How Shopify Empowers Entrepreneurs Through Technology

At VOICES 2022, BoF’s annual event where global changemakers come together to inspire innovation and reinvent the future of the fashion industry, BoF’s Rahul Malik spoke to Shopify President Harley Finkelstein , the collective opportunity for entrepreneurship.

The “Shopify Effect,” a term coined by the company, embodies the notion of using commerce as a force for good. As part of this, Shopify is prioritizing leveraging its technology and network of nearly 2 million merchants worldwide – representing approximately 10% of the total global e-commerce market share – to enable entrepreneurs to to use its platform and promote conscious consumption within its user base.

In 2022, a series of roundtables taking place in Milan and Paris saw business leaders from companies such as Valentino, Prada, Bulgari, Jacquemus, Coperni and Isabel Marant connect under Chatham House rule to share insights. ideas and learnings between them, as well as the opportunities and challenges they see in the marketplace. Conversations focused on the strategic imperatives needed to navigate the uncertain socio-economic environment, including rising prices and shifting consumer sentiment.

“When you give the right people the right tools at the right time, amazing things happen,” said Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify. “If you aggregate all individual and independent Shopify merchants, they will be the second largest retailer in America.”

Here, BoF shares actionable insights from the Q&A session on how fashion companies of all sizes can leverage their influence to drive conscious consumption and build meaningful communities in a time of volatility. increase in the market.

The role of entrepreneurship in economic growth

HF: Entrepreneurship allows us to do amazing things, it gives us leverage and scale, and it’s the best tool to solve a problem. Last year, 5.4 million business registrations were filed in the United States – the highest in 20 years.

New entrepreneurs get their first sales on Shopify every minute – that’s the whole point, the whole mission of the company. Our technology and codebase generated $7.5 billion in revenue on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday, but the real story with that $7.5 billion is how the technology has allowed people to realize themselves, to market a hobby, to sell something that makes sense to them to the rest of the world.

Technology as a driver of community development

HF: In 2021, Shopify supported 5 million jobs. These are jobs in local communities for manufacturing, retail and technology.

For many of our salespeople, entrepreneurship wasn’t done out of passion – it was entrepreneurship out of necessity. In 2012, Ben Francis created Gymshark from his college dorm. It is now a clear leader competing with companies like Nike. Heather Hasson and Trina Spear founded Figs following a coffee shop conversation about why front-line healthcare workers can’t have well-fitting, beautiful and comfortable scrubs. They are now a publicly traded company that has completely changed the hospital scrub industry.

The cost of failure is the lowest it’s ever been […] people can try things – if they work, they can evolve, and if they don’t, they can try something else.

We’ve never seen businesses evolve like this before – technology makes it possible, but it’s the entrepreneur who leads. Shopify is the story of 2 million entrepreneurs.

Enabling and Risk Mitigation

HF: The cost of failure is the lowest it has ever been for entrepreneurship. Twenty years ago, to start a business, you would have had to take out a loan, mortgage your whole life. Now people can try things – if they work, they can evolve, and if they don’t, they can try something else.

To quantify it, the creator economy is a $100 billion a year economy, with a 4% participation rate, which means 96% of creators don’t participate. Shopify Collabs is one way we leverage technology to connect amazing content creators with amazing brands. Today, every brand is trying to get a content creator, and every content creator wants their own creator brand. And so we created this AI-powered “matchmaking” service that connects big content creators, in certain verticals with big brand verticals, and ultimately both sides are able to monetize and grow, and this leads to great success.

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