ability to manage products, inventory, customers, orders and discounts. Merchants on Shopify may accept payments both online and in person using a built-in payment system, called Shopify Payments, or an external gateway, such as Paypal or Bitcoin payments. Merchants select from pre-built free and paid templates for their online store and many also freely edit HTML and CSS code.[35][36][37][38]


Merchants pay $29 to $179 per month for use of the Shopify platform, including software and hosting, with a 14-day free trial available.[39] Specific features differ based on which plan is picked, and rates to accept credit cards via Shopify Payments vary between 2.9% + 30 cents to 2.25% + 30 cents.

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.[40][41] '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.[42]

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.[43][44] Companies like ChannelAdvisor,[45] MailChimp, FreshBooks, Constant Contact, Zendesk, Optimizely, QuickBooks and LiveChat have developed apps that integrate with the Shopify platform.

Some software companies have been able to build a successful business model based entirely on creating apps for the Shopify App Store. Bold Innovation Group is their most prolific app developer, currently with 16 apps available in the App Store.[46]

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.[47]

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.[23][48] 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.[49]

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.[50]

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 Social Commerce[edit]

In 2014, Soldsie integrated with Shopify, allowing Shopify shops to monetize Instagram and Facebook by turning their social pages into social stores.


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.[51]


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.”[23][52] The service was profiled in publications including The Wall Street Journal,[53] The New York Times,[54] The Vancouver Sun,[55] The Financial Post,[6] TechCrunch,[56] and Mashable.[11][57]


  1. ^ Bradbury, Danny. Hands-off business a reality The Financial Post. April 21, 2008.
  2. ^ Heinemeier Hansson, David. Shopify is Open for Business Riding Rails. June 05, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c Gastall, Tom. Shopify Scores $7m in Series A Funding Startup Gazette. December 17, 2010.
  4. ^ jadedPixel CrunchBase profile CrunchBase.
  5. ^ a b "About Shopify". Shopify. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Hartley, Matt. Snowboard to computer code business Financial Post. Oct 25, 2010.
  7. ^ Whittaker, Stephanie.The Web as a safety net The Montreal Gazette. May 4, 2009.
  8. ^ Yoskovitz, Benjamin. Top 5 Keys to Shopify’s Success - an Interview with Tobias Lütke Year One Labs. December 22, 2010.
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  10. ^ a b c Donnelly, Jim. Fastest Growing Companies Ottawa Business Journal. May 3rd, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c Duryee, Tricia. E-Commerce Assistant Shopify Raises $7 Million in First Round All Things Digital. December 13, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Shick, Shane. Small businesses need on-line savvy for success The Globe and Mail. May 18, 2006.
  13. ^ Shopify is Live PixelSoup. June 02, 2006.
  14. ^ We’re in the finals “PixelSoup”. May 23, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Pileci, Vito. makes it easy for new online entrepreneurs The Montreal Gazette. September 20, 2010.
  16. ^ Mikulla, Matt. Q&A with Tobias Lütke of Shopify “37 Signals”. June 03, 2010.
  17. ^ Contest Winners Announced: Winners in Five Different Categories Exemplify Online Entrepreneurial Spirit “Shopify”. July 19, 2010.
  18. ^ Kolodny, Lora. Maker of iPad Cases Wins Shopify Competition “The New York Times”. July 19, 2010.
  19. ^ a b Rip Empson for TechCrunch. 10 July 2012 Shopify Teams Up With Tim Ferriss, Eric Ries, FUBU Founder To Help You Build A $1M eCommerce Biz
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  23. ^ a b c Shopify Unveils New Theme Store for E-Commerce Merchants PRNewswire. April 20, 2010.
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  25. ^ Lewis, Rob. Ottawa's Shopify raises $7 Million Series A Funding from Bessemer, FirstMark, and Felicis Techvibes. December 13, 2010.
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  29. ^ Etherington, Darrell. "Shopify Raises $100M To Drop The ‘E’ And Become The Commerce Company That Spans On- And Offline". Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  30. ^ Rao, Leena. E-Commerce Platform Shopify Buys Up StoreSync To Shore Up Mobile Strategy TechCrunch. January 9, 2010.
  31. ^ Kanji, Karim. Shopify acquires the developers of StoreSync “Techvibes”. January 10, 2010.
  32. ^ Shopify Acquires MNDCreative Shopify. January 08, 2010.
  33. ^ Shopify Press Release 1 Feb 2012 Shopify Acquires Select Start Studios
  34. ^ Shopify Press Release. 1 August 2013 Shopify Acquires Jet Cooper
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  36. ^ For Designers “Shopify”.
  37. ^ Running Your Store “Shopify”.
  38. ^ Marketing “Shopify”.
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  40. ^ Shopify API Platform and App Store Launched “Shopify”. June 02, 2009
  41. ^ App Store “Shopify”.
  42. ^ "Shopify – Pros & Cons". Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  43. ^ "Shopify App Store". Shopify. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  44. ^ Wong, Jeremy. "Shopify Apps Extends Your Store Functions". Website Builder Expert. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  45. ^ "channeladvisor-expands-webstores-solution-with-shopify". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  46. ^ Cash, Martin. "Thinking Big - Manitoba app-maker gets bolder". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
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  53. ^ Lora Kolodny for the Wall Street Journal. 12 Dec 2013. On Road to IPO, Shopify Raises $100M to ‘Bridge Clicks and Bricks’
  54. ^ Kolodny, Lora. Shopify, a start-Up, Starts Its Own Business Competition “New York Times”. February 2, 2010.
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