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“No trading platform in the German market is growing as fast as we do”

Only since March 2018 is the shop software manufacturer Shopify represented with an office in Germany. The strong growth of the Canadian company makes the market sit up and take notice.

For a long time Shopify was not really noticed in the German market for shop software – the software was not available in German and also German contact persons were missing. For about two years, the Canadian company has been increasingly looking for German dealers, and with growing success.

What makes Shopify interesting for German shop owners explains Chief Operating Officer (COO) Harley Finkelstein in an interview.

In the media Shopify is repeatedly referred to as a challenger from Amazon or even as the next Amazon. How is this assessment?

Harley Finkelstein: One reason to compare Shopify with Amazon is that Shopify has more to offer than just online stores. We enable merchants to handle payment transactions, we help them with their shipments, and we have recently begun to support them with fulfillment as well. So what we are trying to do is not just to be a provider of ecommerce software, but rather a full service retail operating system. Without Shopify, a retailer needs a trading software, a point-of-sale solution, a solution for the marketplace connection, a payment service provider, several shipping service providers etc. for his online business. With Shopify, he gets everything from one source. But we are not a marketplace.

In Germany, the industry is currently talking a lot about Shopify. How come?

Finkelstein: We have had many German dealers as customers for years – even though Shopify has not yet been completely tailored to the German market. Nevertheless, our customers have used our solution successfully. In the past twelve months, the number of our customers in Germany has more than doubled. And the trade turnover that our customers make through Shopify has also doubled. There is no other trading platform in the German market that is growing as fast as we do. That shows how much potential exists here. That’s why we invest massively in the German market. We now have a team of over 50 employees in Germany, more than 100,000 customers in Europe, and a large network of agencies and freelance developers that add value to features and apps for Shopify dealers. This enables us to become the leading commerce platform in the German market.

Where does the strong growth come from?

Finkelstein: That has a number of reasons. For one thing, we’ve hired some smart minds to drive our business forward. On the other hand, we begin to understand what our German customers want. We are adapting our products to the German market, for example by expanding the payment offer and cooperating with the Händlerbund. See: Confidence-building certifications are very important in Germany. So if we want to be the market leader in Germany – which we can certainly achieve – we need such certificates, as we now have with the pre-certification of the dealer association and the IT law firm. In addition, the administration of Shopify is now completely in German.

How important is the German market for Shopify?

Finkelstein: After our core area – ie USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand – comes Germany, then France and the rest of Western Europe. After Germany, we are literally drawn in, because more and more small dealers, but also big brands like Red Bull use our system. This shows that we have good chances here.

What makes Shopify so interesting for German retailers?

Finkelstein: Two things: One thing is certainly the simplicity and scalability of the system. The configuration is possible within one hour. And if the business goes well, the retailer is not limited in its growth at Shopify. We have big traders who turn over millions of dollars every year with Shopify, and small ones who do a lot less. This means that small vendors can start with us quickly, but do not need to swap the platform, even if they are growing very fast. This is unique.

Do customers have to upgrade to the enterprise version “Shopify Plus” when they grow?

Finkelstein: It’s not really a change. As the business grows, it simply leverages the enhanced functionality of Shopify Plus, such as interfacing with an ERP system like SAP. There is no major effort required, we can implement this almost on demand.

And what is the second reason for the great interest?

Finkelstein: Shopify offers a modern software. Traditional shop systems do not change very fast, are not very innovative. If a retailer ever hears of shopping on Instagram – Shopify is one of the few platforms that makes it possible directly. If he hears about Apple Pay – Shopify can do that as well. What makes us a leading shop system worldwide is that we enable retailers to benefit from innovation and retail trends much faster than other store systems.

Also published on Medium.

Published inStartups

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