Even if you haven’t heard the name Shopify, you’ve likely purchased something from a website powered by them. Marketing is often about being heard and seen. For a business like Shopify, the customer is at the forefront — and that’s made all the difference for the startup turned million-dollar enterprise. From what was initially meant to sell snowboards online to the Canadian company that is snapping up Ottawa towers to build out offices with hidden boardrooms and slides, what should businesses be taking from the Shopify success story?
1. They narrowed down their pain point.
Luckily, one of the founders of Shopify was already a software developer. We’re not going to lie; that made this step easier. Essentially, the founders, Tobi Lutke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Luke, wanted to sell third-party snowboards online but couldn’t find a tool to do exactly what they wanted to. So… They built one. By honing in on the issues they were having as a small business in an eCommerce world, they could build a product that solved the problem. Soon, other business owners who shared the same issues jumped on the chance to use their product.
2. They made accessibility part of their brand.
By starting out as a small business just trying to sell something online, the founders of Shopify discovered that it can be hard to be a small business in an enterprise world. So, accessibility became a cornerstone of their entire brand. Despite applying to more prominent business models — and they do have large clients such as Gatorade, Crossfit, and Wikipedia — Shopify wanted to be a place where the average Joe could set up their own business and thrive! They also created a user-friendly website builder with lots of themes and customizations, how-tos, FAQs, quick start guides, and blogs to uplift those who might not have software engineering as their background.
“For the first time, with Shopify, individuals who had never sold anything online before had the fundamental tools they needed to set up a successful e-commerce shop.” — Product Habits
3. They have a client-centric focus
These days, the customer might not always be right, but their experience still matters. Shopify recognized that a traditional POS-style system doesn’t motivate their clients to make more sales. If you’re taking a percentage of every sale they make, why would it? Instead, Shopify created a system that made them more money by helping their customers make more money through a subscription process. The larger your subscription, the smaller the transaction fee. That way, everyone was winning, and Shopify users were motivated and successful.
“Instead of stifling this enthusiastic pool of talent and carving out the profits for ourselves, we’ve made a point of supporting our partners and aligning their interests with our own.” — Tobi Lutke
Shopify also recognized that every shop is unique, and not every subscription will match every business’ needs. They eventually added a system so merchants could pick and choose the tools they actually needed to run their business.
4. They kept evolving
ECommerce is a rapidly growing world. That means businesses that don’t adapt die out or are taken over by larger companies. Since its inception, Shopify has worked to adapt and evolve with the online sales world. They’ve added apps, more tools, customizations, effective payment systems, and have launched numerous redesigns. They’ve recently moved into the offline sales world to expand their client base.
“They decided to build the solution they wanted, and that product became Shopify. But they didn’t stop there. Shopify built a billion-dollar business by expanding from tool to platform to offline ecosystem.” — Product Habits
5. Word of mouth worked
Originally, Shopify was built as Snowdevil to sell snowboards. When their site went out, and they started sharing the platform with other entrepreneurs in their network, there was immediate and undeniable interest. From there, they built a modest but growing base of Shopify users before eventually receiving a $250,000 cheque from an Angel Investor to continue their development and expansion.
If you want the whole Shopify story, The Globe and Mail do a great job highlighting it.
Success, as always, is sometimes being in the right place at the right time. However, you also need to recognize and act on opportunities when they arise! At Ghostit, we build visibility and opportunities through catchy creative content and proven SEO-driven methods. Ready to seize the day? Book a call with us today.