Shopify’s Shaun Broughton – on innovating in a pandemic, the future of shopping and Kiwis’ love of a side-hustle

Shot by Kat Stanley Photography

For the uninitiated, Shopify isn’t a consumer-facing app you can shop through – although Shopify does have one of those Shop (but more about that below) – but an immensely-powerful commerce platform that gives the ability to anyone to set up an online store and sell their products globally. 

If you’ve bought something online chances are that the merchant was powered in some way by Shopify. 

Shopify launched out of Canada in 2006 and concentrated on building easy-to-use, versatile e-commerce software. Brick and mortar support was added in 2012 and saw the platform move from a single-point solution e-commerce platform to being an omnichannel solution. 

This month Shopify has also launched integrated retail hardware for Shopify Point of Sale (POS) and Shopify Payments enabling in-person transactions. Retailers will now be able to process transactions and accept major payment methods however and wherever they need to – countertop, on the floor, curbside or on the go with the fully mobile POS.  

The pandemic has brought amazing growth to the platform which recently posted $988 million USD in revenue in the first quarter of 2021, a 110 per cent increase from last year. 

Covid restrictions and continuing uncertainty also saw many local merchants signing up to the all-in-one platform. 

Today there are 16,645 live Shopify stores in New Zealand and the platform here saw an increase of 48 per cent year-over-year in 2021 in Q2.

The aim of the new Shopify Markets feature is to give local businesses of any size the ability to unlock the potential of cross-border commerce. In July 2021 36 per cent of all traffic to Shopify stores in New Zealand came from international buyers.

Jamie Fridd, Founder and Designer of children’s wear brand Jamie Kay whose products are distributed in more than 96 countries, cites Shopify as a key player in her company’s success.

theBit reached out to Shopify Managing Director APAC Shaun Broughton to find out more about the new initiatives, Kiwi’s knack for innovation and what’s in store for Shopify.

You’ve launched Shopify Markets in NZ – merchants of course can already sell internationally using Shopify – how does Markets improve this?

When we asked merchants about their biggest barriers to cross-border commerce, duties and taxes topped the list. That’s why Shopify Markets will bring new features to merchants like calculating and collecting duty and import taxes at checkout. Along with other new features like customising catalogues and store content per market and managing fulfilment locations per market.

Merchants can seamlessly create localised storefronts from one store, which means they can manage all cross-border commerce in a single place in the Shopify admin with tailored consumer experiences in each market—whether that market is a country, like the Netherlands, or a region, like all of Europe.

Merchants will also see insights and recommendations surfaced by Shopify to help them determine where, when, and how to most effectively sell in a new region based on aggregate data from Shopify’s more than 1.7 million merchants globally. 

Other features of Shopify Markets have already existed in some form such as international domains, multiple currencies and languages, local payment methods and international pricing.

However, these features were all dispersed across the Shopify admin, making it hard for merchants to know all of the tools available to leverage or have an understanding of how their store is set up to sell in each market. 

Shopify Markets now centralises all of these tools into a single place in a merchant’s admin, so they can have a full view of how they are set up to sell in each market and ensure they are utilising all of the localisation options available to them.

So it’s now even easier for a NZ user to create a global brand using Shopify?

Yes, Shopify Markets is suited to all merchants looking to take advantage of global commerce and not only because they can now manage their international business directly from their admin dashboard. 

Expanding to new markets is hard for merchants since they may not know where to grow next or when to go there, and likely won’t have an understanding of the buyer expectations or selling requirements in international markets as they do for their domestic markets. We are leveraging data and insights from the nearly one billion cross-border orders that have been processed by Shopify merchants to help us provide guidance to merchants on the best ways to set up and optimise their businesses in different markets.

For example, we may see that a significant amount of traffic coming to a US-based merchant’s store is from visitors in the Netherlands, and Shopify Markets can proactively recommend that a merchant set up a dedicated market for Dutch buyers.

What do you see the big online shopping trends being in the next few years?

Shopify recently launched a new report, 5 Trends for the Future of Retail in New Zealand, which unveiled that New Zealand consumers are increasingly shopping using their favourite apps and social media accounts, on their smartphones, computers and tablet PCs.

In the next few years, I believe we will see local retailers become more nimble and adaptable in order to deliver a consistent shopping experience for their customers across a growing number of offline and online touchpoints in this ‘retail is everywhere’ future.

There will likely be a rise in online-to-offline services like Click-and-Collect, which have become increasingly popular in New Zealand. 26% of shoppers surveyed said that they are likely to use Click-and-Collect services, up from 21% before the pandemic, while over half (57%) expect retailers to offer it as an option. 

How has the pandemic accelerated Shopify’s digital innovation?

