|License||Software as a service|
Shopify was founded in 2004, and was initially based on earlier software written by its founders for their own online snowboard store. 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.
Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake after attempting to open Snowdevil, an online store for snowboarding equipment. Unsatisfied with the existing e-commerce products on the market, Lütke, a programmer by trade, decided to build his own.
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. The Snowdevil founders launched their service as Shopify in June 2006.
After Shopify's launch, Lütke and Lake advertised their product through word of mouth and reaching out to blogs. By 2007, it became a finalist for the CNET Webware 100 Awards. By 2008, Shopify was generating profit without having taken significant outside funding, and the founders had closed Snowdevil to focus on their software product.
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. The first and subsequent competitions attracted significant media attention, with the winners receiving cash prizes and mentorship from renowned entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, Daymond John, Timothy Ferriss and Eric Ries.
By 2014, the platform claimed to host approximately 100,000 online retailers, including stores for Wikipedia, Budweiser, Gatorade, 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.
Funding and Acquisitions
On February 1, 2012, Shopify acquired Select Start Studios Inc ("S3") bringing with it 20 mobile engineers and designers
On August 1, 2013, Shopify acquired Jet Cooper, a 25 person design studio based in Toronto.
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.
Merchants pay $29 to $179 per month for use of the Shopify platform, including software and hosting, with a 14-day free trial available. 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
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. '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.
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. Companies like ChannelAdvisor, 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.
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.
Shopify Theme Store
The Shopify Theme Store was unveiled on April 20, 2010. The store allows developers sell theme templates designed for stores using the Shopify platform. 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.
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.
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
In 2014, Soldsie integrated with Shopify, allowing Shopify shops to monetize Instagram and Facebook by turning their social pages into social stores.
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.” The service was profiled in publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Vancouver Sun, The Financial Post, TechCrunch, and Mashable.
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