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Nov 12, 2020

Shopify president says pandemic e-commerce growth is here to stay

E-commerce growth will continue long after we have a vaccine: Shopify president

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Retail businesses that are better equipped to embrace a shift from selling brick-and-mortar stores to digital outlets will come out more resilient post-pandemic than those who are more resistant to that kind of change, according to the president of Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc.  

“What we’re seeing now is not an anomaly. It is the blueprint for the future of retail,” said Shopify president Harley Finkelstein in an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman on Thursday.

Finkelstein notes that the pandemic has accelerated a change in retail that he expected to happen, and that e-commerce growth will continue long after a vaccine for COVID-19 is found.

“The resistant [businesses] need to step up quickly,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to put pressure on Canadian small businesses as restrictions tighten across the country. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said earlier this week that as many as 225,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently due to COVID-19.

To assist businesses with tools to get through the pandemic, Shopify partnered with the Canadian government to help bring more businesses online. Finkelstein points out that the company’s goal is to help cultivate a landscape whereby small businesses can actually become the next large players in their space.

“Shopify is the entrepreneurship company. We want to make entrepreneurship more accessible,” he said.

His suggestion to businesses as consumer preferences evolve is to provides shoppers with a fully-integrated experience that goes beyond just brick-and-mortar stores, while also focusing on selling to where their customers actually are, whether that is online, offline, TikTok or Instagram.  

“The strategy going forward for the future of retail is consumer choice,” he said.

Shopify has benefitted immensely from the online shopping boom amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the company's market capitalization has surpassed Royal Bank of Canada to be the most valuable company in Canada. 

The Ottawa-based tech darling recently said its revenue surged in its third quarter, hitting US$767.4-million, up from US$390.5-million during the same period last year. Shopify also attracted a record number of merchants for a second quarter in a row. 

Shopify supports over one million businesses, and in Canada alone, more than 65,000 stores are currently using the platform.