In 2020, we focused on getting merchants online fast, selling easily, getting discovered by shoppers and to get their products to customers with innovations and essential services including

90-day trial, gift cards, Buy Online Pickup In-Store, local delivery, all-new POS, Buy Now Pay Later, Alipay, Facebook Shops, Walmart, Pinterest, TikTok Marketing channel

Shopify Go government collaboration projects like Go Digital Canada, Empire State Digital (NY State), and the Victorian State Government’s Small Business Digital Adaptation Program.

Online-to-offline services like ‘buy now, pick up in store’ (BOPIS), in particular, are becoming an essential merchant feature. 26% of shoppers surveyed by Shopify are likely to use Click-and-Collect services, with more than double that number (57%) expecting retailers to offer BOPIS as a standard feature. An even higher proportion (75%) of shoppers are willing to purchase out-of-stock items online, before collecting the items in person at a later date. 

Shopify is a commerce platform for businesses but you also have a consumer-facing Shop app – is that something the general online shopper in Aus/NZ is using?

With over 100 million registered users, Shop makes it easy for customers to speed through checkout, track their order and shipment details, and rediscover brands they love. Shop also helps Australian and New Zealander businesses sell more by making online shopping more personal and convenient for their customers, from product discovery to package delivery.

One way Shop is helping small businesses in New Zealand is through the discovery of businesses which are near a customer, and also indicating if those businesses offer in-store or curbside pickup. Now, customers can find businesses in their area and opt for local pickup in case they’d rather not wait for delivery. 75% of shoppers in New Zealand are willing to buy out-of-stock items online and collect their purchase in-store at a later date.

Shop lays a solid foundation for the cart-to-home and product discovery experiences that are already beginning to reimagine what retail is. As customer expectations continue to climb, Shop will help New Zealand merchants keep pace by handling the little details that turn first-time buyers into loyal customers.

The side-hustle – one-person businesses – is a growing sector in Shopify through NZ/Aus isn’t it?

Shopify recently released a report “The Rise of the Entrepreneurial Economy” which unveiled that a third of New Zealanders consider their businesses to be their side-hustle, and not their primary income stream. And for Australia, it’s a quarter that consider their businesses as side hustle. 

New Zealanders have proven time and time again that they find inventive ways to prevail in times of struggle and uncertainty. They are not only confident that their business will survive in a post-COVID world, but 41% are also committed to starting a new business this year, which is testament to New Zealand’s thriving entrepreneurial economy.

The pursuit of independence was listed as the main driving factor behind entrepreneurs starting new businesses, rather than making more money.

You’ve also introduced a new POS system – can you explain what that entails and was the rollout of this also pandemic related…?

We believe that it has become essential for local retailers to become more nimble and adaptable in order to deliver a consistent shopping experience for their customers across a growing number of offline and online touchpoints in this ‘retail is everywhere’ future. That includes offering both physical locations and the provision of an excellent online shopping experience in order to meet the different needs of New Zealand consumers.

To help future proof their business and prepare for any eventuality, Shopify is providing key tools to manage their business, including the recent introduction of integrated retail hardware for Shopify Point of Sale (POS) and Shopify Payments for in-person transactions. This will enable retailers to offer online-to-offline services like ‘buy now, pick up in store’, which have become increasingly popular in New Zealand with 26% of shoppers surveyed likely to use Click-and-Collect services.

You’ve written that it’s important that merchants make their products “as ‘shoppable’ as possible across as many social media platforms”… can you delve into that a little more…

After the events of the past year, New Zealanders have adapted to the new normal of working-from-home, and this is reflected in the sharp rise in screen time and the number of screens that each of us is using. The average Kiwi owns 7.6 social media accounts and spends 115 minutes a day on social media. The natural next step for local merchants is to make their products “shoppable” on as many of these social media platforms. It’s simple logic, really: consumers are more likely to buy something that they see everywhere, be it Pinterest, Youtube, Facebook or LinkedIn.

What do you see as the challenges for Shopify in NZ and elsewhere in the coming years?

The challenge for Shopify lies in making sure that we continue to provide the tools, products and services to help merchants thrive no matter what happens.

As we have seen over the past 14 months, things can change in a jiffy, and merchants have to contend with multiple challenges including public health risks, a changing retail landscape, increased global competition, and greater demands from consumers.

Merchants are finding it necessary to future proof their business and be nimble enough to adapt to such changing conditions. The launch of the new Shopify Markets cross-border commerce hub and the introduction of retail POS hardware with integrated in-person Shopify Payments are just two examples of how Shopify is enabling New Zealand merchants to sell to customers however and wherever they choose to shop.

And finally Shaun – I wonder if you’d care to share your favourite online purchase bought in lockdown…

My favourite purchase was a brand new puffer jacket from Patagonia. I love it for two reasons.  Firstly, it’s super warm and comfortable and secondly I love how committed Patagonia is to being environmentally friendly.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here